NASA: methane hotspot can be seen from space

It has been confirmed that a methane cloud above the south west of the United States can in fact be detected by satellite instruments that orbit the earth, according to a recent study by the University of Michigan and NASA.

The methane cloud currently hovers above the quadruple interstate area of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah, directly above America’s most productive geological methane basin, the San Juan Basin, where oil and methane gas is being extracted for energy consumption both domestic and foreign.

It has been concluded by both NASA and the University of Michigan that the methane released has been a result of methane extraction processes. The high emissions were recorded in 2003, prior to the advent of hydraulic fracturing in 2006. Parts of the oil and gas system were leaking even before fracking, said Eric Kort, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan and lead author of the study.

This map shows anomalous U.S. methane emissions (that is, how much the emissions are higher or lower than average) for 2003-2009, as measured by SCIAMACHY. Purple and dark blue areas are below average. Pale blue and green areas are close to normal or slightly elevated. Yellows and red indicate higher than-normal anomalies, with more intense colors showing higher concentrations. The Four Corners area is the only red spot on the map. (Credit: NASA / JPL calltech / Univesity of Michigan)
This map shows anomalous U.S. methane emissions (that is, how much the emissions are higher or lower than average) for 2003-2009, as measured by SCIAMACHY. Purple and dark blue areas are below average. Pale blue and green areas are close to normal or slightly elevated. Yellows and red indicate higher than-normal anomalies, with more intense colors showing higher concentrations. The Four Corners area is the only red spot on the map.
(Image source: NASA / JPL calltech / Univesity of Michigan)

The permanent methane plume covers 2,500 square miles and is the accumulation of leaked methane, both accidental and deliberate. The methane released from the ground into the atmosphere is estimated at half a teragram (500 million kilograms) annually, about as much methane released by the United Kingdom across the oil, coal and gas industries combined.

The methane hotspot is the largest ever seen above the United States and is measured as more than  three times the ground level average.


Kort, E.A., et al. 2014. Four corners: The largest US methane anomaly viewed from space. Geophysical Research Letters. [Online]. VOLUME 41 (9). [2 Jan 2015]. Available from:

Dr Phillips, T (NASA). 2014. US. Methane ‘HotSpot’ Bigger than Expected – NASA Science. [online]. [1 Jan 2015]. Available from:

Environment agency pension’s investment in fracking: ‘conflict of interest’

An independent investigation compiled by national newpaper, ‘The Independent’, has found that the Environmnetal Agency (EA), who are held responsible for regulating unconventional shale gas extraction across the United Kingdom of Great Britainaa nd Northern Ireland, have in fact invested their pension funds in the very energy extraction process that they are held responsible for regulating.

What has resulted from the investigation, is an accusation by the Independant of a conflict of interest between the Environmental Agency’s duties as environmental regulators, and the investments of their pensions in the industry it is charged with regulating.

The Independant report:

In the UK the EA’s pension fund – worth a huge £2.3bn – invests in companies investing in fracking, incineration and nuclear power, all of which the Agency is involved in regulating…….The pension details are contained in a response to a Freedom of Information request from the EA, which lists the companies it had a stake in as of March this year, its latest available audited information. And its investments are in marked contrast to the Agency’s public image of being a leading “responsible” investor that integrates “environmental, social and governance considerations into all decision-making.” The Agency champions its commitment that by 2015 “25 per cent of the fund will be invested in the sustainable and green economy”.

The Cuadrilla shale fracking facility in Preston, Lancashire.
The Cuadrilla shale fracking facility in Preston, Lancashire.


The Independent further state:

It is with issues such as fracking, incineration and nuclear that the EA is probably at its most vulnerable. Its investments could potentially open it up to legal challenges if the it were to grant permits to companies in which its pension pot has a financial interest.

The fund is investing in two companies financially intertwined with fracking giant Cuadrilla, the company that has been the subject of fierce protests in Lancashire and West Sussex. The first is Centrica, which is investing £60m in Cuadrilla’s Lancashire operations and the second is Riverstone Energy, which owns 44 per cent of Cuadrilla.

To read the article in full, click here.



XTO Energy fined $5.3million

On 22nd December 2014, XTO Energy, a subsidiary of ExxonMobil and the U.S’s largest natural gas company, has been fined by the US EPA $2.3 million for Clean Water Act violations related to its unconventional shale gas extraction activities in West Virginia. The US EPA fined XTO a further $3 million for restoration costs, bringing the final total charged to XTO, to $5.3 million. There is a very good reason why we say XTO have been fined the $5.3 million for unconventional shale gas extraction activities, and not fracking activities.

Due to the Bush-era legislation known as the Halliburton Loophole, fracking companies are seldom held accountable by federal agencies when it comes to water pollution, as the Halliburton Loophole legally exempts the fracking process from the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Clean Water Act. As a result, the US EPA are rendered impotent when it comes to regulating the actual fracking process and the chemicals used for injection into the ground.

However, what the US EPA have done, is fined XTO for environmental violations that exist outside the fracking process and the Halliburton loophole, in particular, violations committed by XTO which included the dumping of sand, dirt, rocks and other toxic fill materials into local streams and wetlands within the state of West Virginia, without a permit. It is these charges which are in violation of the Clean Water Act.

In total, XTO committed unauthorised discharges of dredged materials at eight sites across West Virginia, within Harrisburg, Marion and Upshur counties and the discharges are associated not with the hydraulic fracturing process (aka fracking), rather to related construction processes of well pads, freshwater pits, access roads, a pipeline, a compressor station pad.

XTO Activities and Operations in West Virginia, including Harrison, Marion and Usphur Counties which were included in the $5.3million settlement by the USEPA.
XTO Activities and Operations in West Virginia, including Harrison, Marion and Usphur Counties which were included in the $5.3million settlement by the USEPA.

And it is these environmental violations which have polluted approximately 5,300 linear feet of water streams and 3.4 acres of wetlands in West Virginia.

To view the US EPA settlement against XTO Energy in full, click here.

Previously, XTO Energy were charged with in early January 2014 for expelling tens of thousands of gallons of hydraulic fracturing waste water at a Pennsylvania drilling site in 2010.

Tamboran launch legal action

The Impartial reporter have stated that Tamboran Resources will launch legal action against Stormont ministers Ms. Arlene Foster MLA and Mr. Mark Durkan.

On the 28th of October the Impartial wrote:

At the time, a Tamboran spokesman said: “After investing in excess of £3 million (US $5 million) to date, we are disappointed that DETI failed to consider the option of a temporary extension … This decision as it stands could close the door on a project that could deliver up to 50 years of secure energy supply, in excess of 2,000 jobs and billions of much needed investment in the local economy.”

To read teh article in full, click here.

Tamboran seek injunctions against MLA’s Durkan and Foster

The Impartial Reporter have reported that Tamboran Resources plan on taking out seperate injunctions against Mr Mark Durkan MLA of the Department of Environment and Mrs. Arlene Foster MLA of the Departmant of Enterprise Trade and Investment.

Tamboran Resources’ Petroleum Licence has not been extended and the fracking company is to take a judicial review against Environment Minister Mark H Durkan’s decision on Belcoo quarry AND Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster’s decision not to extend their licence.
Tamboran Resources’ Petroleum Licence has not been extended and the fracking company is to take a judicial review against Environment Minister Mark H Durkan’s decision on Belcoo quarry AND Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster’s decision not to extend their licence.

A spokeswoman from DETI tells Impartial that the six month extension granted to Tamboran in March “was granted by DETI and accepted by the Company, on the basis that it would enable Tamboran to complete Part I of its work programme by September 30, including drilling of a stratigraphic (test) borehole, and to decide whether or not to proceed with carrying out Part II of the work programme within the initial five year term of the Licence (31 March 2016) or to relinquish the licence.”
She concluded: “The company has not completed Part I of its work programme and Petroleum licence PL2/10 will expire on 30 September 2014.”

A Tamboran spokesman reveals that, following the Environment Minister’s decision, the company sought a second extension from DETI to allow them to take a judicial review. DETI refused.
The spokesman states: “Tamboran Resources can confirm that it has instructed its Lawyers to judicially review the decision by the Environment Minister Mark H. Durkan announced on 11th August to reject its submission to drill an exploratory borehole under existing Permitted Development rights…..We have consulted with counsel and we are also moving to a judicial review of DETI’s decision.”

To read the article in full, click here.

License for fracking in fermanagh terminated


The BBC have reported that the license previously granted to Tamboran Resources to conduct unconventional shale gas extraction has now come to an end, after DETI Minister, Ms. Arlene Foster denied renewal of their license as a result of Tamboran’s inability to uphold the current terms of their license which was renewed on the 30th of March 2014.

To read the BBC article in full, click here.

Urgent Action Required: Short Email/Letter

Below you will find a template letter addressed to Minister Arlene Foster, the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment asking her NOT to extend the work programme for Tamboran license PL2/10 any further. We need to do this as quickly as possible so all hands on board please, signing and sharing.

Here is the background:

The work programme for Tamboran license PL2/10 was due to be completed on 1st April 2014 but Tamboran were unable to complete. Minister Foster, without consultation, either with the community or within government, granted Tamboran a six month extension on the license i.e. until 30th September 2014.

In a joint effort [No Fracking Northern Ireland and the Belcoo campaigners], we ran a highly successful campaign gathering circa 1500 objections to the Belcoo exploratory drill. [‘Do the right thing on fracking Minister Durkan’ event and on the ground letter signing in Fermanagh]. We were thrilled and relieved when Minister Durkan decided not to allow the Belcoo drill under Permitted Development Rights.

Unfortunately the story does not end there. We know that time is running out for Tamboran to fulfil the terms of the work programme before the end of September but we are painfully aware that Minister Foster could go ahead and grant another extension. Hence the letter to Minister Foster.

Please send your letter (do change the wording for example if you live nearby add that in, personal statements and stories are much more effective) and then pass this along and get as many people as you can to do likewise. Minister Foster needs to know that if she is considering granting an extension it will be against the wishes of many, many people. This action is far more likely to work when it is multiplied many times. Click the invite friends button above and add your friends too.


We have also included contact info for DETI and GSNI and it is important to make sure all involved are fully aware of this information. Minister Foster’s departmental address has been included for those who would like to send a postal letter. The following letter is shortened version and is ideal for attachment in an email. There is also a version one can print off with space for address, Reference and sign and print name and a further word version which you can edit and modify. See end of this post.


Dear Minister Foster,

If Tamboran wish to stay in the process in Northern Ireland they will most likely have to get an extension to their work programme and possibly even to Petroleum Licence PL2/10.

Will you as Minister be making this decision or will you abdicate to your department ?

I personally fail to see, how a licence or work programme can be extended given that the Assembly voted for a Moratorium on shale gas exploration, and also there is no policy at the Executive level on the matter. Granting any extension would therefore in my eyes be both against the will of the people of Northern Ireland as expressed by their political representatives in the Assembly, whilst also adopting a unilateral policy on exploring for shale gas in Northern Ireland.

You yourself stated that Tamboran were exploring for shale gas in a Radio Ulster Evening Extra Interview on Monday 4th August 2014.

There are other matters which come to mind also. It is now apparent that Tamboran had ample time to drill this borehole regardless of any decision by Minister Durkan. They first contemplated this publicly in September 2011, and got their work programme changed in May 2012. They have already had one extension to their work programme – I don’t believe they deserve another. Indeed one wonders at the due-diligence which was carried out when granting the extension in March 2014 as this information was all available at the time.

My understanding is that Tamboran’s competency and core values should also be questioned. Given the reports of Pollution by Eastern Star Gas/Santos in the Pilliga region of Australia, and the tie in to Tamboran, and Tamboran board members (Patrick Elliott and Dr David King were both founders of Eastern Star Gas and Tamboran, while Santos are now Tamboran’s partners in Australia) we believe there are serious questions to be asked about Tamboran’s suitability as a licensee. Tamboran also chose a quarry site which they knew to be unlawful as their test drill site; hardly a measure of good judgement.

An Assembly question indicates that the Geological Survey Of Northern Ireland (functionally aligned with your Department) only attended Tamboran’s public meeting out of all the other current licensees. There appears to have been significant hand holding by DETI throughout the history of this licence, yet even still Tamboran seem incapable of meeting the terms of the licence.

Given the information presented, the whole sorry saga of this licence, I believe the decision must be a Ministerial decision and it must be negative in relation to any further extension of the work programme or the Petroleum

Yours sincerely

The emails to send to are:

Minister Foster:
Minerals and Petroleum Branch:
Geological Survey of Northern Ireland:

Department address for postal correspondence:
Minister Arlene Foster
Dept Enterprise,Trade and Investment,
Netherleigh, Massey Ave,
Belfast, BT4 2JP


Space for address, reference; sign and print name.

The reference is of your own making e.g DOB and initials. It can be useful as it forces DETI to record the reference and so any email or letter back takes a bit more work to be personalised.


You can modify to suit yourself.

VIA: No Fracking Northern Ireland’s Facebook Page

Environment Minister rejects proposals for exploratory drilling


The Fermanagh Herald have stated:

The Environment Minister, Mark H Durkan today rejected Tamboran’s proposals for exploratory drilling in Fermanagh under permitted development rights. The Department of the Environment received notification from Australian Mining Company Tamboran of their intention to drill a core of rock from Cleggan Quarry, Belcoo on 21 July 2014. The company sought confirmation that this work could be carried out under current permitted development rights without the need for full planning permission as part of their ongoing exploration into the viability of extracting shale gas by means of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in County Fermanagh.

Minister Durkan stated: “I have given very careful consideration to Tamboran’s proposal to drill a core of rock from Cleggan Quarry near Belcoo and whether this is permitted development under current legislation. I have concluded that this is Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) development requiring full planning permission and that permitted development rights do not apply. In making this assessment I have been mindful of my Department’s responsibility to ensure that the environment is protected at all times and that full consideration is give to any likely significant environmental impacts of such a proposal.

To read the article in full, click here.

Tamboran “deeply concerned” with no drill decision

The Impartial Reporter state:

Australian exploration company Tamboran has voiced its concern over Environment Minister Mark H. Durkan’s decision to halt its plans to drill an exploratory borehole at a quarry outside Belcoo.
In the last few moments, a spokesman for Tamboran Resources said: “Tamboran Resources is deeply concerned with the announcement made by Environment Minister Mark H Durkan.
“The company is currently reviewing its position and will release a further statement in due course”.

To read the article in full, click here.