UK Government Covid-19 Bailout Props Up Fracking Industry
Major players in the global fracking industry, who have been involved pushing fracking in the UK, are some of the largest corporate recipients of the UK government’s Covid-19 bailouts. The transnational chemical conglomerate BASF is the largest beneficiary of the Bank of England’s emergency coronavirus loan scheme, borrowing £1bn in cheap government-backed funding. BASF recently opened a new polyacrylamide (used in fracking fluid) production facility at its Bradford site. Despite the government bailout BASF is still apparently planning to distribute a £3bn dividend to its shareholders.
Also among corporations benefiting from the scheme were oilfield services companies Baker Hughes, with a £600m loan, and Schlumberger, with £150m. Both companies have been involved in supplying fracking test sites in the UK. In addition Ineos is seeking a £500 million loan to prop up its oil and gas subsidiary Petroineos, which is a joint venture with PetroChina. The chemical giant is has fracking licenses covering 1.2 million acres of the UK.
The Fracking Threat
Despite all the hype in the media, the fracking “pause” that has just been announced by the UK government would not even stop the fracking industry from doing what it did to cause the recent earthquakes which triggered this “pause” in the first place. Setting aside question of whether it is a temporary PR exercise, the fact that it still allows construction, drilling and a lot of testing, and that who areas of the country (e.g. Sussex/Surrey) are effectively exempt from it. The “pause” would not even stop Cuadrilla Resources from doing anything it has not done already in Lancashire, and in particular the hydraulic fracturing of Preese Hall (2011), Preston New Road 1z (2018) and Preston New Road 2 (2019) wells, which caused magnitude 2.4, 1.5 and 2.9 earthquakes respectively.
The Preston New Road site is Cuadrilla’s flagship fracking test project, where they have planning permission (from central government) to drill and hydraulically fracture 4 shale gas wells. This would involve more than 20,000 vehicle movements in and out of the PNR site, as fracking trucks bring equipment and materials and dispose of waste, to and from support sites across the country. Take a look at our factsheet and find out what support sites could be near you.
Cuadrilla’s speculative business model means that they need good results from these test to get more investment, but that includes not just what they find under ground but the level of resistance they encounter. That is where communities across the country come in – by making Cuadrilla’s fracking plans as difficult, slow and expensive as possible!
Check out our factsheet about Cuadrilla’s plans, your community may be threatened with impacts (e.g. fracking waste being dumped or transported through your community) even if you live hundreds of miles from Lancashire.