Jim Ratcliffe: Government is using ‘slippery’ manoeuvres to kill off British fracking

From City A.M.

ECONOMY ANTWERP HARBOR INVESTMENTThe chairman of Britain’s biggest private company has accused the government of using “slippery back door manoeuvres” to kill off fracking in the UK.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the billionaire founder of Ineos, said the government is sticking to a plan which is “unworkable, unhelpful and playing politics with the country’s future”.

Read more: Ineos hails ‘game changing’ new plant as it invests €3bn in Belgium

Ratcliffe hit out at a system which forces fracking to halt the moment minor seismic activity is detected around the site, saying it would prevent the UK from following the US’s booming shale market.

Britain’s limit of 0.5 points on the Richter scale is over 3,000 times lower than the 4.0 level in the US where just one well is producing more gas than the entire British North Sea.

“The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy seems to lack a basic understanding of the Richter Scale. It is a logarithmic scale. The limit within the United States is typically set at 4.0 – a level that the US Environmental Protection Agency feels is safe and will not lead to any damage to land, property or people,” Ratcliffe said.

“To put that into perspective, magnitude 4.0 is 3,162 times higher than 0.5 and 177,827 times stronger in terms of energy release.”

He said the government was betting the country’s future on “potentially unstable” imported gas and wind power while killing off shale gas.

The businessman also hit out at the government’s nuclear plans, saying Hinkley Point is “unproven technology at a totally uncompetitive price.”

Meanwhile, 85 per cent of UK homes need gas for heat.

Read the Full Story Here.

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Leo Smith
February 7, 2019 1:17 am

Meanwhile, 85 per cent of UK homes need gas for heat.

And the rest run on oil.

Gas is also by far and away the biggest provider of electricity.

Hot under the collar
Reply to  Leo Smith
February 7, 2019 5:04 am

Fracking has been completely banned in Scotland due to hysterical hype from greens believed and whipped up by the Scottish National Party.

Edgar From Texas
Reply to  Hot under the collar
February 7, 2019 6:40 am

Please keep banning, we Texans are happy to supply your needs. A side note, Chenier’s ethylene export plans hinge on Ineos, and the inefficiencies created by the former BP system.
I am sitting on gas in the Austin Chalk and can only laugh at the stupidity of the greens as they make my minerals viable.

Louis Hooffstetter
Reply to  Edgar From Texas
February 7, 2019 7:41 am

My guess is that UK politicians have been bought off by Russian gas companies. They will be the big losers if fracking succeeds in the UK. And if you haven’t done so already, I recommend you buy off a few politicians in the US as insurance.

michael hart
Reply to  Louis Hooffstetter
February 7, 2019 1:39 pm

My guess is also that the UK politicians are cheaper to buy. They just don’t like industry.

A lot of the UK populace also still thinks we can get rich by selling the same houses to each other at ever increasing prices.

Louis Hooffstetter
Reply to  Louis Hooffstetter
February 7, 2019 4:03 pm

UK politicians are cheap whores?
It’s a simple question.

James Bull
Reply to  Leo Smith
February 7, 2019 6:27 am

Not once the full effects of the “climate change act” come in as it requires the removal of all fosil fuels from use not just coal but gas and oil. When it was agreed by the majority of MP’s it was obvious that they had no idea what they were up to.

James Bull

Reply to  James Bull
February 7, 2019 11:49 am

I have a copy here of the 1954 edition of the British Regional Geology for “Pennines and Adjacent Areas”. For Formby and West Lancs , where fracking trials have started. it says that oil seepages were noticed in the 1800s, investigated in 1937 and in 1950s were producing oil at 2000 gallons /week from shallow borings in Keuper sandstone (which also extends into Cheshire , indeed it is below my feet as I type this).
Not Texas standards obviously , but neither is it a new endeavour in that area. The booklet says that deeper seated sources of oil were being sought , (no mention of gas- but in 1954 all domestic “gas” was town ie coal gas) .
That was 60 years ago . I wonder what happened to the oil extraction business in the meantime?

Phil Rae
February 7, 2019 1:39 am

A tragedy of stupidity by the British political class! There’s hardly a single one of them who has ANY knowledge of the energy industry……apart from those who make money from siting windmills on their estates.

Honestly, I despair! The green blob continues to torpedo every effort to have a sensible energy policy, the BBC continues to report all manner of bogus scare stories on environment, polution & climate and provides a mouthpiece for stupid comments from WWF, Friends of the Earth and other egregious rentseekers, and activists continue to damage industries they rely on with no understanding of the consequences. This stupidity has got to stop so we can access significant reserves of cheap hydrocarbons to power our liberated economy.

M Courtney
Reply to  Phil Rae
February 7, 2019 3:02 am

There’s hardly a single one of them who has ANY knowledge of the energy industry… or any other industry.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  M Courtney
February 7, 2019 3:53 am

Or any industry at all, cottage or otherwise.

Alastair Brickell
Reply to  Patrick MJD
February 7, 2019 2:09 pm

Patrick MJD
February 7, 2019 at 3:53 am

Yes, sadly you’re quite right. Here in NZ we have the exact same problem…the masses just believe that supermarket shelves miraculously fill themselves, and petrol pumps never need new supplies. Electricity just endlessly comes down the wire and they happily continue to lock up our most mineral rich land for more birds, insects and trees. Our Labour/Green government has just banned any more offshore natural gas exploration but they don’t think through the consequences. Much more important that the rest of the world sees us a clean and green so our young (but stupid) female PM can strut the world stage to be “admired” by Gore at Davos where she shared the stage with David Attenborough…why were any of them there?

Oh yes, we’ve banned “single use” plastic bags so we can now buy more expensive thicker ones and ones made from trees that don’t last.

I blame the schools and David Attenborough.

Derek Colman
Reply to  Alastair Brickell
February 8, 2019 3:56 pm

The “setting an example” narrative is childishly stupid. What makes them think other countries give a toss about it. They don’t. We have been setting an example about freedom and human rights for donkeys years, but the Chinese haven’t taken a blind bit of notice.

Gerry, England
Reply to  M Courtney
February 7, 2019 6:00 am

Or anything at all really.

James Francisco
Reply to  Gerry, England
February 7, 2019 6:11 am

Seems they know a lot about fooling people.

Michael in Dublin
Reply to  Phil Rae
February 7, 2019 3:45 am

“A tragedy of stupidity by the British political class!”

Sadly one could say the same of many European countries. In 1947 Dorothy Sayers in an incisive critique of the situation in England said: “the most irrelevant people are appointed to highly-technical ministries.”

She went on to say:
“Have you ever, in listening to a debate among adult and presumably responsible people, been fretted by the extraordinary inability of the average debater to speak to the question, or to meet and refute the arguments of speakers on the other side? Or have you ever pondered upon the extremely high incidence of irrelevant matter which crops up at committee-meetings, and upon the very great rarity of persons capable of acting as chairmen of committees? And when you think of this, and think that most of our public affairs are settled by debates and committees, have you ever felt a certain sinking of the heart?”

Had Sayers, a non-scientist, been alive today she would have trashed the way many climate scientists argue today for their flawed reasoning and twisted logic.


Reply to  Phil Rae
February 7, 2019 4:13 am

They are also completely innumerate. Witness Diane Abbott’s shameful and embarrassing interview with Andrew Neil.

Reply to  Phil Rae
February 7, 2019 9:00 am

If I didn’t have family living in the UK, I’d just repeat what we said in Texas in the good ‘ole days – let them freeze to death in the dark.

Jean Parisot
Reply to  Phil Rae
February 7, 2019 9:13 am

Thomas Paine, thank you.

February 7, 2019 2:00 am

Our British government.

Clinically insane.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  HotScot
February 7, 2019 3:55 am

We have the Scots to “blame” for most of that.

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  Patrick MJD
February 7, 2019 10:00 am

Mrs Thatcher you mean?

February 7, 2019 2:08 am

Very odd the attack on Hinkley Point. Not at all clear where this comes from.

Ken Irwin
Reply to  bonbon
February 7, 2019 2:29 am

Had they gone for open cycle gas turbines driven by fracked gas, they could have built sixteen times the capacity of Hinkley Point for the same capital spend.

I’m pro-Nuclear power – but also pro-economic common sense.

The western world has been duped into committing energy suicide. I don’t think the political will to fix it will be there until people start dying in large numbers.

Reply to  Ken Irwin
February 7, 2019 7:59 am

In the US, at least, we respond quickly when the money starts flowing from our wallets. Hopefully, people won’t have to die, but some might by the time we get the situation corrected. It’s amazing, though, how fast things can be built if government is forced to step aside.

Ken Irwin
Reply to  jtom
February 7, 2019 8:25 am

While lecturing Project Management a student asked a pertinent question….
“Why is it that we manage crises so well ?”
Good question.
When the schist really hits the fan, whoever picks up the ball and runs with it won’t be challenged by the bureaucracy.
If anyone tries to stop you you go “here – it’s all yours” and they run screaming.
Believe me I’ve been there and done that in the corporate environment.
Unfortunately we have to reach a universally recognized crisis before such action can / will occur.
Cue idiot to come in with the climate crisis is already upon us……

Reply to  Ken Irwin
February 7, 2019 11:03 pm

Ken wrote:
“I don’t think the political will to fix it will be there until people start dying in large numbers.”

People ARE ALREADY dying in large numbers Ken.
More than 50,000 Excess Winter Deaths occurred in just England and Wales last winter – an Excess Winter Death rate almost three times the per-capita average in the USA. (d’Aleo and MacRae 2015)

Reply to  bonbon
February 7, 2019 2:38 am

From experience and common sense.

– The strike price for its electricity has already been agreed at well over double the current wholesale price (index-linked). According to Dieter Helm, professor of Energy Policy at the University of Oxford ‘Hinkley Point C would have been roughly half the cost if the government had been borrowing the money to build it at 2%, rather than EDF’s cost of capital, which was 9%.”

– “In December 2013, Jim Ratcliffe, the chairman and CEO of Ineos said he had recently agreed to purchase nuclear power in France at £37.94 (€45) per MWh and warned of the Hinkley Point C project: ‘Forget it. Nobody in manufacturing is going to go near £95 per MWh’.” (source: Wikipedia)

– Who in their right mind would put this much of their energy generation in foreign hands (especially with enough gas under their feet to make the product and its cost totally unnecessary), and especially the Chinese?

– The technology is untried and EDF is already struggling to complete the Flamanville station due to construction problems with the reactors.

– There are existing well-established technologies which would provide considerably better value for money and greater energy security by dispersing generation over a number of sites which would also (I’m told) aid grid stability in the light of the problems created by intermittency of wind.

Big may have been Beautiful in the 1970s but experience has taught otherwise and we are supposed to have learnt that lesson.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Newminster
February 7, 2019 8:35 am

– Who in their right mind would put this much of their energy generation in foreign hands (especially with enough gas under their feet to make the product and its cost totally unnecessary),

Elementary question, my dear Newminster.

It would be one “Who”, …. who is in their right mind, …. but can’t get a fracking “piece” of the NG parcel, …. but has family, friends and/or generous Political donors that are directly associated with said foreign energy suppliers.

February 7, 2019 2:30 am

When Brexit finny come in, and there will be a period of lower living standards while the UK establishes trading outside of the EU, the shortage of affordable energy, plus with the lower standard of living , and more people will force change onto the present political class.


Michael in Dublin
Reply to  Michael
February 7, 2019 4:13 am

Whatever hardships Brexit brings, the benefits should far exceed the problems that are going to arise in the EU when it splinters – as it surely will without the extensive reforms needed. I doubt the present EU situation can continue much longer.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Michael in Dublin
February 7, 2019 7:56 am

When you get out of the EU officially, Trump will come to call and then the US and Britain can sign a big, new, beautiful trade deal that will put the EU in your rearview mirror. 🙂

Reply to  Michael in Dublin
February 7, 2019 9:04 am

I expect the EU to fail shortly after we see commercially viable, grid-scale fusion power.

The death of the EU has been predicted for some time. And the predictions will continue.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
February 7, 2019 5:26 pm

So ♾ + 30 years, then?

son of mulder
February 7, 2019 2:44 am

Here’s a good diagram that puts the stupid UK rule in perspective

Ian MacCulloch
February 7, 2019 3:07 am

There is an alternative method to fracking by the use of elevated pressures in the target lithology. Our group has demonstrated that it is possible to use bacteria on black shales that will dissolve the macerals that prevent the methane from flowing to the well bore. The removal of the macerals in the black shale creates microfractures. A bonus to the release of the the methane is that the breakdown of the macerals leads to the formation of the gases all the way up to hexane. This gives a higher thermal rating. If the bacteria are given long enough dwell times then hydrogen is also produced. Solid core was used as a precursor to going in the field. Use of the bacteria is actually a high volume low pressure fracking regime – ideal for jurisdictions worried about very minor earthquakes jarring the fillings out of the molars. Environmentally friendly as well. Perfect for toady’s use.

February 7, 2019 3:21 am

“The chairman of Britain’s biggest private company has accused the government of using “slippery back door manoeuvres” to kill off fracking in the UK.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the billionaire founder of Ineos, said the government is sticking to a plan which is “unworkable, unhelpful and playing politics with the country’s future”.”

Deep State in action.

Coach Springer
February 7, 2019 4:44 am

““slippery back door manoeuvres” to kill off fracking in the UK.”

Well, they sure aren’t using any maneuvers to help it.

Shawn Marshall
February 7, 2019 4:49 am

Why should government be in charge of energy?
Government destroys everything it handles.
Socialism will always fail.
Markets enforce discipline.
Make egregious errors = go broke.

M Courtney
Reply to  Shawn Marshall
February 7, 2019 4:55 am

For the exact opposite reason. Governments don’t go broke anywhere near as often as private sector firms do.
This is recognised by the private sector too. It is why Governments can borrow far more cheaply than the private sector.
Large scale infrastructure with slow payback times and with much of the payback being dispersed are very expensive.
Only Governments can afford to build the infrastructure that business needs to be viable.

Reply to  M Courtney
February 7, 2019 8:00 am

Governments don’t go broke because they have the power to take whatever they want, by violence if necessary.
Some people consider this a good thing.

February 7, 2019 5:03 am

What’s that? A 0.5 on the Richter scale stops the fracing?

Let’s just hope nobody drops a teacup getting it out of the cupboard.

February 7, 2019 5:13 am

London Calling for fracking. London Calling for affordable energy. London Calling for bigger pay packets. London Calling for sane leadership. H/T to The Clash. Bite the detached elites in the arse Brits. Shake them until they do the right thing for the people.

“Only Governments can afford to build the infrastructure that business needs to be viable.” Government can create the conditions. Private capital has invented, built, and managed most of the infrastructure.

Reply to  troe
February 7, 2019 8:01 am

Prior to government getting into the act, most “infrastructure” was being built by private companies.

February 7, 2019 5:40 am

the government and Parliament are doddering zombies.

In the UK many call it LibLabCon. ie all the parties are pretty much alike, it’s true Corbyn is a throwback, but they are all deep down wedded to the globalist agenda. Climate, Gender, migration, you name it, LibLabCon try to outleft – or appear more progressive than – each other.

The big joke was which solitary country was stupid enough to follow all EU directives to the letter? The UK.

Nobody else does.

Michael Keal
Reply to  fretslider
February 7, 2019 12:36 pm

“In the UK many call it LibLabCon …” Fortunately these days we do have UKIP. But unfortunately they’re getting it left right and centre and being ignored by the media at the moment but I think they will pull through. We don’t do the global warming hoax.

Mike of the North
February 7, 2019 5:51 am

Interesting. Was scanning some stuff this morning and re-read some of the Climate Gate emails. Just reinforces what a scam this all is. Here’s a link for one source: http://notrickszone.com/climategate-2-0/

Mike of the North
Reply to  Mike of the North
February 7, 2019 5:57 am

One of the best snippets..heh heh….

“I gave up on Judith Curry a while ago. I don’t know what she think’s she’s
doing, but its not helping the cause”

So yeah, just a reminder that there’s two separate things here. One is ‘science’ and the other is ‘the cause’.

James Francisco
Reply to  Mike of the North
February 7, 2019 7:33 am

Exactly. We need to have many more dicussions about “the cause”. One of the most difficult things to explain to belivers is why some, I know not all, top scientist say they are concerned about CAGW. Sometimes they inadvertently reveal their reasons. One fellow that I respected his views on a different controversial topic said that he was very concerned about the oil money flowing to the crazies in the mideast. They are using the oil wealth to create death and destruction. They may get their hands on the big one. I don’t think he is wrong on that point, but to destroy the worlds economy, by supporting CAGW to deny the crazies of the world who are sitting on all that wealth is not the way to do it.

February 7, 2019 5:54 am

Democratic Oregon Sen, Jeff Merkley went so far as to tweet in response: “The United States is now the number one source of the fossil fuels creating a climate crisis that is literally killing people and destroying Americans’ livelihoods.” Except it ain’t happening Jeffro.

Up is down. Left is right. Jeffy appears to be preparing his constituents for a rollicking Hate Week. I read George Orwell’s works as a warning of what could happen. Jeff thought they were instruction manuals. Every country suffers it’s deadbeats in leadership.

John K. Sutherland
February 7, 2019 6:10 am

The one point that nearly everyone misses, is that seismic events happen all of the time.
Ask yourself this question: Would I like to wait and have a really BIG and catastrophic seismic event (like the one the west coast is waiting for), or would I prefer to have many more of them at a much lower level of intensity spread out over time, and that I can regard as nothing more than a nuisance?

Fracking releases this pent up seismic energy in small blips, if it happens at all. If the enviros and wailing willies were able to think about this clearly, I think they would be in favor of fracking, but they can’t, and they won’t, because it means energy success.

Reply to  John K. Sutherland
February 7, 2019 7:51 am

Though note that the UK hasn’t seen a damaging earthquake since the 1884 Essex earthquake… 4.6 on the richter (or there’s the 1931 offshore one on Dogger Bank)

Bryan A
Reply to  griff
February 7, 2019 12:09 pm

I would consider the Isles to be almost seismicaly inactive given the dearth of activity dating back to 974
California can have as many 3s and 4s in a week as they have recorded in any given century

February 7, 2019 6:12 am

we as an NGO working on climate policy need such a document pretty soon for the
public and for informed decision makers in order to get a) a debate started and
b) in order to get into the media the context between climate
extremes/desasters/costs and finally the link between weather extremes and

Should be read out before the start of every news story

Dr. Bob
February 7, 2019 7:23 am

The US can supply all the gas the UK desires as long as the UK wants to deplete their treasury to accomplish this. Russia can also help there for the same remuneration. The choices are very clear for the UK. Use their own resources or pay others to supply what they need. Doesn’t get more complicated than that. Except when the environmentalists get involved and destroy the logic with irrelevant trivia.

Reply to  Dr. Bob
February 7, 2019 7:48 am

7% of UK gas already comes from Russia. (Though 50% of power station coal is also Russian)

February 7, 2019 7:27 am

“Britain’s limit of 0.5 points on the Richter scale”

And, here I thought the Richter scale started at 1.0.

Making Britain’s 0.5 fracking shutdown level ridiculous.

son of mulder
Reply to  ATheoK
February 7, 2019 7:43 am

It can be negative like a feather falling to the ground. eg log(1/10)=-1

Reply to  son of mulder
February 7, 2019 10:48 am

I read that a 1.0 earthquake has the same energy output as a Big Mac. Without sauces.

February 7, 2019 7:44 am

Meanwhile throw another 10 clear-cut American forests on the fire as wood pellets while you debate it.

February 7, 2019 7:51 am

What else registers 0.5?

rock concerts, terrorist attacks, falling beer keg at the pub, train accident, Brexit protest march?

February 7, 2019 8:19 am

Just to add fuel to the fire (ahem), fracking, per se, isn’t even the cause of the tremors. Wastewater disposal is. For every barrel of oil produced, you also get ten to twenty barrels of water in some places.
The wastewater is pumped into separate underground disposal wells, which go far deeper than the fracked well. And it’s this injection of wastewater deep underground that seismologists say is inducing earthquakes. The Bakken Shale in North Dakota, for instance, produces much less wastewater, and hasn’t induced earthquakes.
The above doesn’t include the 0.5 mag tremors, though, but if you use that metric, you could probably justify closing down a gravel pit or a rock quarry.

Julian Flood
February 7, 2019 9:28 am

The Minister for Energy and Climate Change was our MP. We have corresponded.

At one meeting he bounced up to me and said, in his tiggerish way “Julian! Solar! Solar is the future. It’s getting really cheap!”
“Yes, Minister, but you’ll need to find a way of storing it.”
He looked at me for a long moment, his face as blank as his brain. He obviously didn’t know that you either use the energy or store it, it doesn’t just hang around. Then he recovered — he is a politician after all.
“Yes, yes, we’ll have to store it!”
He bounced off.
He is now the Secretary of State for the NHS.

Be afraid.


Reply to  Julian Flood
February 8, 2019 2:24 am


The key problem with grid-connected wind power is intermittency, and the resulting lack of predictable, dispatchable power that is the primary requirement for grid electricity.

I have heard and read many energy neophytes say that grid-scale storage is the solution – and they act like it actually exists! In practical terms, it does not – except for a few rare cases where pumped storage is feasible – it requires a large water reservoir at the bottom of the hydroelectric dam, as well as at the top – this is rare.

So I would like to announce that I have invented a SOLUTION:

It consists of millions of huge flywheels that are wound up by wind power while the wind blows, and then the power is released back into the grid by tapping power from the rotating flywheels. For longer periods when the wind does not blow, the flywheels are spun by great herds of unicorns, galloping round and round at great speed. Once we have solved the unicorn-supply challenge we are sure to have a green energy winner!

M__ S__
February 7, 2019 9:36 am

The good part is that all of the foolishness is reversible. When GB gets desperate they can hire US companies to come do the fracking.

February 7, 2019 12:09 pm

By instinct I’m an old-fashioned liberal, never a socialist nor a conservative.
Our local Lib-Dem councillor is a decent chap, and after some interesting door-step discussions during election campagins, he suggested I go along to the Liberal Club’s evening presentation/discussion on energy. In a room of about 30 people I was the only dissenter on the issue of ‘climate change’. Most of the audience were older than me (I’m nearly 60), so I was shocked. I would have expected a room full of propagandized-since-birth youngsters to be on-message, but even in a room full of grey-hairs, most of whom clearly didn’t need to suck up to anyone any more for an income, there was a clear ‘how can you say that’ sentiment in the room. ‘Liberal’ in the sense of free to disagree ? No, not a chance. I was a heretic. I haven’t been back.

The rot in the UK goes deep. There are very few people who have the right combination of interest, knowledge and courage to stick their neck out on this stuff, and in politics here it would career-terminal.
Scotland, my home, is the worst, as the SNP owe the Greens for political support in the past. These morons want to shut the remaining nuke power plants (we have no coal plants left) which will leave us with one gas plant at Peterhead. And as the N. Sea production declines, how are we supposed to heat peoples homes, and the places they work? Fracking ? Oh no, that’s a terrible idea. The fact that the objectors to fracking have no clue about how a well is drilled, cased and ‘fracked’ makes no difference. Being ‘anti’ is cool.
Unicorn stories win every time, and we’re supposed to believe that wind power and some mythical storage technology that doesn’t yet exist are going to allow us to heat our homes and charge our electric cars and not end up freezing in the dark?
Jim Ratcilffe is right about slippery manoeuvres, but that’s just a symptom of a very deep problem, which is that the ‘Green’ propaganda has worked on the vast majority of people here. The politicans like Gummer can get away with it precisely because the sheeple don’t understand or don’t care and the media are complicit.

Michael Keal
Reply to  sonofametman
February 7, 2019 1:12 pm

Son of a gun! It’s worse than I thought!

Useful information though. I’ve been here in the UK since 2001 so I’m still learning when it comes to how some people here think. One thing I can say though is you will find a few sane souls in UKIP, a place where you can safely say global warming is a hoax.

Reply to  sonofametman
February 7, 2019 1:28 pm

Some very hard lessons are in order in the UK.

Also, any country that would give Stalin an advanced jet engine to be used in jet fighter conquest of free peoples can’t be trusted.

February 7, 2019 1:31 pm

No wonder Putin makes fun of the British in between assassination missions.

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