Daily headlines

April 2020 headlines

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Protestors at Horse Hill well site. 26 October 2019. Photo: DrillOrDrop

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


Key headlines

  • IGas fracking plans at Ince Marshes in Cheshire in doubt as company writes off shale projects in the north west
  • Lawyer alleges “fake Facebook account” was used for UKOG protest injunction – campaigners win right to challenge the injunction at the High Court
  • UK onshore companies suspend production because of price falls
  • Government delays announcement on appeals over shale gas schemes at Woodsetts and Ellesmere Port
  • Planning decisions delayed because of coronavirus
  • Work starts at Rathlin Energy’s West Newton-B exploration site
  • US fracking boom founders as global prices and demand collapse
  • New loan at Angus Energy and new share issues at UKOG
  • Australian owner of Cuadrilla reviews fracking costs
  • Egdon says its late life oil fields are unprofitable at current prices

US oil price falls below zero for first time in history – “UK prices to remain low and volatile for considerable period”, says Lord John Browne


Thursday 30 April 2020

Doubts over IGas fracking plans at Ince Marshes in Cheshire. DrillOrDrop report

“Historic”: Carbon emissions set to plunge a record 8% in 2020, says IEA. Business Green and others report on projections from the International Energy Agency that emissions are set to drop to their lowest level in 10 years. The fall in annual emissions is likely to be six times larger than the previous record following the global financial crisis.

Shell cuts dividend for first time since 1945 amid oil price collapse. The Guardian and others report Shell has cut its shareholder dividend by two-thirds to 16 cents a share. Shell’s profits for the first quarter of 2020 fell to $2.9bn, down 46% from $5.3bn in the same period last year.

When the flames go out, the Permian’s methane problem worsens. Bloombergreports on new data that shows one in 10 flares in the Permian Basin were unlit or malfunctioning

Wednesday 29 April 2020

Scientific advice recommending ban on fracking in Lake Eyre basin kept secret and ignored. The Guardian reports that an independent scientific panel commissioned by the Queensland government recommended a ban on fracking in the environmentally sensitive Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre basin, but the experts’ findings were made secret by the state and ultimately ignored.

Airlines and oil giants are on the brink. No government should offer them a lifeline. George Monbiot, writing in The Guardian, says the coronavirus crisis is a chance to rebuild the economy “for the good of humanity”. He says: “Let’s bail out the living world, not its destroyers”.

Norway to cut oil production by 13%. The FT reports on the first Norwegian cut in oil production for the first time in 18 years, in response to falls in prices and demand.

Analysis: Coronavirus has cut CO2 from Europe’s electricity system by 39%. Analysis by Carbon Brief finds that electricity demand in Europe has fallen by 14% because of the Covid-19 crisis. It says this has resulted in lower levels of coal and gas being burned to generate electricity, meaning CO2 emissions from the sector were 39% lower over the past 30 days than this time last year.

Tuesday 28 April 2020

UKOG’s Broadford Bridge planning decision delayed again. DrillOrDrop report

UKOG issues 637m new shares to fund cuts in the cost of oil production. DrillOrDrop report, Proactive Investors, Shares Magazine, ShareCast (29/4/2020)

BP profits dive 66% as coronavirus hits oil demand. BBC News reports BP’s underlying replace cost profit, its definition of net income, was $800m for the first three months of 2020, down from $2.4bn a year earlier. The company said it was facing an “exceptional level of uncertainty”.

Northern Ireland free of petroleum prospectors for first time in years. Belfast Live reports there are no active petroleum licences in Northern Ireland. Licences had covered large areas of Fermanagh, the Lough Neagh region and parts of County Antrim. Friends of the Earth called for a permanent ban on all future exploration for oil and gas.

Monday 27 April 2020

West Newton-A: Permit changes approved for well test. DrillOrDrop report, ShareCast (29/4/2020)

Picture post: Site work underway at Rathlin Energy’s West Newton-B exploration site. DrillOrDrop report

Pressure mounting on possible government partners to reject plans for imported fracked gas terminals. Leitrim Observer reports  that 130 national and international group had written to all Irish Party leaders asking them to remove support for fracked gas infrastructure in Ireland. The letter seeks an explicit policy statement in the next Programme for Government against the development of all new LNG import terminals in Ireland. Two terminals are currently proposed in Shannon and Cork.

Landmark CSIRO fracking study douses pollution fears. The Australian reports on a study by Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation which concluded that the use of fracking to extract coal-seam gas in Queensland had little to no impact on groundwater, waterways, soils or air quality.

Sunday 26 April 2020

Coronavirus latest: Airlines ‘should be made to cut CO2 emissions’ in exchange for bailout, MPs tell Chancellor. The i reports that a cross-party group of MPs has written to the chancellor calling for state funding to be linked to strict conditions.

Saturday 25 April 2020

America’s fracking boom founders as global prices and demand collapse. The Guardian reports that Covid-19 looks likely to ruin many prospectors in the US shale industry. The article says the Permian basin, which had been forecast to deliver record high oil production in 2020, has had its biggest one-month production decline in history.

Coronavirus recovery plan “must tackle climate change”. The BBC reports the UK will tell other governments this week that climate change must be woven into the solution to the Covid-19 economic crisis.

Friday 24 April 2020

Sussex countryside group raises concerns over oil exploration in Balcombe. The Mid Sussex Times reports CPRE is asking why climate change concerns have been “overlooked” by the county council in relation to controversial oil well testing in Balcombe.

Don’t bail out fossil fuels. Buy them out instead. In an opinion piece in Newsweek, Wenonah Hauter, of Food and Water Watch, says the federal government in the US should “purchases enough stock to take a majority stake in the largest American fossil fuel companies, and over the next decade winds down drilling and fracking operations while managing a rapid, just transition to clean, renewable energy”.

OGA announces two new non-executive directors. The Oil & Gas Authority announces the appointment of Iain Lanaghan and Sarah Deasley to its board. Dr Deasley is a Director of Frontier Economics, one of Europe’s largest economics consultancies. She is also a trustee of Sustainability First. Mr Lanaghan is a chartered accountant, currently a non-executive director at Scottish Water and the UK government’s Defence Equipment and Support agency.

Thursday 23 April 2020

“Fracking moratorium more likely to be reversed by politics than science” – investment bank. DrillOrDrop report

IGas demands answers from government on Ellesmere Port appeal decision. DrillOrDrop report

Wednesday 22 April 2020

UKOG issues 1.7 billion new shares in eight months. DrillOrDrop report on latest share issue in UK Oil & Gas. Shares Magazine

Fracking wells in the US are leaking loads of planet-warming methane. New Scientist reports on a study which estimates that oil and gas wells in the Permian basin in Texas and New Mexico are releasing methane withe the potential to warm the atmosphere by almost as much as the carbon dioxide released by all homes in the US annually. The leakage rate is more than twice that assumed by the US EPA.

International benchmark Brent oil drops to 21-year low. Energy Voice reports that Brent futures for June delivery lost 15% to trade near $16 while West Texas Intermediate fell 5% having lost almost half its value on Tuesday.

Wood to make almost 70 staff reductions across UK onshore business. Energy Voice reports that the energy services firm is to cut jobs at its offices in Aberdeen, Glasgow, Darlington and Ellesmere Port. It has blamed the low oil price.

Tuesday 21 April 2020

“Oil prices to remain low and very volatile for considerable period” – Lord John Browne. DrillOrDrop report

Egdon Resources interim loss widens and property and plant impairment. The Morning Star reports that Egdon Resources saw a widened interim loss on increased impairment charges. Interim accounts

US oil price below zero for first time in history. Carbon Brief, the FT and others report that the fall in demand created by the coronavirus pandemic has meant producers were paying buyers to take off their hands.

US crude price slump a ‘body blow’ for oil industry, OGUK says. Energy Voice reports on comments by Oil and Gas UK chief executive, Deirdre Michie:

“While we have anticipated continued pressures on oil markets, there’s no getting away from the fact that this situation is a body blow for an industry already creaking under the strains of the impact of Covid-19 and sustained low commodity prices.

“The dynamics of this US market are different from those directly driving UK produced Brent, but we will not escape the impact.

“Ours is not just a trading market; every penny lost spells more uncertainty over jobs, our contribution to public services and to the just transition we all want to see.”

Seismic industry revenues to nearly evaporate in 2020. Energy Voice reports on analysis by Rystad Energy which forecasts revenues in the supply industry will fall by 51% if Brent Crude falls to $30 a barrel and by 77% if it calls to $20.

Monday 20 April 2020

Angus Energy announces new £1.4m loan. DrillOrDrop report

Employment lawyers call out ‘grey areas’ of coronavirus furlough scheme for oil and gas. Energy Voice reports that employment lawyers have criticised a lack of clarity in the government’s coronavirus jobs retention scheme, highlighting it is unlikely to prevent “difficult decisions” for the oil and gas sector.

UK gas plans a carbon-free future with hydrogen. Climate News Network reports on the Gas Goes Green programme from UK gas network operators which proposes a carbon-free future from green hydrogen, produced by surplus solar and wind power, and biomethane, from farms and waste food.

Sunday 19 April 2020

UK citizens’ assembly calls coronavirus a ‘test run’ for greener lifestyles. Reuters reports that participants in the Climate Assembly UK said working from home and other measures designed to help limit the spread of coronavirus in Britain show how quickly the country could change to address climate change.

Friday 17 April 2020

US shale industry expected to shrink sharply as oil price falls. The Guardian reports the US shale industry is expected to shrink by more than 2m barrels a day following a collapse in the market to below $18/barrel.

Shell greenlights $6.4bn Australia natural gas project. Reuters reports that Shell has taken a final investment decision to develop the first phase of Australia’s biggest coal seam gas resource in Queensland.

Shell’s net zero plan fails to add up. The Telegraph’s chief city commentator, Ben Barlow, reviews Shell’s climate change proposals.

Thursday 16 April 2020

Half UK’s true carbon footprint create abroad, research finds. The Guardian reports on a study by WWF which concludes that UK efforts to cut greenhouse gases are being undermined by a failure to put in place climate policies that cover imported goods. The Times

Shell unveils plans to become net-zero carbon company by 2050. The Guardian reports that Shell plans to cut carbon intensity by selling more green energy. But critics say the first step must be to stop new drilling.

The future of the oil industry. The Economist, in its leader column, says the oil slump is a glimpse of what is to come.

It’s time to talk about life after lockdown. David Green, of the thinktank Civitas, writing in the Spectator, says the government’s hostility to fracking is “a luxury we can no longer afford”. He writes:

“It will not be possible to keep the government’s promise to spread prosperity to the North without fracking. Refusing to develop fracking is a blunder equivalent to turning our backs on the North Sea oil and gas industry.”

Wednesday 15 April 2020

Drilling companies confirm work has started at West Newton B. DrillOrDrop report, Proactive Investors

Europa Oil & Gas interim results. Europa announces interim results for the six months to the end of January 2020. The company produced 90 barrels of oil per day from its three UK onshore fields, West Firsby, Crosby Warren and Whisby-4. Revenue: £0.8m; pre-tax loss (including write-offs): £3.5m; cash balance: £1.5m;

Oil prices slump as market faces lowest demand in 25 years. The International Energy Agency tells the market to brace for the lowest demand for oil this month, falling below last year’s average by 29m barrels per day to reach 70.4m barrels, levels not seen since 1995. The benchmark price for Brent crude dropped by more than 5% to $28 a barrel today and US oil prices fell to 18-year lows of $19.20 a barrel. The Guardian and The Times

Jet fuel demand to remain low as airlines buckle up for tough ride. Reuters reports that demands for flights and jet fuel could take years to recover from the coronavirus.

Gas fields seven times more polluting than estimate, think tank says. The Sydney Morning Herald reports on a briefing paper from the Australia Institute which concludes that the true climate impact of new onshore gas exploration and extraction has been underestimated by as much as seven times because the Victoria government excluded emissions produced when the gas is burnt.

Tuesday 14 April 2020

UK aid money used for fossil fuel investments. Unearthed reports that UK aid money has been used to invest in oil and gas projects in Africa and south east Asia. The investments are through CDC Group, the government’s development finance institution. They include support for two Texas-based companies operating in west Africa, a Qatari oil and gas firm with interests in Africa and a Canadian oil company working in South Africa. The Independent

Oil slumps on worries that supply cuts are playing catch-up to falling demand. Reuters reports that US oil prices slid back towards $20 a barrel as investors bet that fuel demand falls would be too much for producers to offset, despite embarking on record global cuts to output.

Shale giants clash over oil supply cut to survive crude rout. Bloomberg reports that Diamondback Energy, one of the biggest Texas shale explorers, warned it would halt all drilling if the state imposed OPEC-style production caps. The Texas Railroad Commissioner, which overseas output in the state, has been considering whether to restrict crude output for the first time in about 50 years.

CCC to push UK government to deliver climate-resilient coronavirus recovery. Business Green reports that the Committee on Climate Change is to present advise to the government on supporting a resilient low carbon economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis. This will be part of its annual assessment, this summer, of the UK’s progress toward its 2050 net zero greenhouse gas emissions, the website reports.

Spanish government plans to ban fracking. Murcia Todayreports that legislation is being drawn up to prohibit fracking in Spain.

Monday 13 April 2020

Cheshire campaigners win “major and decisive fracking battle”. DrillOrDrop guest article

Oil jumps to $33 a barrel following landmark OPEC deal. Energy Voice (and many others) reported 4% increases in oil prices after the OPEC+ alliance agreed to a plan to cut production by 9.7%.

Climate change is off the oil industry’s agenda – or is it? The Times reports that Covid-19 and the crash in oil prices have forced the global majors to take stock.

UK fossil fuel subsidies exist – by the back door. Jeremy Cresswell, writing in Energy Voice, on the outcome of his petition to the government to convert fossil fuel subsidies to subsidies for renewable energy.

Sunday 12 April 2020

Oil price war ends with historic OPEC+ deal to slash output. Bloomberg reports that the world’s top oil producers pulled off a historic deal to cut global petroleum output by nearly a 10th, putting an end to a devastating price war but not going far enough to offset the impact of coronavirus. Brent crude reversed earlier gains as analysts said curbs were insufficient.

Methane levels reach an all-time high. Scientific American reports on new analysis by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that levels of atmospheric methane have hit an all-time high.

Friday 10 April 2020

North west shale write-offs push up losses as IGas focusses on East Midlands. DrillOrDrop report on IGas annual accounts. IGas accounts, Morning Star (9 April 2020)

Opec and Russia reach deal to cut oil production by 10m barrels a day. The FT reports that Opec and Russia agreed on Thursday to make deep cuts to oil production, ending a weeks-long market share war that put further pressure on prices already reeling from the biggest demand collapse in history.

Thursday 9 April 2020

“Fake Facebook account” allegedly used for UKOG protest injunction, court told. DrillOrDrop report

Women campaigners win right to continue challenge to UKOG protest injunction. DrillOrDrop report

2019 total onshore oil production

2019 UK onshore oil production continues downward trend – official figures. DrillOrDrop report

US banks prepare to seize energy assets as shale boom goes bust. Reuters reports that major US lenders are preparing to become operators of oil and gas fields for the firs time in a generation to avoid losses on loans to energy companies that may go bankrupt. Desmog (13/4/2020)

Global oil deal at risk after Mexico ditches Saudi-Russia plan. Bloomberg reports a historic multilateral deal to lower global oil production and stabilize prices, led by record cuts from Saudi Arabia and Russia, is at risk as Mexico refuses to agree to the proposed curbs.

Coronavirus set to cause largest ever annual fall in CO2 emissions. Carbon Briefanalysis of about 3/4 of world annual CO2 emissions indicates that the pandemic has cut about 1,600m tonnes of CO2, equivalent to 4% of the global total in 2019. This would not come close to bringing the 1.5C global temperature limit within reach. Global emissions would need to fall by more than 6% every year this decade.

Wednesday 8 April 2020

Breaking: Government decision on IGas shale gas plans at Ellesmere Port delayed. DrillOrDrop report, Cheshire Live (14/4/2020)

Breaking: Government delays decision on Ineos shale gas plans at Woodsetts. DrillOrDrop report, Rotherham Advertiser

Site work appears underway at Rathlin Energy’s West Newton-B site in East Yorkshire. DrillOrDrop  report

Balcombe villagers’ victory in drill dispute, fears remain. The Argus reports villagers are celebrating the recommendation of planners to reject Angus Energy’s proposals for a flow test at Balcombe. But they warn the plans could be destructive if they went ahead. See DrillOrDrop reports of 16 March 2020 and 19 March 2020

Deep emissions cuts this decade could prevent ‘abrupt ecological collapse’. Carbon Briefreports on the conclusions of a study in Nature which finds that uncontrolled climate change would see tropical ocean ecosystems exposed to potentially catastrophic temperature rise by 2030. Reuters

Airlines lobby to rewrite carbon deal in light of coronavirus. The Guardian reports that airlines are trying to change a global agreement designed to tackle aviation emissions.

Shell’s carbon emissions drop in 2019 to four year low. Reuters reports on data from the company, which also shows that burning unused gas by flaring rose by 13.5%.

Tuesday 7 April 2020

Australian owner of Cuadrilla says a review is underway of the fracking company’s costs. DrillOrDrop report

UK government in hot water over ‘failure’ to publish BP North Sea drilling consent. Energy Voice reports the UK government has been ordered to pay the costs of Greenpeace seeking a judicial review after it rubber-stamped BP’s drilling plans for a North Sea field without telling the public.

Ineos postpones Forties pipeline shutdown. Ineos says in a press release it has delayed the planned shut down of the Forties pipeline system until spring 2021. The work had been planned for June 2020.

Monday 6 April 2020

High Court rules Shannon LNG challenge must proceed despite State’s protest that it is too busy with Covid-19. The Irish Independent reports that the High Court has turned down a request by the state to delay a legal challenge to the Shannon LNG project.

Methane emissions hit a new record and scientists can’t say why. Bloomberg Green reports airbourne methane levels rose markedly last year, according to a preliminary estimate from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Ed Miliband appointed shadow energy secretary in Keir Starmer’s shadow cabinet.

Sunday 5 April 2020

Oil prices slide 7% after producers’ meeting is postponed. Reuters reports that global benchmark oil prices trade up to $3 a barrel lower as the market opened for Monday’s trading session. This reflected fears of oversupply after Saudi Arabia and Russia postponed to Thursday a meeting about a potential pact to cut production.

Saturday 4 April 2020

Dozens of firms could be booted off AIM as their adviser prepares to shut down its investment banking division. This is Money reports that Cantor Fitzgerald, the US stockbroking giant, said it was permanently closing the corporate finance and advisory arm that helps small and mid-sized firms float, raise money and do deals. The company advises 77 companies on the London Stock Exchange. They include Egdon Resources, the website reports.

Friday 3 April 2020

Egdon’s late life oil fields “unprofitable” at current prices. DrillOrDrop report

English councils get powers for “virtual” planning meetings. DrillOrDrop report

UK road travel falls to 1955 levels as covid-19 lockdown takes hold. The Guardian reports a steep decline in motor traffic and air pollution with walking and cycling in cities also down.

Thursday 2 April 2020

UKOG seeks to block campaigners from High Court challenge to protest injunction. DrillOrDrop report

Wednesday 1 April 2020

UKOG injunction accused of “bullying” and “breach of right to protest”. DrillOrDrop report

April 2020 diary. DrillOrDrop’s listing of events about UK onshore oil and gas, fracking

COP26 postponement. The government announces the COP26 UN climate change conference, due to take place in Glasgow in November, has been postponed because of covid-19.

UKOG share issue. UK Oil & Gas plc announces it has paid the final £1m payment to Tellurian Investments for its stake in the Horse Hill oil field. The payment has been made through an extra 255,102,041 shares to Tellurian. This takes the total number of shares in UKOG to 7,821,571,059.

Will the coronavirus kill the oil industry and help save the climate? The Guardian reports on analysis which argues that the fossil fuel industry is broken and in survival mode, following plunging demand for oil following the coronavirus outbreak and a savage price war.

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