x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Barclays backs search for shale gas in Yorkshire

Third Energy, which is 97 per cent-owned by Barclays Natural Resource Investments, took shale rock samples while drilling in Kirby Misperton, Ryedale, in North Yorkshire this summer and is now analysing their potential.

Barclays is backing the search for shale gas in Yorkshire and could fund fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, in the area as early as next year.

Third Energy, which is 97 per cent-owned by Barclays Natural Resource Investments, a private equity arm of the bank, took shale rock samples while drilling in Kirby Misperton, Ryedale, in North Yorkshire this summer and is now analysing their potential, The Sunday Telegraph reported yesterday.

The company has drilling rights across a 400 square kilometres area around the Vale of Pickering, which sits above part of the Bowland shale formation. The British Geological Survey estimates that 1,300 trillion cubic feet of shale gas lies within the Bowland, which stretches from Cheshire to Yorkshire. If 10 per cent could be extracted it could meet UK needs for 40 years.

David Robottom, Third Energy’s chief financial officer, said if the test results – due in the next few months – were “very encouraging”, it would then seek to drill three to four wells “as soon as possible” to further test the potential.

These could include drilling horizontal wells and fracking to test how the gas flows, he confirmed. “That’s one of a number of options.”

Any drilling would first require planning approval and Mr Robottom said this was a “big unknown” in potential timescales. If tests are conducted next year and are successful, commercial production would not begin until 2017 at the earliest.

“Even if we are incredibly lucky and win the lottery, you are looking at three to five years,” he said.

Ministers hope shale gas could bring down energy prices but Mr Robottom said it was “far to early to say” until more drilling took place.

He said the Bowland shale rocks spanned from a depth of about 1,800 metres to 3,600 metres. Third Energy drilled to about 3,100 metres this summer while drilling a well at Kirby Misperton to produce gas from a conventional gasfield.

However, plans to develop fracking in England’s biggest county have upset locals who are concerned about the environmental impact. Anti-fracking campaigners brought their protest to Malton in North Yorkshire last month with a day of action against the operations proposed in Ryedale.

Members of York and Ryedale Friends of the Earth are calling on North Yorkshire county council to pledge that it will not allow fracking operations in the area ahead of a possible new round of licensing.

Josie Downs, one of the campaigners, said the group spoke to dozens of concerned residents and passers-by throughout the course of the day.

“Nearly everyone we spoke to said that they don’t want to see fracking in Ryedale,”she said.

* agencies