"probably the most prolific anti frack website in the UK"
- Ken Wilkinson - prominent pro-fracking activist and industry supporter (Yes we know , he doesn't know what "prolific" means does he)

Private Eye

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?

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


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!


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"


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.

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Will the earth move for you?

We woke up this morning to earn that Mosser in Cumbria (NW of Buttermere) had been the epicentre of the UK’s latest significant earthquake (Mag 3.2) , following the one in Wales 2 weeks ago (Mag 4.6).

The location of this quake is about 60 miles from the centre of Cuadrilla’s PEDL 165.

The earth tremors allegedly caused by Cuadrilla at Preese Hall in 2011 were nowhere near as powerful as either of the two recent quakes, measuring as they did 2.3 on the Richter scale on April 1st 2011, followed by an event in May that measured 1.5 on the scale.  However, the two 2011 tremor were sufficient to deform the well casing of the Preese Hall well. On that occasion the integrity of the well bore was not compromised but it clearly demonstrated the potential for a pollution event being caused by seismic activity.

Because of the logarithmic basis of the Richter scale, each whole number increase in magnitude represents a tenfold increase in measured amplitude; as an estimate of energy, each whole number step in the magnitude scale corresponds to the release of about 31 times more energy than the amount associated with the preceding whole number value. So as we can see the two naturally occurring earthquakes in the last couple of weeks would have had the power to do rather more damage to any sub-surface infrastructure close to their epicentres than the quakes at Preese Hall did.

Maybe this is why Professor Mike Stephenson – Director of Science and Technology – British Geological Survey went on record as saying:

“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”

Is the Fylde a faulted area? It would appear that it is! Draw your own conclusions.

(Image courtesy of Prof David Smythe)

EUR having a laugh aren’t you ?

Our old friend Ben Webster – the Times’ fracking sage – reported recently on Cuadrilla’s tests from their PNR well which were “very encouraging”. He told us:

Cuadrilla said that the results were in line with estimates in 2013 by the British Geological Survey for the Bowland Shale under northern England.

Cuadrilla expects today to start drilling Britain’s first exploratory horizontal shale well and has permission to drill up to four at the site. The company’s tests suggest that each well could extract enough gas to meet the needs of 5,000 homes for 30 years.

Hmm OK then let’s dig a little shall we (you know like journalists used to do before they just republished press releases)?

According to OFGEM the average home in the UK uses around 12,000 kWh of gas each year (using the medium assumption)

It is the amount of energy that a ‘typical’ household, with a medium level of energy consumption, uses in a year.

12,000 kWh is equivalent to about 39,369 cubic feet of natural gas

So Cuadrilla seem to be saying that from each well (presumably they mean each lateral) they expect their Estimated Ultimate Recovery (EUR) to be 39,369 x 5,000 x 30 or 5.9 billion cubic feet (bcf).

This 12,000 kWh , by the way, is a reduction on historic averages (source https://www.ovoenergy.com/guides/energy-guides/the-average-gas-bill-average-electricity-bill-compared.html)

If we used an average of about 15,000 kWh the EUR would be commensurately higher at an eye-watering (or lip-smacking if you are Cuadrilla perhaps) 7.4 bcf.

This would mean that (assuming they believe these results could be replicated across the PEDL licence area) with the 100  x 40 well pads they are on record as wanting to wanting to develop, they could extract 23 Trillion Cubic Feet (tcf) of gas, which very conveniently is about the amount (20 tcf) they have been claiming to be able to extract. (Or nearly 30 tcf if we used the 15,000 kWh average!)

If you were to take 20 tcf, divide is by 4,000 wells you would get and EUR of about 5 bcf each. If you translated this to houses worth of gas over 30 years you would then get about 5,000.  Of course Cuadrilla’s assumptions are based on core samples and not convenient arithmetic aren’t they?

Less conveniently the suggested EUR figure is almost twice the 3.2 bcf per well suggested by shale gas PR Corin Taylor in the Cuadrilla sponsored IoD report from 2013.

How does this compare to the US experience?

Well every year the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) re-estimates initial production (IP) rates and production decline curves, which determine estimated ultimate recovery (EUR) per well and total technically recoverable resources (TRR). Their publication in 2017 is based on data as of January 2015.

Looking at “Table 9.3 U.S. unproved technically recoverable tight/shale oil and gas resources by play (as of January 1, 2015)” we can see the average EURs by play within each region for natural gas.

If we sort the plays into ascending order and compare it with what Cuadrilla seem to be claiming we can see that, first of all, the vast majority of plays have EURs less than 1 bcf / well and only 1 play (Haynesville-Bossier-LA ) has an average EUR greater than 3.

If we compare the data with Cuadrilla’s claim it is evident that they must really have had some super special results for them to be claiming average EURs in the order of 6.

Now we accept that we can’t read across exactly from the US experience, but this difference is so massive that the  Booths store at Penwortham must have sold out of champagne as all of the Cuadrilla execs blew by from the office to get some celebration juice.

Bottoms up! It’s a miracle!

(And of course we know from their rugby pitch analogy just how exact they like to be when it comes to figures!)


Could imported LNG really be cheaper than UK produced shale?

We were struck by a graphic produced by the Frackers’ PR machine last week so we decided to do some analysis of the relative costs ourselves. The results are quite interesting.

The moral of today’s story is “Don’t be taken in by simplistic and illogical memes.”

Here in one graphic is all you need to know about how far the industry PR machine will go to pull the wool over the eyes of the public, and how uncritical they must assume people are.

Their “logic” here seems to suggest that it is only transport costs which dictate the price the consumer pays,. However even UKOOG admit that extraction costs in the UK could be 3 times higher than in the US, and this clearly has a major impact on any commercial comparison.

Published estimates of UK extraction costs for shale gas have varied between 46p and 102 p a therm.

The US Henry Hub spot price for Natural Gas today is $2.88 mmbtu or about $0.29 a therm.
How much does transportation as LNG add to the cost of US produced shale gas?

Well according to a 2016 article on the financial web site, Seeking Alpha, if we add pipeline costs for 300 miles at $0.32 mmbtu, liquefaction at $1.15 mmbtu and shipping from the US Gulf Coast to Europe at $1.20 mmbtu we get an additional cost of $2.67 mmbtu which is about $0.27 a therm.

Adding regasification costs at $0.35 mmbtu brings the cost to $3.02 mmbtu or $0.30 a therm.

Add this to the $0.29 a therm Henry Hub price and we have a total of $0.59 a therm. At today’s exchange rate ($1 US = £0.76) that suggests cost of around 45p a therm which is below the lowest published estimate of UK extraction costs for shale gas that we have been able to locate.

So shipping LNG from the US looks as though it might well be cheaper than even the lowest forecast cost of UK shale gas extraction.

You might be surprised to read that even Francis Egan of Cuadrilla agrees with us here. He told the House of Lords economic affairs select committee: “We’re probably competing in shale gas with imported LNG [liquified natural gas]. And so if you look at US gas prices at about $3 a unit, add $1 or so to liquefy, another $1 or so to transport, another $1 or so to translate it back into a gas, you’re talking about $6 landed in the UK, ish. Which is what we have to compete with.” $6 per MMBTU landed is about 44p a therm at today’s rates

Given all that, it really is hard to imagine why the astroturfers claim to believe in their graphic that fracking in the UK will mean lower retail prices for millions. After all, even Cuadrilla admit it won’t.

Just in case you might be tempted to think they aren’t totally mendacious in the commentary next to the graphic they claim the European market doesn’t function as a unit because, they say, we already pay less than our European neighbours for gas.

However, they fail to mention (or maybe they just don’t understand) that the data only “supports” that claim because “The relative price increase across the rest of the EU is mainly due to the depreciation of the Pound against the Euro by 10 per cent on the same period last year” and the government figures are presented in £.

You couldn’t make it up (unless you work in PR for the fracking industry perhaps?)

Fracking with the facts in a post-truth world

fake newsFracking is a process that is struggling to gain a foothold in the UK. As the companies involved scrabble to get permission to drill across vast swathes of the countryside, they are also fighting a battle to win the hearts and minds of the population, because they know that without a social licence to operate, their costs will end up being too high for them to make a profit.

So how do they go about addressing the necessary debate? Do they engage with the public? Do they inform them? Not at all! The discourse that they prefer is one in which power trumps argument and volume trumps logic. It is not important to them that what they say is true. What matters to them is that people should believe it to be true. This is the essence of early 21st century communication from Donald J Trump downwards, if downwards is the appropriate word to use there.

Hence we have a variety of facades pumping out propaganda at a furious rate. When one gets exposed and becomes a liability (as did the North West Energy Task Force last year) it is simply replaced with a shiny new version, supported by the same PR company working for the same fracking company – This is how the front group Lancashire For Shale was born, supported by Westbourne Communications and Cuadrilla. They then put up a web page full of public relations material and have no shame in calling it “The Facts”. Clearly a “fact”, these days, is whatever you want it to be. Facts used to be considered to be an objective representation of reality. Now it seems we all have our own facts, and the most robust “facts” are simply the ones that they want us to hear. We are living in a dystopia where the Strawberry Fields fantasy “Living is easy with eyes closed” and “nothing is real” seem to be the creed.

Working side-by-side with these quasi-official front groups we have a clutch of astroturfing groups who claim to represent local residents, but who are, in fact, made up almost exclusively of business people with a vested financial interest in the industry going ahead. Typically these groups have a social media following of around three hundred followers shared between them and they serve to echo and amplify the messages put out by the more “respectable” organisations. Meanwhile the fracking companies are able to maintain an unimpeachable distance from any questionable statements being made on their behalf.

To take a case in point, today we saw a local industry front group given space in our local press to pump the output of UKOOG, the fracking industry operating group. The material was claimed, with no basis in fact, to disprove the fact that the countryside would be industrialised by fracking. Amusingly the report itself didn’t even try to say that, but that didn’t matter – the “truth” that they wanted us to take in was dutifully put out there by a press who appear to question nothing and gratefully reprint every press release they receive from the industry and its cohorts. The public lap it up and then quote it on local Facebook groups. Job done!

In the same vein, a claim was made last week that demonstrations against fracking at one site on a local A-road might be costing the local economy half a million pounds a day. The claim was totally risible, ascribing, as it did, the entire cost of motorway delays across the whole of the UK to one A-road in the Fylde, but again the truth didn’t matter. A compliant local press swallowed the lie and dutifully regurgitated it for the local population to marvel at. We will see it repeated now for months.

The examples of this phenomenon are too numerous to list, but some of my favourites are from Cuadrilla’s own chief executive. In 2013 he was trying to persuade us that fracking was good for Lancashire business and on Radio 4 he told listeners that:

the actual spend on any development itself would run into several hundred billions, most of which, we would hope would be spent in Lancashire“.

Nobody noticed or cared that a moment before he had said, “Well the total market value … it’s about £140 billion worth of gas“. The same gentleman is continually claiming that his fracking pads will be the size of a rugby pitch (1 hectare) when the only pad he has permission for will cover nearly 3 hectares with another 3 or 4 hectares for associated monitoring stations. The press simply report the lie and “Bingo!” it’s suddenly become a fact in the minds of local readers. We can tell them they have published a lie but they simply ignore that new information, because it isn’t convenient.

Should you try to engage with their “Community Information Line” (staffed of course by a Public Relations company) with an awkward question they will find a reason to withdraw, but the company will continue with their baseless claims of being an active stakeholder in the community. The truth doesn’t matter. The surface is everything. The post-truth carapace hides the hollow interior, which reeks of arrogance, indifference and self-interest. Say whatever you want. Say it loud. Say it clear. As long as you drown out the opposition’s words you’ll have nothing to fear.

Before I became interested in investigating the claims made by the fracking industry I was blissfully unaware of the extent to which lobby groups use the power they have to drown out the truth with a barrage of misleading and often untrue statements. I was also unaware of how complicit the national and local press (with a few occasional honourable exceptions) are in helping them to establish their narratives. You have to leave the gentle uplands of the familiar mainstream media before you start to find boutique sites like Drill or Drop, where you can find unembellished information curated by enthusiasts who are on a mission to inform rather than to convince. Even there though, anonymous individuals dominate the comments pages, desperately retailing the industry’s factoids to anyone who will fall for them. The filaments of the lies spread inexorably like a honey fungus across the substrate of the debate, strangling the possibility of the truth flourishing.

What is abundantly clear here is that, when the truth becomes a casualty, any possibility of a sensible or balanced dialogue becomes impossible. Those with the power understand this but they don’t care, because a reported factoid trumps the truth every time and serves their purposes as well if not better. They can, after all, mould a media factoid even if they can’t change the objective truth.

We are continually being enjoined to speak truth to power, and many of us do our best to do so. Sadly as long as those with power don’t need to care about the truth we are outgunned man-to-man. It’s a good thing that we can make up for this, at least to an extent, by having far superior numbers. We have armies of people who monitor the output of the echo chambers and expose their lies on social media.

The truth will out – we just have to keep pushing harder to get it seen. Surely, if I can write a whole article on post-truth Britain without once mentioning Brexit, then anything must be possible?

This article was originally published on Scisco Media

How things have changed!

Let’s take a step back in time shall we.

Imagine you are back in 2012 in a packed hall in St Annes listening to a panel debate between the regulators, Cuadrilla, Friends of the Earth and local engineer Mike Hill. Somebody suggests that fracking in the Fylde will require maybe as many as 80 wells to be drilled (that’s wells not well pads by the way). Mark Menzies MP (Fylde, Con) is asked his opinion and states that he would not be  able to support a development of that size.

Now let’s skip forward a bit to July 2015 where we have Kevin Hollinrake MP (Thirsk and Malton, Con) stating categorically that he insists on a 6 mile separation between fracking wells.

As we move forward yet again to yesterday’s meeting of the APPG on shale gas regulation and planning, it hardly seems credible that we now hear these two MPs calling for a limit of 8-10 pads in a 100km2 block.

Mr Menzies even went as far as to say:

“You need to have conversations with government. If you are confident that with new technology you can extract enough gas without going all over the place. This is about reassuring people. If we do not get something like this, you guys are stuffed. ”

But what does 8-10 pads in a 100km2 block actually mean? Well Cuadrilla’s licence area is 1200km2 in round numbers, so this would mean a limit of 120 well pads. And Mr Menzies thinks we’d find that reassuring? Really?

Regular readers of this site will recall that we have already addressed the question of te potential impact of 4000 wells on just 100 well pads  (http://www.refracktion.com/index.php/so-what-would-100-40-well-pads-look-like-numerically/)

Some of you may even remember the outrage from the industry and its supporters when this map was produced showing just 100 (not 120 pads)


So why, we have to ask ourselves, are these two MPs seeming to suggest that 10 well pads per 100 km2 is an acceptable limit? Mr Menzies said he couldn’t support 80 wells in his area – that would be just 2 well pads, not 120. Mr Hollinrake was emphatic about the need for a 6 mile separation between wells, but now he seems happy to accept just 2 miles.

It is quite inconceivable that an industry which claims t be able to drill 5 mile laterals could want (or manage) spacing between wells of less than 2 miles, so all we are seeing here is a political dance.

2 MPs appear to be doing something, but when you analyse what they are in fact proposing it has no substance whatsoever. (How surprised are we at that?). It would appear that they are in fact proposing a “limit” which their friends in the fracking industry would find in no way challenging. The industry will no doubt acquiesce after some pantomime grumbling and our two politicians will bask in the glory of having “achieved” something, whilst the industry will tell us how reasonable they have been.

Just remember, however, what Cuadrilla told the Advertising Standards Authority whilst wriggling out of an accusation that their claim that

“Some critics have suggested that the area would be blighted by densely packed, unattractive developments in the future, if we moved to production stage. This would not be the case”

was misleading. The ASA reported that Cuadrilla claimed:

If it were to proceed it could entail in the order of 10 to 20 development pads across the 1200 km2 area of the licence, with each pad approximately the size of a football pitch. They argued that the size and amount of wells would be considerably less than some sites in the US, which were often cited by opponents to hydraulic fracturing operations. They maintained that field development in the UK did not mean populating the countryside with new drilling locations; horizontal wells could radiate from the same well bore like the tines of a fork and in several directions, which could be repeated at different levels. One pad could manage 24-36 horizontal wells using present day technology.

CRL said judging what would be “densely packed” was a matter of opinion and a subjective issue. They had used the term density to mean the number of sites per unit of area. They said, as the licensed operator, they were responsible for proposing the development, which they did not intend to be densely packed. They said the level of attractiveness was not capable of objective substantiation.

So Cuadrilla claim only to need 20 pads in 1200 km2 or 10 pads every 600 km2. Having to agree to a maximum density of 10 pads every 100 km2 would hardly be a challenge then would it? – Unless the ASA and the public were being misled there of course?

Finally Mr Menzies apparently also said there had been “enormous advances” in legislation and regulation of shale gas over the past six years. We would love him to explain to us exactly where those have occurred. I have written to him today

Dear Mark

I have now read the report of the APPG meeting on https://drillordrop.com/2016/09/07/fracking-companies-urged-to-limit-number-of-well-sites-to-reassure-residents/

I am non-plussed that, being on public record as stating that you could not support a development of 80 wells (not pads, wells) you are now proposing a maximum density which would allow 120 pads with up to 4000 (FOUR THOUSAND) wells in PEDL 165. Can you please explain how this can possibly be in the best interests of your constituents?

I also note that you referred to “enormous advances” in legislation and regulation of shale gas over the past six years. Would you be kind enough to clarify exactly what “enormous advances” you were referring to there?

Kind regards

and will publish any reply I get.

For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

Today’s sermon from the Church of St Michael Insanum will be based on a text from Galatians 6:7

“For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

On Wednesday this week, Dr Ania Szolucha of the University of Bergen launched her peer-reviewed research paper on “The Social Futures of Resource Extraction and Energy.” There was a full house of invited guests and those attending listened to presentations from distinguished speakers included Professor Anthony Ingraffea from Cornell University, USA and Professor Debra Davidson from the University of Alberta, Canada, both of whom spoke  via a live video link.

Professor of Global Energy, Michael Bradshaw, from the University of Warwick, spoke informatively on the energy trilemma that the UK faces and the limitations on shale gas development that might be imposed by the 5th Carbon budget. The event was chaired by Marc Hudson of the University of Manchester.

Audience interest was generally high (we’ll go into this a bit more deeply in a moment) with the chair having to restrict questioners to two sentences each in order to keep the event on schedule.

The conclusions reached by Dr Szolucha’s research are no doubt uncomfortable for the proponents of fracking as they add yet another layer to the research which questions the impact of fracking on local communities. In spite of this we were shocked to read the press release issued by the industry front group “Backing Fracking” the next morning.

In their press release they tried to suggest that two supporters of fracking teamed up and mounted a valiant defence of the industry at an anti-fracking event “ organised by Friends of the Earth and local anti-fracking groups.” which was “low-key and poorly attended with only 40 people in the room”

We know that Stephen Tindale was there, as he sat alone in front of me and did ask a question before falling asleep and then leaving 30 minutes early.

John Baldwin claims to have been there “to argue that extracting shale gas in Lancashire is better than continuing to import so much gas from abroad. “.  Strangely he certainly didn’t say anything when given the opportunity if he was indeed there. Hardly a proud and brave defence of the industry.

The event was in fact organised by Dr Szolucha herself without involvement from any NGO or local group of any kind, so the allegation that is was an anti-fracking event, organised by FoE ,that Backing Fracking had somehow infiltrated is quite  ridiculous.

The suggestion that its was badly attended and low-key is a classic Backing Frackingism – I think their working principle is “Tell a lie and somebody will believe it“. In fact the event was invitation only, was fully subscribed and was attended by a capacity audience of at least 65. This can be validated with the Harris Museum where the event took place.

So there we had it – an independent academic has her launch event trashed by an industry front group who hope to water down its impact by casting unfounded allegations at and about her.

I imagine that they thought the local press, wary of prejudicing potential advertising revenue, would have dutifully published this pap and they would have received whatever thanks, in whatever form they normally get it, from the industry for having defused a potentially embarrassing situation.

Sadly for them Mr Tindale fell asleep and left 30 minutes early, a fact which they were presumably not aware of. When questioned about this  on Twitter his rather graceless (and frankly incredible, given that he had been heard snoring) response was as follows:


Sadly also, Backing Fracking had gone too far by lying about several , easily verifiable, things as outlined above.

As a result, instead of simply rehashing the Backing Fracking press release, the Blackpool Gazette , who clearly have more  integrity that Backing Fracking thought, ran this piece.

backing fracking szolucha

What promised to be a simple PR exercise in defusing an inconvenient report has now blown up in their faces.

And finally, we hope that Stephen woke from his slumbers suitably refreshed. It’s a pity that he didn’t stay for the end of the presentation and the wine reception afterwards as I would have liked to engage him in conversation about Carbon Capture and Storage. Still at least he is starting to keep better company – after all as Proverbs 13:20 tells us:

“He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.”

We need to talk about Kevin

kevinYesterday Kevin Hollinrake resigned from the vice-chairmanship of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Unconventional Oil and Gas claiming he had not previously been aware of any potential conflicts of interests in the way the group was funded.

If I were an MP I think I might be aware of that there is a web site which monitors such things and I might consult it.

Once I had consulted it I might perhaps think more than twice about whether the funding listed since August 2014 might cause any potential issues if those that elected me were to question it. The list of  supporters of this particular APPG is quite impressive and includes Centrica, Cuadrilla, Essar Oil, Ground Gas Solutions, Igas Energy PLC, Ineos, Ove Arup & Partners, Ove Arup International, Peel Environmental, Schlumberger Oilfield, Shale Gas World and UKOOG.

I might then look at the value of the secretarial services provided and ask myself why this particular group needed such a massive amount of secretarial support  (valued at £81,001 to £82,500 – that’s an awful lot of photocopying!) compared to all but a very few of the other several hundred APPGs.

appg H&K
A quick scan of the register suggests that the next highest is about £50,000 and that is highly atypical, with most APPG’s receiving either zero or benefits in kind in the range of £1501-£3,000. Noticing, therefore,  that this amount is extraordinarily high compared to any other APPG I might ask who provided it.

Learning that the services were provided by H & K strategies I might, even if I were innocent enough never to have heard of them, have looked them up.

At that point I might wonder how my vice-chairmanship of this group might look if I were to claim at the same time to be trying to maintain an objective and transparent position on the subject of fracking.

It seems from Mr Hollinrake’s comments reported on the Drill or Drop website that it did not occur to him to ponder any of this until it was brought to his attention by some of his constituents, and that he sent a “letter of resignation from the APPG … shortly after being made aware of the funding issue” which suggests that it suddenly became rather obvious to him that his role was prejudicing his claims to objectivity and transparency. If I have that wrong I will be happy to correct it.

I think if I suddenly discovered all this thanks to the diligence of some of my local electorate I might well, like Kevin,  resign from the vice chairmanship. I’m not sure, though, that I would remain a member of the group. It is not clear from the statements on his own website whether or not he has in fact done so. I am sure all will become clear shortly though.

{edit – a list of MP members of this group received from H&K on 20th January 2016 did NOT include Kevin Hollinrake’s name, so it seems he has fully resigned from this APPG}

This is the list of members of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Unconventional Oil and Gas provided on January 20th by H&K Strategies

Name Party Position
Nigel Mills MP Conservative Chair
Jim Fitzpatrick MP Labour Vice Chair
David Nuttall MP Conservative Vice Chair
Angela Smith MP Labour Member
Corri Wilson MP SNP Member
Chris Pincher MP Conservative Member
John Pugh MP Lib Dem Member
Steve Baker MP Conservative Member
Albert Owen MP Labour Member
John Spellar MP Labour Member
Graham Jones MP Labour Member
Jeremy Lefroy MP Conservative Member
Mark Menzies MP Conservative Member
David Mowat MP Conservative Member
Lord Greaves Lib Dem Member
Peter Lilley MP Conservative Member
Andrew Bridgen MP Conservative Member
Lord Crickhowell Conservative Member
Steve Brine MP Conservative Member

Interestingly our own MP here in the Fylde , Mark Menzies, was in 2013 also a Vice Chair of this very same committee. he resigned when his vice-chairmanship was questioned but remains a member of the APPG as at 20th January 2016. I cannot find any record explaining his decision to step down.

Why do they need to lie to us?

We were struck recently by a page on the IGas PLC website which makes 2 highly misleading and exaggerated claims in the space of a couple of paragraphs.

It  is interesting that the shale gas companies do not seem to observe the same standard of honesty to which they seem to believe opponents of fracking should be held.

The claims are:

The quantity of water required to frack an onshore shale gas well is broadly the same amount used to irrigate the typical British golf course each month. There are over 7,500 golf courses across the UK. This is also equivalent to the amount of water needed to run a 1,000MW coal-fired power plant for just 12 hours.


There have also been more than one million wells drilled around the world, and in no case has there been a single proven instance of water pollution

They can be found on this page


The claim that the amount of water required for fracking can be equated to the usage of a golf course was earlier made on page 20 of the Royal Society’s report “Shale Gas Extraction in the UK: a Review of hydraulic fracturing” where the authors write:

“Overall water use is important. Estimates indicate that the amount needed to operate a hydraulically fractured shale gas well for a decade may be equivalent to the amount needed to water a golf course for a month; the amount needed to run a 1,000 MW coal-fired power plant for 12 hours;”

You will notice, of course, that the Royal Society do not state which country the golf course might be in.

If you trace the provenance of the quote you will see The Royal Society report refers to page 50 of a report by Simon Moore from 2012 where the same claim is made.

In this report Simon Moore references a document from the fracking industry where this claim seems to have originally been made.


This document is no longer available at that URL but we do have a screen shot taken from it, which clearly shows the reference in question.


The same document is still available here . The fact that this is the source of the quote is indisputable given the additional reference both on the IGas page and in the quote in question to the 1,000 MW coal fired powerstation.

5 million gallons is approximately 19,000 cubic metres. If a golf course were to use 19,000 cubic metres in one month it would use 228,000 cubic metres in a year. That is simple maths.

To suggest that “the typical British Golf Course” uses this amount in a year is a ludicrous misrepresentation of reality.

The facts are that according to the Environment Agency the average (dare I say “typical”) English golf course is licenced to abstract in the order of 11,000 cubic metres a year. The actual volumes abstracted are considerably lower (average 5,848 cubic metres)

Page 15 of this document explains this:

This report also tells us that “Environment Agency data suggest that three quarters of all water for golf course irrigation is abstracted” so we can deduce that if the typical (average) abstraction volume was about 6,000 cubic metres then actual water usage would average about 8,000 m3 per annum. This is some way short (only 3.5%) of the 228,000 m3 suggested here by the claim being made by IGas.

IGas may try to claim that they don’t mention a specific figure for usage but they should not be allowed to get out of jail that way. They cannot have the golf course and the powerstation without the accompanying quantity in the Chesapeake paper being included as well.

It is broadly accepted that water usage per well (19,000 m3) referenced in the Chesapeake document is a reasonable estimate

“Average range in water requirements between 8000 and 19,000 m”


“with each well requiring 10,000 to 25,000 m3 of water for hydraulic fracturing”


For their claim that the water used for fracking is the same a month’s usage at “the typical English Golf Club” to stand up then they would have to be claiming to be able to complete a High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing operation to frack a well with just 666 m3 of water.

For your reference, Cuadrilla’s frack at Preese Hall in 2011 used about 8,400 cubic metres for the fracking operation with a further 900 cubic metres for drilling. A total of 9,300 cubic metres or 14 times what IGas’s claim here would suggest.


The fact that these figures and examples simply don’t apply to the UK is bad enough, but , as can be seen below they have compounded the fault by adding the extra “information” about the golf courses in question being British, and the number of golf courses in Britain, in an attempt to make fracking water usage look artificially inconsequential.

“The quantity of water required to frack an onshore shale gas well is broadly the same amount used to irrigate the typical British golf course each month. There are over 7,500 golf courses across the UK. This is also equivalent to the amount of water needed to run a 1,000MW coal-fired power plant for just 12 hours.”

The statement that There are over 7,500 golf courses across the UK is quite inexplicable. Golf Club Management state on http://www.golfclubmanagement.net/2012/02/uk-and-ireland-lost-42000-members-in-2011/ that

“Golf clubs in the UK and Ireland suffered a net loss of 42,700 members in 2011, according to a new survey.

The drop of 3.1 per cent from 2010 brings the number of club members in the British Isles down to 1,326,700, spread among 2,989 golf courses (a drop from over 3,000 in 2010).”

Although the number of clubs may vary a little year on year, the claim that there are over 7,500 golf courses across the UK is clearly deliberately misleading.

So in summary, it is clear that IGas have taken figures from the US which bear little or no relationship to the reality in the UK and then tried to claim they are relevant to the UK, adding exaggerated and incorrect detail, in a way which is totally incapable of substantiation.

Further down on the same page IGas make the claim that

“There have also been more than one million wells drilled around the world, and in no case has there been a single proven instance of water pollution.”

Whilst the extent of water pollution is open to question its existence is certainly not.

In June 2015 the US EPA published its draft report “Assessment of the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas on Drinking Water Resources” in which it unequivocally stated:

“Of the potential mechanisms identified in this report, we found specific instances where one or more mechanisms led to impacts on drinking water resources, including contamination of drinking water wells.”

Later on in the executive summary we can read:

Impacts to drinking water resources from subsurface liquid and gas movement may occur if casing or cement are inadequately designed or constructed, or fail. There are several examples of these occurrences in hydraulically fractured wells that have or may have resulted in impacts to drinking water resources. In one example, an inner string of casing burst during hydraulic fracturing, which resulted in a release of fluids on the land surface and possibly into the aquifer near Killdeer, North Dakota. The EPA found that, based on the data analysis performed for the study, the only potential source consistent with conditions observed in two impacted monitoring wells was the blowout that occurred during hydraulic fracturing (U.S. EPA, 2015j). In other examples, inadequately cemented casing has contributed to impacts to drinking water resources. In Bainbridge, Ohio, inadequately cemented casing in a hydraulically fractured well contributed to the buildup of natural gas and high pressures along the outside of a production well. This ultimately resulted in movement of natural gas into local drinking water aquifers (Bair et al., 2010; ODNR, 2008). In the Mamm Creek gas field in Colorado, inadequate cement placement in a production well allowed methane and benzene to migrate along the production well and through natural faults and fractures to drinking water resources (Science Based Solutions LLC, 2014; Crescent, 2011; COGCC, 2004). These cases illustrate how construction issues, sustained casing pressure, and the presence of natural faults and fractures can work together to create pathways for fluids to migrate toward drinking water resources.

The fact that fracking wells have polluted water is no longer a matter of conjecture or open to question in any way. It is an established fact, which has been, albeit reluctantly, accepted by the fracking industry, who now hang their hopes on the finding that such events may not be “systemic”. Even this is being questioned now by EPA scientists.

Accordingly the claim made here by IGas that “There have also been more than one million wells drilled around the world, and in no case has there been a single proven instance of water pollution.” is totally misleading.

Why are they allowed to get away with making statements like this?

Given that the Advertising Standards Authority are now on record as stating that they can not regulate statements  which are not “marketing communications as defined by the Code” or are on web pages which do not  “allow consumers to buy any service or product from the website”, can these companies really get away with saying just any old thing, secure in the knowledge that there is nobody to stop them?

Anyway – IGas get our first Pants on Fire award of 2016.

Pants on Fire

It probably wont be the last one.

NWETF delete page showing questionable support

STOP PRESS: And it’s back – but minus three “supporters” who are presumably not supporters and with one added.

The current version is therefore rather misleading as it now suggests that the list provided to LCC did not have these three names on it when rather clearly it did and had the extra one when it did not.

Naughty little tinkers aren’t they? Did they think nobody would notice ? 🙂


Following on from Frack Free Lancashire’s press release concerning allegations that the North West Energy Task Force claimed support for fracking from people who actually oppose it, it seems that NWETF no longer feel it appropriate to show the page with their self-congratulatory Presss Release on it, which was at http://www.nwenergy.org.uk/lancashire_business_leaders_to_local_council_give_shale_a_chance

notfoundFortunately, the wonders of Google Caching mean that we can bring you the content of their press release exactly as it was just in case you were wondering what all the fuss was about.

Lancashire business leaders to local council: “Give shale a chance.

A group of local business leaders in an open letter today (8th January 2015) have urged Lancashire County Council to grant permission for the development of two exploratory wells in Lancashire.

More than 100 business leaders from across the North West region argue that natural gas from shale will create thousands of jobs and improve local wages through access to a £33 billion supply chain that will be generated by the industry.

The business leaders add that “tangible benefits are already felt with the Government announcement for a new £10 million national energy college based at Blackpool – allowing for the training of the next generation of highly-skilled workers in our region.”

The letter comes as a recent Johnston Press poll highlighted a clear majority of 57% in Lancashire want to see shale gas development in the Fylde Coast a chance.

Notable signatories of the letter include Claire Smith, President of Stay Blackpool, Babs Murhpy, Chief Executive of the North & Western Chambers of Commerce, and John Kersey, Lancashire branch Chairman of the Institute of Directors.

Lancashire County Council will be determining the planning applications on two proposed shale gas exploration sites at the end of January, one at Little Plumpton and the second at Roseacre Wood. The Environment Agency has announced it is minded to grant the necessary permits required for both sites.

With the Council due to vote on the future of natural gas from shale in the region by the end of the month, local business leaders are set to host a rally for supporters tonight in Blackpool.

Claire Smith, President of Stay Blackpool, which represents over 200 B&Bs and hoteliers in the Blackpool Bay area, said:-

“The exploration and potential for development of natural gas from shale presents a once in a generation opportunity to harness the benefits that a new supply of gas could create for jobs in the Lancashire region. I believe that natural gas from our region’s shale can be the next chapter in the North West’s proud 250 year old industrial story and we must all get behind the Bowland Basin to make this a reality.”

Babs Murphy, Chief Executive of the North & Western Lancashire Chambers of Commerce, said:-

“Natural gas from Lancashire shale represents an opportunity to boost skilled employment and stimulate our local economy – providing a sound basis for long-term economic growth in the North West.

“In light of what this could mean for jobs, local investment and taxes, I urge all businesses in the region to get behind the development of natural gas from shale.”


1) Notes to the editors:-

For further information or comment please contact Maurice Cousins on info@nwenergy.org.uk

This letter was co-ordinated by the North West Energy Task Force, a coalition of over 500 businesses, economists, academics and local communities. The Task Force is supported by both Centrica Energy and Cuadrilla Resources.

Johnston Press poll (20th October 2014): http://www.lep.co.uk/news/business/business/was-decision-over-lancashire-s-fracking-plans-right-1-6904912

2) The letter signed by 119 businesses published in the Blackpool Gazette:-

“Independent economic evidence shows that natural gas from shale will create thousands of jobs and improve local wages through access to a new £33 billion supply chain.

Tangible benefits are already being felt with the Government announcement for a new £10 million national energy college based in Blackpool – allowing for the training of the next generation of highly-skilled workers in our region.

A recent Johnston Press poll highlighted a clear majority of 57% in Lancashire want to see shale gas development in the Fylde Coast.

We therefore call on Lancashire County Council to grant permission for the development of two exploratory wells in Lancashire. It is time to give shale a chance.”

3) The signatories:-

1) John Beswick Marriott Drilling Group
2) Jeff Bibby English Lounge
3) Andrew Yule Sprint Employment Services
4) Peter Worthington Builders Suppliers Ltd
5) Charlie Woodcock Morrisy House
6) Paul Wood Brian Royd Mills
7) Jim Wood Turner EPS Limited
8) Andy Wood Roughwood Consultancy
9) Philip Wilson Tutis Concepts
10) Simon Whittaker Sagar Insurances
11) Peter Webbon James Walker
12) David Webb Langtrys
13) Les Webb Kenyon Transport Warehousing Distribution
14) Jane Watson JC Altham and Sons (Lancaster) Ltd
15) Peter J Walton Waltons Coach hire
16) Chris Wade TNP
17) Stuart Thompson Thompson Motor Group
18) Steve Thompsett Capita
19) Norman Tenray Obas UK
20) Roy Taylor Taylor Durrant
21) Simon Talbot Ground Gas Solutions
22) Chris Snow D Morgan PLC
23) J William Smith Glen Garth Guest House
24) Mark Smith Number One South Beach Hotel
25) Claire Smith Stay Blackpool
26) Jon Slater Slater Safety Supplies
27) Sue Shalloe Preston Antiques Centre
28) Paul Sergeant Nutexa Frictions Ltd
29) Marcus Saul Aggreko UK Ltd
30) Greig Sandiford MBW Ltd
31) Barrie Russell Protec Fire Detection PLC
32) James Rudd NSG Environmental Lid
33) Kalpana Robinson The Address
34) Benjamin Riley Thermal Hire Ltd
35) Coral Rigby Fylde Home Search
36) Wayne Richardson Richardson Traction Ltd
37) Tony Raynor Abbey Telecom
38) Susan Rashid Supply Chain Consultants Ltd
39) Steve Pye 3e Partnership
40) Lee Petts Remsol Waste
41) Helen Pendlebury Scossa
42) Gordon Owen North West Aerospace Alliance
43) Brian Morris Data TV
44) Babs Murphy North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce
45) Janette Mitchell Gweryd Lakes Fishing
46) Peter Merrick A.M. SEAFOODS LTD
47) Tony Mekwinski Tyres Ltd
48) Frank McLaughlin NWETF
49) Neil McArthur Oyster Eco Build
50) Andrew Lyons Simplitech
51) Graham Love Janet Dixon Town Planners Ltd
52) Gary Lovatt FSB Federation of Small Businesses
53) Sybaris Lomax- Dwent The Berkeley
54) Stuart Livesey Delta Imperial Credit
55) Peter Liptrot Tannahill Reay
56) Paul Linderman Paul Linderman Lettings
57) Brian Knaggs BSK Landscapes
58) Steven Kirkpatrick Kirk Signs
59) John Kersey NWETF
61) Barbara Keighley Supply Chain Consultants Ltd
62) Adam Kaley Aegis Services Limited
63) David Judge Cormar Carpets
64) Susan Howarth The Roebuck Inn
65) Steven Horsfall Summerfield Residential Home
66) Anita Hickey Claybank Motor Co
67) Paul Hennessey ATG UV Technology
68) Day Hazlewood Hoben International Ltd
69) Mary Harrison Ash Lodge
70) Brian Harper Mini Sport Ltd/Motorsport Advanced Developments.
71) Steve Griffin Sussex Hotel
72) Michael Grewcock Burbage Holiday Group
73) Stuart Gregory Grime Busters
74) Rob Green NWETF
75) Michael Greaves Primrose Bank
76) Ronnie Grant Apex Tubulars Ltd
77) Ian Godfrey ProVu Communications
78) Peter Glover JDS TRUCKS LTD
79) Damien Gibbs Butson Blofield
88) Jim Gerraty Garstang Truck Bodies Ltd
81) David Gaster David Andrew’s
82) Vicki Gale The Wilton Hotel
83) Callum Flynn Charles Maxwell
85) stephen Fazakerley The Arthington
86) David Evans Clifton Marsh Power
87) Chris Evans
88) Mark Errington City Distribution Ltd
89) Gary East O’Connell East
90) Michael Dowling The Fern Royd
91) Bill Dixon- Phillip Circular Mailing Services
92) Mark Diggory Dale Farm Day Centre
93) Christine Daly Sheron Guest House
94) Alan Cumpsty Verdo Hotel
95) Dugald Craig D H STAINLESS LTD
97) Melissa Conlon Preston College
98) Benjamin Clements EMERSON & RENWICK LTD
99) Nick Campbell NWETF
100) Judith Campbell Beauchief Hotel
101) John Burdett Leyland Rubber Components
102) Sanda Bulgin Bona Vista Hotel
103) Geoff Bulgin Bona Vista Hotel
104) Philip Brown The Holmsdale Hotel
105) Ida Brown The Holmsdale Hotel
106) Roy Braidwood Roy Braidwood & Sons Transport Ltd
107) Steve Bradshaw Teese Ltd
108) Jeff Bradley Moor Hall Farm
109) Gary Bond Barn Owl Produce
110) Kaz Bhai Shipping and Trading Co
111) David Berry C & W BERRY LTD
112) Nigel Beevers Assist Management Consultants Ltd
114) Thomas Battelle The Berwick
115) Gul Baloch Kcut Limited
116) Glen Andrews G Andrews & Co Ltd
117) P Wrench APG Precision Engineering & Fabrication Ltd
118) Ms Wragg Wragg Business

Misleading claims from IGas on fracking water usage

Glancing at IGas’s website we were struck by the interesting claim

The quantity of water required to frack an onshore shale gas well is broadly the same amount used to irrigate the typical British golf course each month. There are over 7,500 golf courses across the UK. This is also equivalent to the amount of water needed to run a 1,000MW coal-fired power plant for just 12 hours.


We addressed the commonly made, but misleading, claim that fracking uses the same amount of water as a golf course in our post http://www.refracktion.com/index.php/youd-think-you-could-trust-the-royal-society/ back in 2013. It seems the Royal Society had blithely published this “factoid” citing the report “Gas Works? Shale gas and its policy implications” by Simon Moore 2012 as its source for this information. However, it turns out that Moore’s report relied on a PR document from Chesapeake Energy in America entitled ‘Water Use in Deep Shale Gas Exploration’;

where we can read



As this is an industry PR sheet there is no evidence provided to back up this statement and there is no source provided but lets run with it.

Given the reference to the 12 hours usage in a coal-fired power station it becomes clear that IGas are referencing the same claims as are made here by Chesapeake, but they have subtly changed them – the reference in the Chesapeake document would be to a golf course in the USA where the different climate means water usage would be hugely higher. [In the USA , according to the Alliance for Water Efficiency, “A typical golf course requires 100,000 to 1,000,000 gallons (378.5 m3 to 3,785 m3) of water per week in summer to maintain healthy vegetation”. This amount, which is peak usage would suggest a maximum requirement of 197,000 m3 in a year if it were multiplied by 52.]

However, IGas specifically claim here that “The quantity of water required to frack an onshore shale gas well is broadly the same amount used to irrigate the typical British golf course each month”. They also add a little twist by pointing out “There are over 7,500 golf courses across the UK.” The fact that they have added this spurious detail means they can’t even claim it’s just a careless repetition like the Royal Society’s mistake. The claim that “There are over 7,500 golf courses across the UK” is quite simply untrue. According to Golf Club Management

“Golf clubs in the UK and Ireland suffered a net loss of 42,700 members in 2011, according to a new survey.

The drop of 3.1 per cent from 2010 brings the number of club members in the British Isles down to 1,326,700, spread among 2,989 golf courses (a drop from over 3,000 in 2010).”

IGas would appear to be doubling the real number in order to attempt to minimise the perceived impact of fracking on water supplies. Why they should misrepresent such an easily verified number is beyond us.

Using 5 million gallons or 19,000 m3 every month, as IGas seem to be suggesting here (we assume they are using the same volume per frack as the original Chesapeake quote that the rest of the “information” is lifted from, but are happy to correct this if we are being unfair) , would suggest that “the typical British golf course ” would require in the order of 228,000 m3 of water each year, when even the thirstiest “typical golf course” in the USA only seems to require 86% of that. Is IGas’s claim credible? Read on 🙂

FACT: According to the Environment Agency the average annual licenced volume for water abstraction for golf courses in England is about 11,000 m3 . This licenced amount is an upper limit and therefore is higher than the actual abstraction which is closer to 6,000 m3. This report also tells us that “Environment Agency data suggest that three quarters of all water for golf course irrigation is abstracted” so we can deduce that if the typical  actual (average) abstraction volume was about 6,000 m3 then actual water usage would average about 8,000 m3 per annum. (The data used was collated in 2003, a particularly dry year, so it cannot be seen not to be representative).

The average monthly usage of “the typical British golf course” is therefore in fact about 660 m3 and not the 19,000 m3 that IGas appear to be claiming on their web site.

So IGas are exaggerating with this claim by a factor of about 30. Now is that misleading the public? We think it is.

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