UK: Cuadrilla moves headquarters in a bid to gain support for fracking

Aerial photo of Cuadrillas site

In an attempt to boost its image among the local population, the UK fracking company Cuadrilla Resources announced that it is moving its headquarters into Lancashire. The company has confirmed that it will be moving employees to the new office at Sceptre Court, Bamber Bridge, near Preston, in early 2016 from its current base in Lichfield.

Speaking to the Blackpool Gazette, Francis Egan, CEO of Cuadrilla said: “We are confident that shale gas exploration will bring many benefits to Lancashire, including our own direct investment in local people and suppliers for our new head office.”

“Relocating our headquarters to the North West is not only a visible symbol of our continued commitment to exploration for shale gas in Lancashire but will enable an even greater focus in growing our supplier base and employees from the area.”

Cuadrilla’s tactics might just pay off as the recent survey showed that despite the local council taking a tough stance on fracking, the majority of Lancastrians believes that shale gas “brings new opportunities for me or my region”. That’s the highest levels of agreement of 12 European regions surveyed; a result that places Lancashire in second place after Poland – a country whose support for shale is well-known.

The survey – carried out by The North West Energy Task Force – showed a 53 percent support of shale, with over three-quarters of those polled saying they did not support an EU ban on shale developments.

Opponents of fracking pointed to the fact that The North West Energy Task Force is supported by Cuadrilla and Centrica, and therefore not entirely unbiased, and claimed that it had ignored less favourable findings of the survey.

It is, however, clear that Cuardrilla has a firm support of the Northern businesses. Babs Murphy, the CEO of the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce said: “Local businesses are delighted that Cuadrilla has chosen to relocate their headquarters to Lancashire. This means that more local people will have a stake in the shale gas industry, whether they be employed directly by Cuadrilla, or for future suppliers.”

In a separate development, the chemical giant INEOS – UK’s third-biggest shale operator – has booked a stand at the Scottish National party conference for the first time as it looks to soften Holyrood’s resistance to the controversial gas drilling method. The company, which bet hard on the British shale, investing £640 million in the UK shale exploration, hopes for domestically-souced shale gas to deliver low-priced feedstocks to their Grangemouth plant.

Tom Crotty, a director at Ineos, told the Financial Times: “We have been engaging recently with the public through a series of local meetings, by putting displays up in local shops and other methods.

“The natural extension of that is to do it with the politicians as well, which is why we’re taking a stall at the SNP conference to engage with MPs and MSPs.”

Scotland imposed moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in January 2015.

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