Our old pal Jim Murphy MP, branch manager of the North Britain branch of the UK Labour party couldn’t resist a at the home of football – Pittodrie. There he was showing the assembled press his silky skills while the UK parliament voted on fracking in Westminster (546 miles away by road).
This was a bit odd after he and his party had spent the whole weekend telling us that they were going to vote to stop fracking from taking place, however when the vote came the majority of the Labour MPs abstained from voting at all. It would appear that they lied.
Labour’s Fracking Poster
They also lied about voting to transfer powers over fracking to the Scottish parliament, they lied about that too. This just after they had voted with the Tories for another £30 billion in austerity cuts and voted FOR spending over £100 billion on renewing Trident nuclear missiles.
Jim Murphy wants to replace Trident
Who can trust a party like that?
Jim Murphy plays keepy-up instead of voting
Excellent news for the Unionist oilman Andy Samuel. He has been appointed as the head of the Oil and Gas Authority which is a new quango created at the behest of that other Arch-Unionist Sir Ian Wood. Andy was formerly the managing director of BG Group’s exploration and production in Europe.
During the Independence Referendum Andy came out on the establishment’s side with the following scare story, “An independent Scotland would have to invest 3,800 pounds per head – over ten times more than when costs are spread across the UK – to match the 20 billion pounds the UK Government has committed towards decommissioning in the North Sea.”
Which begs the question, why are the taxpayers footing the bill to clean up the oil companies’ mess? But of course that question never gets asked by our mainstream media. Anyway, back to Andy. I’m sure that he will have sold all of his shares in BG Group in order to avoid a conflict of interest, hasn’t he? I’m also sure we’re going to hear a lot more from him about how tax revenues from the North Sea should only go to Westminster because they’ve got all the safe pairs of hands down there. They know about tax and stuff. That’s why the oil companies are asking for a reduction as we speak, squealing because the oil price is almost $80 per barrel and oh how the costs have risen. Mind you a 62% tax rate is pretty stiff but, you know, someone’s got to pay for Crossrail, HS1, HS2, HS3, Olympics etc. The champers is getting expensive too as well. Oh, don’t forget the interest on all the money that Gideon has borrowed to make our economy look better than it is in the hope the Tories can get re-elected.
But wait, what’s this? New drilling licences being awarded. The oil companies can’t be that poor then can they? And what’s this? Danny Alexander casting about trying to find some purpose. Trying to suggest that the oil companies are not reducing prices at the pump as the oil price reduces. But the simple fact is that most of the price paid at the pump is fuel duty (55p per litre) and vat (20%) which leaves the oil companies about 49p to get it out of the ground (don’t forget that 62% tax rate on there) transport it to the refinery, refine it, transport it to the pump and sell it. The retailer gets about 2p per litre. So is the chinless one trying to deflect attention away from the government’s tax grab and on to the oil companies or is he merely making some populist noise in order to try to get re-elected? Or is this the first salvo in a public spat between the oil companies and the government? Were the oil companies promised reduced taxes to get the to side with the Unionists? We’ll find out in the autumn statement from the chancellor soon.
Ah but I digress. Andy has been rewarded for his staunch support of the Union. Pure and simple. Just like Sir Ian Wood got rewarded with some juicy fracking licences. Just like Alistair Darling will be feeling the touch of ermine soon. So on, and on, and on, the gravy train goes.
“The health, safety and environmental risks associated with hydraulic fracturing (often termed ‘fracking’) as a means to extract shale gas can be managed effectively in the UK as long as operational best practices are implemented and enforced through regulation.” So says the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering in a recent review. So that’s all right then.
The astute reader may ask, who are the Royal Academy of Engineering? Well the president of the academy is Professor Dame Ann Dowling DBE FREng FRS. Sounds impressive doesn’t she? The dame has an excellent CV and she is obviously as establishment as you get with all those fancy letters and titles. But a quick scroll to the bottom of the page reveals that she is a non-executive director of BP, a firm which boasts that it pioneered the use of fracking in the 1940s and uses the technique worldwide. No conflict of interest there then dame. However BPs toxic reputation is stopping it from fracking the UK because they fear that there may be some protests.
Then there is the Trustee Board, which consists of 13 fellows, only one of whom has not kneeled before the queen. There is Mr Allan Cook CBE FREng, he is the chairman of WS Atkins who are involved in….the energy sector among other things. But of course he keeps his business interests completely separate from his duties in the Royal Academy.
Then there is Dr John E Roberts CBE FREng who is the Chairman of Halite Energy, a firm who want to store gas underground. Who knows where they intend getting the gas from, the company’s website was down when I tried to access it. With such worthy figures telling us that fracking COULD be safe then we have nothing to fear.
HM Treasury and Customs have halved the initial tax rates for fracking firms, in order “to support the early development of onshore oil and gas projects which are economic but not commercially viable at the 62 per cent tax rate.” So the plan is to get the fracking firms interested with some eye catching tax rates then, once the profits start to flow, ramp the tax up and watch the money flow into the treasury. Just what a skint chancellor would want.
Frack-off have published a map of fracking areas in the UK:
Fracking Map of UK Courtesy of Frack-Off
Fracking licences are being auctioned off for the central belt of Scotland as we speak and work is well under way at various other sites throughout the UK. But at least we know we could be safe.