People living near the Kirby Misperton well site have received a six-page Residents’ Brochure, in advance of a public consultation. Click on the link to download the brochure.
We believe that this brochure includes a number of inaccuracies, omissions and half-truths, which are designed to play down the significance of the flow test and blur the boundaries between the appraisal and production stages.
Here are some examples (quotes from the Third Energy brochure are in bold):
Page 2: Once the oil or gas flow has been stimulated, the operations are no different to other oil and gas production.
Conventional oil or gas production does not involve injecting water, sand and chemicals under very high pressure. While water is sometimes used to ‘flush out’ the remaining gas from conventional wells, they don’t add toxic chemicals (or sand) to the water to do this. Conventional gas production does not produce large amounts of toxic waste water to be disposed of.
Page 2: The additives (in frack fluid) are commonly used substances that are non-hazardous and are typically found in most homes – many of them in food and toiletries.
We strongly dispute this claim. Many chemicals that are added to frack fluid are known carcinogens, such as benzene, and frack fluid elsewhere contains many heavy metals and radioactive materials such as radium and radon, which are drawn deep from within the earth.This recent report by the Concerned Health Professionals of the USA has identified at least 59 chemicals used in frack fluid that are harmful to human health.
We would also dispute that chemicals that are found in toiletries are ‘non-hazardous’ – particularly if the made their way into your water supply. You might be happy to have these chemicals in your bathroom cupboard, but you wouldn’t pour them in your kettle and drink them.
We challenge Third Energy to disclose the mix of their frack fluid to prove us wrong.
Page 2: This water will be transported from Knapton using the existing pipeline and, once fracturing is completed, any flow back water will returned to Knapton via the same pipeline.
This appears to be somewhat misleading. Using the same pipeline to transport the water to and from the well at Kirby Misperton may be possible for a mini-frac, which only lasts 10-15 hours, but we do not think this would be possible for a production well. If future production follows, it is likely that the fresh water would have to be trucked in, or the waste frack fluid trucked out, or both.
We challenge Third Energy to explain how they would bring in fresh water, where it would come from, and how they plan to remove the waste water from the site if they ever went into full production.
Page 2: From here (the water) will sent for safe disposal to an authorised contractor.
We are extremely sceptical that waste water from fracking can ever be disposed of safely. Dr Jim Marshall, of Water UK, said this year: “We have no facilities to deal with this”.
We challenge Third Energy to explain where this water will be sent for ‘safe disposal’, how it will be made safe, and where this water will finally be disposed of.
Page 2: We have calculated that we will need a maximum of 4,000 cubic metres of water for the fracturing fluid – about the same volume as two Olympic swimming pools.
This sounds about the right amount of water needed for the mini-frac – which they say will last about 10-15 hours of actual fracking time – but this is not made clear on the brochure. To the uninitiated it could be interpreted as the amount that is needed for fracking production in total. By the way, 1 cubic meter is 220 gallons, so 4,000 cubic metres of water is 880,000 gallons.
If production were to take place, they would need vast quantities of fresh water, which would need to be taken from aquifers or rivers.
Page 3: The company has been operating safely for 20 years.
We do not dispute the company’s safety record to date. However, this covers a period of time when they have only drilled for conventional gas. Fracking is a much more risky and dangerous technology, which has caused environmental contamination, polluted water supplies, air and land pollution, illness in workers, neighbours and farm animals and much more besides.
Therefore, just because the company has operated safely drilling for conventional gas, it does not follow that fracking would be safe. In the words of the UN toxins expert, Dr Marianne Lloyd-Smith: “You can regulate fracking to make it safer, but you cannot make it safe.”
Page 3: We employ over 20 people locally.
Over twenty people! Wow! So the oil and gas industry really does create thousands of jobs after all!
Page 4: Since 1975, thirteen wells have been drilled through the aquifer on our licence areas in the Vale of Pickering and there has been no incidence of aquifer pollution. Around 2,000 onshore wells have been drilled in the UK, most of which have also been through aquifers. Again, there has been no incidence of aquifer pollution.
Again, we feel this is misleading and they are not comparing like for like. There is a huge difference between drilling a conventional gas well and a well that is to be fracked. That difference can be summed up in one word – pressure. Conventional gas wells are not usually subjected to pressure to draw up the gas, whereas fracking wells have to work at extremely high pressures. It is the pressure that causes ruptures in the well-casings. The Schlumberger report into well integrity states that 6% of fracking wells fail immediately, 50% fail after 15 years, and all wells fail eventually. So, just because no conventional wells haven’t failed, it does not follow that no fracking wells would ever fail. On the contrary, it is far more likely and this comparison with conventional gas wells is spurious, to say the least.
Page 4: The UK has one of the most highly regulated oil and gas industries in the world.
We accept that the offshore conventional oil and gas industry is well-regulated. However, there are NO regulations in place that relate specifically to fracking. The industry is largely self-regulating and self-monitoring. The Environment Agency has had its budget cut by 40% and does not have the manpower or expertise to monitor this industry effectively.
Here are just a few of the regulations that don’t exist, but should:
Furthermore, the Government is doing all it can to reduce regulation for fracking companies, in particular in the current Infrastructure Bill that is going through the House of Commons at the moment. This is the Bill that is going to change the Trespass Law, which will allow companies to drill under people’s homes and land without permission. There is also an amendment which will allow fracking companies to deposit ‘any substance’ into underground wells. Yes, ‘any substance’.
You can find out more about the Infrastructure Bill on our dedicated Facebook page.
Page 4: As part of the planning process, we will be undertaking widespread public consultation which we will publicise through the local media.
We look forward to seeing how widespread this will be. Usually there is just one, or perhaps two, public meetings, which are only advertised 48 hours in advance. Prove us wrong, Third Energy!
Page 5: Although local residents will experience a slightly heavier flow of traffic in the area, the disruption to normal routines should not be significant.
The amount of truck movements they list in the brochure may be about right for a mini-frac, but of course if production did begin, the amount of truck movements would be far higher and residents’ normal routines would suffer significant disruption.
Page 5: During the actual fracturing process, there will be noise from pumps and other equipment.
Too right there will! The compressors that drive the high-pressure fracking process are extremely loud and may be working at night as well as during the day. What they don’t mention is that the drilling phase will also be very noisy. Their brochure says that ‘the second stage, the hydraulic fracturing to stimulate the gas flow, will take about 35 days.! So that could mean noisy fracking could take place at any time over a period of five weeks – and that’s just for a mini-frac. If production did follow, then the peace and quiet of the area would be shattered forever.
Page 6: If Third Energy receives planning permission and before the start of hydraulic fracturing, it would provide the agreed community benefits of £100,000 per hydraulically fractured well site.
Sounds a sweet deal for local residents, doesn’t it? That’s until they realise that the value of their property will have fallen dramatically because they’re near a fracking site. Suddenly £200 compensation per resident doesn’t seems quite such a bonus …
Page 6: If the appraisal leads to commercial production, one per cent of gross revenues from production will also be paid into the local community fund. At current gas prices, production revenues from one tcf of gas could yield about £70 million to the local community over 20 years.
This sounds like a pie-in-the-sky figure designed to convince local residents that they might become millionaires. It’s very likely that the amounts paid would be nowhere near this amount, and of course if fracking starts near Kirby Misperton, it won’t be confined to just one well. Fracking wells typically become unprofitable after a year or so, and companies have to drill another well a bit further away, then another, then another … If this is allowed to continue, in 20 years there could be hundreds of wells all across Ryedale.
However much money the company paid out, would it be adequate compensation for never being able to sleep at night, bringing up your kids in an area of high air pollution or not being able to drink the water that comes out of your taps? We think not.
If anyone else has any comments on the Residents’ Brochure, please contact us and we’ll include them on this page.
PS Nice photos, though!