So what do we know about Cuadrilla – the drilling company currently at work in Balcombe.
Well, we know they have powerful friends. Lord John Browne, he of BP fame, is a director of the company.
Sebastian Doggart at the Telegraph runs a very good explanatory piece from the other side of the Atlantic were fracking is now common-place. He says of the drilling in the UK:
“It was carried out by US-based Cuadrilla Resources, which is financed by Riverstone Holdings, a private equity firm whose managing director is John Browne, the chief executive of BP for 12 years, before he was forced to hand over to Tony Hayward in 2007. His critics point out that on his watch, a cost-cutting culture of recklessness grew up that led eventually to the 2005 Texas refinery explosion that killed 15 people, and to last year’s Gulf of Mexico disaster.
“Browne and his colleagues at Cuadrilla have negotiated a sweet deal with the British Government by which they can explore and extract shale gas until 2015 without publicly disclosing the results of their operations. A government spokesman said this four-year period of silence “is protecting their commercial opportunity”.
That of course, is not the only‘sweet deal’ for Cuadrilla – here the Independent reports the recent 50% tax breaks for shale gas.
Browne is no stranger to the Largesse of the great and the good. He founded his own success on what Greg Palast refers to as ‘the deal of the century’ drilling oil in the Kazakhstaan. Palast is a brave man. Read the book Vulture’s Picnic for the whole nasty story – and make your own mind up (take a look at page 224, in fact just read the book).
Palast has a great line (amongst many), which I will quote here. “Once upon a time British Petroleum was an arm of British imperial power. Today, the British government is an arm of BP’s imperial power.” Suffice to say it’s a viscous story of big money, guns, oil, and, inevitably, the likes of you and I being screwed.
So talk to me about Cuadrilla Hungary you say. No? Oh go on, say it.
Book value -£599.1k
Liabilities – £2.2m
(According to the latest reported accounts)
Yep, that’s right, not exactly making a big profit are they. I’ll be taking a closer look at this over the next few weeks.
Now there are a few reasons why holding companies might register a loss, and I’m not a forensic accountant. Amongst others…tax losses are one reason, another is trading within the company, a third is that claims of minority/outside shareholders must be shown as a liability. However, the next set of accounts is due at the end of September. Take a look at the companies’ house report and you’ll see this set of accounts was expected in July. As I say, there are a dozen very straight-forward, respectable, reasonable and perfectly legal reasons for this.
Still, chin-up, Cuadrilla says it might not even Frack at Balcombe. But then Cuadrilla has an interesting relationship with the truth, as this Advertising Standards Agency adjudication reveals. Cuadrilla issued a highly suspect piece of literature, of which the ASA decreed: ‘Action: The brochure must not appear again in its present form’.
Ho hum…I think we should all watch the very very small spaces that are currently being fracked by Cuardrilla.