If you thought that the fracking industry was confined to “Lancashire” you would be wrong. Behind all of the unconventional energy developments around the world you will find a trail of money put up by investors and financiers. The money flows through many hands and institutions and in some cases leads directly to the high street.
So it is not really a surprise that HSBC are involved in financing the exploration and extraction of unconventional gas in the British Isles. The lure of dirty profits has led them into the Tar Sands in Canada (£5 billion in finance 2007 to 2009). Gas and pipeline projects in Burma, loaning cash to Total and providing banking services to China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC). They are definitely interested in China.
Looking into the directorship of HSBC also reveals links to unconventional gas. Foreign office minister Lord Green is a director of HSBC and also BASF a German chemicals conglomerate that produces chemicals used in fracking. Read more about the fracking Lord here…
Closer to home HSBC are providing banking services to Cuadrilla, the company drilling for shale gas near Blackpool in Lancashire. More recently and more significantly they have made available a $100 million (£63m) banking facility to Dart Energy the company planning to go into Coal Bed Methane (CBM) production in Scotland. Dart have applied for permission to build 18 new sites and drill 22 wells into coal seams around Airth, near Falkirk and Stirling. They will then pump out huge quanties of ground water to release methane gas. The highly toxic water will be processed! and then dumped into the Firth of Forth through a network of pipelines stretching 22km.
There is growing local resistance to Dart’s plans and significant numbers have commented on the councils planning portals where Dart’s applications can be found (Falkirk 300, Stirling 96). As awareness and concern about the impacts of CBM spread HSBC may rue the day that they got involved with another dirty industry.