The news that Halliburton are one of the main contractors included in new talks at a Yorkshire test site, Kirby Misperton in Ryedale, resulted in a collective sigh of despair within the UK media and Twitter since the story broke in the Guardian on Wednesday. Halliburton, the US private contractor previously headed up by Dick Cheney before he took office in the Bush Adminstration’s White House as Vice President, is jointly responsible for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill amongst other environmental disasters as well as a series of controversial contracts and practices.
The safety failings that caused billions of dollars worth of damage to the natural environment, infrastructure and fishing industries of the East Coast of America were, in part, caused by the defective cement in the oil well – according to 2011 Bureau of Ocean Energy Management report – and the US and Central American nations are still feeling the aftershocks, some 5 years later.
Halliburton is no stranger to bad press; the private contractor has been linked to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars – due to the vested interest in the Administration to cover an oil exploration mission up with faked scares that Iraq was attempting to create weapons of mass destruction – see Iraq Dossier for more information. The list goes on; Halliburton, in light of the Deepwater Horizon disaster – an incident that drove BP from the US market by President Obama himself – recently admitted in court to destroying incriminating evidence of their safety failings. This subsequently led to a criminal damage charge being brought against the contractor in a US court.
So why should Halliburton be offered the rights to become a fracking contractor in the United Kingdom? Surely the safety record and controversies surrounding the contractor in recent years should be grounds for instant removal of the contractor from any existing talks or pitches made on UK soil for fracking contracts.
Although fracking on UK soil is still in its infancy, recent comments made by Prime Minister, David Cameron, published in the Guardian, show a changing direction of the current coalition to head more aggressively and directly towards increasing fracking potential in the UK; ‘We’re going all out on fracking’ announced the PM recently.
But are the interests of the public and the state to be taken into consideration? It was just 18 months ago – in August 2013 – in which the Leader of the Green Party, Caroline Lucas, was arrested for taking part in a climate march and protest outside the offices of Quadrilla in West Sussex. The protest was largely peaceful, but due to protesters blocking a section of the B2036, the Police forcibly dispersed the groups, arresting Lucas at the same time. It was only after widespread outcry around the UK that Lucas was eventually acquitted of all charges, some months later, in April 2014.
Should Halliburton be afforded a seat at the pitching table for fracking contracts in the UK? Should the UK Government reconnect with voters and MPs to identify the appropriate course of action for fracking in the build up to the 2015 General Election?
To find your local MP – please visit Parliament. For more information on hydraulic fracking – the process discussed in this article – a useful animation detailing the process can be found in Business Insider.