Defend Localism!

Take the advice of Greg Clark, ex-Secretary of State for the Department for Communities and Local Government

Greg Clark

"Those who are prepared to organise to be more effective and more efficient should be able to reap substantially the rewards of that boldness ...

Take power now. Don’t let yourself, any longer, be ruled by someone else"

How many wells?

PNRAG Wells
Click the image from more information on Cuadrilla's plans for PEDL 165

Fracking Employment

From the Financial Times 16 October 2013

AMEC forecast just 15,900 to 24,300 nationwide - direct & indirect

Jobs would typically be short term, at between four and nine years

Only 17% of jobs so far have gone to local people

Rubbish!

Looking for misinformation, scaremongering, lies or stupidity?

It's all on this website (but only on this one post ) featuring the Reverend Mike Roberts.

(Oops - there's more! )

Here though is our favourite Reverend Roberts quote of all time - published in the Lancashire Evening Post on 5th August 2015

"If you dare oppose fracking you will get nastiness and harassment whether on social media, or face-to-face"

Yes you!

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing's going to get better. It's not." - Dr Seuss

We are not for sale!

England is not for sale!

Wrongmove

Join the ever growing number of households who have signed up to the Wrongmove campaign!

Tell Cuadrilla and the Government that your house is "Not for Shale"

Wrongmove

Be a flea

"Many fleas make big dog move"
Japanese Proverb quoted by Jessica Ernst

No to Fracking

Love Lytham Say No to Fracking

Make sense?

The Precautionary Principle

When an activity or occurrence raises threats of serious or irreversible harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.

Contact Us

Click here to contact us by email
Private Eye

How can I help?

Find out here

Email updates

Subscribe to our mailing list

Follow us on Twitter

Our Tweets

Industry Tactics

Industry Tactics

Arrested Development

On 18th February 2017 the Daily Telegraph published an article with the title “Cuadrilla takes shale activist row to Government as local firms lose out“.

In the article the reporter, Jillian Ambrose, states that

“Cuadrilla boss Francis Egan has raised concerns with officials in the Home Office, asking that police are given greater clarity on the laws surrounding protest action so that police are able to protect local businesses.”

However, she then went on to state that “There have been a dozen arrests related to verbal death threats and physical assault against workers at Cuadrilla’s site in the last month” and quoted Chamber of Commerce leader Babs Williams (sic) as describing the “appalling and intimidatory tactics” used by anti-fracking activists.

Anyone reading the article without better information might be excused for believing that anti-fracking protectors have been regularly arrested for totally unacceptable behaviour.

So how much truth is there in this article? It is not clear whose ear Mr Egan may or may not have been bending with his presumptuous suggestion that Police don’t know what they are doing and the implication that they should be doing much more for him – we are not told and the suggestion is very generic. I’d ask but as we know Cuadrilla refuse to engage with any questions I ask them. However, what is clear is that Lancashire Police have categorically and unequivocally denied that up to the date of publication of the article a single individual had been arrested for anything resembling the reasons given by Ms Ambrose in her article.

Independent journalist Ruth Hayhurst reported on her website this morning that “A spokesperson for Lancashire Police confirmed at 11.45am on 20 February 2017 that there had been no arrests related to verbal death threats and physical assault against workers at the Preston New Road site.

She also provided further background on her headlines page where she stated:

Arrests at Preston New Road: The Telegraph article referred to a “dozen arrests related to verbal abuse and physical assault against workers at Cuadrilla’s site in the last month”. The Telegraph told DrillOrDrop the source of this statement was Cuadrilla. The company made a statement on 20/2/2017, saying the reference was to the dozen arrests made in connection with protests at or near the Preston New Road site. Separately, a company spokesperson said that threats of verbal abuse and physical violence are “all taken seriously and have been passed to the Police to investigate and take statements”.

[For clarity we should point out here that as far as we know there have so far been 10 arrests made under Section 14 of the Public Order Act and one under the Trade Union Labour Relations Act. It is clear from Lancashire Polices response that not a single one of these involved death threats or assault. ]

So we have something of a gap here – The Telegraph appear to be suggesting that the claim about the “dozen arrests related to verbal death threats and physical assault” came from Cuadrilla but Cuadrilla are claiming that they only referred generically to some arrests and didn’t specify what they were for. Equally Cuadrilla would appear to be claiming not to have mentioned “death threats” at all.

So what can we make of this?

If this were some down at heel local rag we might charitably assume that a naive reporter got overawed by being offered an interview with Cuadrilla’s CEO late on a Friday, got what she thought was  a juicy quote and either misunderstood it or was was unable to validate it during the weekend but published anyway. However, it isn’t the local rag – this is the Daily Telegraph and the reporter concerned is “a Business Reporter covering oil, gas and utilities for The Telegraph business desk“. Somebody who presumably brings the ethics and experience of a professional journalist to bear. She is after all quite caustic about the professional abilities of others.

So maybe this experienced reporter on a quality national newspaper took two unrelated statements (that arrests were made and Cuadrilla’s claims that threats had been made) and conflated them into something more interesting than either statement was in isolation – but that seems unlikely and wouldn’t explain the very specific statement about “verbal death threats and physical assault“. After all there is a considerable difference between verbal “abuse” and a verbal “death threat“. That would be quite an embellishment wouldn’t it?

Could it be then that Ms Ambrose was actually reporting what she was told by Cuadrilla, and that she made a mistake in not confirming the facts with Lancashire Police before repeating the allegation in her article? It seems unlikely that a staff journalist on a national broadsheet would not be careful enough to cover themselves by checking the reliability of a claim that could be so incendiary before repeating it. But then when challenged, she did claim on Twitter (see below) that her statement was backed up by evidence on the Lancashire Police Facebook page. (It wasn’t)

If that’s not it then we have to ask whether a professional and experienced journalist would , intentionally or otherwise,  misquote the CEO of a company she was interviewing. That would be an unlikely things for a journalist on a national title to do, and did she not, like every other journalist I have encountered keep her own shorthand notes of the conversation? Again, it seems unlikely that Ms Ambrose does not have a recording or written record of the interview to fall back on to defend her and the Telegraph’s position regarding any statements made by her interviewee, Mr Egan.

I’m running out of hypotheses now but it seems that the gap between the statements made by both parties by way of explanation as to the origin of the defamation still remains to be filled, as the given explanations simply can’t be made to fit together in any coherent way.  Maybe an investigative journalist could ask some pointed questions to get to the bottom of this?

Today the Telegraph reporter was made aware of both her mistake with Babs Murphy’s name and the fact that the statement regarding “verbal death threats and physical assault” had been denied by the Police. The article has now been corrected as regards Ms Murphy’s name but the calumny about the “death threats” and “physical assaults” still remains. Indeed Ms Ambrose tweeted rather combatively:

This suggests that she didn’t perhaps realise the gravity of the claim she had made regarding the “verbal death threats and physical assault”.

In any event it seems that the Telegraph are currently standing by their version of events, which is somewhat surprising and disappointing in the face of Lancashire Police’s statement which flatly contradicts it and Cuadrilla’s apparent denial of being the source of the specific information regarding “verbal death threats and physical assault” .

We are aware from some (very justifiably) angry responses on social media that several complaints have now been made to the newspaper regulator IPSO, so we hope that they will be able to shine a light on what really lies behind a very unsavoury defamation of those opposed to fracking.

We honestly don’t know who is to blame, but we do know that there isn’t a jot of truth in the allegation that “There have been a dozen arrests related to verbal death threats and physical assault against workers at Cuadrilla’s site in the last month“.

Watch this space to see how this plays out.

When “The Facts” simply are not the facts

This week Ineos paid to have an 8 page supplement inserted into 10 Johnstone Press titles in and around the midlands.

An electronic version of the supplement (which does differ from the print version can be found here)

Having analysed the statements made, we have identified no less than 40 instances in which we believe the supplement breaches the Advertising Standards Authority code – specifically regarding clauses

  • 3.1 (Misleading advertising)
  • 3.6 (Subjective claims)
  • 3.7 (Substantiation)
  • 3.11 (Exaggeration).

We have today sent a formal complaint to the ASA, a copy of which can be downloaded here –  ASA Ineos 170127

We will update you on this blog when we receive a response. We will not however be able to reveal any discussions or preliminary conclusions reached as these would be confidential. We will leave that kind of behaviour to others.

Stuck On Repeat – Cuadrilla’s Useless Clueless Information Line

It’s time for the Cuadrilla “Spot The Difference” competition.

Readers who follow this blog may recall the trouble we had getting any answers from Cuadrilla’s “Community Information Line” (which is in fact run by their PR company Lexington Communications)

We were trying to get the answer to three  fairly simple questions but they seemed reluctant and/or unable to provide any answers.

The three questions were:

1.  What was the planned surface area of the site at Preston New Road.

2.  What is the number of jobs (FTE equivalents)  that Cuadrilla genuinely expect will result from work at the site.

3. What exactly are Cuadrilla planning to drill this year?

As they declined to answer them for me I asked several friends to ask them on my behalf.

Here is how one correspondent phrased the questions in more detail:

I am a little confused by some of the things reported to have been said by your Mr Egan in his interview with the Guardian (Jan 5th 2017). Please can you give me definitive answers to the following questions.

Firstly,  what is the planned area of the site on Preston New Road?  The article says “about the size of a rugby pitch” but I would like to know the area in hectares.

Second, Mr Egan is quoted as saying that “the work would involve dozens of people”.  Could you tell me precisely how many full time equivalent jobs Cuadrilla  expects to result from work at the Preston New Road site?

Finally, the article says that Cuadrilla “will concentrate on drilling a pilot well 3,500 metres deep this year and two horizontal wells”.  I was under the impression that Cuadrilla only had permission to drill one horizontal well from each vertical well. Please could you clarify what drilling you actually intend to carry out this year, please?

A number of other people sent in similar requests. Perhaps realising what a PR gaffe it would be if their information line refused to talk to anybody at all they sent back the same cut and paste responses to all of those who wrote in.

These were as follows

Please find below answers to your queries.

Preston New Road site area

The Exploration Site and access, extends to approximately 2.65 hectares (ha) and are located within a parcel of agricultural land of around 7.2 ha, of which 1.55ha is a compacted crushed stone surfaced well pad from which the drilling, hydraulic fracturing and flow testing activities will be undertaken. The remainder of the application site will consist of surface water collection ditches, landscaped bunds (from topsoil and subsoil excavated during construction of the well pad) and fencing and the land required for the extended flow test pipeline and connection. It is the 1.55 ha well pad which we say is approximately the size of a rugby pitch to help people visualise the size.

Jobs created at the Preston New Road site

In the Environment Statement independent planning consultant Arup estimated that approximately 19 on-site jobs will be created by Cuadrilla’s operations at the Preston New Road site. However we expect a greater number of supply chain jobs will be created in Lancashire as a result of the shale gas industry in the UK.  Overall dozens of on-site jobs and personnel will be required to complete the site-build and exploratory operations at the Preston New Road site.  These will include construction jobs, drilling jobs, well service jobs among others.  When we launched our Putting Lancashire First initiative last December we published a tracker of which direct and indirect jobs are included.  We will keep publishing these figures quarterly this year.

Type of drilling

Initially a vertical pilot well is drilled – rock samples are taken from this to understand more about the geology and where best to drill the horizontal wells. Then the horizontal wells are drilled at various depths (up to a depth between 2,000m and 3,500m).  One of the horizontal wells will come off the pilot well. We have planning permission for four vertical wells to be drilled, however we do not envisage drilling all four this year.

If you’ve been following this fiasco you will know that those answers are hardly satisfactory

We asked some of our correspondents to follow these answers up making the points you can read below under “Supplementary Questions”.

Of course Cuadrilla, who wish to ensure that public is as fully informed about their operations as is possible provided suitably detailed responses to these follow up questions as follows:

Please find below answers to your queries.

Preston New Road site area

The Exploration Site and access, extends to approximately 2.65 hectares (ha) and are located within a parcel of agricultural land of around 7.2 ha, of which 1.55ha is a compacted crushed stone surfaced well pad from which the drilling, hydraulic fracturing and flow testing activities will be undertaken. The remainder of the application site will consist of surface water collection ditches, landscaped bunds (from topsoil and subsoil excavated during construction of the well pad) and fencing and the land required for the extended flow test pipeline and connection. It is the 1.55 ha well pad which we say is approximately the size of a rugby pitch to help people visualise the size.

Jobs created at the Preston New Road site

In the Environment Statement independent planning consultant Arup estimated that approximately 19 on-site jobs will be created by Cuadrilla’s operations at the Preston New Road site. However we expect a greater number of supply chain jobs will be created in Lancashire as a result of the shale gas industry in the UK. Overall dozens of on-site jobs and personnel will be required to complete the site-build and exploratory operations at the Preston New Road site. These will include construction jobs, drilling jobs, well service jobs among others. When we launched our Putting Lancashire First initiative last December we published a tracker of which direct and indirect jobs are included. We will keep publishing these figures quarterly this year.

Type of drilling

Initially a vertical pilot well is drilled – rock samples are taken from this to understand more about the geology and where best to drill the horizontal wells. Then the horizontal wells are drilled at various depths (up to a depth between 2,000m and 3,500m). One of the horizontal wells will come off the pilot well. We have planning permission for four vertical wells to be drilled, however we do not envisage drilling all four this year.

Yes folks – they couldn’t be bothered to answer the further questions so they just copied and pasted their original answers. I know at least two people who got the same off-hand and insulting treatment.

So when you hear Francis Egan telling you how much he values community involvement, maybe remind him of the fact that his tame PR company is making him his company look completely uncaring and totally unprofessional.

 


Supplementary questions

  1. Preston New Road Site Area 

    Lexington Communications responded “It is the 1.55 ha well pad which we say is approximately the size of a rugby pitch to help people visualise the size.” but a rugby pitch is only 1 hectare in size so even 1.55 hectares  is misleading by a third! So they are “approximately” telling the truth then?in fact the Environmental Statement shows the pad looking like this (P66)

    The three layers of high fencing surround not just the pad but the bunds etc as well, and that area is about 2.2 hectares  so if they are pretending to be describing the visual / spatial impact they are being very disingenuous by saying it is just the pad area and then comparing that to a 1 hectare rugby pitch!

    2.Jobs created at the Preston New Road site

    Lexington really need  to check ask that 19 figure as it looks more like 8 on site employees in the ES they refer to after “leakage” is taken into account. (Leakage being defined as the proportion of the benefit felt elsewhere).

    The 11 is made up of 8 net direct FTEs + 4 additional (indirect / induced) from associated monitoring – (presumably rounding or mathematical error accounts for it not being 12)

    The calculations show in Table 9.5 attempt to quantify employment relating to on-Site activities, the indirect supply chain effects and the induced effects associated with increased spending by workers (the latter two areas being what the composite multiplier accounts for) at the Lancashire level. The net FTE estimation is estimated to be 11 FTE positions.

    So the total direct and supply chain employment is only 11!

    To this we can maybe add 4

    These calculations do not include the employment generated by the installation of the arrays, which could be for an additional team of up to four people working on each of the 80 sites for up to three days.

    This would give a total of 15

    So to say “Overall dozens of on-site jobs and personnel will be required to complete the site-build and exploratory operations at the Preston New Road site. These will include construction jobs, drilling jobs, well service jobs among others.” would seem to be a very misleading exaggeration, wouldn’t it? It’s more like “a dozen” at Preston new Road isn’t it? 8 direct + 4 monitoring according to their own Environmental Statement

    3. Type of Drilling 

    So exactly what did Francis Egan mean then when he said Cuadrilla “will concentrate on drilling a pilot well 3,500 metres deep this year and two horizontal wells”

    Does this mean they will drill two verticals with one horizontal each or one vertical with two horizontals off it

    It’s an important question as as far as we know their planning permission only allows them one horizontal per vertical

Mike Hill and the IET

Regular readers may be aware that local engineer Mike Hill was subjected to a protracted smear campaign by pro-fracking activists.

We believe that in making a host of unfounded, unsustainable but ultimately very damaging insinuations against an honest man the pro-fracking activists concerned not only crossed a line into totally unacceptable campaigning, but set a new low in the race for the bottom which has characterised the industry’s PR campaigning in the UK.

Redacted documents released after a subject access request subsequently revealed that the individuals concerned  included  2 Kens  (one from UKOOG) and a Michael. We’ll leave you to guess who they might be, although one of the Ken’s, Ken Wilkinson has proudly admitted his involvement.

You can read more about this sorry and dishounourable tale here: http://www.refracktion.com/index.php/morality-and-integrity-two-things-the-pro-frackers-cant-buy/

We are delighted to say that a confirmation that these smears were rejected out-of-hand was published in December’s issue of the IET’s Member News. It read:

We trust that those involved will be issuing a suitable public apology in the near future.

 

 

Axed Johnston Press Editor Misleads For Cuadrilla

Some of Cuadrilla’s lies (like the one about the police asking them to move the barriers to the centre of the road at Preston New Road, or the one about fracking pads being the size of a single rugby pitch) seem to slide their way seamlessly into the local press with no questions being asked. Others are more insidious like the suggestion made by ex LSE editor Steve Singleton to a local councillor last week.

Mr Singleton (who now works for PPS group, one of Cuadrilla’s many PR agencies, but styles himself “Cuadrilla Local Community Advisor“) wrote to a local councillor stating of the protests : “Obviously there is a serious impact on traffic movement and inevitable delays for motorists. Most crucially ambulances will need to be diverted taking longer to reach destinations.”

We were particularly irritated by the claim that the protests might have affected emergency vehicles as, to our knowledge, the only delays to blue light vehicles have occurred as a result of Cuadrilla’s traffic management and their own blocking of the road.

We decided to find out the truth from a senior police officer. The “Bronze” commander at the site confirmed this morning what we already knew.

To his knowledge no emergency vehicles have so far been delayed by any action taken by protesters against the fracking development at Preston New Road.

We think Mr Singleton should refrain from making unsustainable claims like this in future and should write to those who he contacted earlier with this incorrect suggestion to put the record straight. We also hope that the local press will take his “alternative facts” with a few pinches of salt in future.

Fracking Furore Over Axed Johnston Press Editor’s Appeal

Axed LSE Editor Receives Invitation to Attend PNR Protest

Frack Free Lancashire have recently commented on emails sent out by Cuadrilla’s in house spin doctor, axed Johnstone press editor Steve Singleton.  (well we say “In House” , but we’re not sure how somebody employed by PR company PPS Solutions’ office in Greater Manchester is simultaneously able to describe themselves as “Cuadrilla Local Community Advisor” – maybe it’s just a Public relations industry thing? You know, Cuadrilla pretending to put “Lancashire First”, and all that sort of Trumpery)  They have brought to the press’s attention that Cuadrilla Resources, who have used at least seven different public relations agencies to push their corporate messages, are upset that the anti-fracking movement has finally received some positive coverage on the BBC.

FFL have learned that axed Johnston Press Editor on the Fylde Coast, now Cuadrilla’s “Local Community Advisor“, has pleaded with his local contacts to put forward pro-fracking programme suggestions to the BBC in an effort to negate the impact of what he suggests is favourable anti-fracking coverage on popular television programme, The One Show.

In two recently discovered emails, Steve Singleton, attempted to solicit pro-fracking supporters to contact The One Show to counter the impact of a feature on fracking protestors.

Mr Singleton stated:

“Cuadrilla now want to ensure the BBC provide some ‘balance’ and report that there is support in Lancs … This is not that supporters are the silent majority but simply a majority that doesn’t stand outside shouting and block roads needlessly.”

In a second email he also complained (contrary to information provided by the police themselves) that ambulances would have needed to be diverted, taking longer to reach destinations.

 

However, a local resident commented to FFL:

“Mr Singleton’s claims that ambulances might have needed to have been diverted has no more basis in fact than Cuadrilla’s recent claim that police asked them to move their barriers into the middle of the road. I spoke to a policeman at the scene as the slow walk was happening and he confirmed that emergency vehicles would have been allowed through. The only problems for emergency vehicles over the last 2 weeks have been caused by Cuadrilla’s insistence on erecting barriers which leave only a narrow strip of road available for travel in one direction at a time. “

Speaking on behalf of Frack Free Lancashire, Claire Stephenson explained further:

“It was actually the police who blocked the road and not the protestors. The stopping of the truck down the road was a response by people angry because police did not facilitate peaceful protest. We have video footage of an assault carried out by a security worker, which is now the subject of police investigation following a number of formal complaints. Cuadrilla’s unsuccessful traffic management efforts have blocked emergency vehicles three times in the last two weeks. On Friday campaigners spent two hours persuading workers to reduce their unnecessarily wide fencing space so as to allow emergency vehicles through safely. We have strong concerns for the health and safety of the public and residents.”

Reacting to the claims of unbalanced coverage she continued:

“Cuadrilla spend thousands of pounds on no less than seven PR companies and employing in-house spin doctors like Mr Singleton. They continually make false claims of being involved with the local community. Rather than making spurious claims of support and trying to stir up matters behind the scenes, shouldn’t Mr Singleton be focussing on setting up the Community Liaison Groups which we have been promised, but which Cuadrilla have so far failed to deliver?

“We would like to give him the chance to see the truth at first hand, so we’d like to invite him to come down and join us down at the rolling protest opposite the site entrance to witness both the lawful nature of the protest and also the incredible level of support being offered to the protestors by passing motorists.”

We will report here if Mr Singleton accepts the invitation, engages with the local community, and puts in an appearance at the roadside.

Putting Lancashire First

It was interesting to see the breakdown of costs provided by Cuadrilla in their claim against Tina Rothery, and how they tried their hardest to limit the amounts spent and used the opportunity to support business in Lancashire.

Along with the other costs making up the amazing £62,871 they tried to claim was a time cost from Eversheds’ office in Leeds (That’s in Yorkshire isn’t it? Don’t we have lawyers in Lancashire then?) for

So a trainee spent 2 hours and 12 minutes on drafting a legal notice to be inserted into newspapers.

Presumably (let us know if we are wrong Cuadrilla please and we’ll correct this ) this the same legal notice for which they then also engaged not one but two PR companies to deal with. Both of these are of course are based in Lancashire. Oh no! Hang on – sorry, the invoices were sent from their London offices.

We were gobsmacked! Does it really cost nearly £7,000 to insert a legal notice in each of 2 local newspapers and the on-line version of one of them? In fact the Lancashire Evening Post and the Blackpool Gazette are both Johnston Press publications and Blackpooltoday.co.uk is just the Blackpool Gazette online).  This does sound an awful lot doesn’t it? We made a brief enquiry with Johnstone Press as to how much a half page print advert in their regional titles might be and were given a ball-park figure of £700 – £1200 per title to play with. We didn’t see it but we doubt this notice needed to be bigger than a half page. We can’t imagine that the on-line version would cost more, but if anyone knows differently please let us know. On that basis a figure of £3,000 would seem more reasonable. After all the work  in preparing the notices for print had apparently been done by an Eversheds trainee.

And does it really cost nearly £7,000 to insert a legal notice in the Times? Goodness!

It does beg the question as to why a major legal firm couldn’t arrange for a legal notice to be inserted into a couple of newspapers and why two London based PR companies had to be involved doesn’t it? We are sure that they must have made every effort to ensure that only reasonable costs were presented as incurred. If Cuadrilla would like to shed any light on this we’ll gladly publish their response here.

And we wouldn’t want anyone to think that Cuadrilla’s  commitment to “Putting Lancashire first” was just a slogan, whilst they actually support businesses just about  everywhere else would we?

 

Knowing the truth

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8-32

So what ARE we to make of @backingfracking’s lie that the Church of England is Backing Fracking?

First of all they make the claim on Facebook that the “anti-fracking narrative (has been) sacrificed on the altar of the Church of England…that’s right, it’s Backing Fracking!”

To do this they use a picture of a Catholic Church in Canada

Yes really! It’s a picture of the Holy Name of Mary Catholic Church on Bridge Street in Almonte in the diocese of Ottawa.

Isn’t this just a bit worse than using a picture of Grasmere as an analog for the English countryside? What would Friends of The Earth or the ASA have to say about that I wonder?

Next, on Twitter, they publish a picture of the Archbishop of Canterbury apparently saying “Blessed are the frackers” and claiming The Church of England is Backing Fracking.

The only trouble is – it isn’t.

The Church of England actually said about the paper they are referring to:

“This is not a policy paper. It is a briefing paper to outline key issues and to highlight that fracking is not morally different from any other extractive industry – it’s about context.”

The paper itself is riddled with caveats and offers only cautious and conditional acceptance of fracking as long as several conditions are met.  It concludes:

The key to whether or not fracking is a morally acceptable practice thus turns on three points: the place of shale gas within a transitional energy policy committed to a low carbon economy; the adequacy and robustness of the regulatory regime under which it is conducted, and the robustness of local planning and decision-making processes. Having concluded that shale gas may be a useful component in transitioning to a low carbon economy, we are persuaded that a robust planning and regulatory regime could be constructed. However, these are aspects that will need constant vigilance.Ongoing research and monitoring of impacts on health and environment will be needed

So the Church isn’t backing fracking – it remains agnostic on the subject. Anyone who has studied these issues in any depth will realise that the conditions specified here are a long way from being met, and anyone who studies the paper itself will instantly hear alarm bells ringing. For example, when looking at the potential “benefits” , they quote Cuadrilla’s estimate of 250 FTE jobs per development wells from their 5 year old Regeneris report instead of using up-to-date data from their planning application, which make it clear there would only be 11 FTE positions created by 4 development wells.

It’s hard to believe that a vicar is an admin of the group responsible for this unholy mess isn’t it.

What will the Archbishop of Canterbury and Bishop Julian have to say? Watch this space.


Of course if having the truth exposed is awkward for you, then you can always change it.

So Michael Roberts seems to have deleted the inconvenient comments, in which he displays his paranoid insistence that I am everyone who posts on his Backing Fracking page

and replaced them with something he obviously hopes will get him off the hook with his bishop.

The trouble is Michael, we have the before and after  screen shots and we know you are one of the admins of Backing Fracking and have at very least chosen NOT to delete any of the offending posts.

Accounting for dummies (or Lancashire for Shale)

It was with absolute incredulity that we read the latest effluent from industry front group Lancashire For Shale, claiming that

“Campaigners protesting against Cuadrilla’s shale gas exploration works have today forced the closure of the A583 for the second time this week, at a potential cost to the economy of over half a million pounds a day.”

(The first point we obviously need to make here is that we are aware that the road was closed three times but two of those closures were caused by Cuadrilla, not by the protectors as claimed here. Let’s move on – it doesn’t get a lot better)

As you can imagine we were eager to see how they got to such a ridiculous figure and we weren’t disappointed.

Here’s their logic:

According to government estimates, traffic congestion costs the UK economy around £3 billion a year, with a quarter of that attributed to incidents, including like this.

This means that as well as the direct disruption caused to Cuadrilla’s site construction works, prolonged closures of Preston New Road due to protestor activity could be costing the wider economy over £85,000 an hour. The cost of a five-and-a-half hour closure of the road between 9:30am and 3:00pm, when Cuadrilla is currently permitted to operate, could therefore reach as high as £467,500.

So let’s take this step by step shall we?

First of all their link goes to a page headed “Tackling £1 billion cost of motorway closures“. Last time I looked Preston New Road wasn’t a motorway, but let’s not be too uncharitable. Lancashire for Shale are on a mission and we are now living in a post-truth world. Let’s carry on.

So what about the £3 billion figure? Well actually the report linked to talks about “the shocking £1 billion cost of those lost hours for our economy” – oops. It does mention “DfT funding of around £3 million for laser scanning technology that can be used by the police for surveying incident scenes“. Are we getting the distinct impression that somebody just did a quick Google and didn’t read the page very carefully? I think we are. Never mind let’s plough on and see what sort of silk purse they are trying to make from this sows ear – how good are these people at business projections?

It would seem that they are trying to take a figure for the entire UK – a quarter of their invented  £3 billion – and dividing that into an hourly rate and getting to a figure of £85,000 an hour. OK so if they were actually using relevant data (which they are not) we could conclude that nationally the total of all of the traffic incidents in the whole of the UK causes congestion which costs the entire UK economy an average £85,000 an hour. That’s the entire UK economy. So then they take the number of hours that the road might be closed for if it were closed all the working day, multiply that by the cost to the entire UK economy of every traffic incident and claim that’s the impact on the “wider economy” of a closure of a single A road in the Fylde. Can anybody else see the logical flaw in that argument? If you can’t please don’t ever try to do business with me!

Of course we had the usual jowl wobbling from Tony “Bananas” Raynor who claimed, presumably on the basis of the wonderful accounting above, that “Forcing the closure of the A583 today for such an extended period, preventing businesses from going about their daily work, will be having an unseen but significant impact on the local economy and can’t be tolerated.

What a shame for his remaining credibility that his pals at Cuadrilla closed the road twice the following day themselves.

The greater shame though is that this claim got repeated in the local press.

Its not as if Mr Raynor can claim he doesn’t know what Lancashire For Shale are saying is it – after all he is on their steering group, we can see here


I’m sure that if we bring this to their attention they will be eager to correct the misinformation as soon as they can.

It’s interesting to see the utter lack of critical analysis from the usual pro-shale shills who simply parrot and share whatever is in their own echo chamber, regardless of how ludicrous it actually may be. Top work Michael!

And of course Backing racking couldn’t resist getting in on the act either

Perhaps we should get some real Lancashire businesspeople and residents, who employ competent accountants, to tell us how much the closure of one lane of the road will cost over the construction period, and over the projected period of fracking, which requires huge numbers of HGV and truck deliveries.

Perhaps we should also assess the risk to people needing ambulance emergency transport resulting from of being held up by the traffic lights and one-way system from which there is no exit due to the metal Heras fencing. This is no flight of fancy, this has already happened and was nothing to do with any protest.

UKOOG mislead on fracking impact

UKOOG issued a new report on Fracking on 10th January 2017, with a press release claiming “UKOOG publishes study showing limited impact of shale gas development on countryside”

With no sense of irony,  they gave the report the title “DEVELOPING SHALE GAS AND MAINTAINING THE BEAUTY OF THE BRITISH COUNTRYSIDE”

They do see very keen to try to down-play the impact of fracking on local communities all of a sudden.  Is it a co-incidence that this report surfaces just as work starts at Preston New Road?

In this guest post Alan Tootill anaylses UKOOG’s claims and finds them wanting

UKOOG’s Press release is here

The report is here

The press release highlights the assertion that 500 wells could reduce imported gas by 50%. This is so vague that we can’t take that seriously, we have to look at the report itself. The interesting thing is the proposal of a scenario of 7-11 wellpads in a 10 km square, with ten wells per pad. This is, of course, wildly different from Cuadrilla’s boast of up to 40 wells per pad, with 80-100 pads in PEDL165. [Refracktion This is also wildly different from the 10 well pad scenario Cuadrilla spun to the ASA in 2013 !]

On the UKOOG scenario Cuadrilla would need a mind-boggling 400 wellpads to provide 4,000 wells, incidentally the figure that UKOOG estimate as necessary for the whole country. Impossible.

The press release is careful to state the ten well pad is only one scenario, but surely this is an indication that UKOOG do not perhaps themselves believe Cuadrilla’s claim to be able to drill 40 wells from one pad. It certainly indicates they are not prepared to promote this as a scenario, surprising as it would help to promote their argument.

Equally or more significantly, what the press release claims is that rigs are on a site for a matter of weeks. In the case of Preston New Road Cuadrilla say the first well will take five months to drill the first vertical and 3 months for a horizontal, and 3 months for each subsequent combination-  i.e. a total of 17 months. Ten wells on a pad would, according to this, take nearly three years. It is noted that the claim of weeks per pad is NOT contained within the report itself, it is a fiction of the press release. In addition, of course, we have the fracking itself, which in Cuadrilla’s case is expected to take two months per well. So for a ten well pad that adds up to 35 months of drilling plus 20 weeks of fracking, 55 months or over four and a half years. In fairness in one place the UKOOG report does quote a year for a US pad completion, but admits that in the UK initially we will see longer times. Yet in another section the report clearly states for a pad “the drilling rig might be in place for the first few YEARS of operation”. Regardless of which of the report accounts we believe, the press release talking of “weeks” is clearly a fabrication.

If drilling time can not be reduced significantly, this means we have to take the claim of reducing gas imports significantly (eg by 40% by 2025) with a pinch of salt. No way will pads be completed at the rate of 25 per year yielding 140 fully operational and producing pads by 2025, as the report suggests. The drilling time is only one factor affecting UKOOG’s optimism. Planning constraints and community action against the prospect of fracking will make UKOOG’s predictions unlikely. The introduction to the report makes a claim which is patently challengeable. Regarding shale production they say “It has been agreed by independent experts that this can be done safely, with respect and protection for the environment and with minimal effect on the communities that we will operate in“. I doubt very much whether UKOOG could uphold that statement if challenged by a complaint to the ASA.

On the detail, firstly, UKOOG show an image of a wellpad they say is 200 x 100m (2 hectares). Yet their own photograph on the title page shows not only the wellpad itself but an ancilliary area plus access road. UKOOG have conveniently left out additional areas such as this from their 2 hectares per pad claim. They have left out consideration of other infrastructure necessary to support wellpads, including compressor stations. In Cuadrilla’s PNR case, Cuadrilla not only have used 2.6 hectares for their site but achieved permission for around 90 seismic monitoring stations. Each of these measures 20m by 20m, or 400 square metres, and that excludes track access. 90 such stations themselves therefore will eat up another 3.6 hectares of countryside. The PNR pad is taking at least 6.2 hectares, three times the UKOOG claim. UKOOG also forget that all wellpads need connection to gas mains, requiring more upheaval, and, unless they are on a water main already, construction work to connect to water main, or face imposing huge numbers of traffic movements on local communities.

[Refracktion – we also note here that they make several misleading size comparisons. Firstly they claim a pad is the size of two football pitches (2ha)which as we know is twice the size of the single rugby pitch which Cuadrilla have been punting about these last weeks to mislead the public. They then claim

“a typical shale production pad will use about 2 hectares of land or the size of two football pitches. This is the equivalent of an out of town supermarket or the land used for one golf hole including its green and fairways.”

Sorry to interrupt at length Alan but, honestly I have had a bellyful of these false comparisons this week! Taking two local out of town supermarkets as an example,  Tesco Clifton Extra has a surface area including its car park car park of about 3.5 ha and Asda Fulwood covers an area of about 4.3 ha . As to golf holes – the average size of a golf hole including its green and fairways at Royal Lytham, Lytham Green Drive and Fairhaven works out at 3 hectares each. If the fracking PR industry really wants to help us visualise the impact of a fracking pad , perhaps they could stop underestimating by such huge factors? Back to Alan 🙂]

Moving on to their well estimates, UKOOG are using an estimate of 4 bcf for the lifetime output of a well (over 20 years). The source they use for this is a US industry conference paper which is behind a paywall. The figure of 4bcf is higher than any EPA or USBGS average I have seen, and higher than the estimate used by the Institute of Directors in their notorious reports paid for by Cuadrilla. The Marcellus formation is the most prolific of the US production areas and is not representative, and there is no guarantee that such high estimates can be relied on in the UK. But even if we use UKOOG’s new figure, there is difficulty in relating their well number claims to their import reduction claims.

UKOOG claim that US wells are usually closed after 20 years when they become uneconomic. But there is no reference quoted to support that, unsurprising as shale gas drilling is not old enough for such quotes to be more than estimates. It is suspected UKOOG have used a lifespan figure from conventional wells. According to a 2014 paper in Oil and Gas Journal, the best established estimates are for the Bakken formation, where the average life of a well has been 6 1/2 to 7 years. And a further consideration is that the life of a well is affected by economic factors. It is generally accepted that fracking will not be carried out as cheaply in the UK as in the US. If we take the 25 pads built per year scenario, resulting in 140 pads by 2025, these 1,400 wells would in their lifetime produce (according to UKOOG’s optimistic estimate) 5.6 tcf of gas. But by 2025, because of the sharp decline in shale well output after one year (estimated at between 60% and 80% drop), most of these wells would be played out by 2025. A further 240 wells up to 2035 might have helped produce a contribution to be set against import requirement, but by 2035 the vast majority of the wells drilled would no longer be economic. The UK would have to start all over again, with (assuming no drop in gas demand and imports accounting for 80% of demand) new drilling required of 4500 new wells to maintain the ambition of shale providing 50% of import requirement, not 100 additional wellpads but 450 by 2050. If we use the Cuadrilla./IoD estimates for well lifetime output we would need some 830 wellpads in total, if we use the US official figures from their geological survey or environment agency for EUR we could need a whole lot more.

Whatever the argument regarding pad and well numbers, the fact remains that if we believe the UKOOG figures, imports will rise to 80%.  This is a huge increase on today’s figures. It means even that if we managed to reduce this by half through extracting shale gas, the gap left would still leave the need for 40% of our gas usage to come from abroad. This is not in any material way reducing our dependency on sources outside the UK. There is only one way to reduce our dependency. That is by increasing domestic electricity generation through alternative (greener) sources, and reducing our gas demand. The former requires a change of government policy. The latter is not a pipe dream. The official government figures show a downward trend in energy consumption over the last ten years. These are the priorities, not shale gas.

The main complaint, however, of the report is that it does not do what it says on the tin, or at least it does not do what the press release says. It does NOT show limited impact on the countryside. It focuses only on one aspect, visual intrusion. It brushes off environmental and social impact.

Even within its own parameters it picks an easy target, onshore windfarms. This is more significant than minor quibbles. But quibbles there are. For example, the Mackay visual intrusion assessment (a blog entry not a peer-reviewed and published report) is based on a low rig height, and even using a minimum drill height Mackay says in the same blog from his look at only the three onshore options – there is NO “energy source with minor all-round enviromental impact”. Mackay also notes if water is not available piped to a shale wellpad, shale gas results in the highest figure for traffic movements, and that for shale gas to be low-carbon electricity generation it would require additional plant, specifically new CCS power stations, which would add an extra 1.8 hectares to the shale pad footprint, nearly doubling the land take of 2 hectares.

In summary? This is one more misleading promotional article which in my view is challengeable on a number of accounts. But it raises the additional issue of the UKOOG scenario being in serious conflict with Cuadrilla’s. Personally I don’t believe for a minute Cuadrilla are capable of 40 well wellpads They have yet to show competence in drilling one.

 

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

We’re not Backing Fracking

Not Backing Fracking
... but we love their web site

Drill or Drop

Drill or Drop
Drill or Drop is a "must read" resource for those wanting to keep up to date on the issues.

Fracking here’s a bad idea!

Who's fault?

"What you have to be able to do when you decide you want to hydraulic fracture is make sure there are no faults in the area. That's really very very important"

Professor Mike Stephenson - Director of Science and Technology - British Geological Survey

Fracking the UK

Fracking The UK

Fracking the UK Volumes I and II now available free from this site

"Untrustworthy, unbalanced and potentially brain washing." - Amazon Review
Yes the industry hated the first volume that much :-)

Both volumes now available as free downloads from this site Click here to download

Fracking in the Media

Campaign Groups

Frack Free Lancashire
Frack Free Lancashire

Preston New Road Action Group
Preston New Road Action Group

Refracktion
Refracktion

Defend Lytham
Defend Lytham

RAFF Group

REAF Group
Ribble Estuary Against Fracking

FFF
Frack Free Fylde

Fracking Free Ireland
Fracking Free Ireland

Fracking Digest
Fracking Digest - a summary of the week's news

Frack Free Balcombe
Frack Free Balcombe Residents Association


Frack Free Sussex
Frack Free Sussex


Frack Free York
Frack Free York


Halsall Against Fracking
Halsall Against Fracking

If you would like your group to be added please contact us

Other Groups

Categories