September 2015 fracking headlines
DRILLORDROP’S 1,000TH POST
Our digest of September’s headlines about fracking, shale and onshore oil and gas developments – and reaction to them – in the UK and around the world.
- Northern Ireland issues a planning presumption against fracking
- Reaction to licence blocks announced under the 14th round
- Ryedale MP Kevin Hollinrake on his visit to Pennsylvania
- Pennsylvania water contamination linked to fracking site and state officials “kept complaints out of the records”
- Rathlin Energy applies for planning extension at West Newton wellsite
- Consent granted for monitoring boreholes at proposed Ryedale fracking site but refused for Llanharan exploratory gas well
- Fracking opponent elected leader of the Labour Party
- UK researchers establish first national baseline on seismic activity
- Court rejects anti-fracking protesters’ defence that IGas acted unlawfully at Barton Moss
- Group seeks legal challenge to government fast-track fracking policy
30th September 2015
Ryedale MP calls for 1 mile gap between homes and fracking DrillOrDrop report
Ryedale should take next step towards fracking – MP says The Gazette and Herald reports that Kevin Hollinrake believes the area should take the “next step” towards fracking providing it is done in the right way with stringent regulations and supervision.
‘Fracking capital’ visit concerns confirm need for tight regulations The Northern Echo reports on Thirsk and Malton MP Kevin Hollinrake’s visit to Pennsylvania
Fracking opposed by Lancaster City Council The Lancaster Guardian reports that city councillors voted to oppose fracking across the district. More than 30 councillors voted to support the motion, which said fracking had the potential to spoil the countryside and adversely affect wildlife and habitat, as well as cause the potential for earthquakes, the paper said. The council will ask the government to scrap proposals to remove responsibility for determining fracking planning applications from local councils if they are not determined within a 16-week period.
Fact check: Is fracking compatible with action on climate change? Greenpeace EnergyDesk examines six arguments on whether shale gas extraction in the UK is or is not compatible with targets to limit fossil fuel emissions.
Row over fracking survey The Lancashire Evening Post reports on disagreements between pro and anti-fracking groups in the county over the findings of a public attitudes survey. See DrillOrDrop report from 25th September 2015.
Exodus from ‘man-camps’ spurs real-estate crisis across U.S. shale towns The Chicago Tribune has a feature on Williston, North Dakota, where hundreds of homes lie empty after oil workers left the town as commodity prices fell. In 2011, Williams County approved 12,000 beds in so called temporary man camps. Vacancy rates in the man camps are now 70% and newly-built apartments are empty.
Court blow to Obama fracking safeguards The FT reports that a federal court judge in Wyoming has issued a preliminary injunction against Obama administration regulations on wellbore construction, wastewater management and disclosure of chemicals used to frack on federal land. Ruling on a legal challenge from oil industry groups and states, the district court judge cast doubt on whether the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management had the authority to issue the rules, the FT writes.
Egdon Resources – UK shale, beyond the planning stage in 2016 Oil Voice reports that Egdon has three exploration wells scheduled for drilling towards the end of 2015 at North Kelsey, Laughton and Biscathorpe.
29th September 2015
Solo Oil reveals licence bid for Isle of Wight DrillOrDrop report
Wildlife Trusts identify 188 nature reserves in oil and gas licence blocks DrillOrDrop report
Closing date for comments on 14th round licences Consultation closes today on the Oil and Gas Authority’s Habitats Regulations Assessment of blocks to be awarded in the 14th onshore oil and gas licensing round Link to consultation
Green activists worry about government plans to raise cost of legal challenges The Guardian reports that green organisations could face steep rises in the cost of legal challenges to planning decisions and infrastructure projects under changes proposed by the government. A consultation is underway, which includes proposals to double to cap on costs from £5,000 to £10,000 for individuals and £10,000 to £20,000 for organisations which seek a judicial review of decisions.
Mark Carney warns investors face ‘huge’ climate change losses The FT reports on a warning by the governor of the Bank of England that investors face “potentially huge losses” from climate change action that could make reserves of oil, coal and gas “literally unburnable”. “The challenges currently posed by climate change pale in significance compared with what might come,” he said. “Once climate change becomes a defining issue for financial stability, it may already be too late.”
Government broken promises on fracking Kerry McCarthy, Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, tells the Labour Conference: “They’ve [the government] broken their promise not to allow fracking in water protection zones and sites of special scientific interest. They’ll be trying to get this through parliament soon – and we will do all we can to stop it.” There were no reference to shale gas or fracking in the speech by Lisa Nandy, the Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary. Transcript at BusinessGreen.com
Ineos among bidders for Mikhail Fridman’s North Sea gas fields The FT reports that Ineos is among several bidders, including two private equity-backed groups, looking to buy North Sea gasfields owned by the Russian billionaire, Mikhail Fridman.
Anti–fracking meeting planned in Epworth The South Yorkshire Times reports on the first meeting of the new community action group, Frack Free Isle on Thursday 1st October, at Epworth Wesley Memorial Church Hall, High Street at 7pm.
Hundreds sign petition against Amber Rudd The Hastings Observer reports that more than 1,300 people have signed a petition of no confidence in the MP for Hastings and Rye, Amber Rudd, as climate change secretary. Referring to the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, the petition says: “The Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change is undermining renewable energy whilst promoting fossil fuels, the UK needs a credible voice at this vital conference.” The petition expires on March 16th 2016. Link to petition
Community strategies meeting to fight fracking in Forest of Dean to take place in Cinderford The Gloucester Citizen reports on an anti-fracking meeting on Wednesday 30th September at Cinderford Miners Hall. Details
28th September 2015
Northern Ireland’s environment minister Mark H Durkan officially says “No to fracking” with a presumption against unconventional hydrocarbon extraction in a strategic planning guide DrillOrDrop report
Shell to abandon Arctic well Shell announces it found insufficient oil and gas in the Burger J Well, 150 miles from Barrow, Alaska, to warrant further exploration. The well will sealed and abandoned, the company says. It adds: “Shell will now cease further exploration activity in offshore Alaska for the foreseeable future. This decision reflects both the Burger J well result, the high costs associated with the project, and the challenging and unpredictable federal regulatory environment in offshore Alaska.” Energy Voice report
Shell’s decision an “unmitigated defeat” Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven describes Shell’s decision as “an unmitigated defeat”. He says: “They had a budget of billions, we had a movement of millions. The ‘unpredictable regulatory environment’ that forced Shell out of the Arctic is otherwise known as massive pressure from more than 7 million people. For three years we faced them down, and the people won.”
Shell exit fuels ‘stranded assets’ debate The FT comments on Shell’s decision to halt its Arctic oil exploration. The paper says it comes at a time when campaigners are warning energy companies that those who invest in new exploration could end up being unable to use what they find.
Environment Agency appoints new chief executive The government announces Sir James Bevan, the UK’s High Commissioner to India, is to become the new Environment Agency chief executive on 30th November 2015. Sir James says: “One of the biggest challenges of our time is protecting the environment and promoting growth. We need to do both, and I look forward to playing my part in that.” The former chief executive, Paul Leinster, left his post on 25thSeptember after 17 years with the EA.
Thirsk and Malton MP concludes fracking would have low impact on constituency Kevin Hollinrake, who visited Pennsylvania to research fracking, tells the Northern Echo the gas production method would have a small long-term impact on residents, traders and the environment if properly regulated. Mr Hollinrake says he was reassured by better working practices and regulations introduced since fracking operations started there a decade ago. A Frack Free Ryedale spokesman tells the paper while the impact of a single well might last six to nine months, this did not take into account wells’ short life, which meant more wells needed to be drilled to maintain production.
Methane leak data in Pa. paints an uncertain picture Shale gas companies in Pennsylvania reported leaking 9,681 tons of methane in 2013, a 41 per cent increase over 2012, according to PowerSource. But the website says emissions aren’t measured at oil and gas facilities and company estimates are based on a 20-year-old formula based on the number of components on a well site and the volume of gas flowing through. The increase reflects only more wells producing, not necessarily those leaking more gas.
27th September 2015
Edenbridge woman launches petition amid fracking fears The Kent and Sussex Courier reports that Sue Rule, from Edenbridge, has started a petition against the possibility of fracking in Kent. The County Council is currently consulting on its Minerals and Waste Local Plan, which says, subject to certain conditions, permission will be granted for the exploration of oil and gas, the paper says.
26th September 2015
SNP energy minister was ‘on brink of resigning’ over fracking policy Herald Scotland reports Energy minister, Fergus Ewing, was on the brink of resigning after being told to announce a moratorium on fracking, according to claims by the Green MSP Patrick Harvie. The Scottish Government says this is “categorically untrue”.
25th September 2015
Good news and bad for government in Europe-wide fracking survey Our report
Oil and gas drilling impacts public drinking water supplies in Potter County, Pennsylvania The not-for-profit news agency, Public Herald, reports that two public drinking water systems have been impacted and at least six private water supplies have been allegedly contaminated due to ongoing pollution being caused by a natural gas fracking operation of JKLM Energy. At an emergency meeting yesterday (24th September) a local official told local people “it’s worse than we thought”. This is the first time that public water supplies have been impacted to the point of being shut down due to potential groundwater contamination from unconventional oil and gas operations, the news agency says. A chemical injected by JKLM has been detected in an aquifer within the recharge zone for public drinking water supplies.
UK energy policy under fire as Drax quits carbon-capture project The FT reports a £1bn UK climate change plan has been thrown into turmoil as the Drax power company abandons a carbon capture and storage system next to its North Yorkshire power station. Its board member, Peter Emery, tells the paper “critical reversals” in government for renewable energy had made “a severe impact on our profitability. Daily Telegraph report
Alba increases stake at Horse Hill Proactive Investors reports Through a deal with privately owned Angus Energy, Alba Minerals will acquire an additional 5% of the Horse Hill Development company (HHDL) to increase its interest to 15%, and it also has secured an option over a further 5% of HHDL.
Judge tosses landowners’ lawsuit against fracking opponents The Washington Times reports a judge has dismissed a lawsuit that landowners filed against people and groups who oppose fracking in Middlesex, Butler County, Pennsylvania. Residents had challenged a zoning ordinance that would allow drilling in 90% of the rural township. Dewey Homes and Investment Properties and 12 landowners sued the residents, seeking damages for royalties they’d been unable to collect from drilling companies who have leases on their land.
Thirsk and Malton MP ‘reassured’ in US about fracking BBC Look North reports on Ryedale Kevin Hollinrake’s visit to Pennsylvania. He tells the programme’s reporter he has been reassured about fracking. The key was good regulation and strong supervision of those regulations.
Tell the Government to protect National Parks from fracking The Campaign for National Parks is urging people to tell the government why national Parks and other protected areas should be excluded from fracking.
Make the Government keep its promises on fracking The Campaign to Protect Rural England says it is increasingly concerned that hard-won concessions on protected areas are turning out to be nothing more than smoke and mirrors. It wants to see strengthening of controls on shale gas and oil, particularly in SSSIs, National Parks and AONBs.
Anti-fracking protester’s trial branded ‘a waste of money’ The Grimsby Telegraph reports that anti-fracking protester, Stephen Whitely, of Llandysul, south Wales, will struggle to live after his trial was put back until December. Mr Whitely, who is charged with three offences arising from a protest outside the Stallingborough drilling site in March, described the trial as a waste of money. It was adjourned after it was double-booked with another case, the paper says.
Activists fast for world free of fracking Energy in Depth, the website created by the Independent Petroleum Association of America, reports on an 18-day fast organised by US campaigners to protest about pipelines, storage facilities and LNG export terminals. The website describes this as a failed attempt to capitalize on Pope Francis’ visit and says there were few people present at the end of the fast.
24th September 2015
Ryedale businesses fight fracking – but Teesside industry welcomes drilling Our report
Europa granted permission for Surrey drilling corridor Our report
Monthly energy statistics released The latest month energy statistics from the Department of Energy and Climate Change give figures for the contribution to electricity by major power producers from coal – 20.2%, gas – 34.6%, nuclear – 25.1% and renewables – 20.1%.
Is Westminster promoting fracking jobs in England at the expense of North Sea jobs in Scotland? Academics Alex Russell and Peter Strachan tell Scottish Energy News fracking should be postponed and the focus should be on saving the maximum number of North Sea jobs. The UK can reconsider fracking at a more appropriate point in the future, they say.
Minister’s letter offers clues to policy on Fylde frack appeal The Blackpool Gazette reports that Fylde MP, Mark Menzies, has received a letter from the Communities Minister, James Wharton. In it he says the planning inspector hearing Cuadrilla’s appeals for refusal of planning permission to frack at two sites will “take into account the views of the local planning authority and local residents before reaching a decision to allow or dismiss an appeal.”
SNP energy minister rejects call to extend fracking moratorium Herald Scotland reports Fergus Ewing has refused to extend the moratorium on fracking to underground coal gasification during questions at Holyrood.
23rd September 2015
How much traffic does it take to frack a well? That depends on how you count it Our report on accusations that Third Energy misled residents on traffic volumes to its proposed fracking site at Kirby Misperton.
Shale gas – an inconvenient truth for the anti-fracking lobby In a Department of Energy and Climate Change blog, the Energy Minister, Andrea Leadsom says “It’s an inconvenient truth for those who don’t want to acknowledge the economic and environmental benefits that Shale gas could bring, never mind the crucial role it could play in ensuring we have sufficient and reliable gas supplies.”
How can Jeremy Corbyn build a red-green opposition? The New Statesman asks whether the new Labour leader – who promised to ban fracking and phase out coal – will succeed in making the environment the central part of the new politics he is seeking to build in a way Ed Miliband never achieved.
North Sea oil report paints grim picture of likely losses The FT reports on a study by Alex Kemp, professor of petroleum economics at Aberdeen University, which says only by implementing cuts of 20-30% can companies make money out of the oil they are hoping to find in the North Sea.
Total slashes billions of dollars in oil project spending The FT reports the French energy group has promised to preserve dividend pay-outs as it announced cuts of 15% in spending on oil and gas projects next year. The FT says the cuts are the most aggressive yet by any of the world’s big energy groups, taking investment levels 30 to 40 per cent lower from a peak in 2013.
Financial pressures hit US shale oil output The FT reports that falling US crude oil production illustrates how Opec’s decision to fight for share in the world oil market is beginning to draw blood.
European CCS backers lay out comeback ‘action plan’ EuActiv.com reports on an action plan by an industry group, Zero Emissions Platform, to create European hubs to capture and store carbon dioxide. ZEP’s modelling found CCS could reduce the cost of European power by 20 to 50% by 2050 by allowing existing gas and coal plants to function longer, while investing in renewable alternatives is still costly and too intermittent to provide reliable baseload.
Warminster Town Council pass motion over “unwelcome” fracking The Wiltshire Times reports Warminster Town Council voted by seven to three with one abstention in favour of a motion that fracking in Warminster is unwelcome, risking and inappropriate.
Climate change activists rally in Cirencester to resist fracking in the Cotswolds The Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard reports around 70 people attended a talk at the Royal Agricultural University at which climate change activist, Jonathan Whittaker, urged people to organise now to prevent fracking in the Cotswolds.
Fracking warning on Salisbury Plain The Salisbury Journal reports a warning from the RSPB that more than 60 of the SW’s important wildlife sites, including Salisbury Plain, are at risk from fracking.
Fracking firms that drove oil boom struggle to survive The Wall Street Journal reports that a wave of bankruptcies and closures is sweeping the oil patch with dozens of fracking companies at risk.
22nd September 2015
New Rathlin planning application disappoints Holderness villagers Our report
UK policy hitting credibility on climate change, says CBI The FT and BBC report on comments by the CBI that that government cuts of renewable energy subsidies have sapped the UK’s hard-won credibility on climate change, just when it matters most globally. CBI director-general, John Cridland says the moves have sent a “worrying signal” about the UK as a place for low-carbon investment, as it prepared to join nearly 200 countries to strike a UN climate accord in Paris in December.
We’ve been misled, says anti-fracking campaigners The York Press reports on comments by Frack Free Ryedale that Third Energy’s estimate of the number of lorries that would go through Kirby Misperton if Third Energy’s gets the go ahead to frack in the village is four times the number mentioned during public consultation. The group says brochures by Third Energy said there would be 266 HGV movements in the first eight weeks. But the planning application contains 910 HGV movements in the same period.
AMs’ pension fund invests in fracking, tobacco and Burberry ITV Wales reports that Friends of the Earth is demanding the Welsh Assembly looks again at where pension funds are invested.
Protected sites in Dorset under threat from fracking, RSPB claims The Dorset Echo reports that Dorset Sites of Special Scientific Interest including the South Dorset Coast, Studland and Godlingston Heath, Studland Cliffs and the RSPB nature reserve Wareham Meadows, are on a list of 60+ SSSIs in areas offered for oil and gas licensing.
Petition to Welsh Assembly Frack Free Wales delivers a petition of more than 1,500 signatures to the The Senedd in Cardiff, calling for the moratorium on fracking applications to be extended to test drilling and underground coal gasification.
Climate watchdog demands clarification on UK strategy Business Green the Committee on Climate Change has become the latest organisation to demand government clarify its plans on delivering long-term emission reduction targets. In an open letter to the Energy Secretary, the CCC chair, Lord Deben, warned that recent moves to dilute or axe key renewable energy, clean transport and energy efficiency schemes have been “widely interpreted to have reduced the action being taken to meet the clear commitment to carbon budgets”.
The battle to keep fracking from Chorley The Lancashire Evening Post reports that opponents of fracking in the Chorley area are holding a public meeting to tell people more about it. The meeting, organised by Frack Free Chorley and South Ribble, is at 7pm at Chorley Cricket Club on Tuesday 29th September.
Getting all fired up for a coal-gas comeback Anthony Hilton in the Evening Standard reports on the report into plans by Cluff Natural Resources for coal gasification under the North Sea.
21st September 2015
The Nanas Talk Fracking The Nanas anti-fracking campaigner launches a UK tour, which they say will support local communities against fracking, promote and speak at public meetings and events, handout a guide to fracking and inform residents.
Our land is our life. No fracking in Arnhem Land, or Australia @IndigenousX host, Helena Gulwa, tells The Guardianshe was brought up to understand the indigenous culture of Arnhem Land, which is why she is opposing fracking in Australia. “We are the custodians of the land – the land owns us. We need it to survive the huge push for fracking in the Northern Territory as it will destroy our lands and seas. We need it to live and survive with our fresh water”, she said.
OECD: leading countries spend $200bn a year subsidising fossil fuels The Guardian reports on a study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development which concluded that rich western countries and the world’s leading developing nations are spending $200bn or £130bn a year subsidising the consumption and production of coal, oil and gas. OECD secretary general, Angel Gurria said: “The time is ripe for countries to demonstrate they are serious about combating climate change, and reforming harmful fossil fuel support is a good place to start.”
Frack-Free Witney? How did David Cameron’s constituency escape the 14th Round? Professor David Smythe, writing in The Ecologist, asks whether Witney, which was not offered for licence in the 14th round, the most successful and covert anti-fracking organisation, or whether darker force were at work. He says there is nothing about the geology of an area, extending east from Witney to East Anglia, which warrants its exclusion from oil and gas licensing.
Oil price rebounds as Opec forces US drillers to cut back The Telegraph reports on how a fall in US rigs suggests pain of low oil prices is beginning to work in Opec’s favour. The paper says Brent crude for October delivery rose 2.5pc in London after Goldman Sachs predicted US oil production would fall by around 250,000 barrels per day by the final quarter of the year. 644 rigs are operating onshore in the US, down 57pc from the end of December. Report from theWall Street Journal
Firth coal gas project “not in the interests of the Scottish people” STV reports comments by Scottish Green MSP, Alison Johnstone, who warns that a proposal to build the UK’s first offshore underground coal gasification (UCG) project near Kincardine in Fife was “short-sighted and damaging”. She urges the Scottish Government to concentrate on renewable energy sources.
Cluff Natural says UCG industry in UK to be worth £12.80 Billion London South East reports that shares in Cluff Natural Resources PLC rose 15% to 4.17p after an independent report underground coal gasification would generate £12.8bn for the UK economy, creating 7,500 jobs on average and 11,500+ at its peak. BBC report
Anti-fracking protesters demonstrate in Horwich The Bolton News reports on a demonstration outside Horwich Town Hall on 19th September against licences for exploratory drilling in the area.
Anti-fracking group holding Isle of Wight meeting Isle of Wight County Press reports that anti-fracking campaigners are holding a meeting at Newport Football Club from 7pm-9pm on Wednesday September 23rd.
New EPA rules threaten the Texas fracking boom Tribtalk.org reports new rules from the US Environmental Protection Agency post what it calls a “direct threat to our oil and natural gas revolution”. The website says “EPA has decided to arbitrarily insert itself, unleashing a trifecta of unnecessary and costly regulations that drive up the cost of energy and slow new job creation. These include new mandates on methane emissions, ozone and carbon dioxide”.
Fracking productivity doubling every two years Breitbart.com reports that increased productivity of fracking wells, from 50 barrels a day in 2009 to 400 barrels today. The decline in production from a fracked well has also been reduced. In 2009, production in the Texas Eagle Ford region fell from 50 barrels a day to 25 in six months and were uncommercial after a year. In 2014, initial production fell from 400 barrels a day to 250 after six months and wells were expected to continue to be viable for four years. Fracked wells in 2009 were spaced 500ft apart. Recent trends put them 100ft apart.
Can fracking ever be good for the environment? The Houston Chronicle talks to three experts about their views on the impact of fracking.
Fracking increases Oklahoma earthquakes from two a year to two a day EcoWatch reports that Oklahoma, not near major fault lines, felt 585 earthquakes of 3.0 magnitude or more in 2014, three times the number felt in California. Last month the state experienced more than 600 quakes that could shake homes and cars. Underground disposal wells, of which there are about 4,500 in Oklahoma, are the likely cause, the website says.
Fracking: Johnstone warns of pandering to private interest The Scottish Greens quote its MSP Alison Johnstone in response to the report commissioned by Cluff Natural Resources (see 21st September 2015). She urges the Scottish Government to not be tempted by the short-sighted proposals fracking companies are putting forward, but to focus instead on what she describes as “proper investment in a controlled transition to a sustainable economy”.
Fracking would be good for the North East and is not to be frightened of, expert claims The Chronicle reports on a speech by Ken Cronin, chief executive of UK Onshore Oil and Gas in which he says: “Shale gas is no different from North Sea gas, it all comes from the same geology, and it’s nothing to be scared of.” Mr Cronin suggested it was unsound to reject fracking on environmental grounds but accept the use of imported gas which requires transportation. He admitted the onshore gas industry needed to better communicate such arguments with communities.
Small businesses need to reap the benefits of fracking, says FSB man The Chronicle also reports on comments by Allen Creedy, chair of the Federation of Small Businesses in the North East who says the government has failed small businesses with its renewables strategy and the same must not be allowed to happen with fracking. He says: “We don’t want the commercial benefits of fracking to go overseas. We need to make sure British businesses reap the rewards, otherwise we’re in danger of allowing all the benefits to go to firms in countries which don’t even do fracking.”
Government continues fight for shale International Law Office reports on measures taken by the UK government to improve the prospects of a shale gas industry.
20th September 2015
Fears grow over fracking licences The Wakefield Express reports on a protest outside West Yorkshire County Council in Wakefield on 16th August against fracking, following the granting of licences around the district.
85% of British power can be via renewables by 2030, says Greenpeace The Guardian reports on a new study by Greenpeace which says Britain can produce 85% of its power via renewable energy by 2030, provided it underwent significant changes in energy production and use. There would need to be a 60% reduction in demand for domestic heating through home insulation and other initiatives. It would also require a change in government policy away from gas-fired power projects and a switch by homes away from gas-fired boilers. Reports by Business Green, phys.org,
Debt burden of shale drillers places 400,000 oil barrels a day in danger The Jackson Observer reports on Bloomberg findings that debt for many oil and gas businesses represents 40% of their worth. As corporations run low on money, they is perhaps pressured to idle drilling rigs, confront chapter or search more-expensive financing and promote belongings, the Observer says.
Oil prices rise as U.S. drilling declines Reuters reports crude oil benchmarks are up more than 1% and US output fell by 255,000bpd from quarter 2-4 in 2015. $1.5trillion of US projects are uneconomic at $50 a barrel, according to a new study.
Let there be no complacency over fracking gas dangers Dr David Lowry, writing to The Guardian, responds to comments by Jim Ratcliffe of Ineos that there has not been an environmental incident for six years in the US. Dr Lowry refers to a study in Environmental Health Perspectives which he said revealed “a disturbing correlation” between unusually high levels of radon gas in residences and fracking operations.
19th September 2015
Government consultation on oil and gas licences under fire over timescale Our report
Anti-fracking groups issue guidance on how to respond to oil and gas consultation Our report (spool down to second half for links and summary)
Is the shale gas revolution over? USA Today reports that U.S. shale gas remained resilient through several years of low natural gas prices, the collapse in oil prices are finally putting an end to the boom.
Government bid to keep minutes of Sturgeon’s meeting with pro-fracking billionaire secret The Herald Scotlandreports that the SNP Government has blocked the full release of an account of a meeting between Nicola Sturgeon and Ineos chief Jim Ratcliffe, which took place while ministers called a temporary halt to fracking. The behind-closed-doors meeting coincided with a u-turn from Ineos, which had spoken out strongly against a fracking moratorium days before but then welcomed the move. I
SNP MPs defend ‘wait and see’ fracking stance The Kirkintilloch Herald reports that East Dunbartonshire’s two NP MPs, John Nicolson and Stuart McDonald, insist the Scottish Government’s “wait and see” policy on fracking is fully justified, despite a barrage of demands for action. But opposition politicians argue the Scottish Government is stalling on key decisions on unconventional gas extraction until after the next parliamentary election in May.
Councillors object to fracking in Lancaster The Lancaster Guardian reports on a motion by three Labour councillors urging the city council to oppose fracking in Lancaster district. They say the consensus should be on developing sustainable sources of renewable energy. The motion will be heard at a full council meeting at 6pm on Wednesday September 23rd at Morecambe Town Hall.
Fracking ‘threat’ to RSPB Bempton Cliffs nature reserve The Hull Daily Mail reports on RSPB fears that Bempton Cliffs, one of East Yorkshire’s top wildlife sites, is under threat from fracking because it is included in new oil and gas licences issued by the government.
18th September 2015
Rathlin Energy applies for planning extension at West Newton A wellsite in East Yorkshire Our report
Ten residents of the West Sussex village of Balcombe demand their names are removed from the latest report of the Task Force on Shale Gas They say it looks as if they endorse the conclusions. Our report
Oil logs biggest daily drop in almost 3 weeks MarketWatch says oil futures saw their largest daily drop in three weeks after the US Federal Reserve decided to keep interest rates unchanged, raising worries about the US economy and energy demand.
Fears bid to end fracking in Wales could leave Welsh Government open to legal action The Daily Post reports that Natural Resources Minister Carl Sargeant is considering extending a moratorium on fracking to include Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) amidst fears it could take place on the Dee Estuary. North Wales AM Aled Roberts said unless outdated planning policy dating back 15 years was updated or a new technical advice notice (TAN) issued they could be “vulnerable” to a judicial review.
Sturgeon ‘hiding’ on fracking The PressReader reports on accusations that the Scottish Government is hiding over the prospect of an outright ban on fracking. Nichola Sturgeon refused yesterday to say whether a decision will be taken on the issue before next year’s Scottish Parliament elections, the website said.
$50 Oil For 15 Years – Can Anyone Take Goldman Seriously Anymore? Evan Kelly in OilPrice.com comments on forecasts by Goldman Sachs that oil prices would drop to $20 a barrel and remain at $50 until 2030. “Goldman gets a lot of attention with these types of headline-grabbing figures, but they seem to be off base on this one”, he says.
Texas drops suit over dead Denton fracking ban The Texas Tribune reports that the Texas General Land Office has dropped its lawsuit against Denton’s ban on hydraulic fracturing. The agency had sued Denton in November, hours after nearly 59% of voters approved the ban. The Texas Oil and Gas Association had filed a similar suit, which it dropped earlier this month.
Clarity is needed over the fracking process Northallaton resident N Taylor, writing in The Yorkshire Post, asks for answers to his questions about the fracking process.
Sturgeon in no hurry to set out stance on fracking The National reports the timetable for the evidence gathering and public consultation on fracking and unconventional gas extraction will be published on 10th October. Nicola Sturgeon told First Minister’s Questions: “We are determined to lead a precautionary, careful, cautious, evidence-based approach to this. I think that’s what the people of Scotland want.” SNP sets dates for fracking consultation: The Times
17th September 2015
‘You ain’t seen nothing yet’ – Wind industry chief predicts opposition to pro-fracking government will only intensify The outgoing chief executive of Renewable UK, Maria McCaffery, tells Business Green: “”I don’t think the government has any idea what they have yet to face if they want to develop fracking as an alternative to onshore wind, in terms of backlash and public objection. … if the government thinks it’s got problems with onshore wind, they ain’t seen nothing yet compared to what they can expect if they rock up with a fracking truck.”
Llanharan drilling application refused Llanharan Against Fracking reports Rhondda Cynon Taff Council confirmed the refusal of an application by Coastal Oil and Gas to drill an exploratory borehole for unconventional gas at Hendre Owen Farm, Llanharan. At a previous meeting, councillors said they were minded to refuse, against the advice of the planning officer. Application details
SNP members call for fracking ban BBC News, The Times, The Scotsman and Herald Scotland report on a new anti-fracking campaign launched by a group of SNP members in the run-up to the party’s autumn conference next month. SNP Members Against Unconventional Gas (SMAUG) wants a ban on all unconventional fossil fuels. The Scottish Government declared a moratorium in January on planning permission for shale gas and coal bed methane while it carried out further research and a public consultation.
Fracking: Harvie challenges ministers’ silence The Scottish Greens say its MSP, Patrick Harvie, used First Minister’s Questions to challenge Scottish Ministers over their failure to answer questions about community concerns over fracking and coal gasification.
Energy companies among corporations ‘obstructing’ climate change policy ENDS reports on the NGO InfluenceMap which finds almost half of the 100 largest global industrial companies are obstructing climate change legislation. They include several energy companies, such as Duke Energy, Reliance Industries, Phillips 66 and Koch Industries. InfluenceMaps says BP is “actively opposing almost every area of climate change regulation”.
MP’s anger at stance over Fylde coast gas schemes The Blackpool Gazette reports anger by Blackpool South Labour MP, Gordon Marsden, over an article supporting fracking in the paper by the Energy Minister, Andrea Leadsom. He accused her of tokenism in trying to reassure Fylde people that the normal planning process should go ahead for fracking applications and said the Government’s insistence that communities have their say on windfarms was at odds with their attitude to fracking.
Residents rally to oppose fracking in Wiltshire The Wiltshire Times reports 150+ residents from Trowbridge and Warminster attended ant-fracking meetings during week. Dr Becky Martin from Keep Wiltshire Frack Free, tells the paper: “We had about 120 people attend the Warminster meeting on Tuesday and 40 in Trowbridge where we showed documentaries about fracking. There were some great questions and lots of people were interested and the response has been quite overwhelming really.”
Call to stop fracking plan for Firth of Forth The Edinburgh News reports that members of Our Forth campaign group are calling on the Scottish Government to include underground coal gasification in the moratorium on planning consents for unconventional oil and gas extraction. The campaigners have written to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to request a meeting on the subject and to present a petition with 8000 signatures supporting the move.
It’s time we heard the other side of the fracking debate An unsigned first person article in The Hull Daily Mail (not posted on the paper’s website) accuses anti-fracking campaigners of what the writer describes as “intimidation, aggression, privacy intrusion, sabotage, trespass, antisocial disruption and degrading sub-human activity designed to provoke response”.
Frackademia: Investigation Reveals Colorado University Involved in Pro-Fracking PR Scheme Greenpeace USAreports on its investigation along with Bolder Weekly which it says concluded that University of Colorado Boulder was co-opted by fracking industry PR Firms and the Koch brothers to create studies in line with the industry’s political agenda.
Sherwood Forest earmarked for drilling as consultation begins West Bridgford Wire reports that campaign groups have organised an event in October to raise awareness about drilling licences in the area. The Dispatch
Fracking fears to be discussed at public meeting in Derby The Derby Telegraph reports that a public meeting, arranged by Derby Climate Coalition, will take place at St Peter’s Church, in St Peters Street, Derby, on Monday 21stOctober at 7pm.
16th September 2015
293 top wildlife sites at risk from fracking – RSPB Our report
Parliamentary statement by Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, on shale gas and oilLink to transcript
Task Force backs shale gas as bridge to low carbon future. Our report with conclusions and reaction The task force chairman, Lord Chris Smith, tells The Guardian the industry should not receive tax breaks. Other coverage: Daily Mail,Reuters, Financial Times and Falkirk Herald
Green energy cuts ‘may deter investment in nuclear and fracking’ The Telegraph reports on a warning by EY that investors in nuclear power and shale gas could be deterred by the government’s recent attacks on renewable energy, which the consultancy says lack “any rationale or clear intent”. The UK has slipped out of the top 10 countries’ attractiveness to investors in renewables for the first time, ranked by EY.
New gas-fired power station approved in Lincolnshire The government announces the Energy Minister, Lord Bourne, has approved an application by EDF Energy to build a new gas power plant at Sutton Bridge in Lincolnshire, capable of producing up to 1800mw of electricity. EDF has yet to make a final investment decision on the plant.
Oil surges on big drop in US inventories The FT reports oil prices surged by up to 6% after data showed a sharp drop in US crude oil inventories, heightening concerns that months of low prices is finally weighing on shale producers.
15th September 2015
30-Month report finds DEP fracking complaint investigations are “cooked” & shredded The not-for-profit news agency Public Herald reports that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has kept drinking water contamination “off the books” since fracking began in 2004. The agency says its 30-month analysis of water contamination complaints found a significant proportion of cases handled by the DEP from 2009-12 could be challenged and possibly reversed. Cases were sent to other departments, dismissed using a loophole in the law, left undetermined, unexplained or lost.
Edelman ends work with coal producers and climate change deniers The Guardian reports on an announcement from the world’s biggest PR company that it will no longer work with coal producers and climate change deniers. The company, which provides the secretariat for the UK’s Task Force on Shale Gas said coal and climate change deniers pose a threat to its legitimacy and bottom line.
Bryony Worthington to resign as shadow energy minister Lady Worthington tells The Guardian she is giving up her post in the House of Lords in a few weeks. She says she believes she could have a bigger impact reducing the growing risk of climate change in a different, more internationally-focused role. She also criticises environmental organisations for failing to brief politicians on the debate on the Energy Bill.
Oil, gas works on solution to reduce freshwater in fracking Rigzone reports Schlumberger Ltd., Apache Corp. and Halliburton Co. have made strides toward diminishing the use of freshwater, a key issue with environmentalists.
How much water does US fracking really use? M.phys.org reports on a study by Duke University which found that energy companies used nearly 250bn gallons of water to extract shale gas and oil by fracking from 2005-14.But this less than 1% of US total, the report finds. Also covered by Reuters and Click Green
Australian mining minister told to ‘frack off’ by protesting Aborigines and farmers The Telegraph reports that David Tollner addressed a group of about 200 protesters outside parliament house in Darwin but was immediately shouted down.
14th September 2015
New shadow cabinet announced Lisa Nandy, MP for Wigan is the new Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary and Kerry McCarthy, Bristol East, is the new Shadow Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs Secretary.
Tell Barclays to stop fracking in North Yorkshire Friends of the Earth launches an email campaign urging Barclays chairman, John McFarlane, to withdraw proposals by Third Energy (97% owned by the bank) to frack at Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire.
OPEC: the shale boom is over Business Insider reports on the latest monthly oil-market report, the 12-member oil cartel OPEC, which said: “In North America, there are signs that US production has started to respond to reduced investment and activity. Indeed, all eyes are on how quickly US production falls.”
Shale drillers pump more oil from each well as rigs mean less Energy Voice reports that shale producers in the US have learned to do more with less. The number of rigs in US oil fields fell by 59% from the peak but crude production fell by only about 5%. Rig productivity increased last month in all shale oil plays as companies drill more wells in less time.
UK Oil & Gas in positive estimate of Markwells oil field resources A report for UK Oil & Gas by Xodus Group finds the Markwells Wood oil field in West Sussex has more than 1 million barrels of recoverable oil. Energy Voice, which carries the news, says UKOG has a 100% in the oil field in PEDL 126 in the Weald basin. The report is described as “an important milestone for the company” by the company’s chair, Stephen Sanderson.
Government should be boosting not scaling back green energy support, says Zac Goldsmith The Conservative MP and leading Conservative candidate for London Mayor has criticised the government for its decision to cut some green support schemes, Business Green reports. He argued that the government should “accelerate not reduce” incentives for clean technology.
Motion by Lancs County Council cases doubts on adequacy of regulations Residents Action on Fylde Frackingreports on a motion passed by Lancashire County Council concerning the outbreak of cryptosporidium in water supplied by United Utilities to homes in the Fylde. This demonstrated a failure in inspection and regulatory procedures and an apparently inadequate contingency plan for dealing with such an outbreak, the motion said. Post by Liberal Democrat councillors on LCC
Helsby anti-fracking demonstration to take place outside parish council meeting The Chester Chronicle reports that an anti-fracking demonstration will be held outside Helsby Parish Council meeting tonight. The purpose of the demonstration, according to organisers, was to send a clear message to local councillors that residents are not happy about seismic testing in Helsby, Ellesmere Port, Elton and Frodsham which started this month. The tests are carried out by Tesla Enterprises Ltd on behalf of IGas Energy. BBC News reports that dozens stage Helsby anti-fracking protest.
13th September 2015
Politicians and industry join forces to fend off Brussels power grab over fracking regulation Scottish MEP, Ian Duncan, tells The Herald Scotland that Scotland’s control over its oil and gas reserves could be hampered by a regulatory power grab by the European Commission. He says the European Commission’s tasking of a private company to create an EU-wide best practice “reference document” (BREF) to set environmental and health and safety guidelines for the onshore and offshore industry could be an attempt to impose a Europe-wide ban on fracking “by the back door”.
Energy Minister, Andrea Leadsom, interviewed on fracking Ms Leadsom tells BBC 1’s Countryfile there is a “huge national interest in exploring the potential for shale gas for the entire country” and that therefore councils must make every effort to meet that deadline.
Students demand removal of fracking book from Penn State Reads Students at Penn State University launch apetition against the selection of The Boom: How fracking ignited the American energy revolution and changed the world, by Russell Gold, as compulsory reading for all incoming freshmen. The petition says the book is pro-fracking and glorifies an “extractive technology that is contributing to climate change and harming Pennsylvanians and our environment”
12th September 2015
Fracking opponent, Jeremy Corbyn elected leader of the Labour Party
Jim Ratcliffe: ‘Fracking can be done safely. A lot of opposition is based on hearsay’ In an interview with The Observer, Jim Ratcliffe, founder of Ineos, says: ““In the US they have drilled one million wells and not had an environmental incident for six years.” In response to the Blackpool earthquake, he says: “Fracking is no different from conventional drilling. It can be done safely – and there is evidence for this in the US.”
Well-known anti-fracking activist convicted of assault The Fermanagh Herald reports that a Gerald Maco McIntyre, of Enniskillen, a 58-year-old fracking protester, has been convicted of assault. He denied the assault with a placard on a security guard at the proposed drilling site at Belcoo on July 21st last year. The case was adjourned until 5th October for sentencing. The Crown Prosecution Service withdrew a further charge of riotous behaviour.
Power options – fracking or wind turbines? Cllr Dilys Cluer, of Scarborough Green Party tells The Malton Mercury the government is wrong to fast track fracking but prevent applications for wind turbines unless they have local community support and the area is identified as suitable.
What does Corbyn’s victory mean for energy? Greenpeace Energy Desk reflects on the implications of Jeremy Corbyn’s victory. The report says he opposes nuclear power and fracking and has spoken out against fossil fuel subsidies but his views on coal are more nuanced.
11th September 2015
Vivienne Westwood takes the fracking debate to Cameron The Guardian carries of Vivienne Westwood driving a tank to David Cameron’s home to demonstrate against the government’s pro-fracking policy. ITV News report, BBC News report, video and report The Independent, Talk Fracking report.
Cuadrilla announces appeals Roseacre Awareness Group and the Onshore Energy Services Group announce that Cuadrilla has submitted its appeals against refusal of plans to drill, frack and test gas at Roseacre Wood and Preston new Road in Lancashire. There is no announcement on the company’s website.
Community Energy Fortnight – to participate is to resist! Jonathan Porritt, writing in The Ecologist, says the government has “declared war on the renewable energy and energy efficiency industries”. He says: There is no rationale (let alone strategic logic) behind this” and the vast majority of people don’t want gas, fracked gas or nuclear. He says because it’s a war, ministers “regularly and shamelessly lie through their teeth about the so-called excessive costs of renewables and the impact of supporting renewables on our energy bills”.
Is a fracking revolution the way to cut UK carbon emissions? Karl Mathiesen in The Guardian follows up Labour’s Bryony Worthington’s comments that environmentalists should not oppose fracking.
200ft surge in sea level if we keep burning fossil fuels The Scotsman reports on new research which says burning all the world’s available fossil fuel resources would melt the Antarctic ice sheet, leading to 200ft rise in sea levels and flooding some of the world’s biggest cities, including London. One of the authors, Dr Ricarda Winkelmann, of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, says: “If we want to avoid Antarctica becoming ice-free, we need to keep coal, gas and oil in the ground.”
Don’t keep it quiet – we have a new national noise map ITV’s Tonight Programme has worked with Groundsure to create a map on current and future noise sources. A report by ITV News says there are concerns about noise as the government aims to deliver £411bn of major infrastructure projects and fast track fracking. Noise is thought to cause 43,000 hospital admissions and 10,000 premature deaths across Europe each year, the report says.
The fracking boom may have driven an increase in high school dropouts Business Insider reports on a study of high school graduation of males in states with significant fracking operations since 2006. In states, such as North Dakota, Texas and Pennsylvania, the drop-out rate of high school males increased by more than 6% from 2006-13, with the gap between female and male graduation rates rising by more than 11%.
Yorkshire Evening Post says “Fracking – working with communities is the only way” The opinion column of theYorkshire Evening Post says applicants who want to frack “need to work with local communities and must earn their trust, rather than allow a stand-off to develop such as those evident in Lancashire and Ryedale. Until they do, confidence in this mode of energy extraction will remain sorely lacking. The public requires openness, honesty and frankness. They don’t just require it, they deserve it.”
Oil rig count tumbles for a 2nd week UK Business Insider reports findings from Baker Hughes that the US oil rig count fell by 10 to a total of 652. The combined oil and gas rig count was down 16 to 848. Last week, 13 oil rigs were taken offline. This was the biggest drop in three months.
IEA sees U.S. oil output collapsing next year on low prices Reuters reports comments by the International Energy Agency, that lower oil prices will force non-OPEC producers, including the US, to cut output next year by the steepest rate in more than two decades, to rebalance an oversupplied oil market. The Times
How low can oil go? A Goldman Sachs report suggests the global surplus of oil is even bigger than the company thought and could drive prices as low as $20 a barrel. Reported by Bloomberg.
It’s fracking farcical claim greens The Andover Advertiser Opponents of fracking criticise the lack of information about oil and gas licences under consultation in the Andover area (preview)
10th September 2015
Fracking: Think again, campaigner urges environmentalists Roger Harrabin, of BBC News, reports that Baroness Worthington, now a shadow energy minister but formerly climate campaigner for Friends of the Earth, says fracking will create less CO2 than compressing gas in Qatar and shipping it to Britain. But he says she insists shale gas should be developed only if its emissions are captured and stored underground. Speaking on the Today programme, Baroness Worthington described shale gas as a low carbon technology. Craig Bennett, chief executive of Friends of the Earth, also on Today, said shale was not low carbon and would not help to tackle climate change. He said it would require new gas infrastructure that would lock the UK into fossil fuels for decades. Instead, the UK needed to end its addiction to fossil fuels, Craig Bennett said.
Northern England shale sector timeline In a presentation to investors, Egdon Resources forecasts drilling by Cuadrilla, Third Energy, IGas and Ineos in 2016.
UK backing bid by fossil fuel firms to kill new EU fracking controls, letters reveal The Guardian reports that leaked letters show the UK government has added its support to a behind-the-scenes lobbying drive by oil and gas firms to persuade EU leaders to scrap environmental safety measures for fracking. These could include monitoring of on-site methane leaks and capture of gases and volatile compounds that might otherwise be vented. UK government sources say any new form of industry controls would be “an unnecessary restriction on the UK oil and gas industry”. Update: The Department of Energy and Climate Change told The Guardian that while it is working with the European commission to avoid “unnecessary red tape”, the government would not necessarily oppose all new controls on fracking.
Greens’ first MSP backs fracking ‘if it proves safe’ The Scottish Times reports that Robin Harper, the first Green MSP and chair of the Scottish Wildlife Trust, says he is prepared to give his cautious backing to fracking if it could be proved that it was an improvement on burning coal and oil.
Protesters urged to form united front Fleetwood Today reports that Lytham engineer, Mike Hill, has urged anti-fracking campaigners on the Fylde to co-ordinate their actions. He is organising a meeting this afternoon to share ideas and avoid duplication of effort. He said the groups had to defend successfully all Cuadrilla’s against refusal of planning permission “Lose one and we lose them all”, he says.
Campaigners vow to fight as government grants fracking licences in Leeds The Yorkshire Post reports councillors and people in licensed areas around Allerton Bywater, Kippax and Castleford have voiced fears over the potential effects of fracking.
Call to attend Ineos fracking meetings across Scotland sparks concern Michael Gray, writing on Commonspace, reports fears among some residents that Ineos through a series of public meetings are trying to deceive people for private profit.
Public set to have their say on gas drilling plans near Richard Burton’s birthplace Wales Online reports that National Resources Wales is seeking comments on how a firm exploring gas reserves near Richard Burton’s birthplace can safely manage waste. Neath Port Talbot Council has approved plans by UK Methane for an exploratory gas borehole on land in the Foel Fynyddau Forest near Pontryhydyfen. Now NRW is inviting comments on the company’s application for waste permit.
Opposition plan to force SNP to come clean over fracking policy before election Herald Scotland reports that opposition MSP are aiming to force SNP ministers to clarify their position on fracking. The Scottish Government has been accused of fobbing off the public by dodging questions over its moratorium. It is unclear whether test drilling for shale is covered and there is no timetable for a public consultation.
Green energy beats Cuadrilla to the punch at Preston New Road Residents Action on Fylde Fracking reports that Fylde Borough Council unanimously passed plans for a solar farm at Staining Wood, off Preston New Road, almost opposite the field Cuadrilla earmarked for fracking. The solar farm is not visible from the road or surrounding properties. Sheep will graze between the solar panels and areas around will be managed to create enhanced habitat corridors, RAFF says. The Ecologist
Four political parties have their say on controversial fracking proposals The Bury Times reports collects political policies on fracking from local politicians.
Judge dismisses suit against fracking ban Denton RC.com reports that a Denton district judge has dismissed an oil and gas industry’s lawsuit against Denton’s short-lived ban on fracking.
The Great Fracking Dilemma: Do You Want it on Your Doorstep? Phil Foster, CEO of Love Energy Savings, asks inThe Economic Voice asks how supporters of fracking would respond if a project was approved near their homes. “While it [fracking] might make sense from an economic angle, the amount of resistance that these controversial projects are likely to encounter in the coming months and years will only hinder the UK’s attempts to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels. We cannot afford to waste time”, he says.
Texas Railroad Commission clears another well of inducing earthquakes The Hydraulic Fracking Blog reports that the Commission concluded today that Briar Lease Well No 1 was constructed properly and evidence did not support a finding that it triggered earthquakes. The commission discounted a study published in April 2015 that discussed the role of wastewater injection in the seismic activity in Azle and Reno from Nov ember 2013-January 2014.
9th September 2015
Judge rejects protesters’ defence that IGas acted unlawfully at Barton Moss Our report
UK experiences three earthquakes a year due to human activity, study says New research by Newcastle University is the first in the world to set a national baseline and will detect any rise in earthquakes following an expansion of shale gas exploration in the future. The study finds most earthquakes are caused by coal mining but two in 2011 were caused by the first high volume hydraulic fracturing in the UK, at Cuadrilla’s Preese Hall well. Links: Anthropogenic earthquakes in the UK – report Newcastle University research aims to discover if fracking can cause earthquakes – ITV News; UK experiences three earthquakes a year due to human activity, study says – The Guardian; Earthquake expert issues warning over dangers fracking could increase seismic activity in UK – The Mirror; UK leads the way with World’s first pre-fracking earthquake baseline – Oil and Gas Technology; Newcastle and Durham University fracking study looks at history of UK earthquakes – Chronicle Live; Study reveals level of man-made earthquakes in the UK – Click Green; New research aims to show if fracking causes earthquakes in UK – Business Green (Thanks for the APPG on Unconventional Oil and Gas for newspaper links)
Carbon capture: Miracle machine or white elephant? The FT reports that billions have been spent on schemes to deal with CO2 emissions but expectations have not been met. Few technologies have had so much money thrown at them for so many years by so many governments and companies, with such feeble results, it says.
Energy groups face UK bill for pollution The FT reports that oil and gas companies could be forced to pay millions of pounds to help combat climate change under a “polluter pays” plan debated in parliament. Companies that import or extract oil and gas in the UK would have to pay for a portion of their fuels’ carbon dioxide content to be stored underground under an amendment put forward to an energy bill before the House of Lords.
Fracking is in all our back yards More letters about fracking in Ryedale, North Yorkshire, to the Gazette-Herald
Canadian First Nation wins fracking water license case The Hydraulic Fracking Blog reports that the Fort Nelson First Nation in north eastern British Columbia has won an anti-fracking case against Nexen Inc over water extraction from North Tsea Lake. After water levels in the lake dropped 1.5ft because of Nexen’s extraction, the BC Environmental Appeal Board found the licence to be flawed in concept and operation
8th September 2015
This is lawsuit land and frackers can feel tremors all the way from Netherlands The Independent reports that a case decided in the Netherlands on 9th September could have huge implications for the US shale industry. Shell and Exxon have been ordered to pay compensation to homeowners over the fall in the value of their homes due to seismic activity around the Groeningen gas field. The companies have already put aside $1.4b to compensate 900 homeowners and 12 housing associations. The case involves gas extraction but not fracking.
Two fifths of oil sector would support global climate deal ENDS reports that more than 40% of major international oil companies surveyed by the Carbon Disclosure Project support a new global climate deal, to be negotiated in Paris in December, limiting global warming to 2oC.
John Ashton: Fracking in England only possible if it is imposed The former climate ambassador and civil servant tellsRTCC.org (Responding to Climate Change) “There is no need for fracking, anywhere in my country. There is no national interest case. It cannot happen by consent.”
Blackrod becomes latest town council to oppose fracking The Bolton News reports Blackrod councillors voted in favour of objecting to any proposals in the town, saying Blackrod would be “a frack free area”.
7th September 2015
Court hears allegations of illegal activity at Barton Moss drilling site Our report
Influential shale gas body ‘is packed with pro-fracking supporters’ The Independent reports that the European Ombudsman is to investigate allegations that, the European Commission’s Unconventional Carbon Extraction group, an influential committee examining shale gas development, is packed with pro-fracking supporters. The EC says the group’s efforts are to be “the main source of independent knowledge about fracking and other unconventional oil and gas exploration”. But complaints to the ombudsman say more than 70% of members represent or have financial links to the fracking industry. Corporate Europe Observatory report (2/9/15)
Eighteen urgent questions on policing of anti-fracking protest The Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol) publishes its response to police guidance on operations involving anti-fracking protests. A briefing by the group covers five areas, including the scale of police operations directed at small peaceful protests and why police forces undertake intelligence-gathering against anti-fracking campaigners. It also looks at the role of Police Liaison Officers and seeks clarification about how open the new police guidance will be. Netpol asks 18 questions that it thinks the police should answer.
Others seek to mimic US shale success The FT reports from Argentina to Britain and China, countries with suitable reserves have been attempting to emulate the shale revolution of the US, even though most lack the conditions to make it possible. Progress has been slow and the fall in oil prices to below $50 a barrel has been a blow to ambitions.
Fracking debate needs to grow up David Spencer-Perceival, writing in OilVoice.com says the energy sector is crying out for a reasoned argument around fracking. “Exploration needs to happen and it needs to happen quickly. Applications for exploration in Lancashire, Yorkshire and the Midlands should be given the go ahead. We need exploration to better understand the potential of these sites”, he says.
Learn how to deal with wastewater from shale gas fracking WaterOnline.com previews the 6th Annual Shale Gas Environmental Summit in October in London. Presentations include one by John Busby, director at John Busby Ltd, who will look at dealing with wastewater from shale gas fracking.
Possession order East Riding of Yorkshire Council announces it has been granted a possession order for road-side verges occupied by a protest camp near a field earmarked by Rathlin Energy for West Newton B, in Holderness, East Yorkshire. Camp residents have one month to leave.
6th September 2015
Tory MPs in new top drilling areas resistant to fracking – new analysis of oil and gas licence blocks Our report
US shale oil industry hit by $30bn outflows Capital spending by listed US independent oil and gas companies exceeded their cash from operations by about $32bn in the six months to June, according to the FT. The paper says this approaches the deficit of $37.7bn reported for the whole of 2014. It is a sign of the challenges facing the once-booming industry as the slump in oil prices begins to take effect, the FT says.
US shale industry braced for bankruptcies The FT reports that falling oil prices are putting US oil and gas groups with high costs under severe financial strain. The paper says capital is starting to dry up for US shale producers. The next turn of the screw, it says, is another round of redeterminations of borrowing bases, the valuations of companies’ oil and gas reserves used by banks to secure their lending.
Government’s energy policies are just blowing in the wind Philip Morgan, in the letters’ page of The Observer, refutes a comment by Huw Rowlands that anyone who has researched the fracking industry is against it. He says there is a range of opinion and it is offensive to geologists and hydrogeologists to suggest that they don’t care about risks.
Tony Bosworth: We’re not ‘monumental hypocrites’ – opposition to fracking is well-founded Tony Bosworth, Energy Campaigner for Friends of the Earth, responds in The Yorkshire Post to a column by Sir Bernard Ingham, in which he accused opponents of fracking as “a bunch of monumental hypocrites. Mr Bosworth says Sir Bernard was “outspoken and entertaining” but “also utterly wrong”. He says it is not hypocritical to be concerned about the impact of fracking on rural areas or businesses. Nor does it make you “aesthetically dead”, as Sir Bernard claimed, if you are concerned about the impact on the value of your home. More responses to Sir Bernard’s comments here
Calls against fracking ‘risk’ by Bath and North East Somerset councillors The Somerset Guardian reports that Liberal Democrats in Bath and North East Somerset have renewed their calls against fracking following Government announcements that new licences are to be offered in the area, including potentially around Bath and that applications could be fast-tracked by the Secretary of State for Communities. One councillor, Councillor Dine Romero, has written to the local MPs for Bath and North East Somerset calling on them to stand up for local communities and oppose fracking.
5th September 2015
DrillOrDrop.com launches new interactive map and portal on oil and gas licences announced under the 14th Round Our report
Salisbury Plain fracking plans spark contamination fears The Salisbury Journal reports that an as yet unnamed company has applied for licences to drill in four areas in central Wiltshire. Becky Martin, of Keep Wiltshire Frack Free, tells the paper: “Unconventional gas exploitation, commonly referred to as ‘fracking’ has caused numerous incidents of water contamination in USA and Australia where it has been happening for some time now. Doing it through Wiltshire’s chalk aquifers is insane and could have serious consequences for so many people, including those in the Salisbury area.”
Fracking licences up for grabs The Weston Mercury reports that fracking could take place in Western-super-Mare after blocks of land were offered to energy companies.
Oil and gas drilling permit granted but not fracking BBC News reports Natural Resources Wales has issued a permit to Coastal Oil and Gas Limited to drill for oil and gas for 12 months at St Nicholas in the Vale of Glamorgan. Wales online report
4th September 2015
Investigation: New kids with 14th round blocks Greenpeace EnergyDesk reports that some of the winners of oil and gas licences under the 14th round are family businesses with overlapping interests and a few directors with dubious track records.
Police tell teachers to beware of green activists in counter-terrorism talk The Times Educational Supplement reports that a police officer told teachers in West Yorkshire they should consider anti-fracking protesters as potential extremists under the government’s Prevent counter-terrorism strategy. A teacher attending a training session said the officer referred to the behaviour of MP Caroline Lucas, who was arrested at protests in Balcombe in 2013, as an example of extremism. Ms Lucas told TEC she was shocked and planned to complaint to the police. Daily Mail report (5/9/15)
Exclusive: Government spends more than £50k on pro-fracking videos ClickGreen reports that its Freedom of Information request has revealed that Energy Ministers spent more than £50,000 on three short films to promote the fracking industry. The website says the films, lasting three minutes, rejected public fears over the risks of fracking to health and the environment. Briefing notes included in the FOI response showed how civil servants were eager to “carefully manipulate the image portrayed to the public”, ClickGreen says. Campaign groups has criticised DECC for spending the money. See also Greenpeace EnergyDesk report from 30th September
People prefer living near wind turbines to fracking wells – survey The Guardian reports on an ICM survey for Co-operative Energy which found people would much rather have wind turbines near their house(65%) than fracking wells (14%). 58% of Conservatives would prefer wind turbines, compared with 23% who would prefer a fracking well. Solar was the preferred choice for electricity generation: 30% said it was their preferred source, compared with 2% who would prefer to get power from shale or fracked gas.
Extracting the Truth Josh Potts makes the case for shale gas in an article for OilVoice.com
Anti-fracking campaigners protest in Ryedale The Gazette and Herald reports on a protest by Ryedale Friends of the Earth outside Barclays Bank in Malton. Barclays owns 97% of Third Energy which is applying to frack one of its wells at Kirby Misperton.
3rd September 2015
Research on health impacts of fracking face multiple challenges Dr Madelon Finkel, an epidemiologist at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City tells Reuters that answers on whether people who live near fracking sites are at increased risk of disease are several years away. One reason, she says, is that people who have allowed companies to lease their land for fracking have signed confidentiality agreements. “They are not allowed to talk about any ill effects to themselves, to their water, to their land, even to their animals”, she said in an interview. This was hampering the ability to do good research.
George Osborne accused of ‘disastrous’ assault on green agenda The former energy secretary, Ed Davey, tells The Guardian George Osborne is putting tens of billions of pounds’ worth of private sector investment at risk with an assault on the green agenda. Mr Davey accuses the chancellor of pursuing “bonkers economics” and an ill-advised and ideologically driven campaign against renewable energy that risked leaving the UK dependent on fossil fuels, such as gas.
Green Party leader wants people to rise against fracking in Nottinghamshire The Nottingham Post reports that Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party, has warned that a battle to protect local land from fracking is on the horizon and appealed to people in Nottinghamshire to make their objections heard. She told the Post: “There’s a very low general level of awareness but, as people start to research what’s happening, they will get concerned. I would urge people to look into these issues and have a voice.”
Forest of Dean fracking fears spark protest BBC News reports on an anti-fracking protest in Gloucester, following licensing of the Forest of Dean.
MSP’s ‘delaying tactics’ over West Lothian fracking concerns The Scottish Daily Record reports that Lothian MSP Neil Findlay has accused the Scottish Government of playing a political game and said the moratorium was simply a delaying tactic to inevitable support for fracking. His comments came as Ineos announced a public meeting for December at Blackridge in West Lothian. SNP MSP Angela Constance said thanks to the moratorium companies like Ineos could not frack in Scotland.
Fracking: A sign of Tory contempt for the North? Michael Dugher, Labour MP for Barnsley East and the Shadow Transport Secretary, tells the Yorkshire Post “The Tories want fracking in the North because they think we’re a soft touch”. He says: “My strong contention is that the siting for potential fracking has everything to do with politics and little to do with economics. You can’t build so much as a shed in the south of England without provoking the rage of nimby Conservative councils or MPs. Yet Tory ministers are content to give the green light to massive fracking in the North”.
2nd September 2015
February 2016 proposed for Cuadrilla fracking appeals Our report
Group seeks court challenge to government fast-track fracking policy Our report
Anti-fracking protesters storm Manchester Magistrates Court – latest updates The Manchester Evening Newsreports that up to l20 anti-fracking protesters stormed the court and scuffles broke out outside. Three people were arrested. The disturbance followed the conviction of Vanda Gillett who had been accused of assaulting a detention officer following anti-fracking protests at the IGas drilling site at Barton Moss. She was given a conditional discharge.
‘Our fight is like battle fought by Celtic warrior’ The Driffield Times and Post reports that an iron age warrior princess found buried with a chariot at Wetwang is set to be used as a figurehead in the campaign against fracking in the area. The paper says anti-fracking campaigners have compared their struggle against fracking companies and the government to the struggle by sophisticated Celtic tribes against the Romans.
Gasland: HBO documentary key driver of opposition to fracking, study finds The Guardian reports on a study by Professor Ion Bogdan Vasi, of University of Iowa, who found that local screenings of the documentary, Gasland, contributed to anti-fracking mobilisations, which in turn, affected the passage of local fracking moratoria. Research found spikes in activity immediately following the release, the film’s nomination for an Oscar and local screenings.Reuters report
“Supersize” Fracking Could Keep Natural Gas Prices Low For Years oilprice.com reports that natural gas supplies could be abundant and cheap for a long time to come, thanks to “supersize” fracking.
Family – including four-year-old girl – left with horror burns when the well at their ranch exploded into a giant fireball – and they blame nearby fracking Mail Online reports that a North Texas family is suing several companies involved in fracking after their water well exploded last year and four family members suffered serious injuries and burns.
Green MSPs respond to Scottish Government programme for government A press releases from the Scottish Green Party says the SNP’s programme provided no clarity for communities concerned about fracking and underground coal gasification.
1st September 2015
Ryedale anti-fracking group urges North Yorkshire County Council to postpone a decision on Third Energy’s monitoring borehole application Our report
Oil bear bets on return to $25 a barrel Hedge fund manager, Pierre Andurand, tells the FT the market has overreacted to signs of slowing US crude production and comments by Opec. He believes prices will head lower again, possibly dropping below $30 a barrel.
Let’s halt fracking Local Green Party members tell The Wiltshire Times: “There are NO “grey areas” with fracking. There is nothing good about it. There is no such thing as safe fracking”.
Frack Free Somerset urge residents to have their say on Government’s new licensing round The anti-fracking group is urging local residents to object to proposals for fracking licences in the county and Wiltshire, the Frome Standardreports.
‘Fracking is great opportunity’ Energy Minister, Andrea Leadsom, writing in the Lancashire Evening Post, says: “Shale gas is a fantastic opportunity for the UK. The industry could be worth billions of pounds to our economy, provide more than 60,000 jobs, creating financial security for more hard-working people and their families while also increasing our energy security”. Lancashire Telegraph report
“Be careful what you sign up for” Horam District Councillor Susan Stedman tells the Sussex Express about an anti-fracking leaflet delivered locally with “no indication as to where it is from or how to contact the organisation concerned. The leaflet invites people to give their names and address. Mrs Stedman said she thought the action was misleading and had tricked people into giving their confidential details.
New licence bid for drilling on land near Chichester and Bognor Regis The Chichester Observer reports on a licence block under consultation stretching from there northern edge of Bognor Regis to Eartham. Nick Herbert, Arundel and South Downs MP, tells the paper: “Councils should be able to decide if local issues like heavy lorry movements and noise from drilling have been properly addressed, as ministers originally promised.”
Fracking to be considered in the Wye Valley The Hereford Times reports that Whitchurch, Symonds Yat, Langrove and Welsh Newton are included in a license block out for consultation. An online petition has been set up opposing the licence.
Northern Ireland Assembly private members motions on fracking tabled Assembly members tabled two motions. One called for a moratorium until the environment impact can be ascertained. The other calls on the Minister for the Environment to refuse Rathlin Energy’s application to drill at Ballinlea Details
Industry deals with dangers of fracking sand Inside Energy reports that the risks of exposure to silica dust at fracking sites, raised in a 2012 alert and study by the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, has not translated into patient diagnoses. But it says the disease can hide for a decade before causing symptoms. The report says many companies have changed the way they handle frack sand and a technological fix can protect workers while boosting efficiency.
Protest camp Establishment of a protest camp near Rathlin Energy’s ear-marked site for West Newton B, in Holderness, East Yorkshire.