Council votes to extend life of Ryedale gas fields to 2035

Malton production OGA (2)

Malton gas production. Source: Oil & Gas Authority

Third Energy’s Ryedale gas fields can continue working until 2035, councillors in North Yorkshire unanimously agreed today, despite hearing that the most recent “meaningful production” at some sites was in 2012.

The county’s planning committee confirmed a resolution made six months ago that it was “minded to approve” applications from the company. DrillOrDrop report

The final decision had been delayed by the Covid-19 outbreak and to wait for a government decision on whether the application needed an environmental investigation.

At its first meeting held online, the committee rejected a request from Frack Free Ryedale to delay the decision for another week to wait for the outcome of a case at the High Court.

A Ryedale resident, Eddie Thornton, is seeking a judicial review of how the regulator, the Oil & Gas Authority (OGA), handled the transfer of Third Energy’s licences to its new owner, York Energy.

A statement from Jim Tucker, of Frack Free Ryedale, said:

“it is likely that among the disclosures to be made may be some previously sensitive commercial documents that could have a material impact on the fitness of Third Energy or their new owners to be granted the extension sought.

“It might therefore be prudent for North Yorkshire County Council to wait until the case comes before the High Court next week on the 14th July before issuing the extension notices.”

But the council’s legal officer, Catriona Gartrell, told the committee:

“[The case] has absolutely no bearing on the matters this morning.”

Jim Tucker also provided data from the OGA on gas production from Third Energy’s Malton Field. He said in his statement:

“This demonstrates the last meaningful production was in 2012 with only a brief test volume in 2016 followed by a minuscule amount in 2018.

He said there had been no gas production at Malton since July 2018:

“I, along with many Ryedale residents, am left wondering why NYCC would be minded to approve a 17 year extension for sites that have not produced commercial quantities of gas for many years and the previous planning permission was conditioned to the effect that consent would terminate if there was no production for 6 months.”

A statement from Third Energy said gas production across the Ryedale fields “has been temporarily ceased”. The statement said this was because of the Covid-19 outbreak and a long-term plan to replace what was described as “ageing equipment” at the Knapton Generating Station.

DrillOrDrop reported last month that the Knapton Generating Station had ceased working in November 2019 and that all the fields had stopped producing. This is the only possible destination for Ryedale gas because the fields are not connected to the national gas network.

Third Energy said production at the Ryedale fields would resume when replacement equipment at Knapton had been confirmed.

On next week’s High Court case, it said:

“Regardless of the results of this case, business will continue as before and it has no bearing on the application.”

The committee agreed to a condition that Third Energy must stop work after four hours if its operations exceeded agreed noise limits.

The company has asked for a less specific condition that required it to work “in accordance with the noise monitoring scheme”.

The council’s head of planning services, Vicki Perkin, told the committee the condition would give clarity for residents.

11 replies »

  1. So what has been granted isn’t in fact continued use of the gas fields, as most of the gas field depleted of gas. And from what I’ve read after following DoD is that the turbine at the generating station needs replacing as it does not meet current emission limits. So what is really left in situ is a lot of aged, redundant gas paraphernalia. One would assume the company will replace the turbine to produce electricity but presumably it won’t be powered by its own trickle of gas? And I also read that Third Energy was intending to evaluate green energy/renewable energy alternatives, so one wonders what was the purpose of this application and consent. Unless there was a condition to restore these sites quickly if not productive, one could be forgiven for raising concern over redundant gas wells being left in situ up to 2035. Delay equals risk and a company with limited assets and significant liabilities equals risk.

    • KatT, obtaining permission until 2035 will help secure investment for a new generating plant at Knapton. Third Energy stated that production at the Ryedale fields would resume when replacement equipment had been confirmed.

      Do you have any data on the remaining gas reserves within the Ryedale fields?

  2. Assume and presume.

    I have been posting on this site for a long while, and I can recall mention of the need for a new generating plant at Knapton a long while ago.
    Obviously Barclays were not going to invest more to achieve that. So, now it will be interesting to see if the long overdue investment is made.

  3. Tory controlled Ryedale Council and represented by a Tory MP.
    What do you expect?
    Just like the Fylde!

  4. Yes, Peter. Those Tories are everywhere! Must be something to do with majority support leaving the minority to whinge.

    Perhaps, others could just get their act together and change that, rather than whinge about it?

    Not much sign of that happening.

  5. This is an aging gas field with a decrepit generating plant which was closed because of unacceptable emissions.
    One wonders who will be the beneficial owners in 2035 and in the meantime what security NYCC has achieved for residents and council taxpayers against the cost of dealing with any emissions from broken pipes in the gas field or generating plant let alone the cost of cleaning up the whole operation once increasing pressure to switch from gas production means the whole operation becomes valueless and the owners are bankrupt or long gone.
    Landowners involved need to be aware of their occupier’s liabilities.

      • The longer the wellheads and ageing pipelines are left without maintenance the greater the risk of fugitive emissions or major leaks if the system ever reopens – which it can’t until the decrepit generating plant has been replaced.
        How interesting that planning permission was obtained in the interest of national security for a gasfield which was not operating or operable at the time.

  6. “Wonderland”, Jon!?

    Of course the alternative (oops!) could be true, that long needed investment is made in the field and generating plant, producing profit (oops again) so that when the field is exhausted it is quietly and efficiently returned to farm land.

    Time will tell. Just like time will tell whether wind turbine blades continue to be bunged in landfill.

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