Two shale gas companies and their executives are on a database launched today which aims to reveal lobbying in favour of fossil fuels and against climate change action.
The database, from the website DeSmog UK, is designed to be a live log of activities and actions by key players who are said to be “pushing climate science denial and disinformation”.
The almost 70 entries include Cuadrilla and INEOS, companies behind shale gas exploration plans in northern England and the East Midlands, along with their executives, Francis Egan and Jim Ratcliffe.
DeSmog said the database was intended to help the public, journalists, researchers and policymakers check who they are dealing with on climate science and policy.
It gives background on companies and individuals, their connections, stance on climate change, quotes on energy and climate issues and climate lobbying activity.
DeSmog said today:
“Despite the UK posturing as a climate change leader on the global stage, there remain many issues on which it needs to move further, faster, if the government is to meet its own high standards.
“Behind each climate policy failure is a network of politicians, corporate lobbyists and shadowy think tanks pushing to preserve the fossil-fuelled status quo.”
DeSmog said many of the actors in the database were connected through funding, business relationships, personal connections and ideological origins. These links are portrayed on an updated map.
Industry section of the DeSmog UK map of key players
What the database says about shale gas
The database describes Cuadrilla as being “at the vanguard of efforts to exploit Britain’s shale gas resources”.
It charts the progress of the company’s planning applications in Lancashire for shale gas exploration.
It also includes Cuadrilla’s efforts to change rules to suit its activities, revealed in a DeSmog UK investigation.
During the summer, vehicles making deliveries to Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road shale gas site near Blackpool deviated from the preferred route more than 100 times. This week, the company is seeking to bring deliveries into the site outside agreed times. It has also sought to remove the chair of the Preston New Road Community Liaison Group, who it described as not suitably impartial.
DeSmog lists public statements and actions by Cuadrilla’s chief executive, Francis Egan, related to climate change.
They include his appearance in front of a House of Lords committee when Mr Egan said fracking could be “squared” with the UK’s emissions reduction goals, that it was “remarkably difficult” to get through planning processes to the point of production, and that UK shale gas would largely be competing with imported US liquefied natural gas at around $6 per unit.
INEOS describes itself as “the biggest player in the UK shale gas industry. It has partnerships with other UK shale gas companies, including IGas. In November, it was granted a wide-ranging injunction against anti-fracking protesters although two campaigners have said they are seeking an appeal against it.
The database includes the quote by INEOS Shale’s operations director, Tom Pickering, that Scotland’s decision to ban fracking “beggars belief”.
It also refers to accusations made in April 2017 by Friends of the Earth that the INEOS group was exploiting an opportunity in Brexit to seek further exemptions from environmental regulations.
Also on the database is a meeting in April 2015 between INEOS and Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, on the day the original moratorium on Scottish fracking was announced. A month earlier, according to the database, INEOS and IGas agreed a £30m deal to expand fracking operations in England.
Mr Ratcliffe, co-founder and majority owner of INEOS, described shale gas as a “saviour” of the UK economy.
The database said:
“He is known for his aggressive pursuit of industrial assets in the UK, including the Grangemouth petrochemical plant and refinery, Forties pipeline and fracking licences.”
On hearing that Ratcliffe’s INEOS was set to purchase the Forties pipeline from BP, an industry insider told Scotland’s Daily Record:
“Holy sh*t. This would be like giving a monkey a machete … Letting Jim Ratcliffe loose on all the operators who feed into that pipeline is a dangerous, dangerous ploy.”
Map of connections on the DeSmog database. (Source: DeSmog UK)
In 2013, in a comment for the Daily Telegraph, Jim Ratcliffe accuses unions of intimidation, running counter to the values of society, in which freedom of speech is cherished.
In 2017, INEOS Shale sought an interim national injunction against anti-fracking protests to its activities.