Rathlin chair retires

David Montagu-Smith Rathlin Energy

David Montagu-Smith. Photo: Rathlin Energy

The chair of Rathlin Energy, David Montagu-Smith, has left the board, the company has announced.

Mr Montagu-Smith, a founding member of the company, stepped down from his role on 1 July 2020.

Since appointment to the board in 2008, he has overseen the drilling of two wells at Rathlin’s West Newton-A site in East Yorkshire.

The company is currently preparing a second site, West Newton B, nearby. A well at Crawberry Hill, also in East Yorkshire, was plugged and abandoned and the site restored to farmland.

A statement from Rathlin’s board said:

“David has played an integral role in the success of a business that is currently appraising a significant oil and gas discovery and is positioned with a firm exploration foothold established in East Yorkshire.

“Now, after working for over fifty years in the international oil and natural gas industry, David feels it is time to retire.

“The Board has benefited greatly from his vision and strong leadership, and Rathlin Energy (UK) Limited will undoubtedly continue to grow stronger in the years to come because of his past guidance and advice.”

Mr Montagu-Smith was criticised by anti-fracking campaigners in 2013 when he helped to shape policy on fracking for the countryside group, CPRE. That year, as the then chair of West Northamptonshire District committee of CPRE, he wrote to members about what he saw as the benefits of fracking:

“There is a clear energy security benefit if fracked gas displaces imports, and it should stimulate economic growth and local employment. Neighbouring communities will benefit financially under schemes that are proposed.”

Since then, CPRE has since taken a strong stand against fracking and has opposed the development of a UK shale gas industry.

Mr Montagu-Smith has repeatedly said Rathlin Energy would not use high volume hydraulic fracturing in East Yorkshire. But he has continued to support it publicly. In a letter to the Financial Times in 2019, he said:

“UK onshore gas is never likely to make a critical impact on total gas supply and will certainly never affect wholesale prices (set by daily, weekly, monthly supply and demand).

“But it would, at the margin, offset increasing gas imports and make a valuable tax contribution. It could also help regenerate the oilfield service industries now in retreat as UK continental shelf oil/gas production continues its inexorable decline.”

Rathlin’s statement said it would “continue to progress the ongoing exploration and appraisal activities of the company and its partners, in East Yorkshire, with the testing of the West Newton A-2 well and the drilling and testing of the West Newton B-1 well”.

  • Rathlin Energy was fully owned by the Calgary-based Connaught Oil & Gas. In November 2018, the investment firm, Reabold Resources, bought into Rathlin and increased its stake in the West Newton licence in May 2020.


1 reply »

  1. Hello Drill or Drop and readers,

    Just to confirm, CPRE has never promoted shale gas exploration. CPRE remained opposed to the exploration of shale gas, a fossil fuel, as it is incompatible with the Government’s international commitments on greenhouse gas targets.

    Our staff and volunteers have engaged with organisations who research climate change and the climate emergency such as the Tyndall Centre.

    Different local groups across the network have supported a number of campaign groups, such as in Fylde, West Lancashire, North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire and Cheshire West to effectively make the case against developers when applications are being decided.

    We identified problems with the environmental permit regime of the Environment Agency. The Environment Agency since amended its procedures in keeping with our criticisms.

    Colleagues in CPRE Lancashire, Liverpool City Region and Greater Manchester after opposing its development then met Cuadrilla and encouraged improvements to operations, above and below ground, when the Preston New Road proposals were approved.

    The highly faulted nature of the Bowland Shale means it is highly unlikely it could ever be safely and economically exploited as a source of natural gas. This view is the basis of the advice given by the Oil and Gas Authority to the Government, which resulted in the Government’s moratorium.

    CPRE believes shale gas exploration and production poses a threat to our planet and our beloved rural places.

    CPRE urges the Government to promote energy demand reduction, and invest in clean energy projects, such as roof mounted solar, hydro, and tidal. We welcome the Trafford liquid-air battery proposal.

    David Montagu-Smith as the chair of Rathlin Energy did seek to promote fracking, but his opinions did not influence the CPRE policy. Clearly, he ought not to be sat on the shale and gas policy task and finish group. It is apparent he did manage to write to Northamptonshire members with his own personal views, which were not representative of the organisation as a whole. We hope he enjoys his retirement.

    Best wishes

    Jackie Copley, Planning Manager
    CPRE Lancashire, Liverpool City Region and Greater Manchester

Add a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s