Third Energy fail to publish their company accounts on time, amid growing concerns about the companies financial stability

Residents facing fracking in North Yorkshire have highlighted the failure of Third Energy to submit its company accounts on time.[1] This has resulted in a threat from the Registrar of Companies to Third Energy to strike it off the registry and dissolve the company [2]

This is not the first time this has happened: in January 2013 the company received a similar letter following late filing of the company accounts.[1] Third Energy, formerly Viking UK Gas Ltd, has posted a loss every year since 2009 when Viking had £21.8 million of debt written off.[1] Anti-fracking campaigners have raised concerns of the company’s ability to pay for a clean up in the event of environmental contamination should it go out of business. Already, another company with a licence to frack, iGas, is facing significant financial difficulties in meeting debt repayments.[3]
Notice sent by companies House to Third Energy
Notice sent by companies House to Third Energy

 Frack Free North Yorkshire wrote in 2016 to DECC to confirm that the Tax payer will not be liable for any decommissioning costs, clean up costs or legacy costs should Third Energy’s holding company go into liquidation. DECC have failed to provide an answer.

Frack Free Ryedale and Friends of the Earth’s argument that a financial bond was required should the company go out of business was rejected by a High Court Judge at a Judicial Review. . The company has operated multi-million pound losses for many years, £4 million in 2014, and campaigners suspect that the company could be filing their 2015 loss late to hide even greater losses this year prior to the Judicial Review, in case campaigners focussed on this in their publicity.

A summary of Third Energy Uk Gas Ltd's 2014 financial position.
A summary of Third Energy Uk Gas Ltd’s 2014 financial position.

Ian Conlan, of Frack Free Ryedale, says: “We call on Third Energy to come clean on their financial health and conform with regulations that they submit their accounts on time. Given the significant financial difficulties faced by other operators possessing licences to frack, such as iGas, we hold grave concerns about the ability of these companies to operate such risky technology responsibly and safely when faced with such financial pressures to cut costs.”

Russell Scott of Frack Free North Yorkshire, who unearthed the findings, said: “It is only by shining a bright light to the way this and other companies operate,  that we can see that we cannot trust them to finance either safe working practices or the clean up afterwards when things go wrong. Scores of fracking companies in the US have gone bankrupt leaving a bitter legacy of polluted drinking water and poisoned soil for communities and local authorities to clean up.”

Sue Gough, local grandmother who lives in Little Barugh, half a mile from the fracking site, says: “With such huge health concerns associated with fracking, and the enormous costs associated with the disposal of potentially 1/2 a million gallons of waste water per frack, I am deeply concerned that the company appears unable or unwilling to publicise its finances. Do they have something to hide?”

Third Energy Holdings Limited registration certificate from the Cayman Islands
Third Energy Holdings Limited registration certificate from the Cayman Islands

Third Energy is 97% owned by Barclays, and both have businesses registered at the same address in the Cayman Islands, a notorious off-shore tax haven, which are the subject of a report by Frack Free North Yorkshire’s Russell Scott.[4]. He has asked the following questions of Third Energy:

1 – Why are Third Energy based in the Cayman Islands?

2 – How does this link back to Third Energy’s ultimate owners Barclays bank who also have business registered at the same address in the Cayman islands?

3 – Are Third Energy avoiding paying corporation tax in the UK by basing their holding company offshore?

4 – Can Third Energy confirm who becomes liable for the clean up costs in Yorkshire should ‘Third Energy Holdings Ltd’ go into liquidation?

Notes

[2] see attached pdf from the Registrar of Companies