Another ‘error’ by Third Energy causes further distress to neighbouring villagers near the fracking firms Kirby Misperton site

Residents were left distressed and worried last Thursday after a very strong and deeply unpleasant odour from Third Energy’s KM3 well affected residents in Kirby Misperton, Little and Great Barugh up to a distance of 2 miles. The well is on the same site as the well that Third Energy wish to frack.
It was only after resident Jackie Cray reported a “horrid sickening smell”, that Third Energy responded. Rosemary Dummond, from Third Energy replied : “First of all we would like to apologise for the odour in the village.  This has been caused by the cleaning out of the test separator on the well site, part of maintenance operations. We can clearly state that this is not a gas leak and there are no health and safety issues.” [2]
It was a full 4 days later that John Dewar of Third Energy, speaking to Cllr Derek Chapman beside the well site on Monday,  revealed that the source of the smell was mercaptan[1],  a substance added to methane to give it a distinctive smell. Methane is by itself odourless, and mercaptan is used to enable operators and the public to smell when there is a gas leak. 
Councillor Chapman said of his meeting: “John Dewar claimed there was no leak, but then admitted to a mercaptan as the source. He didn’t know the volume or duration of the discharge. He said the discharge was caused by an error in the assumed capacity of the vacuum chamber. He said it was unlucky the wind was blowing in that direction.  Even though the smell was detected in 3 very different directions from the site, East, West, and North-West.”
John Dewer – Operations Director at Third Energy.


Ian Conlan, of Frack Free Ryedale, says: “At a time when one would expect Third Energy to be on their best behaviour in the run up to their test frack, Third Energy have shown once again their total disregard for the distress they are causing local people, by failing to inform them immediately of the source of this odour. We have heard that 5 neighbours independently called the gas board, they were so worried, and one voluntarily evacuated their own home the smell was so bad.”


“If this odour was not dangerous, why did Third Energy not contact the community liaison committee straight away.  It was distressing for residents who did not know it was harmless, to know if it was safe to go outside or not. Third Energy have failed to be the good neighbours they claim to be when it counts. This does not bode well with fracking , which is going to be far more disruptive for our community.”


Third Energy’s drilling at Kirby Misperton in 2013 using Cuadrillas drilling rig
[1] There is more info about mercaptan here and you’ll see that it may be sensed by humans at as low as 1ppb, so it’s VERY smelly, and the US says that the maximum safe exposure is 10ppm, and in very high concentrations it’s toxic. 
[2] Correspondence from Third Energy to Jackie Cray:
This isn’t the first time Third Energy have experienced issues on their well sites. In May 2016 further failings by Third Energy were exposed by campaigners (full report below);

Third Energy in new gas leak revelations

At Friday’s Planning Committee meeting on Third Energy’s fracking application at KM8, Nicky Mason, mother of two and resident of Great Habton – only a mile from the proposed fracking well-site – revealed that there was an unreported gas leak at Third Energy’s Malton 4 well-site, and subsequent release of 75, 000 cubic metres of gas at the Knapton Generating Station. This triggered a complaint from a local resident near the Generating Station and the subsequent paper trail – obtained under FOI requests – reveals multiple infractions by Third Energy.

The leak appears to have been picked up by a routine safety check, and was deemed urgent enough to release the gas from the pipeline into the environment around Knapton Generating Station, which triggered the complaint.

This leak should have been reported to the Environment Agency within 24 hours of its occurrence, but was not actually reported until nearly three months later – clearly breaking the planning conditions of the company’s Environment Agency permit. 

Community leaders are calling on the NYCC to take Third Energy’s multiple failures of safety procedures and breaches of planning conditions into account when deciding the Planning Application for KM8, and refuse the application.

You can read a detailed report on these revelations, including quotes, on Drill or Drop.

The EA Schedule 5 notice on the incident can be read by clicking on the link below:
160129 Schedule 5 Part A + B (1)

The Environment Agency EPR Compliance Report is also available by clicking on the link below:
160120 HP3038LA-0256009_Redacted (1)


This new revelation follows a litany of leaks, safety failures and criticisms by the regulatory bodies of Third Energy’s gas operations in Ryedale. In the past few years the safety record of Third Energy (previously called Viking Gas UK Ltd) in Ryedale is one that has included a documented sour gas leak, problems with flooding, staff accidents and clashes with the HSE regarding well-casing design, procedures and poor maintenance regimes.

These are documented – with supporting information from FOIs – on this page of our website – Third Energy Safety Fears Revealed.

Alternatively, you can download a copy of our in-depth report below.
Third-Energy-safety-record-failures-briefing-document (1)