Monday 30 November 2015

Graham Stewart MP misleads public on West Newton mini-frac & gas from Russia

Last week Look North reported the West Newton A planning extension, and interviewed Graham Stewart, Conservative MP for Beverley and Holderness.

Graham Stewart continues to mislead the public by implying:

  1. that we get our gas from Russia (we don't) as justification for new exploration in our region for outdated fossil fuels.  
  2. by claiming West Newton is in no way a fracking site.  In reality, a mini-frac was attempted there on the Bowland Shale in August 2014 (it went badly wrong).  An honest statement would be: "West Newton is not a site for HIGH VOLUME fracking."

So is he incompetently incorrect, or deliberately misleading?

Fracking Myth #2: "Putin could turn off our gas supply."

Fact: We do not rely on Russia for our gas supply.

97% of our imported gas comes from Norway, Holland and Qatar.
Therefore President Putin could not turn off the UK's gas supply, even if he wanted to. Making false statements like this in the media is just a way to frighten the British public into supporting fracking.

So where exactly do we get our gas from?

According to the 2014 Government DUKES report, the main sources of UK gas imports are:

Norway [pipeline]     57%
Qatar [LNG*]     24%
Holland [pipeline]     15%
Belgium [pipeline]     1%.
*LNG = Liquified Natural Gas

The UK also exports gas to Belgium, Holland and Ireland.

Monday 9 November 2015

New Report on West Newton A – Mini-frack WAS attempted - a dangerous microcosm of UK fracking?

Mini-frack test WAS carried out at West Newton after all

A new and comprehensive report presents evidence of a huge catalogue of problems and harm caused by Rathlin Energy's incompetence at their West Newton A well site in Holderness, and failure by the council to protect and enforce.  It says that Rathlin Energy did carry out the planned mini-frack test at West Newton A well site after all, and there is video evidence of the site Field Manager admitting to this.

The company announced at the beginning of August that they would soon complete a mini-frack test on the Bowland Shale.  But less than 2 weeks later there was an emergency well shutdown, and the test was abandoned.  The well has since been mothballed, and Rathlin are drilling a new well just a few fields away.

The report "highlights the nefarious approach of the multinationals, the contempt they hold government agencies, councils, communities and the environment in and their desire to steamroll ahead with fracking – whatever the cost"

West Newton A – a dangerous microcosm of UK fracking?

Tuesday 22 September 2015

14th round repsonse - have you?

Have you responded to the consultation on oil & gas licences yet?

Here's an example by a local resident which raises some really important points, and may be of help.  Feel free to use extracts, but remember original responses are the most powerful.

More information and guidance is here:

Saturday 19 September 2015

Another victory over Rathlin Energy - closedown in Northern Ireland - the power of community action

Rathlin Energy are clearly are in trouble, closing down another operation, in Northern Ireland.  They announced on their website:

"Rathlin will very soon commence the well abandonment and site restoration of Ballinlea-1."  full statement
A few weeks ago they announced they are abandoning and restoring their Crawberry Hill wellsite near Beverley after ongoing protests there meant they were unable to carry out a mini-frack there as planned.

In 2012 the chair of Rathlin Energy, David Montagu-Smith, said of their operations:
"Our ability to function profitably or commercially in Northern Ireland will depend more heavily on one thing than on any other and that is the support of the local communities in which we work. We also would not be able to function, nor would we try and function, if we are at odds with the local communities."
We call on him to honour that commitment in East Yorkshire.

Monday 31 August 2015

Dear Graham Stewart MP, from a retired engineer

Dear Graham,

I am writing to you once more about fracking, because the situation has now become even more urgent and threatening to residents of East Yorkshire. The recent Government issue of drilling licenses and the 2nd tranche of licenses to be issued later this year have now the potential to turn our lovely countryside into a widespread industrial area. If you think this is an exaggeration, please consider what John Dewar, the chairman of Third Energy revealed about his fracking plans for Kirby Misperton. His most conservative estimate for drilling is 19 well-head sites each with 50 wells.The newly revealed license to Cuadrilla for drilling area SE95 which encompasses the villages of Wetwang, Tibthorpe, Bainton, Kirkburn, North Dalton among others, as you are aware, is very rich farming land and beautiful scenery. This will be the first East Yorkshire area to be subjected to an application to frack. The later tranche will cover many more areas of East Yorkshire, many abutting your constituency boundaries. Each will have the potential to spawn multiple drilling sites, with consequent disruption by convoys of vehicles on narrow roads, the potential for leakage, spillage, light and noise pollution, water contamination and emission of fugitive methane.

It will, of course, be argued that we will have the best ever "gold standard" safety procedures in place to ensure that no untoward accidents can occur. But even the professional report on which the Government bases its assertion that fracking is safe, qualifies that by saying " if the most rigorous safety standards are in place". As a retired engineer myself, I consider that no new or existing technology can be 100 % safe or could be so efficiently controlled. Moreover, the safety procedures currently in place for fracking are based on older drilling technology. The two agencies charged with overseeing safety have as yet no experience of overseeing the new fracking techniques. Both agencies have also experienced personnel and budgets cuts under the Government's economy measures. It will not be surprising if they will suffer further cuts when the Chancellor delivers his budget in September to achieve further savings of £12 billion. It is highly likely that the outcome of weakening these agencies would be a resort to more self-regulation by the oil and gas industry, not known for its unblemished record in this regard.        

Let's be clear on the terminology, because some from the industry and pro-fracking lobby would have us believe that fracking is a well-tried, risk-free technology. What Cuadrilla and other oil and gas companies will be doing is "unconventional on-shore high-volume hydraulic fracturing", a technology that has only once before been used before in the UK, by Cuadrilla, which resulted in an earthquake, fracture of the well casing and abandonment of the well. There is also mounting evidence from the USA and Australia, for anyone who cares to look, of the health and environmental impacts of fracking there, where the industry is far less constrained by lack of space. Yes there are some exaggerations and misleading reports (as there is also misinformation from the pro-fracking industry), but applying a severe filter to the information available still leaves very strong and disturbing case that fracking has a devastating effect.

Another misleading tactic by the proponents of fracking is to restrict their published estimate of the impact simply to the effects of a single initial exploration well, ignoring the likelihood that, should the shale prove productive, plans to expand to large scale exploitation would follow and be even more difficult at that stage for local planning authorities to refuse. Multiple drilling sites, similar to those already proposed by Third Energy at Ryedale, would eventually spread over a huge area of East Yorkshire, wherever the shale is found to be productive. As each well quickly exhausts its potential, more wells are necessary to produce enough gas to continue the supply. The many areas already proposed for licensing can be seen from the published maps, which no doubt you have already seen.

I am therefore asking you once again to consider the process of grotesque transformation of our countryside that could be initiated once the first fracking well is approved, and to join your Conservative MP colleague Sir Greg Knight in opposing the industrialisation of this beautiful area.



Tuesday 19 May 2015

EA marked Beverley for fracking

Rathlin Energy have always denied any interest in fracking for shale gas in East Yorkshire.

Strange then that in 2012 the Environment Agency (EA) listed just 5 sites with proposals for shale gas exploration, including Cuadrilla's well known sites in Balcombe and Lancashire, and, you guessed it- "Beverley - Rathlin Energy".

Shale Gas in the UK >
What is the regulatory framework for shale gas exploration and production? (Tony Grayling, Environment Agency)

Friday 10 April 2015

Straight Answers Please

Jon tries to get straight answers out of Rathlin Energy, including why work still has not started at Crawberry Hill:
We are in the process of addressing the Environment Agency’s (EA) pre-conditions.
ie; things went so badly wrong at West Newton (19 breaches of permit in 4 months, and ongoing gas leaks and noxious smells) that the Environment Agency are taking enforcement action against Rathlin Energy, and won't let them start work at Crawberry Hill.

Letter to Rathlin Energy from Jon, with notes

In the company's original reply, they said

the company cannot enter into detailed bilateral conversations with all the private individuals who may have a personal interest in our work but do not live locally.
Jon lives 4,500m from their Crawberry Hill well site.

Rathlin Energy Reply

Still unclear how many wells Rathlin Energy claim they want, Jon makes another attempt to get crystal clear answers.

Jon's attempt to get clarity

We look forward to posting clear answers soon.