Daily headlines

March 2021 headlines

Keep up with March 2021’s news with our digest of daily updated headlines about the business, regulation and campaigns around UK fracking, shale, and onshore oil and gas.

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

Wressle oil site, January 2021. Photo: Egdon Resources

Key headlines

  • Balcombe well test plan refused
  • New legislation strengthens police powers to restrict protests
  • Climate Change Committee recommends climate review before fracking moratorium is lifted
  • Cuadrilla’s Australian owner benefits from UK tax breaks
  • Planning application submitted for Biscathorpe production
  • Minister asked to rule on EIA for West Newton-A plans
  • Cuadrilla-Third Energy deal on Ryedale gas
  • Legal challenge to Horse Hill oil drilling and production to go to Appeal Court

Wednesday 31 March 2021

Don’t lift fracking moratorium without climate review – government advisor. DrillOrDrop report on recommendation from the Climate Change Committee to the government.

Urgent policies needed to steer countries to net zero, says IEA chief. The Guardian reports on comments by Fatih Birol that new energy policies are needed to put countries on the path to net zero greenhouse gas emissions as economies rapidly gear up for a return to fossil fuels.

UKOG delays annual results. UK Oil & Gas announces that it has received permission from the AIM stockmarket to delay publication of its results for the year to September 2020. They should have been published today. The company blames Covid-19 and says it expects to publish by 30 April 2021.

Climate is changing in the North Sea over licence row. The Times reports on how exploration can continue but environmental issues are raising the stakes for the industry

Tuesday 30 March 2021

West Newton-B well evaluation due next month – statement. DrillOrDrop report on an update from investors in Rathlin Energy’s site in East Yorkshire. Proactive Investors

UK criticised for ignoring Paris climate goals in infrastructure decisions. The Guardian reports that scientists have written to ministers and the supreme court over the recent ruling that the government need not take the UK’s obligations under the treaty into account when setting policy, made in a case concerning the proposed expansion of Heathrow airport.

Methane pollution soars in US as shale drilling resumes. The FT reports that greenhouse gas emissions are returning to pre-pandemic levels despite industry pledges.

Monday 29 March 2021

Ineos drop permit for work on Antwerp chemical facility. DrillOrDrop report on the company’s decision to give up its permit to clear woodland for the Project One chemical complex, destined to make raw materials for plastic.

Update on Saltfleetby finance facility. Angus Energy reports that Adelph Energy United has received additional commitments of £3m and now has the £12m funding sought.

Saturday 27 March 2021

UK councils lead international call to stem fossil fuel supply. The Independent reports that Lewes Town Council and Amber Valley Borough Council have become the first places in the world to back an international climate campaign to end fossil fuel extraction.

Friday 26 March 2021

MPs quiz HSE over scrutiny of silica dust risk at Cuadrilla’s fracking site. DrillOrDrop report on investigation into regulation at Preston New Road

Residents’ worries over silica regulation on fracking site. DrillOrDrop report on reaction to questions to HSE about Preston New Road.

Thursday 25 March 2021

Climate dispute over Surrey oil wells to go to Court of Appeal. DrillOrDrop report on the latest development in a legal challenge to drilling and oil production at Horse Hill. Evening Standard, Surrey Live, BBC News

Nottinghamshire minerals plan approved. Conservative-controlled Nottinghamshire County Council voted in favour of a new minerals plan, by 35 votes to 7, with 22 abstentions.

Ineos Energy to sell oil and gas business in Norway for $615m. Energy Voice reports the deal with PGNiG Upstream Norway covers a business, 93% weighted to gas, which produces around 33,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day from the Norwegian Sea.

Wednesday 24 March 2021

North Sea transition deal published. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy announces a new climate compatibility checkpoint before future oil and gas rounds to ensure licences awarded are aligned with wider climate objectives. BBC News, Guardian, Energy Voice

UK Government climate policy branded ‘denial and delusion’ over North Sea Deal. Friends of the Earth Scotland reacted with outrage that the UK government had decided to continue granting licenses for companies to search for more oil and gas in the North Sea. The organisation’s just transition campaigner, Ryan Morrison, said:

“This decision has completely exposed the outrageous hypocrisy inherent in the UK Government’s approach to the climate emergency which is a mix of denial and delusion with devastating consequences.

Tuesday 23 March 2021

Views sought on water injection plan at Angus Energy’s Brockham site. DrillOrDrop report on Environment Agency consultation.

Basur-3 drilling site construction starts. UKOG announces construction of the Basur-3 appraisal well drilling pad and access road has begun. The work is scheduled to last about 60 days, the company says.

Monday 22 March 2021

Rathlin Energy criticised over online consultation on expansion plans at West Newton. DrillOrDrop report

Sport urged to drop high carbon sponsors – climate change groups. DrillOrDrop report

UK faces ‘colossal’ task to modify homes under green plans, MPs warn. The Environmental Audit Committee reports that net zero will be impossible unless urgent action is taken on energy efficiency this decade. BBC News, Business Green

Sunday 21 March 2021

Bristol “Kill the Bill protest” – police attacked as demo turns violent. BBC News, Bristol Live, Sky News

Friday 19 March 2021

Wressle update: images reveal new equipment mobilised. DrillOrDrop report on the latest from the Wressle oil site in North Lincolnshire.

Ministers quizzed on fracking, climate change and conflicts of interest. DrillOrDrop report on parliamentary questions.

‘The next place to look is the UK’ says Ineos Energy chairman Gilvary. Energy Voice reports that the UK North Sea is next on the list of growth targets for Ineos Energy.

In-depth Q&A: How the UK plans to cut industrial emissions by two-thirds. Carbon Brief reports on the government’s new plan for low-carbon industry – the key points and where policy still remains unclear.

Thursday 18 March 2021

Ineos Energy to acquire all oil and gas interests from HESS Corporation in Denmark. Ineos reports that it has spent $150m to buy 61.5% of the HESS operated Syd Arne oil field and 4.8% of the Solsort field. Upstream Online, Oilfield Technology, CityAm, Reuters, Energy Voice

Oil firms knew decades ago fossil fuels posed grave health risks, files reveal. An exclusive by the Guardian reports that the oil industry knew at least 50 years ago that air pollution from burning fossil fuels posed serious risks to human health, only to spend decades aggressively lobbying against clean air regulations. Documents seen by the paper, including internal memos and reports, show the industry was long aware that it created large amounts of air pollution, that pollutants could lodge deep in the lungs and be “real villains in health effects”, and even that its own workers may be experiencing birth defects among their children.

Wednesday 17 March 2021

Parliamentary committee seeks evidence on human rights impact of bill to curb protest. DrillOrDrop report

Tuesday 16 March 2021

Bill seeking to curb rights to protest gets second reading. DrillOrDrop report on the 2nd reading debate of the policing bill, Day 2

Monday 15 March 2021

Government warned over “rushed and ill-judged” curbs on protest. DrillOrDrop report of the 2nd reading debate of the policing bill.

Union Jack buys portion of royalties in North Sea oil and gas fields. DrillOrDrop report. Energy Voice

HSBC interest in Angus Energy drops below reporting threshold. Angus Energy reported that HSBC, formerly classed as a “substantial shareholder” with 5.87% of shares, had disposed of some voting rights to take it below the disclosure threshold. The AIM stock market, on which Angus Energy is listed, requires companies to list acquisitions or disposals of shares that cross 5% or 10% thresholds. Notifications are also required when voting rights reach, exceed or fall below 3%.

OGA outlines how industry should work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Oil & Gas Authority launches its its ‘Stewardship Expectation 11 – Net Zero’ setting out how the oil and gas industry should reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and support delivery of the UK’s net zero target.

Saturday 13 March 2021

Beginning of end for North Sea as ministers consider exploration ban. The Telegraph (paywall) reports the UK government is considering a ban as part of a move away from fossil fuels ahead of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in November.

Thursday 11 March 2021

Policing protest plans are an “assault on human rights” – campaigners. DrillOrDrop article on the report on protest policing from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services. Guardian, Netpol and link to report

CCS ‘may only make sense in areas like north-east Scotland.Energy Voice reports on a study in the International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control concludes that the rollout of CCS technology is likely to be very “place-specific”, rather than widespread, as a measure to tackle climate change, according to new research.

Wednesday 10 March 2021

Fracking fears hit public trust in climate technologies – study. DrillOrDrop report on a study by Cardiff University which concluded that public concerns about fracking had shaped opinion about carbon capture and storage and other techniques needed to achieve UK climate targets. PhysOrg (9/3/2021)

Decision notice issued for Balcombe refusal. West Sussex County Council issues decision notice refusing permission for a well test at Angus Energy’s Balcombe oil site. Angus Energy has six months in which to appeal.

Extract from decision notice

Robin Ince quits science museum climate event over oil sponsorship. DesmogUK reports Pressure is mounting on the Science Museum to cut ties with oil giants BP and Equinor as comedian Robin Ince became the latest to turn his back on its climate event.

Tuesday 9 March 2021

Government announces new curbs on right to protest. DrillOrDrop report on the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill and Netpol’s Charter for Freedom of Assembly Rights.

Angus Energy accounts. Angus Energy announced it had generated £68,000 inn oil sales for the year to September 2020, down from £200,000 for the previous year. The group’s loss was £2.516m, down from a loss of £5.043m for the year to September 2019. Administrative costs had been reduced to £2.06m, down from £3.976m in the previous year.

Investigation: The climate-conflicted board of directors leading the UK’s banks. DeSmogUK reports that polluting industries are overwhelmingly represented on the boards of the UK’s banks by directors with past and current connections to high-carbon and environmentally-damaging companies.

Monday 8 March 2021

Better climate reporting needed from oil and gas companies – regulator. DrillOrDrop report, Energy Voice

Sunday 7 March 2021

What ever happened to fracking? The Sunday Times (paywall) reviews the history of the UK fracking industry.

Friday 5 March 2021

“No government plan for net zero, two years on” – MPs. DrillOrDrop article on the Public Accounts Committee report on progress to net zero. BBC News, Guardian, Independent

Thursday 4 March 2021

Cuadrilla-Third Energy deal on gas plan in Ryedale area of Yorkshire. DrillOrDrop report on announcement by Cuadrilla’s owner, AJ Lucas, to the Australian stock exchange.

Date set for Dunsfold gas drilling inquiry. DrillOrDrop report

Changes sought to Horse Hill environmental permit. DrillOrDrop report on consultation for permit variation for the Surrey oil site.

Pension funds should not dump fossil fuel shares, says UK minister. The FT reports that Guy Opperman, UK pensions minister, said he wants a partnership between trustees, asset managers, and fossil fuel groups as these companies transform themselves into clean energy companies 

Tuesday 2 March 2021

Breaking: Test plan for Balcombe well refused. DrillOrDrop report by the unanimous decision of West Sussex County Council to refuse planning permission for an extended well test. Weald Action Group, Mid Sussex times

Monday 1 March 2021

UK tax benefits boost finances of Cuadrilla’s Australian owner. DrillOrDrop report on findings from AJ Lucas interim accounts.

No immediate production peak after Horse Hill workover – new data. DrillOrDrop report on the latest OGA production figures for Horse Hill.

Minister asked to rule on environmental study for oil site expansion. DrillOrDrop report on letter to the local government secretary, Robert Jenrick, on EIA ruling for Rathlin Energy’s West Newton-A plans.

Biscathorpe update: drilling/production plans and ownership. DrillOrDrop report on submission of planning application for Egdon’s Biscathorpe site in Lincolnshire and finalisation of increased investment for Union Jack Oil. Vox , Proactive and Stock market wire

Fractured: The body burden of living near fracking. Environmental Health News reports on an investigation which found western Pennsylvania families near fracking were exposed to harmful chemicals, and regulations fail to protect communities’ mental, physical, and social health. More details soon on DrillOrDrop.com

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