Third Energy confirmed tonight it was releasing some equipment from its fracking site at Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire after the government required a review of the company’s finances.
The company said the review process could take “some time” and it expected “a further period” before final consent from the Government. Equipment was being redeployed to other projects, it said.
Anti-fracking campaigners photographed large vehicles transporting equipment off the site today.
Convoy on the approach to Kirby Misperton village Photo: Steven Spy
The Business Secretary, Greg Clark, announced last month that before making a decision on fracking consent at the KM8 well, he had instructed the Oil and Gas Authority to review Third Energy’s financial resilience. This would include the eventual decommissioning of the site.
In a statement this evening, the company said there would be
“a further period before we can expect final consent from the Government to proceed with our operations.”
The statement continued:
“As this process may take some time we have agreed with the relevant contractors to release some of their equipment from site; namely the coil tubing unit, the well control unit and the workover rig.
“This will allow our contractors to deploy their equipment to other projects during the financial review.
“We will maintain the majority of the operational equipment onsite and continue all of the monitoring requirements set by the regulators.
“We have informed North Yorkshire County Council and the Police about the planned movements and will be working with them to ensure they are undertaken safely and without disruption to residents.”
Third Energy had told residents in November it was ready to begin fracking. In the statement it said:
“We appreciate that this situation creates further uncertainty for residents and we thank them for their patience.
“Given that there will be no hydraulic fracturing operations at the site until final consent is received, we hope that the protestors will also give residents a break from their campaign of disruption and this will enable everyone to resume their normal daily lives and also reduce pressure on North Yorkshire Police.”
Third Energy repeated its previous statement that it was pleased that it had satisfied 13 technical conditions required under the Infrastructure Act before fracking could go ahead at the KM8 well.
The company also said it was continuing to invest and develop its existing conventional fields. It said it had begun the process of extending a range of permissions at well sites in the Vale of Pickering and at the Knapton Generating Station.
The lorries came out of the site in a single convoy and opponents of the fracking operation carried out a “slow walking” protest.
The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy told DrillOrDrop:
“There is no change from our perspective.”
Karen Garrett, vice chair of Great and Little Barugh Parish Council and a member of the community liaison committee, said:
Once again, Third Energy are being reactive rather than proactive as questions had been raised over what was happening with equipment. A statement prior to this might have been more appropriate to inform local residents and allay speculation. Some monitoring equipment had already been removed from the surrounding area leading to concerns from residents. With the ongoing sensitivities they need to have higher regard for the communities.
The investigation into Third Energy’s financial affairs is welcomed as it has been a key area of concern for a very long time.
The Kirby Misperton Protection Camp said:
“Campaigners have vowed to peacefully protest at KM8 until Third Energy go bust, and this announcement suggests we haven’t got too long to wait. The fact that contractors are recalling their equipment while the government investigates Third Energy’s finances doesn’t bode well for the health of the company. We would suggest it’s time for Third Energy to pack up and leave completely. The last two weeks have seen four rejections of fracking applications in the north of England. The tide has turned against the industry, fracking is a dead duck.”
North Yorkshire Police said it would continue its ‘neighbourhood policing’ approach at Kirby Misperton. Superintendent Alisdair Dey said:
“Throughout this operation we have been balancing the needs and wishes of everyone at Kirby Misperton. We will continue to work with people on all sides of the issue, minimising disruption to the local community and ensuring protest activity is peaceful and safe.”
Ian Conlon, a Malton resident, said:
“This is humiliating for Third Energy and a credit to the many thousands of local residents in Ryedale who have opposed fracking both through the planning process and in protests on the ground, devoting time and energy to protect their community from the devastation that large scale fracking would have.
“As a community we have closely monitored and delayed the role out of fracking, and it appears now to have been stopped dead in its tracks, at least in Ryedale. With INEOS also having failed to gain communities and councils support across a swathe of Northern England, we are determined to continue our campaign until all the fracking companies pack up their equipment and leave.”
This post will updated with other reaction.