Third Energy UK Gas Limited - the company poised to be at the vanguard of UK fracking - was set up to take advantage of the potential shale gas boom in the UK. In 2015, it became the second company in the UK to apply to frack, after Cuadrilla Resources, and grassroots protests sprang up immediately.
The firm is seeking to frack at a site (KM8 well) near Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire, on the Bowland shale formation.
But it has been delayed by its own disorganised finances and the government closing a legal loophole that means all fracking firms now have to get the go ahead from Greg Clark, the business secretary.
Third Energy UK Gas Limited is controlled by Third Energy Holdings Limited, which is registered to the Cayman Islands. The firm was 97 percent owned by a private equity arm of Barclays bank, Barclays Natural Resources Investment (now renamed Global Natural Resource Investments) — a stake that consultancy Profundo says has been reduced to 78 percent. In May 2017, Barclays said it would sell the subsidiary that owns the Third Energy stake.
In the UK, Third Energy Onshore Limited is the subsidiary of Third Energy Holdings Limited that owns Third Energy UK Gas Limited (formerly Viking UK Gas) and Third Energy Trading Limited (formerly RGS Energy Services). Third Energy Onshore acquired the fracking licence blocks in Yorkshire through buying Viking UK Gas and RGS Energy Services in 2011. Its assets also include Knapton power station, pipelines, and mature producing fields.
Since 2012, the government has been pushing fracking as a source of home-grown energy. But recently an internal, unpublished, government report massively scaled back expectations of fracking in the UK. In October 2016, Scotland banned the controversial extraction technique, and public opinion has further nosedived.
A potential conflict of interest around one of Third Energy’s directors was highlighted in the government’s investigation into the company’s finances — something Third Energy and the government deny.
In September 2017, Jitesh Gadhia was appointed a senior independent director of the firm, and he is also the non-executive director of UK Government Investments, a Treasury body that advises on government support for ailing businesses. Meanwhile, another Treasury body Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA), is looking into Third Energy.
Third Energy also published their annual accounts, finally, four months late. It was their late filing that prompted the business secretary Greg Clark to state in January that fracking firms’ had to show “financial resilience” and that all firms that applied for permission to frack would be examined by the IPA.
In response to the investigation into their finances and the delay to get final consent, Third Energy removed equipment from the site near Kirby Misperton.
Third Energy started preparing the site at Kirby Misperton for fracking. Protests ramped up, resulting in over 80 arrests and an extraordinary police presence around the village.
DeSmog UK exposed that police had set limits on fracking protests in North Yorkshire where Third Energy plans to begin drilling.
Third Energy was rapped on the knuckles by the Environment Agency, which gave an official warning that the firm breached one of its environmental permits by failing to publish correct emissions data, which concerned air quality data at the Knapton Generating Station in the Vale of Pickering. The company was also criticised for failing to use an agreed method to monitor groundwater quality at a nearby gas well.
An anti-fracking camp was set up to protest the proposed fracking near Kirby Misperton.
Yorkshire became the new focal point of the UK fracking debate after Third Energy applied to hydraulically frack the well at the Kirby Misperton site in North Yorkshire.
Third Energy drilled the well near Kirby Misperton to sample gas at the site — “Analysis of the gas bearing zones in the deeper Bowland section concluded that they should be appraised further. To assess their commercial potential, hydraulic fracturing will be used to stimulate gas flow from these inter-bedded sandstone and shale sections,” the firm states on its website.
- Minister Delays Fracking Decision at Kirby Misperton until Third Energy submits its Overdue Accounts
- Fracking Comes to the UK for First Time in Five Years Despite Concerns Over Gas Leaks and Safety Breaches
- Barclays to Sell Fracking Company, Says Decision Does Not Change Stance on Shale Gas
- Yorkshire Fracking Company Receives Official Warning Over Incorrect Emissions Data
- Growing Number of Restrictions Placed by Police, Councils on Anti-Fracking Protests
- Fracking Focus Shifts to Yorkshire as Pro- and Anti-Fracking Groups Emerge
Image: Drill or Drop