Comments on the Economy Session

By May 30, 2015 News No Comments


Steve Elliot for the Chemical Industry Association 

  • Mr Elliot said that his industry depends on reducing the price differential between the UK and the US because otherwise we will import chemicals from the US, but he then acknowledged that it won’t bring the price down over here, so it will in fact have no impact on the price differential, which negates the whole point of his argument!
  • Mark Henesy asked why it is important to him where his energy comes from and why he was so in favour of fracking to which he replied that renewables weren’t the answer in the short term. His personal view that renewables are inadequate for the time scale was not substantiated and is therefore not valid. It was noted that shale gas production in the UK will have no significant output for at least 10 years either.
  • He dismissed wind power by blaming it for a near power outage 4 years ago – unfair and scaremongering by suggesting that if we don’t have shale gas the lights will go out, which is nonsense. No-one is suggesting that we should rely on wind alone and it was a failure in several power sources which nearly caused the outage.
  • He said that heating will continue to be gas sourced – but this cannot be the case forever. We know that we have to start using less gas to avoid catastrophic climate change. Heat CAN be provided by renewables in the form of heat pumps, biomass and electricity from renewables, and modern gas appliances are designed for a life of only about 10 years so change from gas could be accommodated naturally.
  • Eveleigh Moore-Dutton asked how many of the 30,000 jobs would be at risk if fracking doesn’t go ahead – possibly hoping he would say all of them, but he could not answer and he was then asked how many other industries are likely to suffer, for which there was again no answer. The truth is that no-one knows and given that shale won’t be on-line for 10 years, we are going to have to come up with an alternative solution before then anyway.
  • He pushed the notion that he was simply there as a representative of an association of consumers of energy. He gave the impression he was not directly connected to fracking and when asked by a member of the public if his association represented the fracking industry he said categorically that they did NOT. However, Essar  Oil Stanlow, UK (previously owned by Shell) prides itself on having drilled ‘the first shale gas well in India’ and is a full member of Elliot’s association which promises its members that it “lobbies to ensure legislation is shaped to support the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, implemented in a way that delivers results without disproportionate financial or administrative costs”. This was a good piece of lobbying from Mr Elliot who appears to not just be a representative, but the CEO of the Chemical Industries Association.  Mr Elliot was clearly not an impartial speaker.

Tom Crotty of INEOS

  • Mr Crotty said that fracking can be done safely and without damage to the environment but there is no evidence to support this theory and much evidence to the contrary.
  • He said wrongly that planning permission will not be granted unless they can prove that it can be done safely – Which is incorrect because Ellesmere Port received planning approval without an Environmental Impact Assessment or proof that it can be done safely. His evidence was personal, false and unsubstantiated and therefore should not be relied upon. Inadequate Baseline Data, Geological Research and Risk Assessments presented to date in the UK show that the Government and industry are not yet prepared to undertake this work sufficiently safely and adverse effects on climate change are inevitable unless capture is undertaken to compensate. (Ref Falkirk Inquiry and Scottish Government Moratorium 28.1.2015.)
  • He was fair in saying fracking development in the UK depended on gaining support from the public, but failed to recognise that the public can have no trust or confidence in this or possibly any UK Government, the regulators or the industry based on their actions and statements on these issues over recent years. We have submitted evidence to support this and might do more in the sessions on Community.
  • He said that their Runcorn site uses enormous amounts of energy – but used as his example the fact that the site uses the same amount of electricity as Liverpool. He said ELECTRICITY, not gas, so his point was not relevant to this enquiry.
  • He also referred to the need to close the price differential between the UK and the US and talked of the US gas prices going down. He said his industry could not survive with this price differential as it stands – that the risk to long-term employment is very high – BUT as has already been acknowledged MANY TIMES, shale gas will not bring UK prices down so this point is irrelevant.
  • Ineos has a clear interest in fracking going ahead as they have invested £600 million in it and bought 2 licences. He failed to mention that Ineos, which has a registered office in Lyndhurst, Hampshire but is headquartered in Rolle, Switzerland, bought the 51% stake in the PEDL 133 license area from BG Group for an undisclosed sum. The remaining 49% stake is owned by Dart Energy, which has been acquired by rival IGas Energy in a £120m deal to create the UK’s biggest shale gas explorer with a combined portfolio covering one million acres of potential fracking land.
  • When questioned about the sites in Runcorn he failed to mention that The Castner Kelner Plant is the biggest producer of ozone depleting gas in the whole of the Europe. Acid rain falling in Norway is a direct result of emissions from Castner Kelner.
  • Ineos cannot be regarded as a neutral energy user – Mr Crotty was on Daily Politics 29/1/2015, about 29 minutes into the program,

representing the fracking industry and saying that “we need to persuade the public that that (ie. safe fracking) can be done”.


John Blaymires of IGAS

  • He misrepresented the unconventional aspects of the industry, as he did in session 2, saying there is nothing unconventional about it and that we have been doing it here for 40 years safely and responsibly!– This is not true. The established wells are conventional wells and not high volume unconventional gas and oil. His evidence is patently unreliable and should therefore be discounted.
  • He said that the water that comes back up is disposed of. How exactly? In Session 2 he said it will be stored in closed containers, but that cannot go on indefinitely. How will this water be cleaned of the naturally occurring harmful chemicals that will be brought back up – BTEXs, VOCs, NORMs, heavy metals? The produced water cannot just be released into places like the Manchester Ship Canal and the Firth of Forth without treatment to remove them.
  • He overstated the improvements in UK regulations over US experience with no substantiation. The recent amendments to the Planning and Infrastructure Bill and the Scottish Government’s Moratorium bear witness to the fact that more regulation is required.
  • He claimed that his business depends on getting it right or they will go out of business, which is obviously not true as neither Cuadrilla nor indeed Rathlin energy have yet. Cuadrilla had a damaged well casing in Lancashire, which went unreported for 6 months, they dumped diluted radioactive waste into the Manchester Ship canal, they caused two earthquakes and residents complained of the noxious smell emanating from the well. Rathlin has had well integrity problems and a fire in the well. These companies have not gone out of business – their failings are brushed under the carpet and they are allowed to continue.
  • He used the old chestnut about the risks of crossing the road – again! Crossing the road is a risk that only the person crossing the road takes for him or herself– shale gas exploration is a risk that could affect the lives and water supply of thousands of people who have had no choice in the matter.
  • He stated in his presentation that the analysis of projected costs and jobs expected in the North West were contained within an independent report constructed by Amion Consulting. This company was commissioned by IGas – so the report is not “independent” and Amion’s area of expertise is as a Liverpool management consultancy with specialist visitor economy and leisure advisory service – so it has questionable expertise in this area of economy.
  • He presented the current seductions of jobs, training, local development as making Cheshire a hub for the UK and Europe, and community benefits of £10 m per site. None of which are guaranteed and all are offered as carrots.
  • Asked how long chemicals stay in the water supply – He answered “What chemicals?!” He knows perfectly well that even if we exclude the chemicals that they pump in, it is what comes back out that is the real problem. He claimed that chemicals don’t get into the water – “this is why well integrity is so important” – EXACTLY! As we know, all wells leak eventually, geological faults and movements are inevitable so well integrity does not exist.
  • He says there are massive quantities of shale under our area – Note he is talking about shale gas – NO MENTION OF CBM!
  • He said America has upped its game with regulations – So why has the State of New York banned it and the Government of Scotland announced a moratorium? Because it has not been shown to be done without impacting human health.
  • He said coal is dirtier than gas for burning which is true with regard to CO2, but does not reflect the impact on global warming of methane which is 86 times greater over the most critical first 20 years. In acknowledging that methane is detrimental he says it is not in their interest to let it escape – but it still happens – no-one is able to prevent leaks at the plant or in the pipes. Flaring is needed for safety reasons so they will still have to burn off methane. As well as releasing methane into the atmosphere, flaring will release other harmful gases such as carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulphide, ozone and nitrogen oxides.
  • He said we will have to go for nuclear fuel which I believe is being used to scare people and make them think that shale isn’t so bad! He said we can’t rely on renewables as we can’t get there in one go, but as David Young pointed out the only thing standing in the way of renewables is the political will and in 10-15 years the renewable sector will have made huge advances and gas may not be needed at all.
  • He said renewables can’t be used to cook or heat homes, which is COMPLETELY UNTRUE! Many people cook and heat their homes entirely on renewables. How about heat pumps, biomass and electricity from solar, wind, tidal etc?
  • With some 13 proven and serious misstatements, as above, the Council and Public should regard all of Mr Blaymires’ evidence as unreliable and check very carefully what he says in future.



  • This was a very unbalanced session with no qualified speakers or opportunities to contest what we heard from the industry spokesmen. It appeared that the Council had not invited anyone from the other side – they merely had an open call for evidence.

Peter Benson

Could we have answers to the questions that Peter posed in his speech?