Daily headlines

March 2023 headlines

Keep up to date with March 2023’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

Thursday 23 March 2023

Planners oppose second Surrey hydrogen plan – this time at the IGas site at Albury near Guildford. DrillOrDrop report on recommendation to refuse planning permission.

Government rejects MPs call on flaring and oil and gas licensing. DrillOrDrop report on the government’s response to recommendations from the Environmental Audit Committee.

Tuesday 21 March 2023

Oil and gas industry regulator begins second recent probe into alleged failures of companies to meet licence obligations. DrillOrDrop report

Picture post: Divest East Sussex petition hand-in. DrillOrDrop report

Shell warns IPCC net-zero target may not be hit until 2100. The Times reports on new energy scenarios published by Shell. The company says :

“[I]n the worst case…net-zero greenhouse gas emissions would not be reached until the 2100s. In the best-case scenario, the world would hit the milestone in the early 2060s, but Shell said that would be ‘extremely challenging’.”

A ‘Rocking Chair Rebellion’: Seniors Call On Banks to Dump Big Oil. The New York Times reports that more than 100 climate actions were staged across the US yesterday by a group of protestors aged 60 and older calling themselves the “Rocking Chair Rebellion”.

Monday 20 March 2023

Scientists warn emissions from current fossil fuel infrastructure will breach 1.5C warming limit. DrillOrDrop report on the latest findings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Egdon prepares for more drilling at Wressle. DrillOrDrop report on plans for extra wells at the North Lincolnshire oil site.

Analysis: Cutting the ‘green crap’ has added £2.5bn to UK energy bills. CarbonBrief analysis shows that energy bills in the UK are nearly £2.5bn higher than they would have been if climate policies had not been scrapped over the past decade.

Amy Norman: How our power grid is choking UK green growth. The Times comments that the UK is in gridlock over its green growth. Amy Norman, associate director at Bradshaw Advisory, says getting new projects connected to the grid is fraught with painful waiting times of up to 15 years and perverse incentives around project viability.

Sunday 19 March 2023

Rishi Sunak delays key announcements on crime, energy and pensions as Boris Johnson returns to the limelight. The i newspaper reports that Rishi Sunak has delayed “key announcements” on energy ahead of parliament’s Easter recess. 

‘They have not done anything’: Hunt slammed for failing to back solar energy in Budget. CityAm reports that energy leaders, industry organisations and think thanks have said the government should have prioritised ramping up renewables such as solar power instead of pledging £20bn to carbon capture, usage and storage

Friday 17 March 2023

UK in danger of missing net-zero targets. The Times reports analysis by the think tank, Green Alliance, that confirmed government policies will only deliver 28% of the CO2 savings needed to meet binding carbon targets for 2028 to 2032

Lower quality gas to be pumped into households to boost energy security. The Telegraph reports that officials have agreed to relax rules so that gas with a lower calorific value can be allowed into the UK transmission system to be mixed with other supplies. It should enable drillers to extract some gas which would otherwise be left in the ground. The measure will not begin until April 2025.

Man Utd bidding war a “dirty derby” of sportswashing. Greenpeace UK comments on rival bids by Ineos CEO and the Qatari Islamic Bank chairman for Manchester United. Areeba Hamid, Greenpeace UK’s co-executive directorsaid:

“It’s worrying that the Man Utd bidding process has turned into a dirty derby between entities linked to fossil fuels. Kicked out of museums and art galleries, oil and gas is now invading the world of sport desperately looking for popular brands behind which to hide its climate-wrecking business. The Qatari Islamic Bank gets some of its revenues from oil and gas. INEOS is a major producer of plastic, toxic pesticides and fossil fuels, as well as one of the UK’s leading fracking firms. Having already plastered its brand all over cycling, sailing, football, running and rugby, INEOS is the undisputed champion of sportswashing. Whichever way this derby goes, the winner won’t be the climate.”

Thursday 16 March 2023

Just Stop Oil protesters could be banned from blocking roads in London. The Telegraph reports that transport bosses in the capital are seeking an injunction to prevent disruption to traffic but the legal action will not outlaw slow marches.

Balcombe legal challenge fundraises reaches initial pledge. Frack Free Balcombe Residents Association announces it raised its initial target of £5,000 24 days early to fund a legal challenge against approval by a planning inspector of well testing in the Wet sussex village. The group is now seeking a further £30,000 for potential legal fees.

Fuel-duty freezes have increased UK CO2 emissions by up to 7%. CarbonBrief analysis finds that cuts and freezes in fuel duty since 2010 means the UK’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are as much as 7% higher than they would have been.

Warnings over lower renewables investment as Government announces £200m support. PA reports expert warnings that government might fail to secure as much investment in renewable energy as it hopes this summer as costs soar.

Climate change: Coal mine expansion challenged in court. BBC News reports environmental campaigners hope a legal challenge will halt the extraction of 40 million tonnes of coal from a mine.

Wednesday 15 March 2023

UK spring budget 2023: Key climate and energy announcements. CarbonBrief looks at the measures in the budget including nuclear power and carbon capture and storage.

Budget does little to meet UK’s net zero carbon goals, say campaigners. The Guardian reports the chancellor was silent on home insulation, oil and gas windfall tax, and onshore windfarms – but freezes fuel duty.

Carbon capture funding is massive handout to polluters. Friends of the Earth Scotland describes the government pledge of £20bn over the next 20 years for the carbon capture industry as a ‘massive handout’ to rich oil companies and that schemes like the Acorn project risk turning the North Sea into ‘Europe’s carbon dumping ground.’

New CEO at Europa. Europa Oil & Gas announces that Simon Oddie, chief executive since November 2019, is retiring. He will remain on the board as a non-executive director. He is replaced by William Holland, the company’s chief financial officer since April 2022.

Four Insulate Britain activists cleared of ‘disproportionate’ criminal charges. The Telegraph reports that a district judge has found the defence team’s human rights argument was legitimate as there were no “grave consequences” to M25 protest.

Coal power stations unlikely to provide emergency energy top-up next winter. Sky News reports that companies running the UK’s three remaining coal-fired power stations have told Sky News that they will not be able to commit to new emergency power contracts next winter, despite a government request to do so.

Britain to announce energy security measures by month-end. Reuters reports British government measures to support energy security will be announced later in March, a budget document said on Wednesday without mention of any fresh incentives for oil and gas or renewable energy producers.

Tuesday 14 March 2023

Date set for appeal hearing over refusal of more time for oil drilling at North Kelsey Moor in Lincolnshire. DrillOrDrop report

Study links fracking to heart disease in nearby communities. University of Chicago News reports on a new study which found older adults living near fracking sites in Pennsylvania were more likely to be hospitalized for cardiovascular diseases than those who lived in nearby New York state, where fracking is banned.

Monday 13 March 2023

2022 UK onshore oil production sinks to lowest level for 34 years. DrillOrDrop analysis of 2022 onshore oil production data.

Construction begins on Pinarova-1 well pad and access road. UK Oil & Gas reports that work began on schedule over the weekend. Site construction is due to take 14-21 days, the company said. Drilling to 500-550m is expected to start in late March-early April.

Man United takeover latest: Sir Jim Ratcliffe ‘remains confident’ despite ‘deadline delay’. The Manchester Evening News reports the second stage of the Manchester United takeover is underway as Jim Ratcliffe’s Ineos Group and Qatari Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani advance from the indicative stage after making their proposals public last month. American hedge fund Elliott Management has also reportedly joined them in progressing with their financing proposal, the paper reports.

Sunday 12 March 2023

Aramco: Saudi state-owned oil giant sees record profit of $161bn. BBC News reports that the record profit represents a 46.5% rise compared with last year.

Saturday 11 March 2023

“Nowhere is safe if Balcombe oil exploration goes ahead”. DrillOrDrop report on residents in the West Sussex village of Balcombe seeking to set a legal precedent against onshore oil and gas operations across southern England.

Hunt pledges £20bn for carbon capture and nuclear ramp-up in clean energy push. Sky News and City Am report the chancellor Jeremy Hunt is expected to pledge £20bn to ramp up carbon capture and low carbon energy at next week’s budget, alongside unveiling a competition to pitch small, modular reactors in a boost to the UK’s nuclear industry.

Why “my country only emits 1% of emissions” is no excuse for rich countries to not tackle climate change. Hannah Ritchie, in Sustainability by numbers, lists five reasons why small countries can, and should, punch above their weight on tackling climate change.

Sitting on a carbon bomb. CBC News reports from British Columbia where the Blueberry River First Nations won a landmark case in 2021 at the supreme court. A judge ruled that the nation’s treaty rights had been breached by disturbance from companies exploiting gas.

Friday 10 March 2023

Balcombe seeks legal challenge to test of oil well. DrillOrDrop reports that Balcombe villages are seeking a legal challenge to planning permission for a well test.

UK poised to redefine atomic power as ‘green’ in bid to pull in private investment. The FT reports the UK government is “poised to redefine nuclear power as ‘green’ as it seeks to drum up more private investment in the sector to improve domestic energy resilience”.

‘Low risk’ of Greenpeace legal action derailing Jackdaw, says Shell. Energy Voice reports that Shell has played down the chances of Jackdaw being hampered by a legal challenge from Greenpeace. The the environmental group has applied for a judicial review of the government’s decision to approve Jackdaw without assessing the impact it would have on climate when the gas was burnt.

EU strikes deal to curb energy use by 2030. Reuters reports the European Union struck a deal on Friday to cut final energy consumption across the bloc by 11.7% by 2030, a goal lawmakers said would help fight climate change and curb Europe’s use of Russian fossil fuels.

Thursday 9 March 2023

Offshore flaring halves in four years but onshore hits record high. DrillOrDrop analysis of onshore flaring data, where the trend is going in the opposite direction from offshore. City Am reports on the North Sea side of this issue.

Government “asleep at the wheel” on electricity decarbonisation – new report. DrillOrDrop article on the latest Climate Change Committee report. It urged ministers to speed up the shift to decarbonised electricity. Also reported by CarbonBrief, the Press Association and Business Green

Fossil fuels received £20bn more UK support than renewables since 2015. The Guardian reports on research commissioned by the Lib Dems, which concluded that the UK government has given £20bn more in support to fossil fuel producers than those of renewables since 2015.

Hunt urged to commit extra £6bn a year to making UK homes energy efficient. The Guardian reports a coalition of charities and campaigners have demanded the chancellor funnel more funds into making Britain’s leaky housing stock energy efficient at next week’s budget to help cut bills and protect the environment. Also reported by PA

UK’s first new coalmine in decades will endanger emissions pledge, experts say. The Times reports new analysis by Ember which shows that the UK’s first coal mine in three decades, proposed in Cumbria, “would release 15 times more of a powerful greenhouse gas than its developer estimates”.

Windfall tax all but wipes out North Sea oil giant’s £2bn profit. The Daily Telegraph says that Harbour Energy, the North Sea’s biggest oil producer, has warned it will be “forced to cut staff and investment as it claimed its profits were all but wiped out Rishi Sunak’s windfall tax”.

EU agrees to push for fossil fuel phaseout ahead of COP28. Reuters reports European Union countries agreed to promote a global fossil fuel phase out on Thursday ahead of the United Nation’s COP28 climate summit this year, attempting to boost a global deal that failed at last year’s summit.

Wednesday 8 March 2023

Losses widen at Angus Energy on derivative swap. DrillOrDrop report of the company’s annual reports

Saltfleetby compressor fully commissioned. Angus Energy announces the second compressor at the Saltfleetby gas site has been fully commissioned and is processing gas for export. Clean up on the SF7V well is awaiting coiled tubing due in late March.

Court restrictions on climate protesters ‘deeply concerning’, say leading lawyers. The Guardian reports comments by leading lawyers that restrictions placed on non-violent climate protesters who have been tried in criminal courts were part of a “deeply concerning” “pincer movement” narrowing their rights to free expression

UK must match US green investment scheme or be left behind, says Institute of Directors. The Times reports that the Institute of Directors, the professional organisation for senior business leaders, has called for a UK version of the Inflation Reduction Act to avoid the nation falling behind on renewables and low-carbon technologies.

Britain fires up back-up coal plants for first time ever. The Telegraph reports that emergency coal-fired electricity was used for the first time this winter to stave off the threat of blackouts after a cold snap and strikes in France stretched supplies.

National Grid is the biggest roadblock to reviving onshore wind, argues Octopus. City Am reports on comments by Octopus Energy that the slow speed of grid connections is the largest challenge for renewables.

Tuesday 7 March 2023

Over half of Brits back faster switch to clean energy. Business Green reports on the conclusion of a YouGov survey of 2,000 adults commissioned by the Warm This Winter coalition of fuel poverty and environmental charities. It found that 54% of Britons want to see an acceleration in the UK’s clean energy transition.

Europa says its Irish prospect would have lower emissions than importing energy. The Irish Times reports on an announcement by Europa Oil & Gas that gas from a potential reservoir off the Irish west coast could produce lower emissions than imports.

Exxon says it is re-evaluating Europe strategy after windfall taxes. Reuters reports comments by Exxon chief executive Darren Woods that the company is reviewing its role in Europe in view of new windfall profits taxes as it increasingly invests more in the US.

Grant Shapps banned energy ministers from taking foreign trips. The Guardian reports that the energy secretary has banned foreign trips because of a mounting acklog of issues raised with them by MPs.

Monday 6 March 2023

Revealed: 1,000 super-emitting methane leaks risk triggering climate tipping points. The Guardian reports more than 1,000 “super-emitter” sites gushed the potent greenhouse gas methane into the global atmosphere in 2022, mostly from oil and gas facilities. The worst single leak spewed the pollution at a rate equivalent to 67m running cars.

UK emissions fall 3.4% in 2022 as coal use drops to lowest level since 1757. CarbonBrief reports that emissions from coal and gas fell in 2022, due to strong growth in clean energy, above-average temperatures and record-high fossil fuel prices suppressing demand.

UKOG gets consent for Pinarova-1 exploration well in Turkey. UK Oil & Gas reports that Turkey’s General Directorate of Mining & Petroleum Affairs has issued a formal written consent for the Pinarova-1 exploration well’s geological and technical objectives and design.

‘We don’t feel safe’: US community in shock after record methane leak. The Guardian reports on the impact of the leak of a billion cubic feet of the potent greenhouse gas into the atmosphere in rural Pennsylvania amid state’s fracking boom.

Saturday 4 March 2023

Climate change beliefs shape opposition to UK fracking – new study. DrillOrDrop report on research by UK and US universities about how perception of the seriousness of climate change appears to be influencing attitudes to gas extraction.

Friday 3 March 2023

No fracking ban in Derbyshire in case Government changes its mind. Derbyshire Live reports on a meeting of Derbyshire County Council (1 March), which was told that the local minerals plan must include references allowing fracking in certain circumstances.

Hospitalisations for cardiovascular and respiratory disease among older adults living near unconventional natural gas development: a difference-in-differences analysis. Research published in the Lancet finds that Pennsylvania zip codes where unconventional natural gas development (UNGD) began in 2008-2010 were associated with more hospitalisation for cardiovascular diseases in 2021-2015 than would be expected in non UNGS areas.

Thursday 2 March 2023

Legal challenge to Dunsfold drilling gets go-ahead. DrillOrDrop report in successful application by Protect Dunsfold and Waverley Borough Council to challenge planning permission for UKOG’s Loxley gas exploration. Morning Star reports reaction from UKOG (3/3/23)

Protest at High Court by opponents of Surrey gas drilling. DrillOrDrop report on statutory review sought by Protect Dunsfold and Waverley Borough Council against gas drilling in Dunsfold.

Angus Energy completes sidetrack well at Saltfleetby. DrillOrDrop report

Core shareholders in Angus Energy offer debt facility to cover drilling overruns and diligence costs of potential acquisition. Company statement

Angus Energy appoints Richard Herbert as chief executive and George Lucan as executive chairman. Company statement

Egdon Resources completes acquisition of Aurora Production. Egdon Resources announces it has acquired Aurora’s 18.75% interest in PL090 (Waddock Cross) and 8.33% in PEDL070 (Avington).

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