Onshore shale gas company closing

One of the winning companies in the most recent auction of onshore oil and gas licences is going out of business.

Extract from Warwick Energy Exploration Limited webpage on the Companies House website

Warwick Energy Exploration Limited applied earlier this week to be removed from the UK companies’ register.

Two of the three directors have resigned and a formal notice of voluntary strike-off is being prepared.

The Oil & Gas Authority (OGA) awarded Warwick Energy three shale gas licences in the 14th round in 2016.

One of the licences (PEDL263) was immediately north of Cuadrilla’s fracking area in Lancashire. The others were in South Yorkshire (PEDL298) and the East Midlands (PEDL302).

PEDL263, one of three licences awarded to Warwick Energy in 2016. Map: UKOGL

The licences gave Warwick the exclusive right to explore, appraise and produce gas, subject to consent from regulators.

As part of the licence agreements, the company committed to drilling a well in each area by 2018. The deadline was later extended by three years.

But Warwick did not publish any proposals for well sites or apply for planning permission for shale gas developments.

The company, incorporated in 2001 to extract natural gas, paid fees for the three licences for at least three years.

Data published online by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy confirms that the annual fee of £9,873 was paid in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

In 2018, the OGA confirmed that the Warwick licences were among 11 where the commitment to drill the well had been extended from two years to five years.

The licences are no longer listed on the OGA online database and Warwick Energy Exploration Limited is no longer listed as a licence operator.

The most recent company accounts report that the company had capital and reserves of £517,339 at 30 September 2020. This was unchanged on the figure for 2019.

According to Companies House, Robert Jones, one of the directors who resigned, is still on the board of 10 Warwick Energy-related companies. Mark Petterson, who also resigned, continues as a director of nine related companies.

John Sulley, the remaining director of Warwick Energy Exploration Limited, is a board member of 22 companies based at the same address.

He was previously chief executive of Independent Energy. In 2000, The Guardian reported that this company had called in the receivers in a spectacular collapse. In 2003, The Times reported an out-of-court settlement between Independent Energy and US investors.

The current website of the parent company, Warwick Energy Limited, says it was now “primarily focussed” on offshore wind projects. There is no reference to oil or gas.

The Warwick Energy licences are just a few of the 14th round awards that have been either relinquished or not taken up in the past five years. Of the 90+ issued licences, there are now 60 remaining.

Update 31/1/22: Warwick Onshore Exploration Limited applies to be struck off the companies’ register.

Update 25/4/2022: Warwick Onshore Exploration Limited was struck off on 19/04/22 and the dissolution date for the company is 26/04/22

11 replies »

  1. Thanks Ruth for flagging this.
    The PEDL held in Lancashire by the company might be extinguished but the map of the defunct PEDL is now permanently available in the archives of the Onshore Geophysical Library (UKOGL). While the fact that the company failed to meet its work commitment to drill wells is understandable, the fact that after several years of holding the PEDL the company has not submitted a report to the public file of UKOGL on whatever work the company did is a cause for concern. It is normal that a PEDL holder would conduct studies, if not actual drilling. So where are the studies that it did? Such studies might have included include: reprocessing or revaluation of existing seismic lines that crisscross its PEDL (UKOGL green lines); reassessment of the UKOGL regional seismic study (UKOGL purple line); review of previous studies by previous licence holders of the area; review of the geological literature of the PEDL; reprocessing of mag-grav surveys of the area; review of the LIDAR topographic maps of the area; and so forth. Being awarded a PEDL should mean the PEDL-holder has obligations that might be scaled down, even scaled down drastically, but where is the tangible evidence for this?

    Robin Grayson FGS
    Liberal Democrat

    • Maybe it had nothing to report because it did nothing, Robin, or completed nothing?

      Bit like……???

      No, an easy goal, but I will not go there.

      Meanwhile, I notice that in a debate currently in HoC an admission that USA is helping out UK and Europe with supplies of gas to help in respect of the situation with Ukraine/Russia. Strangely, there seems to be widespread cross party support for that. So, the USA drill rig count looks as if it will have some more weekly increases, whilst UK debt interest costs go above £8billion per month, a large increase fueled by inflation, fueled by energy costs. The age old vicious circle.

      Looks as if the current US President is following the previous one, whilst the UK is being conned into believing they will lead the rest of the world, then having to rely on the rest of the world to be bailed out. But, there is always Loxley!

  2. A welcome move, it appears, to investment in renewables. We need many more to follow if our cognitive dissonance is to be smashed.

  3. Do “we”?

    I had never heard of them. But, based upon the text supplied, I would wonder about their ability to deliver anything. Off shore wind requires a lot of dosh to get into the game.

  4. Perhaps “we” need to do some research and then propose some practical alternatives. A company who has failed, suggesting it may be a success in another area that requires a lot of money to compete in, does not look like a positive or very practical alternative.

    If that is the best that “we” can do, then oil and gas prices will keep on rising.

  5. Europe kow towing to Putin account dependance on Russian gas, oil &gas prices hitting the economy & plunging millions into fuel poverty.
    IF ONLY we had supported fracking, produced at least some of our own energy, encouraged others to frack (thus curtailing coal & benefitting the environment).
    Hope anti frackers are proud of themselves. I am glad to have opposed them over the past 10 years but bitterly regret not achieving more success.
    But hey ho! the nimbies have not been inconvenienced
    So that’s alright!

  6. Interesting. It looks like it is (or was) a small consultancy firm based in an office in a local business park. The offshore wind farms listed on its site have subsequently commissioned.

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