Taxpayers to pay for fracking pollution

The Guardian news paper has just revealed that in the event that fracking companies go bankrupt, the costs incurred for pollution to the environment will be burdened onto the UK taxpayer.

Cuadrilla shale gas drilling rig is set up for 'fracking', Weeton, Blackpool, Lancashire, in March 2012. Photograph: Alamy

Cuadrilla shale gas drilling rig is set up for ‘fracking’, Weeton, Blackpool, Lancashire, in March 2012. (Image source: alamy)

Normally, fracking companies would take out a bond as an insurance policy in the event of environmental pollution. However the need for bonds has been rejected by Minister of the Environment Dan Rogerson, who stated:

“We believe that the existing regulatory framework is fit for purpose for the exploration and exploitation of onshore oil and gas activities. There are a great number of checks and controls available to us to ensure that operators comply with the requirements of their permits and deal with the wider pollution risks without adding to existing regulation.”

To read the guardian article in full, click here.

Minister: methane extraction to go ahead in UK, despite drastically diminishing gas prices

In an interview with Bloomberg News, Minister of State for Environment and Climate Change Matt Hancock expressed his desire for Unconventional Shale Gas Extraction to proceed despite the fact that recent drastic diminishing oil and gas prices may make the energy extraction process even more unprofitable for both government and corporations.

Matthew Hancock, the U.K. Conservative party's business and energy minister, pauses during a Bloomberg Television interview in London, U.K., on Monday, Jan. 5, 2015. The ruling Conservative Party is lining up investors to kick-start fracking across swathes of rural Britain, and challenge opposition from the village halls and country estates in its political heartland. Credit: Getty Images.

Matthew Hancock, the U.K. Conservative party’s business and energy minister, pauses during a Bloomberg Television interview in London, U.K., on Monday, Jan. 5, 2015. The ruling Conservative Party is lining up investors to kick-start fracking across swathes of rural Britain, and challenge opposition from the village halls and country estates in its political heartland. Credit: Getty Images.

When asked by co-anchor Guy Johnston that current low oil and gas prices may postpone and delay the need to extract methane gas from the strata of the UK, Hancock denied any reduction in what he called a ‘neccessity’ to drill for methane gas as he looked to minimise any fear that gas prices were being hit as hard as oil prices.  In response, Johnston gently forced the Minister to confirm that it follows that gas prices diminish soon after oil prices. The minister firmly replied:

“The contracts are tied. This is a long term project for the UK, we’re right at the start of a long term project [that] has cross party support in the UK for the principle of getting this potential that could be enormous out of the ground. Geologists are clear that there is a huge quantity of gas deep underneath the UK. The question is how much of it we can economically recover. There are planning decisions this month…and later this year just to get the first extraction out….. It’s an exciting prospect. It is the duty of the government to [make sure] it happens.”

When challenged again by female co-anchor Francine Laqua on the fact that oil and gas prices are diminishing and that this would reduce the sense of urgency for unconventional shale gas extraction, the Minister replied:

“I don’t think that’s quite right, [as] the benefits are not only obviously just for getting the shale out of the ground for the companies involved, but also [for] the security of supply domestically.”

In an interview that did little to tackle scientifically proven environmental or social liabilities of the practice of Unconventional Shale Gas Extraction experienced elsewhere around the globe, the Minister further reconfirmed that significantly lower natural gas prices in the UK will not have any impact on the desire of the UK government to conduct the controversial process of fracking.

When Anchor Johnston, by way of analogy, stated that if methane was extracted at a price that was higher than the selling price, an economic loss would be incurred, inparticular if gas prices are tied to oil prices. The Minister for Energy and Climate Change stated in response:

“From the government’s point of view….the benefits remain…. In terms of companies who may be looking to take part, we’ve got to make the margins work….we need to change the fiscal regime [to make it] economic.”

Anchor Lauqua questioned if the government planned on giving any benefits to alleviate the [financial] burden [of lower sales price for oil and gas] for the drillers. To view the Minister’s measured response to Anchor Laqua’s question, you may watch the Bloomberg interview in full, click the link below.

UK Minister for Energy and Climate Change discusses methane extraction with Bloomberg News. 05/01/15.

The right honourable Matt Hancock not only serves as Minister for the Environment and Climate Change, but also as Minister of State at the Dept. of Business, Innovation and Skills. Previously he gained a Masters degree in Economics from the University of Cambridge.


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.



Quinn can see benefits of fracking

The Impartial Reporter stated on the 31st July:

Not for Photosales

The brother of former businessman Sean Quinn who built up a huge manufacturing empire in Derrylin sees many benefits in fracking going ahead in Fermanagh and says he has no intentions of joining the protesters at Belcoo anytime soon.

“There are people in Fermanagh who support it, there is no question about that. There are people in Fermanagh who see it as being good for the economy and creating benefits to the local area.

“If I were running a commercial business in Fermanagh and shale gas was available I would want to benefit from it, no doubt about that.”

To read the article in full, click here.

Potential for up to 600 jobs insist fracking company

The Fermanagh Herald have reported:

FRACKING COMPANY Tamboran has expanded on the promise of ‘hundreds’ of jobs coming to Fermanagh if Fracking goes ahead. The company said that ‘if in due course the company is able to proceed to the next stage and that ultimately leads to gas production’, there will be ‘considerable employment opportunities both directly and indirectly’.


Anti-fracking campaigners have questioned the number of jobs promised by Tamboran, however, the company itself has reaffirmed intentioned to bring several hundred jobs to the area. A spokesman told the Fermanagh Herald that the company ‘will require upwards of 600 people in full time long term positions’ and that they ‘will be seeking to recruit as locally as possible’.

The spokesman said: “We would propose to provide local training opportunities to ensure we have a well-trained local team as this would be preferable to recruiting from overseas. We are determined to create as many jobs as possible in the local area.”

The spokesman also said that the company will be seeking to use local suppliers ‘as much as possible’ for services such as aggregates, security, professional services, vehicles, maintenance, catering and hospitality. The spokesman stressed that the company is ‘still at the very early stages of exploration and fact-finding and we firstly need to verify the presence of the natural gas in shale rock’.

He added: “We know some are opposed to natural gas and at the same time we know there is also considerable interest and support for the project. To date we have received several hundred enquiries about business opportunities and job opportunities, all unsolicited and mostly from local people. Given the potential benefits this project could bring through billions of investment, job creation and security of energy supply for decades to come, we would ask that people keep an open mind and make up their own mind based on the facts.”

To access the article, click here.

Tamboran announces drilling plans

The Fermanagh Herald have released an article concerning Tamboran’s bore-drill in Belcoo, County Fermanagh.

The Fermanagh Herald state:

FRACKING COMPANY Tamboran Resources Limited has today (July 21) confirmed that it intends to drill a scientific borehole to collect rock samples in south west Fermanagh.
The company has said that at this point, no ‘fracking’ will take place.
The site for the borehole is near Belcoo, described by a company spokesman as ‘an enclosed commercial area already used for heavy industrial purposes that will have limited visual impact’.
In 2011 Tamboran was granted a Petroleum Licence for an initial five year period from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and INVESTMENT to explore for natural gas in County Fermanagh.
The collection of rock samples (core) is a key requirement of the work programme set out by Government within the licence and the company said it is determined to meet its obligations in full.
The company plans to carry out the work by September 30, hoping to commence drilling operations in late August.
The rock samples will be analysed to help confirm the presence of a natural gas source in County Fermanagh. This will enable the company to determine if it will be possible to extract the gas at a much later date, subject to full planning approval.
Making the announcement, Dr Tony Bazley, Director of Tamboran Resources (UK) Ltd said:
“Tamboran’s intention at this stage is only to verify that the elements necessary for natural gas and its recovery are contained within the shale in County Fermanagh. This is fact-finding, not fracking. If County Fermanagh is home to a significant natural gas resource that could provide Northern Ireland with decades of a local secure energy supply then we believe the people have a right to know.
“We believe that the presence of natural gas in Northern Ireland could bring considerable benefits to the local and regional economy with the potential for billions of pounds of INVESTMENT; hundreds and potentially thousands of jobs created locally and importantly for Northern Ireland a secure supply of energy that could last for decades and potentially help reduce local energy costs. However, we first need to make sure enough gas is there to be commercially viable and that we will not know for certain until the end of the licence period. This is just the first stage in that process,” said Dr Bazley.
The controversial gas extraction method has been widely debated across the county, and recieved stern opposition from local politicians and anti-fracking activists.
Anti-fracking activist, Donal O’Cofaigh, from Belcoo, has said previously that the construction of frack WELLS ‘would devastate our countryside and threaten thousands of jobs in tourism and agriculture’.
“Big business, their political representatives and the corporate-owned press are all lining up behind fracking.
“They are only interested in PROFIT, no matter the cost to people’s health, living standards and our environment.
“It’s now up to ordinary people to get organised and stop the frackers in their tracks.”

To access the article, click here.

EU eyes US gas imports, citing current ukraine crisis

A two page document produced by the Council of the European Union Council Committee (EUCC) on May 27th 2014, outlines the desire of the EU to lift EU-US trade restrictions. This would allow the US to freely trade oil and gas exports across the atlantic to the European Union.

As a result of encouraging more crude oil and natural gas exports to the EU, the proposal would no doubt lead to an increase in fracking unconventional shale gas wells in the US, and would push more climate-disrupting fuels into the European Union as a whole, dealing a significant blow to efforts to avert climate change.


The EU made no secret of its desire before in July 2013 for the right to import US shale oil and gas.

The 2014 leaked document, obtained by the Washington Post, cites the current Ukrainian crisis as a driver for the desired change in trade regulations as the EU looks to strengthen its energy security over the next few decades.

In summary, the document outlines six main points:

1) That the EU and US should continue to negotiate Energy and Raw Materials (ERM) commitments that would improve transatlantic ERM rules and thereby strengthen diversity and strength of supply, consumers and corporations. The EU propose the inclusion of a new chapter within the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) that would accommodate this goal.

2) For the EU and US, TTIP would benefit from the inclusion of such a chapter for the following reasons:

a) Improving International rules.
As things stand, it is easier for the EU have to source ERM from third party countries, reducing their ability to import shale oil and gas from the US. The EUCC also state that improving international rules will permit EU-US trade for US oil and gas resources, and improve regulatory policy for corporations.

b) Geo-Political factors.
The new TTIP chapter that aims to improve ERM trade across the atlantic would signal to other nations globally that there exists a strong relationship between the EU and US. The new chapter would be required to be all inclusive, streamlined, and would benefit partners of both the EU and US (for instance EU access to ERM from Canada and Mexico who are partnered with the US.)

c) Security of Supply
Previously, the energy supply provided to the EU included imports from Russia, that travelled in through the nation of Ukraine. However in light of the Ukrainian conflict, imports from Russia have reduced, which weakens the energy supply granted to the EU. As a result, the EUCC wish to bolster the security of their energy supply with imports from the US. A new ERM chapter in TTIP, would combine EU support for regulation on one hand, while also lifting bilateral restrictions on gas and crude oil on the other.

d) Systematic Issues
Here, the EUCC points out that, to an International audience, it looks awkward when the EU and US are such close allies, yet what exists between them are rules and regulations that reduce their ability to trade ERM with one another, the result being a reduced economy for both parties.

3) The EUCC have pointed out that there has been notable lack of desire for such a chapter from the US. Furtherstil, the EU still waiting for a clear signal of desire from the US on the matter.

4) The US has shown lack of effort for implementing legally binding rules which can lift trans atlantic trade restrictions for oil and gas to the EU. As a result, the EU proposes to produce a legally binding commitment in the TTIP guaranteeing the free export of crude oil and gas resources that fast-tracks licenses for exports to the EU. These licenses would be granted automatically and expeditiously in such a manner that does not require effort by the US, making no change to their existing legislation.

5) The EUCC propose that new rules should accommodate both existing existing EU and US legislation in order to increase the ease of the process of trading ERM transatlantically

6) In conclusion, the EU ask for teh US to signal their support for a new chapter in TTIP that would encourage and facilitate ERM trade of oil and gas from thE US, to the EU. This would build upon political support recently expressed by the U.S. Administration.

To read the leaked energy paper in full, click here.