Category Archives: News

Review of 2019

If you’re desperate for good news about climate change, it helps if you have a sense of schadenfreude. Probably the merriest fossil fuel stories of 2019 show the fracking industry on the verge of a meltdown.

Despite a raft of  accounting gimmicks, the industry wasn’t able to hide the fact that it was drowning in red ink. By mid-year, Sightline’s Clark Williams-Derry reported that::

A cross-section of 29 fracking-focused oil and gas companies reported more than $2.5 billion in negative free cash flows in the first quarter of 2019. These results were even worse than in the fourth quarter of 2018…

And as the year went on, the frackers’ problems kept getting worse. By December, the oil and gas giant Chevron was forced to write down its assets by more than  Ten Billion US Dollars, with industry analysts widely accepting that dozens of other companies in the sector would face a similar reckoning.

Whatever financial pain the industry is facing, though, looks like a flesh wound compared to the injury it has inflicted on the rest of us—and our environment. As Chevron tried to put on a brave face for investors, researchers at Stanford University dispelled the characterization of natural gas as a necessary “bridge fuel” to clean energy. 

A surge in natural gas has helped drive down coal burning across the United States and Europe, but it isn’t displacing other fossil fuels on a global scale. Instead, booming gas use is fueling the global growth in greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new study by researchers at Stanford University and other institutions.

In fact, natural gas use is growing so fast, its carbon dioxide emissions over the past six years actually eclipsed the decline in emissions from the falling use of coal, the researchers found.

Consider also the grim news that came in December, when the National Academy of Sciences reported that a new satellite-based methane analysis determined that a single gas well blowout in Ohio last year was one of the largest methane leaks in US history. The New York Times reported:

The blowout, in February 2018 at a natural gas well run by an Exxon Mobil subsidiary in Belmont County, Ohio, released more methane than the entire oil and gas industries of many nations do in a year, the research team found. The Ohio episode triggered about 100 residents within a one-mile radius to evacuate their homes while workers scrambled to plug the well.”

The Ohio blowout released more methane than the reported emissions of the oil and gas industries of countries like Norway and France, the researchers estimated. Scientists said the measurements from the Ohio site could mean that other large leaks are going undetected.

Continue reading Review of 2019

FRACKING BY ANOTHER NAME

From Paul Simmonds, St Lawrence:

Don’t be fooled by UKOG claims –it’s fracking by another name.

IW residents need to come together in solidarity to oppose UKOG’s intentions to extract oil and gas on the Island.

A council spokesperson states, “any planning application would be determined on its merits”. This is an outrage; there are no merits. It’s criminal that our council should consider any planning permission they clearly have no social responsibility or conscience.

UKOG claims, “there will be no fracking and no pollution. Don’t be fooled, they can’t be trusted as their well-kept secret doesn’t tell you they intend to use a process called chemical acidisation; which like fracking carries all the risks to our health and environment but even worse it uses a higher concentration of chemicals. Companies like UKOG want to use this process across Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire and the IW. It’s fracking by another name.

The threat is real and we cannot be complacent. Frack Free IW is doing a fantastic job in challenging this but the community needs to stand up and defend its rights to clean air and water, and protect our environment in the face of a climate change crisis.

Four green policy concerns Boris Johnson must address immediately

Johnson looks set to prioritise “getting Brexit done” during his first few days within his new majority and while that will have huge ramifications for UK green policy, there are also a few other areas that the Prime Minister needs to address immediately in order to boost business confidence in delivering a net-zero economy by 2050.

So, what should be at the top of the Tories’ bulging in-tray of green policy issues?

 

1) Future-proof post-Brexit environmental standard loopholes

As mentioned, Johnson will look to pass his “oven-baked” Brexit deal, before Christmas, including a raft of changes that would alter 40 years of EU environmental regulations.

Part of the  Withdrawal Agreement on the departure from the EU customs union and the laws that it enforces is a new regulatory system that the UK will need to stick to as part of any future trade deals with EU nations. This has been called a “level playing field”.

This would require the UK to conform to EU standards on environmental policies and others as part of a trade deal, but the UK has no legal obligation to maintain current standards if no trade deal is agreed, this has already sparked concern that the UK could renegade on environmental standards in pursuit of other trade deals, notably with the US. This includes directives on industrial emissions, transport emissions – including a variety of rules on Euro 5, 6 and 7 vehicles – waste, and biodiversity.

The Prime Minister needs to immediately address concerns that the UK could renegade these standards in pursuit of short-term trade deals. Ideally, the approved deal that eventually passes through Government has mechanisms in place for an independent body – notably the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) – to ensure that environmental standards aren’t relaxed and are improved upon as the UK nears its net-zero target deadline.

Earlier this year, a coalition of almost 40 environmental organisations including Greenpeace, WWF UK and ClientEarth called for the Draft Environment Bill to be altered, to ensure that the public can request disclosure from the UK’s post-Brexit watchdog.

Speaking of the Environment Bill…

Continue reading Four green policy concerns Boris Johnson must address immediately

AJ Lucas Struggles To Raise Capital Amid UK Fracking Ban

Investors have ignored AJ Lucas’ latest attempt to raise money for its UK oil and gas exploration efforts.

Investors have ignored AJ Lucas’ latest attempt to raise money for its UK oil and gas exploration efforts.

The company announced yesterday that it’s latest raising aimed at retail shareholders had raised just $2.4 million from retail investors through a 19-for-20 entitlement offer instead of the $8.1 million it was looking for.

Making the rejection even more notable was that the poor uptake came after the offer was extended by a week.

Yesterday Lucas told the ASX that the retail offer had been completed with applications for 37.1 million shares at $0.065 each.

Last month AJ Lucas revealed institutional investors had only paid $26.2 million for new shares, when it was looking for $46.3 million.

This brings the total amount raised under the Entitlement Offer to approximately $28.6 million.

The money raised is supposed to be for ongoing activities in the UK, where the company operates the Cuadrilla joint venture.

 

Ineos posts new injunction notices at proposed Woodsetts shale gas site

 

The shale gas company, Ineos, has installed new protest injunction notices at its proposed exploration site at Woodsetts in south Yorkshire.

The company first installed notices at Woodsetts in July 2017, days before it announced plans to apply for planning permission there.

The notices were later removed in 2019 after the Court of Appeal quashed sections of the injunction as unlawful.

Ineos does not have planning permission for the Woodsetts site.

Rotherham Council refused consent to drill and test a vertical shale gas well on 8 March 2018 and again on 7 September 2018.

The application did not include hydraulic fracturing but local people have said they see it as a precursor to fracking in the area.

A decision is still awaited on the permission after Ineos’s application went to a public inquiry in June 2019.

Since then, the government issued a moratorium on fracking, following earth tremors caused by Cuadrilla’s operations at Preston New Road in Lancashire.

The Woodsetts inquiry inspector, Katie Peerless, asked the parties, which included the local group, Woodsetts Against Fracking, to submit their comments on the moratorium.

Her report is due by 13 January 2020. The final decision will be made by the local government secretary.

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Dig in for fracking fight

Last month the UK Government took the energy industry by surprise by announcing a moratorium on the quest for shale gas onshore in England.

The decision generated a range of reactions, with the green lobby fervently hoping that this is a forever decision. But it’s nothing of the sort. Should the Tories be voted back into power on December 12, sooner or later an attempt will be made to remove the shackles, allowing the shale gas quest onshore UK to restart, making a mockery of the party’s greenwash pledges made during the current election campaign.

Protests will begin again and become increasingly well organised when Cuadrilla tries to resume operations at Little Plumpton.

Last month the UK Government took the energy industry by surprise by announcing a moratorium on the quest for shale gas onshore in England.

The catalyst was the magnitude 2.9 quake that hit the Cuadrilla-operated Little Plumpton site in Lancashire on August 26. It was the third quake recorded in less than a week.

To It’s credit, the UK’s Oil and Gas Authority quickly shut down the operation pending a review which led to the moratorium.

The decision generated a range of reactions, with the green lobby fervently hoping that this is a forever decision. But it’s nothing of the sort. Should the Tories be voted back into power on December 12, sooner or later an attempt will be made to remove the shackles, allowing the shale gas quest onshore UK to restart, making a mockery of the party’s greenwash pledges made during the current election campaign.

Protests will begin again and become increasingly well organised when Cuadrilla tries to resume operations at Little Plumpton.

If Labour comes to power, it is doubtful that the English shale gas hunt will restart. The SNP position for Scotland is already clear, much to the annoyance of the companies keen to prospect for shale gas in the central belt, where there once was a shale oil industry which petered out at the dawn of North Sea oil and gas.

I’m implacably against onshore UK “fracking”. As years tick by, it will likely be discredited as the energy transition becomes unstoppable.

There is no place for an industry as intensive, disruptive and potentially polluting as shale gas in these densely populated islands where even northern rural areas of England are crowded compared with the wide open spaces of the US.

But even there, where fracking has played a massive role in reversing what had been a long-term decline in domestic production, questions are increasingly being asked about its environmental track record.

Continue reading Dig in for fracking fight

Fracking could start again as firm behind drilling tries to get ban overturned

Energy firm Cuadrilla, which suspended fracking in Lancashire after several tremors in August, is hoping to convince the Government the practice is safe. Cuadrilla has said it is working to address those concerns and hoped the prospective Bowland gas resource could be further appraised and developed. Both the Government and Cuadrilla continue to say natural gas will play an important role in providing energy for the UK for decades to come.

 

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