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Second edition of the Shale Gas Handbook released by Norton Rose Fulbright

On June 25, 2015, Norton Rose Fulbright released the second edition of the Shale Gas Handbook. Almost two years ago, Norton Rose Fulbright lawyers, realizing that the unconventional oil and gas phenomenon was having various results all around the world, came together to create the inaugural edition of the Shale Gas Handbook. The Shale Gas Handbook is a one of a kind, one-resource book that members of the oil and gas industry can turn to for questions about unconventional shale oil and gas drilling, production and hydraulic fracking. Since the launch of the first edition, there have been a number … Continue Reading

High Court rejects legal bid to prevent fracking in Lancashire, UK

The High Court has refused to grant an interim injunction preventing Cuadrilla from carrying out hydraulic fracking operations at the Preston New Road site in Lancashire. The ruling means that Cuadrilla can resume fracking in the UK for the first time since 2011.

Mr Justice Supperstone also refused permission for judicial review of Lancashire County Council’s decision over the adequacy of the risk assessment and emergency planning procedures.… Continue Reading

Ineos granted permission in UK Green Belt for exploratory shale gas drilling

Ineos has been granted planning permission on appeal for exploratory shale gas drilling in the Green Belt, near Rotherham.

In May 2017, petrochemical firm Ineos sought temporary permission for a period of five years for a shale gas well, access track and ancillary facilities at Common Lane, Harthill near Rotherham. Ineos claims that the site has been chosen because it is within an area of interest based on existing seismic data.… Continue Reading

Cuadrilla discovers ‘sizeable quantity’ of UK shale gas as UK anti-fracking case is rejected

On January 12, 2018, exploration and production company Cuadrilla announced that it has recently discovered a “very sizeable quantity” of shale gas at its Bowland site in Lancashire (the Site).

Cuadrilla revealed it has drilled to a depth of 2.7km at the Site and to date has recovered 375 feet of core samples. When combined with data gathered from existing shale exploration wells, this has left the company optimistic as to its ability to “drill two horizontal wells…in gas rich zones”. This is complemented by the “excellent” rock quality in the vicinity. These properties are believed to make the … Continue Reading

INEOS granted second UK exploratory drilling permit

On 18 July 2017, INEOS was granted an environmental permit to drill an exploratory borehole to take core shale samples at a site near Common Road, Harthill, South Yorkshire. It was the second permit granted by the Environment Agency (EA) to INEOS in less than three weeks after a similar ‘standard rules’ permit was approved on 29 June 2017 for another site near Bramleymoor Lane, Marsh Lane, North Derbyshire.

Despite the protests of environmental campaigners, the EA was keen to stress that the permit only consents for INEOS to carry out drilling and waste management at the site as a … Continue Reading

More production cuts possible in Europe’s Groningen gas field due to earthquakes

Authorities in the Netherlands have proposed more production cuts in the Groningen gas field, Europe’s largest, in response to earthquake concerns. The cuts would limit production by another 10%, in addition to cuts that have already taken effect, with intent to further reduce the number of earthquakes occurring in the country’s north.

For decades, the Groningen has been a key industry asset, successfully developed by major players in the oil and gas space. However, in the early nineties, the region—one with no previous history of earthquakes—began experiencing seismic activity. The number of earthquakes grew until 2013, and the Dutch government … Continue Reading

UK High Court dismisses challenge to fracking planning permission

On 12 April 2017, the High Court dismissed a judicial review application challenging the decision of the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid, to allow fracking in Lancashire.

As reported in our blog of 22 November 2016, community group ‘Preston New Road Action Group’ (PNRAG) brought the application for judicial review of the decision to grant planning permission for fracking at the site near Little Plumpton, Lancashire (the Plumpton Site) under section 288 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. The challenge was based on grounds that the decision to grant the planning permission was … Continue Reading

Challenge to UK planning permission for fracking

Community group ‘Preston New Road Action Group’ (PNRAG) has taken further action to challenge the government’s decision to allow fracking of shale gas at a site near Little Plumpton, Lancashire (the Plumpton Site).

As reported in our blog of 21 October 2016, PNRAG sent a letter before action last month to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid, requesting that the government reconsider its decision to allow a planning permission for fracking at the Plumpton Site.

Javid has refused to reconsider the government’s position and PNRAG has now issued formal legal proceedings at the High Court. … Continue Reading

Green light for more UK exploratory shale gas wells

Nottinghamshire County Council’s Planning and Licensing Committee (the Committee) has approved plans to drill the county’s first exploratory shale gas wells. The approval which permits drilling two wells to explore the rock geology near Misson was approved by a majority of seven votes to four.

Island Gas Ltd (IGas) submitted its planning application for the works in October 2015. The Committee’s decision on 15 November 2016, comes after an extensive period of consultation involving over 40 organisations and 2,600 individual representations. The chair of the Committee, John Wilkinson, commented that ultimately, the Committee were satisfied that IGas had demonstrated they … Continue Reading

Community Group challenges UK Government’s fracking decision

As reported in our blog post dated 7 October 2016, the Government recently ‎overturned Lancashire County Council’s refusal of planning permission for fracking at a site near Little Plumpton in Lancashire.

The appeal was granted by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on 6 October 2016 allowing the appellant, Cuadrilla, to carry out drilling and hydraulic fracturing at the site; a decision on a second site at Roseacre Wood was deferred so as to allow more time to consider the scheme’s traffic impacts.

Now, community group ‘Preston New Road Action Group’ is seeking to challenge the Government’s … Continue Reading

UK shale: fracking looks set to be part of the future

In a landmark decision, the UK Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid (the SoS), has overturned the decision of Lancashire County Council (the Council) to refuse planning permission to extract shale gas at a site near Little Plumpton, Lancashire (the Plumpton Hall Farm Site).

Planning applications submitted by the oil and gas company Cuadrilla Resources (Cuadrilla) for shale gas development at the Plumpton Hall Farm Site and at a second site at Roseacre Wood (the ‎Roseacre Wood Site) (together, the Sites) were rejected by the Council’s Development Control Committee last year. Noise and traffic impacts … Continue Reading

UK Shale Wealth Fund- payments direct to affected households

Plans for a Shale Wealth Fund were announced in last year’s autumn statement with proceeds expected to be shared between community trusts and local authorities. However, the Shale Wealth Fund Consultation launched on 8 August 2016 includes the possibility of funds being paid directly to local residents in host areas.

It is proposed that communities could receive up to 10% of tax revenues derived from shale exploration in their area with the new fund potentially delivering up to £10 million per eligible community.

The consultation emphasises that the purpose of the Shale Wealth Fund is to ensure that “the benefits … Continue Reading

Fracking judicial review

On 7 July 2016, local community groups Frack Free Ryedale and Friends of the Earth applied to the High Court to judicially review the decision made by the North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) regarding Third Energy’s permit to frack in Kirby Misperton.

The decision to allow fracking was made despite the fact that 99 per cent of the responses to the NYCC’s consultation rejected the proposal.

The applicants for the judicial review have relied on the following two grounds:

1) in reaching its decision, the NYCC had not considered the environmental impact of burning shale gas to generate electricity and … Continue Reading

New fracking rules enter into force – England & Wales

Overview

On 6 April 2016 regulations came into force setting out areas to be excluded from fracking and providing for a number of safeguards for onshore fracking in England and Wales.

What areas are excluded from fracking?

The Onshore Hydraulic Fracturing (Protected Areas) Regulations 2016 set out areas to be excluded from fracking as “protected groundwater source areas” and “other protected areas”, unless fracking is being carried out more than 1,200 metres beneath the surface.

“Protected groundwater source areas” are defined as land that is either:

– within 50 metres of a point at the surface at which water is … Continue Reading

UK Task Force Approves Fracking

On December 15, 2015, in a two-page report, a group of experts coined the “UK Task Force” issued their “Final Conclusions and Recommendations,” approving the safety of further drilling and exploration for shale gas in the United Kingdom. Based on a year of research into the potential “positive and negative” impacts of shale exploration and drilling, some of the highlights from the results include:

  • “Shale gas can be produced safely and usefully” in the UK in accord with industry-leading standards.
  • “The risk from shale gas to the local environment or to public health is no greater than that
Continue Reading

Drilling down into fracking

Hydraulic fracturing for shale gas (“fracking”) is a controversial issue worldwide – simultaneously condemned as a harbinger of environmental pollution and earthquakes, and promoted as the solution to dwindling conventional energy resources. In the UK (estimated in the 2010 British Geological Survey to hold 74bn-148bn cubic metres of potentially recoverable reserves of shale gas), the government has promised to go “all out for shale”, which it considers to have the potential to bring “greater energy security, growth and jobs”.

However, this commitment to shale is somewhat tempered, particularly in other parts of the UK than England. In the same month … Continue Reading

First attempt to frack in Yorkshire met with five-year moratorium from Ryedale District Council

On October 9, 2015 the Ryedale District Council (RDC) voted in favor of a five year moratorium on fracking. Currently, the gas appraisal and development company Third Energy has an application pending to frack an existing well in the area to see if further development would be commercially viable.

Ryedale is the largest district in North Yorkshire England covering 582 square miles where conventional gas has been produced for over 20 years. Ryedale sits upon a large area of the Bowland shale, which is estimated by the British Geological Survey to contain as much as 2,281 trillion cubic feet of … Continue Reading

Northern Ireland bans fracking

The Northern Ireland Minister for the Environment, Mark Durkan, published a planning blueprint banning hydraulic fracturing in the region. The planning blueprint, which provides guidance for Northern Ireland’s 11 councils, consolidates multiple existing planning policies to create a single Strategic Planning Policy Statement (SPPS) for use by local planners.

The SPPS declares that “in relation to unconventional hydrocarbon extraction there should be a presumption against their exploitation until there is sufficient and robust evidence on all environmental impacts.”

The policy statement published by the Northern Ireland Executive can be found on the Department of the Environment’s planning portal.

DUP … Continue Reading

Germany approves bill restricting hydraulic fracturing

Hydraulic fracturing operations in the United States have increased dramatically over the past decade. Indeed, hydraulic fracturing is also growing in other countries. Germany, however, appears to be taking a different approach. Recently, Germany’s cabinet approved a draft of a bill that would restrict hydraulic fracturing operations in the country.

Fracking in Germany will be subject to a number of restrictions. For example, hydraulic fracturing is barred in nature parks and water bore areas. Moreover, companies cannot engage in fracking operations above 3,000 meters unless the drilling is for research purposes and an expert panel concludes that the drilling will … Continue Reading

Do UK regulatory changes signal large-scale shale gas exploitation?

The 14th onshore licensing round closes on October 28, 2014 for both conventional and ‘unconventional’ oil and gas exploration, including shale gas. The UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) expects about 50-150 unconventional licences to be awarded in the round.

There is general consensus across industry and Government that a more streamlined regulatory regime and improved land access rights would facilitate shale gas projects. DECC has recently considered proposed changes regarding land access and sub-surface rights to reduce barriers to shale gas development in the UK.

Petroleum Exploration and Development Licences (PEDLs) allow companies to pursue a range … Continue Reading

Web seminar: Legal lessons learned in shale plays in North America

With North America leading the way in shale oil and gas production, interest is mounting globally in the unconventional hydrocarbon sector. On Wednesday, September 17th , we will host a web seminar on Legal lessons learned in shale plays in North America, which will look at the key legal issues that have arisen in North America related to shale development, the lessons learned, and the implications for countries where shale development is still in the early stages.

This web seminar will be broadcast in two separate sessions for Asia/Australia audiences (session 1) and Europe/South Africa audiences (session 2) respectively. … Continue Reading

Poland considers changes to its hydrocarbon licensing scheme (Part 2 of 2)

Under both the current law and the proposed Act, the Ministry of the Environment has authority to grant and limit licenses. Under the Act, however, the Minister of the Environment has a stronger and more authoritative regulatory role. For instance, the Minister is obliged to commence proceedings to withdraw licenses under certain conditions. Conditions include but are not limited to (1) failing to start conducting activities as provided for in the license, (2) permanent halting of license activities, (3) conducting activities outside of the licensed time schedule, and (4) failing to maintain adequate documentation.

The Hydrocarbon Act contains several inter-temporary … Continue Reading

Poland considers changes to its hydrocarbon licensing scheme (Part 1 of 2)

Poland’s parliament is considering amendments to its Geological and Mining Law that will change its hydrocarbon licensing regime. Submitted for consideration by the Polish Government in April 2014, the Hydrocarbons Act (the “Act”) and Hydrocarbons Tax Act will change the regulatory landscape governing both conventional and nonconventional hydrocarbon production.

The Act introduces changes in the licensing system for prospecting, exploration, and extraction. Under the current system, companies must acquire separate exploration and extraction licenses, each of which could be granted for a period of 3 to 50 years. Under the Act, however, there will be a unified licensing system. Single … Continue Reading

Report prepared by UK Parliament Committee urges development of natural gas and the use of hydraulic fracturing

On May 8, 2014, the House of Lord s Economic Affairs Committee strongly endorsed the United Kingdom’s development of shale gas resources and the use of hydraulic fracturing in its report entitled “The Economic Impact on UK Energy Policy of Shale Gas and Oil.” Successful development would provide substantial economic benefits, reduce imports, and help maintain security of supply.

Pointing to the successful development of shale gas in the United States, the Committee states that “exploration and appraisal are urgently needed to establish the economic potential of the UK’s shale gas and oil resource.” Without timely development, the UK “runs … Continue Reading

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