Fracking Companies to Government: We Are 'Suffering' as Financing Dries Up
By Richard Anderson
Fracking companies in Britain privately admit they are "suffering" and struggling to secure finance, according to government documents obtained via freedom of information.
In a meeting last May with then-business minister Anna Soubry, the Onshore Energy Services Group (OESG) said raising the money needed to develop a wide-scale fracking infrastructure was proving difficult.
"Industry are finding it a challenge to get support from British banks ... all funding therefore comes from overseas and self-growth," the group said, according to the government's minutes of the meeting.
"British banks are saying the companies are too small."
The documents were released just weeks after leading UK shale explorer Cuadrilla posted multimillion pound losses for the third year running.
The trade association, which represents small and medium-sized oil and gas companies [SMEs] in Britain, also raised concerns that if fracking takes off, supply chain companies won't be ready to provide the equipment needed to build the infrastructure to support the industry.
It told government that "incremental gains" will be made in making individual fracking sites operational, but that the "social license will be more important when this industry scales up."
In other words, getting public support will be key.
"We will go nowhere if [companies] are fought at each stage," the group said.
The OESG also expressed concern about delays in drilling exploratory wells and the knock-on effects: "Operators are struggling, [it's] taking so long for them to get off the ground that SMEs are suffering."
The meeting's minutes, obtained by fracking researcher Russell Scott, suggests that Barclays London refused an industry player's loan request, forcing them to approach Barclays Kenya—at a higher interest rate.
Barclays in London said it was unable to comment on specific loan requests, not least because the name of the individual company asking for finance is unknown.
The bank is in the process of selling its stake in fracking company Third Energy, simply saying that this investment is no longer part of its "core business strategy."
It has released a specific statement on fracking, emphasizing that if done properly, the process poses minimal risks.
However, the bank's Environmental and Social Risk Briefing, which outlines its overall approach to lending, says "significant environmental concerns have emerged regarding the hydraulic fracturing of shale rock," highlighting in particular heavy water use and the possibility of methane leaks.
UK Finance, formerly the British Bankers Association and the body that represents the UK banking sector, declined to comment on banks' policies on lending to the fracking industry.
Energy expert Prof. Paul Stevens, Distinguished Fellow at the Chatham House think tank, said that financing is key to fracking in the UK:
"This is a very important point. It's why the U.S. has had a shale revolution, because the banks were willing and happy to lend to frackers.
"The U.S. revolution was based on Mama and Papa companies that were extremely reliant on access to credit.
"Without access to finance, fracking is simply not going to happen in the UK."
However, he said it was the public's view on fracking that would ultimately decide its fate.
OESG members were "absolutely right" to focus on public opposition, he said.
"Irrespective of the pros and cons of fracking, and I've never been convinced it's as bad as the NGOs say, they have convinced the world [that fracking is dangerous], and nothing is going to change that.
"The shale industry is never going to take off because of public opposition."
When contacted by Energydesk to discuss the views expressed by its members at its meeting with Anna Soubry, the OESG said it was unable to respond in time.
The meeting was held on May 15, 2016. The members of the OESG present were Remsol, Clear Solutions International, Moorhouse Drilling and Completions, Ground Gas Solutions, atg UV Technology, PR Marriott Drilling, Zetland Group and FBG.
Santa Barbara Becomes First California City to Pass Resolution Against Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling
The Santa Barbara City Council approved a resolution Tuesday opposing new drilling off the California coast and fracking in existing offshore oil and gas wells. The resolution is the first in a new statewide campaign to rally local governments against proposals to expand offshore fossil fuel extraction in federal waters.
The vote—which makes Santa Barbara the first California city to oppose both fracking and new offshore drilling—follows President Trump's April 28 executive order urging federal agencies to expand oil and gas leasing in federal waters. The order could expose the Pacific Ocean to new oil leasing for the first time in more than 30 years.
Starting Wednesday, the vast majority of Americans can learn about every potentially harmful chemical in their drinking water and what scientists say are the safe levels of those contaminants. The Environmental Working Group's (EWG) new national Tap Water Database is the most complete source available on the quality of U.S. drinking water, aggregating and analyzing data from almost 50,000 public water systems in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The organization has earned a reputation for ambitious data-mining research projects that shake up policy debates and consumer markets. EWG's online Farm Subsidy Database, listing millions of subsidy recipients, and its Skin Deep guide to more than 70,000 personal care products, draw tens of millions of visitors every year.
By Stacy Malkan
Ever since they classified the world's most widely used herbicide as "probably carcinogenic to humans," a team of international scientists at the World Health Organization's (WHO) cancer research group have been under withering attack by the agrichemical industry and its surrogates.
In a front-page series, The Monsanto Papers, the French newspaper Le Monde described the attacks as "the pesticide giant's war on science," and reported, "to save glyphosate, the firm [Monsanto] undertook to harm the United Nations agency against cancer by all means."
The lengthy report from the Energy and Policy Institute uses reams of archival documents to demonstrate that utility industry representatives knew as far back as 1968 that burning fossil fuels could trigger "catastrophic effects" on the climate.
By Sharon Kelly
The Pennsylvania's Environmental Hearing Board ordered Sunoco Pipeline LP Tuesday to temporarily halt some types of work on a $2.5 billion pipeline project designed to carry 275,000 barrels a day of butane, propane and other liquid fossil fuels from Ohio and West Virginia, across Pennsylvania, to the Atlantic coast.
On July 19, three environmental groups presented Judge Bernard Labuskes, Jr. with documentation showing that the project had caused dozens of drilling fluid spills and other accidents between April and mid-June.
By Andy Rowell
The UK has followed France in banning the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040, as part of its plan to tackle chronic air pollution in cities. The government has been coming under intense pressure to act, with an estimated 40,000 people dying prematurely a year from air pollution.
By Colleen Curry
People traveling across America today can, if they're lucky, pitch a tent in the same exact spot that early American explorers and map-makers Lewis and Clark did, amid the jagged rocks and sweeping plains of the Upper Missouri River Breaks in central Montana.
Brent Rose, a journalist and filmmaker who has been traveling around the U.S. in a van for two years, was one of the lucky ones.
Kyara, a killer whale born at SeaWorld San Antonio just three months ago, died Monday at the park, as reported in this video from Newsy. Kyara is the last orca to be born in captivity under the SeaWorld breeding program, which shut down in 2016.
In a statement, SeaWorld said the cause of death was "likely pneumonia" and that "Kyara had faced some very serious and progressive health issues over the last week."