Exclusive: US oil giant Halliburton lined up as potential fracking partner

Deepwater Horizon disaster firm hold talks with company planning to drill for oil and gas in South Downs National Park

Halliburton, the American oil services giant that featured prominently in the Deepwater Horizon disaster, has been lined up as a potential contractor in Britain’s oil and gas “fracking” industry, The Independent has learnt.

The energy company, previously run by former US Vice President Dick Cheney, has held confidential talks with a British company planning to drill for oil and gas in the Sussex countryside, including on land that is within the South Downs National Park.

Internal documents produced by Celtique Energie, a privately owned oil and gas explorer with four licences to test for reserves in southern England, reveal that it held meetings with Halliburton about “farm-in” deals – industry jargon for sub-contracting – for three of its areas of operation in Sussex.

The document states that Halliburton, which was last month fined $200,000 (£125,000) by the American authorities for destroying evidence related to the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon spill, had been shown data relating to the exploration wells and “appear keen”.

Environmentalists said the potential involvement of one the world’s biggest companies in Britain’s fracking industry indicated the accelerating scale of drilling envisaged across the country. Tony Bosworth, energy campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “People in Sussex have seen the impact of fracking in the US and the news that one of America’s biggest fracking companies could be coming to the area will make them even more ready to fight drilling plans.”

Halliburton invented the controversial oil and gas extraction technique known as hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”, that allows hydrocarbons to be removed by injecting a chemical fluid into shale rock formations. It is now the biggest provider of services in America’s fracking industry.

Backers of Britain’s nascent sector claim that the discovery of shale gas and oil reserves would give the UK greater energy independence at little cost – but opponents insist it is environmentally disastrous.

Cuadrilla, which has sunk highly-contested fracking test wells in Lancashire, was the target of angry protests over exploratory drilling in the Sussex village of Balcombe this summer, but now additional operators are preparing for further work in Britain’s so-called “dash for gas”.

Celtique and its investment partner, Magellan Petroleum, recently submitted a planning proposal to West Sussex County Council to construct a temporary well on land near the village of Wisborough Green, near Horsham. It is due to submit an application for a second well near Fernhurst in the South Downs National Park, a likely flashpoint for future protests.

The oil company said it does not yet know whether commercially viable oil or gas deposits will be found at either site or whether it they would be exploitable via conventional wells or “unconventional” techniques that include fracking. Geoff Davies, Celtique’s chief executive, confirmed last month that fracking could eventually be used at Wisborough Green, subject to further planning permissions and permits. “Should this data prove positive, Celtique may wish to explore these formations further, which could include the use of hydraulic fracturing at a new well on this same site,” he said.

The Celtique Energie documents, obtained by The Ecologist and The Independent, relate to a meeting of its board of directors in September 2011. They reveal a debate within the company about how high-profile it wanted its involvement in exploratory drilling to become – and a recognition that a partnership with Halliburton in the Sussex Weald would generate publicity.

The briefing paper states: “Do Celtique stay below the parapet on UK unconventional while permitting Weald conventional or do we join the debate now?” It adds: “Halliburton farm-in to Weald unconventional may force this issue early.”

In 2009, Halliburton was the operating sub-contractor on a fracking site in Pennsylvania where nearly 8,000 gallons of water and a concentrated lubricating gel – known only as LGC –35 CMB - spilt into a river. The licence holder for the site, Cabot Oil & Gas, was subsequently prosecuted.

Halliburton declined to comment on its talks with Celtique, saying the company “cannot comment on discussions about potential co-operation agreements”.

In a statement, Celtique Energie said: “Celtique has had discussions with a number of energy companies and service providers as per standard commercial practice, however no farm-outs are currently under discussion with any party and no drilling or associated service company contractors have currently been appointed.”

Halliburton: Past PR disasters

Deepwater Horizon

Halliburton was BP’s “cement contractor” for the well and drilling rig that exploded in 2010 in the Mexican Gulf, killing 11 workers and leading to the largest ever marine oil spill.

Iraq

Halliburton and its subsidiaries won contracts worth an estimated $39.5bn in the run-up to and the aftermath of the 2003 invasion of Iraq under the administration of George W Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, who retired from the company in 2000.

New Mexico

A spill of acid by Halliburton employees in 2006 led to the formation of a toxic cloud over part of the town of Farmington. Four years earlier, the company’s facility in Harris County, Texas, was responsible for 245 releases of toxic chemicals.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
i100
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Toure could leave Manchester City in the summer, claims his agent
transfers
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
News
media
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior C++ Developer

£350 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Senior C++ Developer – L...

SEN English Teacher

upto £110 a day approx: Randstad Education Cheshire: English EBD Teacher requi...

SEN Teaching Assistant Runcorn

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant EBD , Septemb...

Client Services Associate (MS Office, Analysis, Graduate)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Client Services Associate (Microsoft Office, Ana...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz