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