Fracking Bankers

Ethical Consumer research shows which banks are playing a role in fracking

Research conducted by Ethical Consumer has found that Barclays, HSBC and Lloyds all offer banking services to companies with licenses to test new potential fracking sites in the UK.

The table below lays out which bank is used by which fracking company and for what purpose.

Fracking companies Land Blocks Licensed in 2015 Banking services link Already Active exploration site
Ineos 38 Barclays acted as “Security
Agent” in transactions [1]
 
Caudrilla 18 HSBC [2] Lancashire
ENGIE Supply (was
GDF Suez)
13 Barclays [3]  
IGas Energy 9 Barclays [4] Nottinghamshire
Egdon Resources 6 HSBC [5]  
Celtique 5 HSBC [6]  
Third Energy 5 A Barclays subsidiary owns
74% of Third Energy [7]
Yorkshire – permission
given to frack May 2016
Infrastrata   Lloyds Banking Group through
Bank of Scotland [8]
County Antrim

We looked at the 10 fracking companies that had gained the most in the latest licensing round. Banking details were not found for South Western Energy (23 blocks), Hutton Energy (6 blocks), or Aurora Energy Resources (5 blocks).

Previous research on banks and fracking

The ‘Frack Off’ network list Barclays and HSBC as major players pushing fracking in the UK.

Third Energy, with Barclays as its ultimate parent company, was given planning permission in May 2016 to frack for shale gas in Ryedale, North Yorkshire. Actual fracking has not taken place in the UK since 2011. HSBC is also listed as a shareholder in fracking firm Dart Energy, to which it has lent £63 million. HSBC also helped BG Group raise €1 billion. 

Move Your Money listed the position on fracking of the ‘big five’ UK banks, which revealed that Lloyds had also raised and loaned money for fracking companies, and is a shareholder in them. RBS has said that it is committed to finance fracking. Santander said its energy policy is not public.

What can be done?

You may want to look at closing any accounts you have with the banks that support fracking and to write to them telling them why.

The Petroleum Exploration Development Licences (PEDLs) given out in December 2015 don’t, in themselves, give a company the right to begin fracking. If the initial exploration finds what they are looking for, a company still has to go through many stages of surveys, land acquisition, planning applications and consultation. All the currently active exploration sites in the UK have the community mobilising against them.

And according to Frack Off, if a license has been given in your area, “The sooner you start raising awareness and get people to take action, the better your chance of slowing them down and stopping them...The single most significant factor in what happens next is the community response in your area”.

What’s wrong with fracking?

"At a time when we should be rejecting the use of fossil fuels (coal, gas and oil), a UK-wide ‘dash for gas’ makes no sense”, says the extreme energy action network Frack Off. Fracking has also been accused of distracting energy firms and governments from investing in renewable energy.

As well as concerns around climate change, there are worries about the safety of fracking. In the USA, where fracking is well underway, there have been thousands of cases of water contamination; increased air pollution has been recorded in five states, and there are even reports of radioactive contamination and earthquakes.

Communities have been told by government and industry that we can avoid the dangers of fracking experienced by other countries if we regulate it properly. But the Guardian reported in April 2016 that the UK Government’s legal definition of fracking contains a loophole that would allow companies to bypass safety regulations. According to a leading geologist, between 2000-2010 43% of US wells fracked for gas, and 89% fracked for oil would not be defined as fracking under UK rules.

Even with the best regulation in the world, say Friends of the Earth, we can only make fracking “safer but not safe. And, for climate change reasons, fracking would still not be the answer to the UK’s energy problems.”

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References:

  1. Registration of a Charge form for INEOS Holdings Limited 
  2. 2014 Accounts of Cuadrilla Resources Holdings Ltd p39
  3. 2014 Accounts of GDF Suez Energy UK Ltd p2. Name change 27.1.16
  4. 2014/15 Accounts of IGas Energy plc p109
  5. www.egdon-resources.com/investors/advisors
  6. 2014 Accounts of Celtique Energie Ltd p19 
  7. 2015 Annual report of Barclays plc 
  8. 2015 Accounts of Infrastrata plc p3.