An ounce of performance


“An ounce of performance is worth pounds of promises” – Mae West

With that in mind lets take a look at the commitments made by Cuadrilla to the county of Lancashire back in December 2016.

How are they doing after nearly two years on each of these? Let’s take them one by one shall we?

  • We will increase energy security for Lancashire and Britain as we become operational

In spite of a great deal of hype of the industry about shale gas’s potential contribution to energy security, it would appear that we have no forecast problems with security of supply using models which do not include any contribution from UK onshore shale gas to UK supply.

As Drill or Drop reported in March 2018

Lord Risby …. asked about the contribution of UK-sourced shale gas to energy security. The Business Minister, Lord Henley, referred him to two reports. Neither included shale gas in their estimates about UK gas security.

“Whilst the government is optimistic about the potential for shale gas in the UK, given the industry is currently in an exploratory stage, it is not yet known how much of the UK shale gas resource will ultimately be recoverable. In order to provide a conservative estimate of supply, supply forecasts used in CEPA (2017), assume no shale contributions in the forecast period. We will update these forecasts moving forward and any shale projects that do come forward will be in addition to supply already forecast”. Gas Security of Supply, October 2017

“In agreement with BEIS, we have assumed no GB unconventional gas production (e.g. shale gas) over the period studied. Such production is possible but data from exploration wells is needed to develop reliable estimates”. A Review of gas security of supply within Great Britain’s gas market – from the present to 2035, March 2017

It is hard to see how they can reasonably claim to increase security of supply when their potential contribution is not even included in the two major government reports covering the issue.

Our Verdict: Fail

  • We will carry out our operations to the highest safety and environmental standards and communicate openly

In spite of knowing that they would be under intense scrutiny Cuadrilla seem to have managed to be pulled up 6 times for breaches of Environment Agency permits since starting work on the site. Most recently (August 2018) we learned that not only had a further breach occurred but that it had not been communicated to the Community Liaison Group . This prompted an angry response from 3 councillors who are members of that group.

Open Letter from Councillors to MPs

It would appear that Cuadrilla are struggling a little here, particularly with the openness thing.

Our Verdict: Fail

  • We will work with local partners to promote Lancashire as a hub for the UK shale gas industry with new jobs and economic growth

Cuadrilla have indeed worked with their compliant friends at the North West Energy Task Force, Lancashire for Shale, Backing Fracking and the North West Chamber of Commerce to promote the fracking industry. However, with their own Environmental Statement submitted  as part of their planning application for Preston New Road showing that only 11 Full Time Employee equivalent jobs will be created at the site it is unsurprising that the local population remains underwhelmed by the hype.

Our Verdict: Fail

  • We will prioritise Lancashire suppliers and publish the amount we are spending

It is hard to reconcile a promise to “prioritise Lancashire suppliers” with the reality that Cuadrilla’s main pad contractor AE Yates is not based in Lancashire and, based on evidence submitted in support of their injunction application, many of their other contractors are also based outside the county. They have though published the amount they spend on local suppliers which they state has a value of £10 million to date.  Given that the Lancashire 14 GVA is worth about £30 billion annually that contribution over two years of less than 2 hundredths of 1% is not exactly life changing for us is it?

Our Verdict: Fail

  • We will support local training opportunities for young people including the National Onshore Oil and Gas College based at Blackpool & The Fylde College

Given what appears to be the total failure of the National Onshore Oil and Gas College this particular promise must be something of an embarrassment to Cuadrilla. Still it did get £1.5 million in funding.

Our Verdict: Fail

  • We will share the benefits of shale gas by sponsoring educational and sporting projects and through a local community benefit scheme

Well it is true that some local fracking supporters have had their tummies tickled, so, for example, AFC Fylde have had their Community Foundation’s ‘Train Like A Pro’ football development programme sponsored, and Cuadrilla have made some other strategic donations in an effort to enhance their standing in the local community. Judging by comments on social media these efforts have not been universally successful.

Households local to the fracking site did receive payments recently with those nearer than 1 km getting around £2,000 and those between 1 and 1.5 km getting about £150. However, set against the likely blight on their amenity value this seem like small beer indeed.

Our Verdict: Unimpressed

So overall, it would appear that Cuadrilla’s promises from 2016 have proven hard for them to keep, and their words are sounding rather hollow. Let’s hope that if they do get to impose their unwanted and unnecessary industry on Lancashire that they do rather better in future.

We doubt Mae West would have been impressed.



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