Daily headlines

March 2020 headlines

191014 West Newton WNGTGF3

West Newton-A wellsite, 14 October 2019. Photo: West Newton Gateway to the Gasfields

You can keep up with the news here with our digest of headlines about UK fracking, shale and onshore oil and gas, updated daily.

Click here for headlines from previous months. Please let us know if we’ve missed something important contact@DrillOrDrop.com


Top 10 headlines

  • Ineos gives up on Airth coalbed methane plan Link
  • Cuadrilla breaches pollution rules again at Preston New Road Link
  • UKOG seeks to add 100+ names to its protest injunction Link. Campaigners ask court to quash the order Link
  • Campaigner seeks legal challenge over ownership change of Cuadrilla Link
  • Planners oppose Balcombe flow test application Link Decisions delayed by coronavirus Link
  • Government’s shale support fund underspent by £3.8m Link
  • Home Office pays another £1.28m for policing costs at Cuadrilla’s fracking site Link
  • Oil & Gas Authority promises flexibility on compliance and licences during virus outbreak Link
  • Application submitted for UKOG’s Arreton site Link. But it won’t be decided until outbreaks ends Link
  • UKOG drops second access plan for Dunsfold oil and gas site Link

Tuesday 31 March 2020

UKOG delays capital expenditure because of coronavirus. DrillOrDrop report

Europa Oil & Gas cuts costs to fund Wressle oil production. DrillOrDrop report. Proactive Investors, Hydrocarbons technology, Share Cast

We need health warning labels on points of sale of fossil fuels. An opinion column in the British Medical Journal explains how fossil fuel labelling at petrol stations, and on energy bills and airline tickets could increase awareness of climate change.

Monday 30 March 2020

200106 Biscathorpe UWOC

Biscathorpe site, 6 January 2020. Photo: Used with owner’s consent

Oil partners “optimistic” about finding oil with Biscathorpe sidetrack. DrillOrDrop report, Market Screener, Vox Markets, Proactive Investors, Oilfield Technology, Morning Star

Barclays sets net zero carbon target for 2050 after investor pressure. The Guardian and FT are among outlets to report that Barclays has bowed to investor pressure over its climate track record and announced plans to shrink its carbon footprint to net zero by 2050. Last year, the bank sold Third Energy to York Energy the affiliate of a US company.

Oil industry facing historic production shutdown. The FTreports that oil demand is now down by a quarter (25m barrels a day) or close to what Opec countries produce daily. Storage facilities will soon be overwhelmed unless the industry can find a way to cut output at a scale never managed before. The paper says onshore North American shale producers will be hit badly. Thousands of planned wells are predicted to be cancelled.

Line chart of Crude oil price (WTI, $ per barrel) showing Oil nears $20 per barrel

Oil price falls below US$20 a barrel, its lowest since 2002. CBC reports the price of West Texas Intermediate, the benchmark price for North American oil, dipped below US$20 on Monday morning. At one point, it was changing hands for $19.92. Oil from Canada’s oil sands – Western Canada Select – was down to $3.82 a barrel, the lowest price for that type of crude on record.

Saturday 28 March 2020

Campaigner seeks legal challenge over ownership change of fracking firm Cuadrilla. DrillOrDrop report

Friday 27 March 2020

10th Mar 2017 (20 police line up)

Police outside Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site near Blackpool, 10 March 2017.

Government pays another £1.28m for policing costs at Cuadrilla’s fracking site. DrillOrDrop report, Blackpool Gazette, Champion News

Thursday 26 March 2020

More equipment leaves Cuadrilla’s fracking site at Preston New Road near Blackpool. DrillOrDrop report

Oil & Gas Authority promises industry “flexibility” on compliance and licences during coronavirus. DrillOrDrop report

Bravado, dread and denial as oil price collapse hits the American fracking heartland. The Washington Post reports from North Dakota on the impact of coronavirus and oil policy in Saudi Arabia and Russia on demand for oil in the Bakken formation.

Wednesday 25 March 2020

No decision on UKOG’s Isle of Wight drilling plans during coronavirus outbreak. DrillOrDrop report

IGas plans for covid-19. DrillOrDrop report

Tuesday 24 March 2020

UK chemicals firm plans to build two hand sanitiser factories in 10 days. The Guardian(and others) report that Ineos aims to produce a million bottles of hand sanitiser a month from two factories at Newton Aycliffe and in Germany. The company is said to be talks with the NHS on supplying the products free to hospitals.

Ineos postpones Forties pipeline shutdown. Ineos announced it was delaying its planned summer shut down of the Forties pipeline system in the face of the coronovirus pandemic.

Oil industry faces biggest crisis in 100 years.  The FT reports the oil industry is facing up to the fact that fuel demand is going to fall faster than ever before. Prices have roughly halved since the start of the month with airlines grounded and millions of commuters working from home, the paper says. It predicts that 10-25% of global consumption could vanish in the coming few months.

Monday 23 March 2020

Campaigners ask court to scrap UKOG injunction against oil and gas protests. DrillOrDrop report

UKOG submits planning application for Arreton oil site. DrillOrDrop report, Island Echo

Frack Free Isle of Wight calls for UKOG application for oil exploration at Arreton to be deferred because of the covid-19 crisis. DrillOrDrop report

IGas delays results. IGas announces it will observe a moratorium from the Financial Conduct Authority on the publication of preliminary financial statements of two weeks.

A J Lucas shares fall to new low. The majority investor in Cuadrilla Resources, the Australian mining group, A J Lucas, saw shares fall to a one year low to 0.006 cents.

Sunday 22 March 2020

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Protest march arriving at Horse Hill well site. 26 October 2019. Photo: DrillOrDrop

UK Oil & Gas plc seeks to add 100+ people to protest injunction. DrillOrDrop report

Thursday 19 March 2020

Rathlin Energy signals start of work at East Yorkshire well site. DrillOrDrop report

Villager “delighted” at recommendation to refuse Balcombe well test.  DrillOrDrop report, Mid-Sussex Times (27/3/2020)

Wednesday 18 March 2020

Wressle production will “break even at $17 a barrel” – operator. DrillOrDrop report

Oil collapses by another 24% to $20. It hasn’t been this low since 2002. CNN Business reports oil is now facing its weakest price since the first term of President George W Bush.

Tuesday 17 March 2020

West Sussex delays Balcombe and Broadford Bridge decisions because of coronavirus. DrillOrDrop report

Monday 16 March 2020

Government’s shale support fund underspent by £3.8m. DrillOrDrop report

Planners oppose oil test plans at Balcombe: “not in public interest” and “not appropriate to area”. DrillOrDrop report, Morning Star (17/3/2020)

Planners back two more years at UKOG’s Broadford Bridge oil site. DrillOrDrop report

Saturday 14 March 2020

Ineos gives up on Airth coalbed methane plan – fantastic news say opponents. DrillOrDrop report, The Ferret

Friday 13 March 2020

UKOG announces OGA consent for long-term oil production at Horse Hill in Surrey. DrillOrDrop report

Thursday 12 March 2020

Coronavirus poses threat to climate action, says watchdog. The Guardian reports comments by the International Energy Agency that the economic fallout of Covid-19 could cap fossil fuel emissions by wiping out the world’s demand growth for oil. But it could also slow the world’s clean energy transition unless government use green investments to support economic growth. See also Business Green

Oil falls 7% after Trump surprises with travel curbs. Reuters reports that Brent crude fell 7% after President Trump restricted travel to the US from Europe.

Wednesday 11 March 2020

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Preston New Road, 25 March 2020. Photo: Used with the owner’s consent

Cuadrilla breaches pollution rules again at Preston New Road fracking site. DrillOrDrop report, ENDS Report (10/3/2020)

UKOG drops second access plan for Loxley oil and gas site at Dunsfold, Surrey. DrillOrDrop report

Budget 2020: Key climate and energy announcements. Carbon Brief reports Riski Sunak’s budget including:

  • Freeze on increase on fuel duty at 58p/litre
  • Government spending on flood defences to double over the next six years to £5.2bn
  • £120m for repair to damage to defences from winter floods
  • £27bn for 4,000 miles of road building from 2020-2025
  • Renewable Heat Incentive extended for an extra year to 31 March 2022
  • Green gas levy applied to consumer gas bills to support production of biomethane for the gas grid
  • Increase in businesses’ climate change levy on gas from 2022-23
  • £640m nature for climate fund for England
  • £800m carbon capture and storage infrastructure fund
  • Support for privately-financed construction of at least one gas-fired power station fitted with CCS
  • Plastic packaging tax from April 2022

Tuesday 10 March 2020

Penalise carbon polluters in oil and gas industry – anti-fracking campaigners. DrillOrDrop report

Fuel duty freeze has increased UK CO2 emissions by up to 5%. Analysis by Carbon Briefreveals that the freeze in fuel duty since 2010 means UK CO2 emissions are as much as 5% higher than they would have been.

Only five shale drillers are still profitable at $31 oil. OilPrice.com reports that most shale oil wells are unprofitable at current oil prices, Rystad Energy has warned. Only Exxon, Chevron, Occidental and Crownquest can drill new wells at a profit at $31 a barrel.

Trump administration expected to seek aid for shale companies hit by oil rout. CNBC reports that President Trump is likely to seek a federal aid package for struggling US producers.

Monday 9 March 2020

Union Jack increases stake in Keddington oilfield. DrillOrDrop report, Upstream Online, SharePrices.com, Proactive Investors

UKOG announces solution to formation water problem at Horse Hill. DrillOrDrop report, Morning Star, Shares Magazine

Shale’s new reality: almost all wells drilled now lose money. Bloomberg reports that more than 100 producers can’t make a profit with oil at $31 and the shale sector has seen investors flee thanks to paltry returns.

US shale producers rush to cut spending, output as oil prices tank. Reuters reports that US shale producers rushed to deepen spending cuts and could reduce future production as oil prices tumbled after OPEC’s decision to pump full bore into a global market hit by shrinking demand.

Sunday 8 March 2020

Campaigners challenge judge’s block to judicial review of oil production at Horse Hill in Surrey. DrillOrDrop report

Oil suffers rout after Saudi Arabia fires first shot of price war. Reuters reports oil prices were set for their biggest daily route since the first Gulf War after Saudi Arabia cut its official prices on a market already reeling from the impact of the coronavirus on global demand. Energy Voice

Saturday 7 March 2020

Leaked documents reveal Environment Agency ‘overwhelmed’ by staffing cuts and surge in pollution incidents. Unearthed reports on emails that admit a surge in pollution incidents driven by climate change is overwhelming its depleted staff. The correspondence shows the organisation is planning to implement a controversial overhaul of its pollution response operations.

Thursday 5 March 2020

Activists call on UN to ban fracking. DrillOrDrop report, GreenNews.ie, Ecologist

Angus counts on production at Saltfleetby and Balcombe. DrillOrDrop report, Proactive Investors, Morning Star, Kallanish Energy (6/3/2020)

Wednesday 4 March 2020

Lower carbon petrol at UK pumps to target emissions. BBC News and others reports that the government is consulting on making E10 petrol – which contains less carbon and more ethanol – the new standard petrol grade. The move could cut CO2 emissions from transport by 750,000 tonnes per year, the Department of Transport said.

Police officers hunting for environmental activists in Perth after Barclays bank shut down in climate emergency protest. The Daily Record reports on a police appeal for information

Criminal investigations target shale gas industry. The Post-Gazette reports Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said he is expending significant investigative resources in pursuit of more than a dozen criminal cases involving the shale gas industry.

EU Commission adopts law proposal for climate neutrality by 2050. Reuters reports the European Commission has adopted a proposal for a European “climate law” to make the bloc’s 2050 net zero emissions target legally binding.

Analysis: Tories received £1.5m from polluting industries and funders of climate denial since general election. DesmogUKreports on gifts published by the Electoral Commission to the Conservative Party. They include £20,000 from a company that produces steel for North Sea oil rigs. The majority came JCB, which made two donations of £700,000 since the election. The home secretary, Priti Patel, received £21,000 fro current or past backers of the Global Warming Policy Foundation.

Tuesday 3 March 2020

A flaring tax can end this wasteful and damaging practice.  Jason Bordoff, of the Centre on Global Energy Policy and Columbia University, writing in the FT, says US oil companies have burned billions of dollars worth of gas each year in the past decade. Because the oil is so valuable it is often cheaper to burn the gas than build the infrastructure to sell it. Flaring should be penalised to change behaviour, he says.

UK CO2 emissions have fallen 29% over the past decade. Analysis by Carbon Brief finds that UK CO2 emissions fell by 2.9% in 2019, bring the total reduction since 2010 to 29%, even though the economy grew by a fifth.

Climate strikers: Open letter to EU leaders on why their new climate law is “surrender“. Carbon Brief publishes an open letter from 34 youth climate activists, including Greta Thunberg, on the proposed EU climate law, to be released on 4 March 2020.

EU member states call for 2030 climate target. The Guardian reports that 12 EU member states have called for an EU climate target for 2030 to be drawn up as soon as possible. A letter from the members, including Denmark, France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands, says the action is needed to galvanise the rest of the world before the COP 26 climate talks in Glasgow in November 2020.

Exxon Mobil calls for tighter methane regulations. Reuters reports that Exxon Mobil offered its own in-house rules as a model for tighter regulation of the greenhouse gas, methane.

Keep investing in fossil fuels, pension fund tells council. The Ferretreports that managers of a £24 bn pension fund want Glasgow councillors to keep investing in fossil fuels – despite the council declaring a climate emergency and preparing to host global climate talks.

Cash-strapped US shale producers pray for Opec aid. The FT reports that hopes are rising that the oil cartel will decide on deeper output cuts to support the market hit by coronavirus

Monday 2 March 2020

TDF 170428 Kirby Misperton Protection Camp Protect Ryedale2

Kirby Misperton Protection Camp. Photo: Protect Ryedale

Anti-fracking campaign opposes government plan to outlaw unauthorised camps. DrillOrDrop report

Environment Agency publishes application for changes to Rathlin Energy’s permit at West Newton-A in East Yorkshire. DrillOrDrop report. Link to application

Greenpeace shuts down nearly 100 Barclays bank branches. Greenpeace says its activists have closed Barclays branches around the UK.

UK government lifts block on new onshore windfarm subsidies. The Guardian reports government has abandoned opposition to subsidising new onshore windfarms, four years after ministers scrapped support for new projects.

Climate change deaths acted out in Glasgow Council. Friends of the Earth Scotland reports that activists staged a protest inside Glasgow City Chambers to call attention to the council’s pension fund investment in companies such as BP and Shell

Energy’s stranded assets are a cause of financial stability concern. Patrick Jenkins in the FT reports that coal mines, oilfields and gas reserves look a bad bet in an unsustainably warming world.

Look beyond European oil majors steps to net zero. Nick Butler in the FTreports that climate change targets to be net zero carbon by 2050 are good but celebration at this stage is misplaced. He says none of the big six have spelt how exactly how they are going to do but he says they are moving “beyond petroleum”.

Sunday 1 March 2020

March 2020 diary. DrillOrDrop listing of events about the UK onshore oil and gas industry and campaigns about it.

Shale drillers need a miracle to keep production from falling. OilPrice.com reports that the US shale patch is retrenching across six of the seven major plays.

3 replies »

  1. Hi, WSCC planning committee is not on 31st March, rather see below: Jill Agenda not out until March 13 or 16 – will need to include decisions about BBR and Balcombe etc.

    Planning Committee Tuesday, 24th March, 2020 10.30 am

    – Attendance details – Add meeting to your calendar using VCS format

    The agenda will be displayed in the week before the meeting

    Proposed venue: County Hall, Chichester PO19 1RQ

  2. Unfortunately, the claims of a reduction in UK’s CO2 emissions are false. As they do not include CO2 emissions from burning biomass, which is as dirty as coal. In fact, you need to burn more biomass in relation to thermal coal, to produce the same power. Also, it does not take account of emissions from International flights, which have increased over the past decade. Anyone living in a city, like Manchester, will know, air pollution is getting worse, not decreasing.

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