Daily headlines

March 2022 headlines

Keep up to date with March 2022’s news with our digest of daily updated headlines about the business, regulation and campaigns around UK fracking, shale, and onshore oil and gas.

Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road fracking site in Lancashire, 26 February 2022. Photo: Maxine Gill

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

Thursday 31 March 2022

Order withdrawn to plug and abandon Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road shale gas wells by 30 June 2022. The company has more than a year to produce re-use alternatives for the wells or decommissioning order will be reimposed. DrillOrDrop report

Reaction to reprieve for Cuadrilla’s shale gas wells. Campaigners say it leaves door open to fracking” and prolongs stress of residents. Cuadrilla says moratorium on fracking must also be lifted. DrillOrDrop report

Climate campaigner, Sarah Finch, seeks to take legal challenge over production at the Horse Hill oil site to UK’s highest court. DrillOrDrop report

MPs investigate how UK can cut reliance on oil and gas. DrillOrDrop report

Wednesday 30 March 2022

Oil company “U-turn” on burning waste gas could lose energy for up to 3,500 homes a year, campaigners say. DrillOrDrop report on criticism of permit changes at Horse Hill

Cambo licence extension – “a doomed oilfield on life support”, say campaigners. DrillOrDrop report

Global banks keep up pace with $742bn in fossil fuel finance despite climate pledges. FT article on Banking on Climate Chaos, the fossil fuel finance report

Tuesday 29 March 2022

UK onshore oil production falls for seventh year in 2021. DrillOrDrop report on onshore oil production data for 2021 and December 2021

Monday 28 March 2022

No 10 spokesperson does not deny reports that Boris Johnson is opposed to the resumption of fracking. The Guardian reports the spokesperson said:

“What we have said is that there is the moratorium still in place. It’s right given the situation in Ukraine that we consider all our options about how we increase our energy independence and security. And that includes looking at energy, nuclear and domestic gas as well.”

Residents fear government fracking U-turn which could mean Preston New Road wells reopen. ITV News reports Lancashire residents say they are living in fear of the government’s potential U-turn on fracking meaning two previously closed wells could be opened up once more.

Sunday 27 March 2022

South Western Energy withdraws onshore Dorset oil production plans – but promises new scheme with higher output. DrillOrDrop report

East Yorkshire councillor asks minister to review West Newton-A production plans. DrillOrDrop report

Boris Johnson’s UK energy strategy stalls as Sunak resists new spending. The FT and PA, among others reports that the energy security strategy looks likely to be further delayed amid suggestions that the chancellor is resisting new spending commitments.

Boris Johnson to confront bitter Tory splits over UK energy strategy and bills. The Guardian reports that Rishi Sunak’s spring statement has fuelled cabinet tensions, with demands for spending on new nuclear projects and renewables.

UK’s National Grid to sell 60% stake in gas unit to Macquarie. Reuters reports that the National Grid said it was selling 60% of its British gas transmission and metering business to Australia’s Macquarie Asset Management and British Columbia Investment Management Corporation

Saturday 26 March 2022

Boris Johnson ‘does not want fracking anywhere’. The Times reports Boris Johnson is resolutely opposed to fracking and is open to onshore wind farms only if communities want them.

Rebranded oil and gas regulator too ‘scared’ to be associated with fossil fuels, says MP. The Telegraph reports comments from the Net Zero Scrutiny Group chairman says move against shale gas has ‘emboldened the Russian tyrant’ as calls grow for a policy review

Friday 25 March 2022

Court sanctions Ineos over improper conduct in fracking protest injunction case. DrillOrDrop report

Breaking: UKOG gives up on oil drilling at Arreton, Isle of Wight and decides against an appeal. DrillOrDrop report

UK Oil & Gas plc looks beyond Weald oil and gas in its annual report. DrillOrDrop report

UK shale regulator refunds £600,000+ in licence fees because of fracking moratorium. DrillOrDrop report and FOI request

Wednesday 23 March 2022

Johnson to defy cabinet fears and push for onshore wind expansion. The Guardian reports Boris Johnson is expected to open the door to more onshore wind at next week’s energy strategy, despite some cabinet ministers lobbying against relaxing planning laws to allow more turbines.

Tuesday 22 March 2022

Shell reconsiders its exit from oil field off Shetland. BBC News reports Shell is reconsidering its recent decision to pull investment from the Cambo oil field off the west coast of Shetland. Friends of the Earth’s energy campaigner, Danny Gross, said:

“Developing the Cambo oilfield would do nothing to reduce soaring fuel bills. And as 80% of the oil extracted in the UK is exported, it wouldn’t meaningfully improve our energy security either. 

“The energy crisis highlights the need to reduce our reliance on increasingly expensive gas and oil that are also wrecking our climate.

“Greater investment in the UK’s cheap, homegrown renewables must be the top priority, along with a nationwide insulation programme to cut energy waste and drive down bills.” 

No 10 eyes toll roads to collect tax lost to e-cars. The Times reports Downing Street is discussing plans to set up a network of toll roads as ministers search for new ways to tax drivers.

Oil price rockets as EU leaders debate sanctions. The Times reports oil prices rose as high at $118 a barrel this morning after European leaders debated potential sanctions on Russian energy in response to the escalating war in Ukraine, intensifying fears of a supply crisis.

Angus Energy announces Saltfleetby variation notice. A statement from Angus Energy confirms the Environment Agency has issued a variation notice for the Saltfleetby gas field to include processing and compressing gas to export to the national grid.

Monday 21 March 2022

New name for oil and gas regulator. DrillOrDrop report on change of Lil & Gas Authority to the North Sea Transition Authority. Daily Mail (28/3/22)

Energy Security Strategy: Are the PM and Chancellor at loggerheads over the role of green energy? Business Green reports on suggestions of growing discord between Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson about the extent to which new nuclear and clean energy projects should feature in UK’s response to soaring energy bills.

PM meeting with nuclear industry leaders. The prime minister’s office reports that Boris Johnson hosted a roundtable at Downing Street with leaders from the nuclear industry to discuss how to improve domestic energy security and rapidly accelerate nuclear projects in the UK.

Ukraine war threatens global heating goals, warns UN chief. The Guardian reports a warning by Antonio Guterres that the war in Ukraine risks putting global targets on the climate out of reach if countries increase their use of fossil fuels.

The Guardian view on fuel duty cuts: expediency over the environment. A Guardian editorial says if fuel duty cuts go ahead Rishi Sunak would be handing money to people in proportion to how much they drive and how fuel-inefficient their car was.

Energy windfall of £25 per household would help with soaring bills amid calls for ‘renewables bonus’. INews reports that households should receive a windfall ‘renewables bonus’ to help with the cost of soaring energy bills, according to former energy minister and Conservative MP Chris Skidmore.

Johnson announces aim for UK to get 25% of electricity from nuclear power. The Guardian reports on the meeting with the PM saying he wants a quarter of electricity to be nuclear

Saturday 19 March 2022

Fracking debate returns to Blackpool. DrillOrDrop report

A guide to the UK energy security strategy. The Guardian reports on government plans that attempt to secure energy supplies and reduce soaring costs.

Cameron’s decision to cut ‘green crap’ now costs each household in England £150 a year. The Guardian reports on analysis by Carbon Brief that the decision by  David Cameron’s government to ditch what he denounced as “green crap” policies will cost every household as much as £150 a year by the autumn.

Friday 18 March 2022

Campaigners rebut IGas shale gas claims for Misson. DrillOrDrop report

Work from home to halt ‘crippling’ oil shortage. The Times reports on comments by the International Energy Agency that working from home, lower speed limits and car-free Sundays in cities should be adopted as emergency measures to cut oil demand.

Thursday 17 March 2022

Breaking: 20 years of oil production approved at Rathlin Energy’s West Newton-A site. DrillOrDrop report

Campaigners seek review of go-ahead for oil production at Rathlin Energy’s West Newton-A oil site in East Yorkshire. DrillOrDrop report

Three more years for East Yorkshire oil site. DrillOrDrop report

Anti-fracking campaign to join protest outside Tory conference. DrillOrDrop report

‘A year of slow progress’: How policy gaps continue to dog UK’s net zero transition. Business Green reports on analysis Aldersgate Group and National Infrastructure Commission warn government needs to explain how it plans deliver and fund a wave of low carbon industry, transport, and energy projects

Wednesday 16 March 2022

Sealing of Cuadrilla’s shale gas wells could be delayed by a year. DrillOrDrop report on negotiations and reactions to well abandonment at Preston New Road

Campaigner seeks to strike out Ineos shale gas protest injunction. DrillOrDrop report

Challenge to government funding of Mozambique gas project goes to Court of Appeal. DrillOrDrop report

Schlumberger defends Cambridge research as climate protests continue. DrillOrDrop report

Michael Gove ‘not convinced’ by case for more fracking in UK. The Guardian reports the levelling up secretary told an environmental meeting there should be more onshore wind

Tuesday 15 March 2022

High Court judges split over government decision to fund Mozambique gas project. DrillOrDrop report

Three arrests at XR blockade of Schlumberger research centre in Cambridge. DrillOrDrop report

Shell directors sued for ‘failing to prepare company for net zero’. The Guardian reports that ClientEarth is bringing legal action against the directors of Shell.

‘Lancashire said no’: Fresh row over calls for fracking rethink amid rising energy prices. Lancashire Live reports on reaction to new calls for fracking.

Tory MPs in target seats fear political impact of fracking. The Guardian reports that many potential fracking sites are either in red wall areas or former safe constituencies in the south. A survey shows only five of 138 MPs in licenced areas support fracking.

Domestic gas is not the solution to Britain’s energy security. Chris Skidmore, writing on CAPX says it is a mistake to focus on fracking instead of popular policies that will actually work. Fracking won’t drive down bills and when it was permitted barely two wells were ever operational, he says.

UK Government mulls relaxing North Sea climate checkpoints. Energy Voice reports that ministers are considering changing incoming rules on climate checkpoints that govern the award of new permits for North Sea oil and gas fields

Monday 14 March 2022

Breaking: Councillors unanimously voted to refuse third bid for more time at undeveloped Lincolnshire oil site. DrillOrDrop report on Lincolnshire’s planning committee, Lincolnshire Live

Egdon Resources to appeal against planning refusal at North Kelsey. DrillOrDrop report on reaction to the rejection of planning permission by Lincolnshire County Council

Councillors hear arguments over West Newton-A production plans – again. DrillOrDrop report on key issues on Rathlin Energy’s expansion scheme in East Yorkshire.

Climate campaigners blockade Schlumberger oil services company site in Cambridge. DrillOrDrop report

Fracking company boss makes last gasp plea to government to lift moratorium on shale gas. Independent, Telegraph, Press Association, BBC News, Sky News and others. Cuadrilla statement

Fracking not the answer to energy supply problems, says Fylde MP as work starts on capping wells. The Blackpool Gazette reports on comments by Fylde MP Mark Menzies

‘Not a good idea’: Ban Ki-moon urges UK not to bring back fracking after Russia oil ban. The Independent reports that the former UN secretary general says shale gas extraction would not be in the long term interest of humanity.

UK may delay closure of coal power stations due to energy crisis. The Independent reports government has contacted EDF Energy about keeping West Burton coal=fired power plant open beyond planned 2024 shutdown.

UK petrol prices could hit £2.50 a litre and diesel £3, experts tell MPs. The Guardian reports the Treasury select committee is told diesel rationing could be possible because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Boris Johnson hosts oil and gas CEOs on ‘boosting supply’ from North Sea. Energy Voice reports Boris Johnson has hosted the leaders of the UK oil and gas industry at Downing Street to discuss how to achieve “greater energy independence” for Britain.

Saturday 12 March 2022

PM sets up oil and gas taskforce to plot a way out of the energy crisis and cut UK reliance on Putin’s Russia. The Daily Mail says the task force will aim to grow Britain’s oil, gas and nuclear supplies.

No 10 must not cave in to Tory climate sceptics on fracking, says Ed Miliband. The Guardian reports comments by Ed Miliband, the shadow climate change secretary, who warns the prime minister against caving in to the climate sceptics on the Conservative back benches.

UK shale gas: fracking on a crowded island is fraught with difficulty. The FT reports that Boris Johnson is considering lifting the UK ban on fracking.

British shale firm could extract natural gas to heat 125,000 homes this year if ministers lift ban on fracking. The Daily Mail reports on IGas’s shale gas site at Springs Road, Misson. The company said it could prepare a planning application within weeks to extract shale gas that could heat up to 125,000 homes. But its development director, Ross Glover says it needs a streamlined regulatory system to get going. The Misson site is due to be restored by the end of the year.

Cuadrilla calls for fracking support now before wells are capped with concrete. The Telegraph reports that almost 40 Conservative MPs and peers have issued an eleventh-hour plea to the prime minister to lift the moratorium on fracking. SP Global

Britain’s Failed Frackers Hope for Reprieve Due to Russia Crisis. Bloomberg reports that soaring energy prices spur fresh lobbying for fracking but the old obstacles remain.

UK shale gas: fracking on a crowded island is fraught with difficulty. Public Wire reports on the reasons why the shale gas boom failed “to ignite” in Britain as it did in the US>

Friday 11 March 2022

Date set for decision on UKOG’s gas drilling plans at Dunsfold, Surrey. DrillOrDrop report

‘We’re ready’: UK anti-fracking activists prepare to fight resurgence plans. The Guardian reports anti-fracking campaigners have vowed to give energy firms “no peace” if the government lifts the moratorium on fracking, pledging “inconvenient and noisy” protests at every site.

North Sea gas to significantly ramp up production in wake of war in Ukraine. Herald Scotland reports North Sea gas production is being ramped up amid fears about global energy security.

Thursday 10 March 2022

Environment Agency gives go-ahead for waste reinjection at Angus Energy’s oil site at Brockham in Surrey. DrillOrDrop report

PM ‘looking at all options’ on fracking amid mooted return over Russian oil ban. The Standard reports that Boris Johnson is looking at “all options” to ease concerns about rising energy prices.

Expert reaction to arguments about fracking for UK energy security. Science Media Centre compiles comments from academics. They include Prof Jon Gluyas, Prof Stuart Haszeldine, Prof Andrew Aplin, Dr Stuart Gilfillan, Prof Richard Davies and Prof Quentin Fischer

Wednesday 9 March 2022

Rathlin Energy’s production plans at West Newton-A should be refused again, say East Yorkshire residents. DrillOrDrop report

Ministers still talking about whether to abandon Cuadrilla’s fracking wells. DrillOrDrop report on parliamentary answers from the business secretary. Guardian

East Yorkshire planners back Rathlin Energy’s West Newton oil plans. DrillOrDrop report

UKOG seeks two more years at Broadford Bridge oil site in West Sussex for “data review” – if approved this would be the fourth time extension at the site. DrillOrDrop report

UK’s fracking position ‘has not changed’ despite move to phase out Russian oil. The Guardian reports that shale gas wells at Preston New Road will be closed by June deadline as calls grow from lobbyists to revive drilling.

US and UK ban Russian oil and gas imports in drive to punish Putin. The FT reports that President Biden has banned imports of Russian oil and gas into the US.

Tuesday 8 March 2022

Questions over Rathlin Energy’s oil and gas production plans at West Newton in East Yorkshire. DrillOrDrop report on responses to public consultation on planning application.

Monday 7 March 2022

Crane arrives to plug Cuadrilla’s fracked wells at Preston New Road near Blackpool. DrillOrDrop report on operations to plug and abandon shale gas wells in Lancashire. Blackpool Gazette

House of Lords questions on fracking and gas supplies. Business minister, Lord Callanan, answering questions about whether and when the UK should begin fracking, said:

“I understand the attraction of this option but I am afraid that, having looked closely at this, there are some severe environmental problems—we cannot hide this fact—with original fracking operations. Lancashire is not Texas; it is much more heavily populated. Fracking is a relatively unproven technology in the UK. The reality is that it would be many years, if not decades, before we got meaningful quantities of gas out of the ground, even if we could resolve all the environmental problems—and none of that would affect the current price. We would not be producing anywhere near enough gas to affect the high prices in an international market so I am afraid, much as I would love it to be the case, it really is not the silver bullet that people think it is.”

Boris Johnson’s call to relax green target. The Times reports that the UK prime minister Johnson “believes the West should be given a ‘climate change pass’ to help wean the EU off Russian gas supplies as he faces mounting pressure over the government’s 2050 net-zero target”. It adds: “The Times has been told that Johnson wants the West, particularly the US and Canada, to ramp up its own production of gas to help remove the ‘massive leverage’ Russia has over EU countries.

Tory MPs urge bigger ‘floating’ wind target to boost energy security. The FT reports on a letter sent to Boris Johnson by the Conservative Environment Network which argues that the government should improve UK energy security by increasing its target for floating offshore wind farms.

Boris Johnson looks to increase North Sea oil and gas production. The FT and Guardian reports the prime minister is planning a new UK energy supply strategy to cut western dependence on Russia.

Don’t let high energy prices derail UK green agenda, say climate experts. The Guardian reports that climate experts have cautioned against a continued future of increased oil and gas production.

Vigil for climate justice. Women’s 24-hour climate rally outside the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood. Details

Sunday 6 March 2022

Tory MP’s fury as shale gas sites are shut while ‘still useful’ amid energy crisis. The Sun reports comments by Steve Baker that it is “outrageous” that Cuadrilla’s shale gas wells at Preston New Road are at the end of their useful life. He says they are “ready to produce shale gas”.

Calls for UK fracking ban lifted as council considers shale gas in Shirebrook and Ironville. The Chad reports that a former head of MI6 has called on Boris Johnson to “lift the moratorium on fracking” as councillors in Derbyshire consider a new minerals plan for the county. Derbyshire Times (4/3/22)

Fracking could return as firms research methods to reduce earthquakes amid energy fears. The Telegraph reports the industry regulator is under pressure to reverse orders to plug and abandon sites. The National (7/3/22)

Saturday 5 March 2022

Switch to our own power supplies is a win-win for everyone – except Putin. The Mail on Sunday carries a piece by business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, arguing that the UK needs to accelerate the transition away from gas and focus on renewables.

MPs issue eleventh-hour plea to Boris Johnson to reverse fracking ban. The Telegraph reports on a letter to the prime minister which claims the ban could play into the Kremlin’s hands. The paper says the wells are to be plugged and abandoned starting on 15 March 2022. Daily Mail

British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS pass-up Chelsea purchase to focus on turning French side Nice into European contenders without spending ‘stupid money’ in England. The Daily Mail reports says Jim Ratcliffe, owner of Ineos, has pulled out of the running to buy Chelsea football club

Friday 4 March 2022

Latest UK onshore oil production – November 2021. DrillOrDrop report on the latest official production data.

Lincolnshire planners back third time extension at North Kelsey oil site – despite 1,000+ opponents. DrillOrDrop report on recommendation to county council’s planning committee.

North Sea flaring cut by 19% in 2021 to record low. The Oil & Gas Authority reports that production facilities cut flaring by 6 billion cubic feet (bcf) to 26 bcf. This was the equivalent of annual gas demand of 130,000 homes, it said. Methane venting dropped by 8%.

Ukrainian activists lead global demand to end fossil fuel addiction feeding Putin’s war machine. Ukraine.org reports that more than 465 organisations in 50 countries call on world governments to reject and ban the importation of Russian oil and gas, and to rapidly phase out all fossil fuels in the name of peace.

Thursday 3 March 2022

Regulator minded to allow “substantial” changes at Horse Hill oil site in Surrey. DrillOrDrop report on the Environment Agency’s draft decision on the site’s permit variation. Links to draft decision

Oil and gas prices surge over supply fears. The Times reports that oil and gas prices surged on Wednesday on fears of disruption to Russian supplies as the Ukraine conflict intensified.

Wednesday 2 March 2022

Friends of the Earth gets go ahead for legal challenge to UK government’s landmark climate strategies on net zero and homes and buildings. DrillOrDrop report

Views sought on Derbyshire’s future fracking policy. DrillOrDrop report

IGas blames Covid-19 on 2021 production levels. DrillOrDrop report

Government has “no reliable cost” for net zero transition – new report from Public Accounts Committee of MPs. DrillOrDrop report, Press Association

Why fracking is not the answer to soaring UK gas prices. The Conversation argues the case against using UK fracking to reduce gas prices.

Why isn’t the Government acting with the pace it needs to hammer UK-based oligarchs? The Sun editorial says the Tories surrender on fracking made little sense and now it makes none. The paper says:

“The apparently plentiful shale gas under our feet can tide us over on the journey towards net zero”

Europa Oil and Gas to raise up to £7m for North Sea farm-in. Market Watch reports on plans for a discounted placing and subscription.

DNO North Sea aborts sale of Edge prospect offshore Ireland. Natural Gas World reports news from Europa that its deal to buy a 100% interest in the Frontier Exploration Licence 3/19 offshore Ireland has been cancelled by the seller, DNO North Sea.

Exxon to exit Russia, leaving $4 bln in assets, Sakhalin LNG project in doubt. Reuters reports Exxon is to exist Russian oil and gas operations that it valued at more than $4 billion. It is also to halt all new investment.

Jim Ratcliffe among three interested groups as Abramovich appoints US bankers to seal £3bn Chelsea sale. The Sun reports Jim Ratcliffe, a Chelsea season ticket holder, is in the frame to buy the club for his Ineos empire. Also reported in the Mirror and Manchester Evening News

Tuesday 1 March 2022

Third Energy awarded government funding for heat network study using old gas wellsDrillOrDrop report on £50,250 grant to Third Energy for feasibility study in North Yorkshire.

Scientists react: What are the key new insights from the IPCC’s WG2 report? Carbon Brief asks researchers who contributed to the new IPCC report what they think are its most important insights.

How heat pump sales are starting to take off around the world. A guest post for Carbon Brief reports double-digit growth in the sale of heat pumps from Austria to China.

UK shuts Kremlin out of gas pipelines as Centrica abandons Russia. The Telegraph reports on the race to isolate Moscow.

IEA agrees 60 mil barrel oil stock release as Ukraine crisis fuels price jump. SP Global reports that the International Energy Agency has agreed to release a total of 60 million barrels of oil in a coordinated effort in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

UK firms rush to dump Russian assets amid efforts to isolate Moscow. The Guardian reports Centrica became the third large British energy firm to cut ties with Russia in a week.

Nicola Sturgeon urges oil and gas companies to divest from Russia. Energy Live News reports Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has called for immediate divestment from Russian oil and gas.

UK starts urgent review of exposure to Russian gas and energy groups. The FT reports the government has begun an urgent review into how to reduce Britain’s exposure to Russian gas imports and Kremlin-backed energy companies following the invasion of Ukraine

Britain is paying the price for its fracking panic. Annabel Denham, director of communications at the free market think tank, the Institute of Economic Affairs, writing in the Spectator, says the British public “appears to want a climate-friendly energy policy, lower fuel prices and no fracking. It can’t have all three. The time is quickly arriving where they will have to decide which one they are willing to jettison”.

Parliamentary question on plugging Preston New Road shale gas wells. Conservative MP Steve Baker asks what steps the business minister will take to prevent plugging and abandoning the site’s two wells. Greg Hands replies:

“Gas wells need to be safely decommissioned at the end of their useful life. The Oil and Gas Authority is acting within its statutory remit to require the operator of these wells to decommission them.”

Parliamentary question on impact of fracking on energy prices. Conservative MP Richard Holden asks about assessments of the potential merits in response to rising prices. Greg Hands replies:

“The Government has been clear that shale gas development must be safe and sustainable – both for local communities and the environment. On the basis of the current scientific evidence, the Government has confirmed that it will take a presumption against issuing any further Hydraulic Fracturing Consents, which are required before hydraulic fracturing operations can take place. This position, an effective moratorium, will be maintained unless compelling new evidence is provided which addresses the concerns around the prediction and management of induced seismicity.

“Even if the current moratorium were lifted, development would also need to secure environmental permitting and planning consents, and it would take some years of exploration and development before commercial quantities of gas could be produced. Oil and gas is unlikely to become available in sufficient quantities to address the high prices currently affecting all of western Europe.”

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