Cuadrilla’s Reaction to the ASA ruling on their newsletter

We thought the reaction from Cuadrilla was worthy of a post all on it’s own. Let’s take a look at how they reacted (and also how they didn’t)

Here is what their CEO Francis Egan had to say, as reported in the Blackpool Gazette.

We would love to be able to direct you to the on-line version, so that you could see it for yourself but, for reasons which we don’t fully understand, the Gazette seems to be the only newspaper which carried this story but which did not also include it in their on-line version.

Cuadrilla reaction

Cuadrilla reaction

First of all, let’s be absolutely clear that the ASA did NOT in any way confirm that hydraulic fracturing can be done safely, and to suggest that they did is totally misleading. You might think that having had his company caught out misleading the public Mr Egan might be have been a bit more careful with his comments, but it looks as though they can’t really help themselves from coming out with this sort of distortion of reality.

Bizarrely, having stated this, he then goes on to totally invalidate any worth that statement might have had, even if it were the truth, by saying “We do believe the ASA should have consulted scientific experts before reaching it’s conclusions”.

It’s interesting that Mr Egan seems to presuppose that they didn’t do so. I’m not sure what they did during the 9 months or so that this complaint has been under investigation, but it is reasonable to assume that they spent a fair amount of time investigating and comparing the scientific evidence in order to feel able to adjudicate here.

His final comment is also misleading as the ASA did not in fact “validate” any points. It merely didn’t accept our complaints. The two things are not the same by any stretch of the imagination, but it IS amusing to see that Mr Egan is prepared to claim “validation” from these people who he accused earlier of not knowing their science when it suits him.

In at least one case the ASA’s refusal to accept a complaint was rather perverse. Cuadrilla argued that the development wouldn’t be dense and unattractive on the basis that their licence area was 1200 Km2 and would only have 10 well pads on it. We provided evidence from Cuadrilla’s own website that a:) under their licence they had to return half of the licence area to the government and b:) Cuadrilla were in fact proposing up to 80 wells but the ASA told us

a) Yes, we are aware of the mandatory relinquishment of 50%. We are still minded to base our recommendation on CRL’s statement that the well pads would be spread across the entire 1200 km2 area.
b) Yes, we have based our recommendation on the information provided to us by CRL and not on the figures from their website which show the number of well pads to be 80 at the higher end.

We can’t pretend to understand their logic , but unlike Francis Egan we won’t be throwing a hissy fit about it.

Back to Cuadrilla’s responses…

In the Guardian
we read that

Cuadrilla strongly disputes many of the ASA’s criticisms, which will be subject to appeal. For instance, the ASA said that the company could not claim its “fracturing fluid does not contain hazardous or toxic components”, because although the company has used only water, sand and a non-toxic friction-reducing chemical to date, it could use other substances in future. Cuadrilla called this “absurd and pedantic”.

Appeal? Cuadrilla have already spent the last 9 months desperately trying to provide evidence to the ASA to neutralise our claims. We wish them good luck with their appeal. We can’t wait to see the results.

And “absurd and pedantic” ??? Oh dear – perhaps Mr Egan isn’t aware of the fact that his own company’s website states that

“Cuadrilla’s fracturing fluid, … along with fresh water and sand includes:

Polyacrylamide friction reducer
Hydrochloric acid
Sodium salt

Is it really “absurd and pedantic” to believe what they tell us? Really?

Mr Egan then says

we will be examining the adjudication carefully to see what communication lessons can be learned in future.

Perhaps the simplest lesson he could take from all this is that if you don’t deal honestly with people they will lose trust in you and then you won’t get the “social licence to operate” which you so desperately want.

And finally, rather unbelievably, he says

However, he said it was important that the ASA had ruled that fracking “can be done safely”.

Again – the ASA has done no such thing and to suggest that they have is pretty disrespectful of the role that this organisation plays in keeping communication between businesses and the public as honest as it can.

Having taken all this in we can’t help noticing that Cuadrilla really don’t seem to be taking this very seriously. The best illustration of this, perhaps is the fact that that 2 weeks after they were provided with a ruling that condemned their claim that “Cuadrilla’s fracturing fluid does not contain hazardous or toxic components”, and 2 days after that ruling was made public and reported worldwide, exactly that same claim is still made on their corporate website.

Do they really think this stuff doesn’t matter? Do they think the people of Lancashire are stupid? … or are they simply incompetent?

Strangely the News section of Cuadrilla’s site carried no mention of this latest accolade.

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