Third Energy to frack on North York Moors

Ebberston Early Development SCHEME (EDS) proposal

Third Energy, who already have a an exploratory licence for the site plan to install an early development scheme (EDS) in Ebberston Moor in the North York Moors. The purpose of the scheme, which the company’s official website says will run for between three and five years, is to assess the viability of the Ebberston Moor Gas Field and the potential for gas extraction. If the field is proven to economically viable, the EDS will be removed and replaced with a pipeline to the Knapton Generating Station.

Third Energy, whose scheme which will likely to include a fall-off test (also known as a ‘mini frac’), have also been given permission to dispose of potentially radioactive waste water from the site by re-injecting it into the ground.

The EDS facilities will condition up to 15 million cubic feet per day of produced natural gas and associated hydrocarbon liquids and water. The project will use the existing gas production well on the site as well as other wells that will be tied in. The site will also have the capacity for water injection and production wells to improve reservoir performance. It should be noted that the EDS is a temporary facility (3-5 years) whereupon a pipeline will be installed if the project is still economically viable. Fluids used to condition the gas to achieve the NGN entry specification will be transported and recycled offsite.
Third Energy’s official website

Documents, which are referenced by The Independent on Sunday in their article about this scheme, show that the Environment Agency (EA) has been warned that public water supplies could be affected by this process. Yorkshire Water is concerned about the re-injection well which will travel through the rock from which they draw water, called the Corallian limestone aquifer. In submissions to the EA the water company said the water re-injection may “directly affect their asset”.

This re-injection well is especially dangerous given that, according to the Environment Agency’s 2013 report, Yorkshire Water is already in Water Stress. There are two “source protection zones” – areas that are meant to protect groundwater – within 10 kilometres of the proposed re-injection well. These are designed to protect the “highly sensitive” aquifer which supplies water to Scarborough. The amount of water that would be used in the EDS scheme is unsustainable and any pollution of either ground or surface water would have serious implications for drinking water in the region.

Third Energy intends to inject via mechanical means a total of 5.88 million cubic metres of waste over a nine-year period. Third Energy’s suggestion this process will not have any negative impacts on the integrity of the well casing protecting our drinking water from the injected waste is simply ridiculous.

– Russell Scott, Frack Free Yorkshire

Despite approving the plans, the Environment Agency has expressed some doubts about the scheme, sending an email to Third Energy asking why “the Best Available Technology isn’t being proposed?”. In response, Barclays backed company formerly known as Viking, argued the water must be re-injected to comply with its licence whereby the Government “requires petroleum licence holders to maximise economic recovery of oil and gas”.

Notes of a meeting between Third Energy and the Environment Agency, disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act, reveal “the success of the Ebberston Moor Field is dependent on disposal of [produced] water to the Sherwood Sandstone”. – in other words, the site isn’t financially viable unless they can dispose of their waste water cheaply instead of cleaning it.

Third Energy official site:

Object to the planning application

Objections to this planning application are open until Friday 26th September and can be made on the North York Moors National Park website.

The deadline for objections to this planning application has been extended to the 14th October for the Environment Agency and the 24th October for the North York Moors National Park Authority and the North Yorkshire County Council.

For information on how to object, please see our guide: Edderston Moor – How to object

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