Campaigner seeks legal challenge over ownership change of fracking firm Cuadrilla

pnr Cuadrilla Resources

Fracking operation at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road shale gas site. Photo: Cuadrilla Resources

A government agency has been accused of acting unlawfully in the way it dealt with the change of ownership of the fracking firm, Cuadrilla.

Anti-fracking campaigner, Bob Dennett, is raising money for a High Court challenge to the Oil & Gas Authority (OGA).  He has argued that the OGA failed in its duty to scrutinise the acquisition of the increased stake in Cuadrilla by the Australian mining group, A J Lucas, in February 2020.

He also alleged that Cuadrilla and A J Lucas failed in their duty to notify the OGA about the change of control of the company.

A J Lucas almost doubled its stake in Cuadrilla Resources when it acquired shares held by Riverstone, a New York-based private equity firm (DrillOrDrop report). The deal took A J Lucas’s holding from 47.6% to 93%.

In a crowd-funding appeal, launched this morning, Mr Dennett said the acquisition constituted a “significant change of control” under the regulations.

He said he was concerned that the lack of scrutiny by the OGA could leave taxpayers with the bill for cleaning up Cuadrilla’s fracking site at Preston New Road in Lancashire:

“Without adequate government scrutiny, companies may spend all their resources drilling and fracking in the quest for profits and then go bust, leaving taxpayers with the bill.”

This is the second time campaigners have sought to challenge the OGA over licence transfers.

“Breach of regulations”

Mr Dennett said the 2014 Petroleum Licensing (Exploration and Production (Landward Areas) Regulations required the holder of an oil and gas licence to get consent from the OGA if ultimate control changed.

But a freedom of information response revealed that the OGA did not have any information on an application for change of control in this case. Nor did the OGA have information on any financial viability or resilience tests it carried out on A J Lucas.

Mr Dennett said:

“There can be no doubt that this transaction amounts to a significant change of control and the operators have failed in their duty to notify the OGA of the change.

“The OGA have similarly failed in their duty, as the regulatory body, to scrutinise the takeover of Cuadrilla by A J Lucas and therefore I believe that the OGA, A J Lucas and Cuadrilla have acted unlawfully.”

He said if the case went to court and the judges ruled in his favour, the case could result in the OGA revoking Cuadrilla’s exploration licences. This could include the licence for the firm’s fracking site at Preston New Road near Blackpool.

Mr Dennett said:

“Without adequate financial assurance, the environmental mess that is left behind when fracking is over can linger and worsen, as the Government tries to sort out whether it can force related companies (like the foreign parent company here) to pay the costs.

“We must hold the OGA to account to carry out its legal duty to protect taxpayers and the environment.”

He added:

“This decision will also help crystallise who is responsible for the decommissioning when a licence is revoked or an operator goes bust.

“Experts have warned that the Government is not paying enough attention to whether companies will be able to meet their clean-up costs, and that taxpayers will be forced to foot the bill if the OGA does not act prudently to ensure that there are adequate assurances that these costs will be met. For de-commissioning Preston New Road this will be many millions of pounds.”

Mr Dennett is seeking to raise £7,500 to cover initial legal costs to lodge the case at the High Court. Further funds would be necessary if the case went to a full judicial review hearing, he said.

  • His legal team (Marc Willers QC at Garden Court Chambers, Estelle Dehon at Cornerstone Barristers, and instructing solicitor Matthew McFeeley at Richard Buxton Environmental and Public Law) is representing another anti-fracking campaigner in a similar case. Eddie Thornton has been granted a High Court hearing for a judicial review of the OGA’s handling of the transfer of Third Energy to York Energy, an affiliate of a US company. (DrillOrDrop report)

36 replies »

  1. Well, UK Government sets up a group to deal with fake news regarding Covid-19.

    When they have learned the way to do it, and the current pandemic is over, there would seem to be plenty of work for them to do in other areas!!

    Meanwhile, INEOS should be into production this week supplying FREE hand sanitiser to the NHS and German Health Service.

    No sand lizards displaced as a result.

    Ahh, that old chestnut. Learning from “our” past mistakes. Yep, when our ancestors first found the benefit of fossil fuel by finding out how to make fire, which set the world on an inevitable pathway to 10 billion population, then that fossil fuel in the sun destroys the planet they live on. Planet A moves to Planet B and we are now probably around Planet E. Will humans get to Planet Z? Probably not, as around about Planet D they discovered how to take the world back towards Planet A and wipe out most of the 7-10 billion. That is the pathway for most living organisms, so it would be a surprise for humans to avoid it.

    Not to worry though. If the children stay off school they will be spared learning that. If they are kept away from arithmetic and science they will not have a clue what Professor Sir David Mackay, late government chief scientific adviser explained. They may start to ask about it in later years when the bills are presented to them for the repeated failings of the “pups” they were sold, and think back to similar “promises” that had appeared in comic books of what the future technology would bring. And wonder, why did we believe the comics?

    The parallel between the two sources of the promised land would be the level of success, and the money-yes, subsidy-that was wasted. Meanwhile, when they come to look for the sellers of “pups” to remonstrate with, they will be long gone like the snake oil salesmen of old, leaving not a hoof print in the dust but an ancient Internet record.

    Such is “progress”.

    However, the clocks are changed. Spring is sprung and the wildlife is gearing up for the summer. Even my local squirrel, Jeremy, is out of hibernation and back to his favourite activity of sitting on the fence for long periods, looking bemused.

    • Ha! Ha! Ooops! Big Header Alert!

      Martin! You didn’t mention your favourite fake news item “red diesel”! Just a whole lot of other fake news. Oh dear falling down on the job again?

      Never mind, i see Paul boosted you to the top of the next page didn’t he? Tut! Tut! Been counting posts again? Naughty boy!

      Nice to see Paul giving you a bunk up though. After all, what are toilet trolls for if not to clean the usual fossil fuel PR orifice and to act as a comfort blanket when not in use?

      Always a pleasure. Such fun!

      Have a nice day….

  2. I see this lockdown….the real one… keeping you busy too Paul? I see you are into conspiracy theories too? No change there then.

    Don’t eat any toilet trolls…..they may come in usuful……

      • Hang on a minute? Fossil fuel in the Sun? Planets B to Z? What universe do you live in Martin? Hydrogen is not a fossil fuel is it? There are no fossil hydrogenosaurus anywhere in any real universe! Carbon is not a fossil fuel either, it’s a fundamental element created by fusion at the heart of a star. No Carbonosaurus fossils either? Dear me, next it will be “red diesel” in the Sun? Red Dieselosaurus maybe?

        Come back to the real world Martin. Where you are going, there is no way back to sanity.

        Well you unreally must live in your own fake news fantasy fictional conspiracy theory universe Martin. You only have yourselves (which one of many?) to blame!

        The rest of us, apart from a few of your esteemed colleagues, will live in the real world and look forward to a new and “exciting” totally renewable energy non planet destroying beautiful future.

        PS there is no planet B through Z, there is only this one, and we (meaning the rest of us who do actually give a damn) had better look after it, even though you appear to say you want to destroy 7.5 billion people! You do realise you are one of those billions don’t you?

        Or have you transcended any form of reality and pretend you don’t exist? We can only hope.

        Martian dreams of Martian Law perhaps?

        A self destructive fossil fuel nihilist if ever I saw one. One of many apparently.

        Never mind. Take a good deep breath and…..Have a nice day, wherever you are….

        • Oh dear!

          Someone seems to not understand this planet, the earth, is continually changing via non man influence, and additionally, the influence of over 7 billion humans-and their ancestors. This planet will be different going forward, that is assured. The dinosaurs thought not.

          If you want to join in, just yell STOP. You may feel better, you may even feel it has made a difference, but it will not. What will make a difference is if REAL solutions are found, rather than the hypothetical twaddle peddled from a starting point of confusion between vegetable oil and red diesel! If that is the level of current “engineering” knowledge the world is really doomed. Most would not trust a second hand car (electric or other) from that source, let alone salvation of the earth.
          What will actually stall any REAL solutions is the general public becoming p**d off with continual failures of money spent and money wasted. Those in N.Ireland will know that pretty well. Millions of lives blighted for years due to that “alternative” way of doing things. But hush, let’s move on and pretend alternatives are a great success-no one will notice. Some landowners may get back the days of £150k net profit per year from one wind turbine whether the electricity was wanted or not, and then some others could say “look how loved and successful they are” when most land owners hated them-but loved the income. No one will notice.

          Whether most in this country live on Planet D or E, the key point is there are MANY more living elsewhere on the one previous and wish to catch up-as they see it. So far the “solution” is to set an example to the poor misguided souls and they will follow! Still a residue of Colonial superiority it seems, but it is not working and will not work. Try speaking to some different generations of the same family living in “developing” countries.

          So, be angry, panic and yell. Leave others to think. They may get the red diesel into the correct tanks and keep us all supplied with the healthiest dietary choice the human race has enjoyed-so that many can be angry, panic and yell that is not what they want. So, eat something else. Choice is good. Even those who drive 3 litre BMW diesels could chose something different.

          Stage 2 of my on line supplies to organise. Quicker than I expected. Just the grocery shopping left.

          Wifey is tickling the peach blossom for me as the cold is making the bees a bit reluctant. (No smut, please.)

          (Understand Tescos are recruiting loads more van drivers. All will be in their electric vans?? Nope. Good old fossil fuel to the rescue-again.

          For those getting bored with their isolation, try a bit of research into mortality levels from natural disasters over recent times. The overall increase in the percentage that survived is staggering. The reasons? Good old fossil fuel-again-largely.)

          • Ooops! Oh Dear Martin! Manners! Hook line and plonker AGAIN! A bit hot under the collar are you? That may be….no, better not think about it.

            Not very good at this game are you?

            At least you toilet trolled out the old Red Dieselosaurus deceased fossil fuel fake news again? That always gets a laugh! Yuk!

            Theres life in the old fossil yet!

            PS Martin, your continuous use of “wifey” is non gender equality old thing. That sort of abusive terminology went out way back when women got the vote. Not very nice to speak so derogatorily about your life companion is it?

            Buck up and get with the 21st century, its really not so bad in the real world once you get used to it. You ought to try it sometime.

            But better to mind your language regarding females (i assume female?) if you want to remain on anyone’s good side, male female or non gender specific.

            Oh yes, your reply? Pure rubbish Martin, you dont address anything, you just avoid, avoid, a void…..a very big void…..

            • Well, Phil, if and when you are my wifey you can complain!

              As you are not, you typically think individuals have to follow your own silly boundaries. You also assume this wifey is my life companion!

              So, someone is not very good at this game and then tries to set their own values upon others to obey. (Lot of it about.) Just as appropriate as giving fake news regarding red diesel and then coming up with engineering solutions to save mankind! Surprised you have not come up with a conspiracy theory to explain how such an item appeared under your name.
              And it is quite apparent who it is, and uses such silliness as a childish defence mechanism.

              Not hot under the collar either. Sorry you have such issues with understanding text without putting yourself into Mystic Meg mode. I am invariably a happy bunny. I think you mistake me for someone who is instructed to be angry, and does as instructed. I have neither problem. I follow the think advice.

              You should hear, what current wifey calls me! As I stated before, we all have choice, and freedom to express it. Some may want a robotic relationship, others chose their own consenting preference. Someone said something about life being like a box of chocs.

              For an individual who often quotes Orwell, you seem to embrace parts you like but then suggest others should follow some of the most worrying aspects of controlled society he wrote about. Feel free, but not for me.

              By the way, when you try and grade my “work” it just brings a focus upon the expertise to do that-and back we go to red diesel gate. A bit like Ms Abbott grading a maths. lesson. Entertaining, but not that believable.

              • Ahh! he calls me Phil! At last! Welcome back to the real world. Sorry, no can do, re that awful misogynist “wifey” delusion, though a bit odd if not very odd of you to offer, my favours lay with a very lovely lady who i call many things, and she to me, but never ever such revoltingly misogynist names like “wifey” or any other misogynist or any other gender inappropriate terms. I leave that antediluvian territory to those best suited and fitted to it.

                That red diesel horned mask of yours is poking out from behind that fake angels mask all the time now isnt it?

                Like i said Martin, as soon as you descend into these rabid ranting tirades and those hilarious defunct Red Dieselosaurus jokes. Now in desperately frantic multiple fabrications when nothing else intelligent to say. That’s so funny! Soon your posts will be only a list of the old decaying red deisel jokes and empty meaningless memes and strange trigger words and nothing else wont they?

                You really have totally lost any argument haven’t you.

                But never mind. Twas ever thus.

                I suspect all that fossil fuel dogma is scratching at the door trying to get out? I cant say i blame it….

                By the way, i donated my angels mask to the NHS and its halo is handy for hanging it up in the medical steriliser. My angel wings, the EV, is being used to ferry prescriptions and food to local people.

                I just got my new ID for that today, so i can resume my service. So, although i have enjoyed these little tête-à-tête’s into fantasy planets and Red Dieselosaurus demented dreams that dont exist, amongst so many other impossible things before breakfast. I can leave you to your own bizarre fictional devices for a while.

                But it has been fun! I shall show these conversations to my colleagues, i know they like a good laugh!

                Have another nice day tomorrow.

  3. The cream rises to the top!

    The detritus (latin-literally, wearing down) settles to the bottom. Just where the toilet rolls come in. Good job Tesla cut down all those trees in Germany. That should keep the supplies “rolling”.

    Must away. Wifey is assessed as “extremely vulnerable”, so have to get some on line deliveries up and running. Should be a quick job, but many doing the same so will take a while. Thanks to those producing the plastic keyboards. They should get a knighthood!

    Helpful advice:

    If anyone wanting to get things growing in the garden, some seed companies still doing on line supplies. Marshalls are, but probably others too. Exercise and fresh air if you can still manage the social distancing. Probably better than Tinder and a barge pole!

    • Ha! Ha! You are funny Martin? And a fish rots from the head (header) down…..and certain biological function requiring expulsion of digested food, requiring the eponymous toilet trolls, also floats to the top……

      Nothing to be proud of.

      Still have a nice day, both of you….

        • You’d better be careful Paul, to make your story match precisely what Boris Johnson’s official line is. Whatever it is he does believe? Who knows? You must only repeat what Boris Johnson tells you too. Or it will be a criminal offence and Martin will sell you out to Boris (or UKOG, whichever pays the most) for telling disinformation conspiracy theories and fake news…..however that is defined and by whom?

          I like bats though, a couple of them flit around the trees at dusk. I hear their high pitched squeaks now and then, now there are few cars around. No audible sneezes or coughs yet anyway. Maybe Boris will send out a task force and arrest them just for being bats? Maybe it was a bat that gave him the virus?

          But i’ll let you off the hook,(i’ll leave the line and plonker to Martin). I dont know where the virus came from, because i wasn’t there at the time and i’m not a virologist. Nor do i eat bats or other “wet food” from “wet food” markets. Phew! I think that covers it!

          Fun, isnt it? Just entertaining the incarcerated. Its all a bit bats if you ask me, which i’m sure you wont….PS, I didn’t look at your link in sympathy with your own self censorship. Solidarity and all that.

          Enjoying your lock down Paul?

  4. The OGA are a Government Agency tasked with maximising the payment of revenues from the Onshore and Offshore Oil and Gas Industries to the UK Government.
    They have no interest in ensuring that those companies operating in these sectors are restricted by any laws or regulations that may reduce these revenues!
    Paying for cleanups, ensuring operators carry sufficient ongoing Third Party Insurance and logging then compensating those harmed by fracking activities, family homes damaged by Hydrofrac Earthquakes for example, are of absolutely no concern to them.

  5. Still not getting the insurance company to cough up Peter?

    Probably, still sorting out all those “harmed” via whiplash!

    Strange. I understood the UK oil and gas sector is about the BEST regulated in the world. Yet, some would rather UK imports a lot of both from less well regulated areas of the world, and still trot out how there is only one planet. A really interesting conflict in messaging-unless, you are operating on behalf of those who have a financial interest in that persisting, and then it makes sense.

    • Financial Ombudsman holding me up at the moment. Progressing up the pay grades but they’re probably currently understaffed due to Corona virus.
      I’m also waiting for another’s legal action to conclude.
      Thanks for your interest Martin.

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