IGas hints at legal action as government issues new WMS on fracking moratorium

The new business secretary has formally reinstated the moratorium on fracking in England.

Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road fracking site. Photo: Cuadrilla Resources

In a written ministerial statement (WMS), Grant Shapps overturned the previous lifting of the moratorium by the Liz Truss government last month.

The prime minister, Rishi Sunak, on his second day in office, had signalled that the moratorium would be restored.

The new WMS, issued on 27 October 2022, said:

“The Government are confirming today that we will again take a presumption against issuing any further hydraulic fracturing consents.

“This position, an effective moratorium, will be maintained until compelling new evidence is provided which addresses the concerns around the prediction and management of induced seismicity.

The moratorium had been introduced in November 2019 and included days later in the Conservative Party election manifesto.

The new WMS repeated the commitment made in 2019:

“The Government will therefore revert to a precautionary approach and only support shale gas exploration if it can be done in a way that is sustainable and protects local communities.

“We will be led by the evidence on whether this form of exploration can be done in a way which acceptably manages the risk to local communities.”

The WMS said:

“We will not support shale extraction unless the science shows categorically that it can be done safely.”

Mr Shapps referred in the WMS to a scientific review by the British Geological Survey, which concluded that forecasting fracking-induced earthquakes and their magnitude remained a challenge. There was “significant uncertainty”, he said.

The WMS said the government would consider  future applications for hydraulic fracturing consent on their merits. But it added:

“shale gas developers should take the Government’s position into account when considering new developments.”

IGas “reserves right to recover losses”

IGas, one of the four main shale gas licence holders in England, hinted this morning that it might take legal action against the government.

In a formal statement to investors, the company said it was “shocked and disappointed” that the UK Government had now formally announced another moratorium on fracking in England.

The company’s interim executive chairman, Chris Hopkinson, said IGas had “invested significant sums in the development of shale gas”, both before the 2019 moratorium and after it had been lifted by the previous government.

He said.

“These investments were made in the belief that we were unlocking a strategically important resource and providing energy security for the UK. 

“We continue to believe and assert that fracking for shale gas can and will be done safely and in an environmentally responsible manner. 

“In light of the Government’s totally unwarranted U-turn and, in the interest of our shareholders, we reserve the right to pursue any legal process available to us to recover the losses that we have incurred.”

IGas had estimated there was 630 billion cubic feet of gas in place per square mile in the Gainsborough Trough in the East Midlands. Applied across IGas’s licences in the region, this would equate to up to 19 years of UK gas demand, it said.

Mr Hopkinson said:

“Shale could quickly provide cheaper gas to the UK, supporting strategic industries such as the UK steel industry and the emerging blue hydrogen economy, selling gas at a guaranteed contracted price well below European prices.  Instead, we will now be tied into expensive imports of LNG for years to come at a time when other European countries are looking at domestic shale as part of their answer to high gas prices and energy security.”

“Government turning its back on shale gas industry”

Cuadrilla’s chief executive, Francis Egan, said in a statement it “beggars belief” that thee government should reintroduce a moratorium on exploring for and producing shale gas during energy and cost of living crises:

“This new Government is turning its back on an industry that has the potential to create tens of thousands of jobs across the North of England, generate billions in private sector investment, and provide local councils with much-needed tax revenue.”

Mr Egan said the new WMS “cements” a reliance on what he called “expensive, uncertain, and higher emission gas imports”. He said:

“North Sea gas production is in precipitous decline which may be slowed but cannot be stopped.

“By turning our back on our huge onshore gas resources, responsibility for this country’s ongoing gas supply has been transferred by politicians to the whims of dictators and the uncertainties of international supply lines and prices.   

“The consequences of outsourcing energy supply are all too apparent, it’s a great shame that the political foresight and willpower to address this are currently lacking.”

22 replies »

  1. Kat K, there are many manifesto commitments that the government has not delivered. The triple lock on state pensions is one. Brexit not done- as you will realise with the political paralysis in N. Ireland. Boris promised the DUP that their would be no border down the Irish Sea, then he created one. I could go on and on about how the Conservatives have failed to deliver their manifesto. The only reason they are now banning fracking is nothing to do with safety of environmental concerns, it is all about limiting the landslide of lost seats that will occur next election. The Conservatives put their Party first, not the country!

    • They are going to get a rude awakening. Tory Party members have been ripping up their membership cards & unsubscribing from the membership donations. They are abandoning the Party and signing up for Reform UK instead, in droves. As I write this, some Tory MPs are also considering abandoning their own Party. First there will be a trickle, then there will be a flood. The Tory Party is FINISHED.

  2. Ermm, it is not possible to fulfill a contract if there are moratoriums and lockdowns, YYLee!

    Within all your waffle that was the simple point you tried to cover up. Absolute classic attempt at fake news. Cover up a point of reality with a load of waffle and then project it as the new reality.

    Sorry, YYLee, you appear under a misapprehension that all on this site are vulnerable to such attempts. Good luck with that but I suspect the vulnerable are already convinced in their beliefs, and those who are not may be looking for something to convince them. They can look at the Rockhopper case for themselves. Even 1720 managed it, and his/her research has not always been that comprehensive.

    Have to arrange a hospital appointment today. Taking a risk, I am informed, that I could be crushed if an HGV drives past whilst I am there, but it is one of the hospitals due to be replaced and my risk/reward analysis and letter from the NHS suggests that I should still make my appointment before that is done.

    • OH dear, Martin Frederick Collyer. You do like to reverse the facts in order to conceal the truth beneath all that waffle, don’t you. Halloween seems to have caused Martin Frederick Collyer to reverse the proven facts into some kind of waffle concealed creeping living dead zombie fracking fanatical scenario that is only destined to descend back into the grave when the sun rises tomorrow morning. Even Hollywood will pass up that opportunity to profit from.
      No. I’m sorry to have to inform you that you’re wrong again Martin Frederick Collyer, As so often in your interminable denial and concealment of the facts, posts. [Edited by moderator] Such that the threatened frantic searches for ‘sunset clauses’ in which the sun has already set. With many European countries and much wider countries fully intending to drop the entire *’Modernised Energy Charter Treaty’* farce and corruption rip off.
      The truth is that it was the fracking companies which failed to deliver their contractual obligations long before the pandemic lock-downs, and it was Cuadrillas operational incompetence in causing hundreds of earthquakes from their inept fracking operations that led to the inevitable imposition of the fracking moratorium. For which they were to blame all by themselves, and even sought to conceal the evidence and bribe the victims of their inept incompetence. No amount of ‘sunset clauses’ will dig their ‘sunset clause out of the waste bin, with the inevitable words –
      *’Case Dismissed’*.

      No Martin Frederick Collyer, unlike yourself, I have ‘concealed’ nothing. In fact, I have engaged with every aspect of every salient fact of the issues and I have proved everything that I say with positively linked and documented and verified proof.

      Where have you done anything even remotely approaching that fact?

      [Edited by moderator]

    • I agree that Conservatives first concern is always party first. Sunak said at the leadership hustings that he would lift the moratorium on fracking if there was support by the communities. The fact that they are so afraid of losing seats in areas threatened by fracking demonstrates that the Tories realise the public in those areas, even previously staunch Tory voters, just do not want fracking

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