Third Energy UK

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{{#ev:youtube| Vasland on Third Energy’s plans in North Yorkshire. ITV News interview starts at 0.53secs}} Third Energy UK Gas is a gas exploration company, previously known as Viking UK Gas Ltd (until November 2013) and Tullow UK Gas Ltd (1999-2003). Its entire onshore business was bought by York Energy (UK) in April 2019, two years after its parent company Barclays had said it would sell its 97 per cent stake.

Third Energy UK had been losing money for years. Not long after Third was revealed in February 2017 to have recorded yet another profit loss, this time £3.8m for the 2015 financial year, Barclays announced at its AGM that it planned to sell its share in the firm 'in the near future'.

In January 2018, with the company's latest accounts five months overdue, pressure from campaigners and Nth Yorkshire residents saw UK business secretary Greg Clark subsequently announce that no decision would be made to give Third Energy the go-ahead to frack at its Kirby Misperton (KM8) well site until the company had submitted the overdue accounts and the Treasury had assessed its financial resilience, including its ability to clean up the site after operations ended.

That same month, one of the firm's key directors John Dewar resigned as a company director. By September two high-profile directors, Keith Cochrane and Lord Ghadia had also stepped down from the board. With all equipment removed from the site, news reports revealed that no fracking operations were likely to start before the end of 2018. Many commentators speculated that Third's KM8 site was all but finished.

In February 2019, however, it emerged that the company had submitted new plans to the Oil and Gas Authority, committing it to frack at KM8 within the current year. Then in April, Third Energy Holdings Ltd announced it had sold its onshore gas business, including the North Yorkshire well sites, to York Energy (UK) Holdings Ltd, a Caymans-registered affiliate company of US-based Alpha Energy.

Alpha's CEO Tom Reed commented: “We are pleased to be working with the Third Energy team to develop the group’s energy and generation business, and look forward to constructive engagement with all stakeholders in Third Energy’s next stage of development.” Closing of the sale was subject to satisfaction of agreed conditions precedent, including regulatory review according to Third Energy Holding's April press release.[1] On 9 July 2019 the company announced these had been concluded and that it had sold the entire share capital of Third Energy Onshore Limited. (The company had already completed the sale of its offshore company to Hague and London Oil plc in December 2018.).

The current management and staff of Third Energy Onshore, which also runs a power generating station in East Knapton, North Yorkshire, are being retained. Former chief operating officer Alan Linn, has been named as its chief executive officer. [2]


FrackWell.png This article is part of the Spinwatch Fracking Portal and project

Third Energy UK Gas Limited was controlled by Third Energy Holdings Limited, which is registered in the Cayman Islands.

Its team was led by Rasik Valand (CEO) and executives with significant exploration and production experience in the UK. [3] According to the company's website bumpf in 2014:

Third Energy exists to develop the UK's indigenous gas and oil resources in the most efficient, environmentally responsible, manner. Our interests encompass exploration stage gravity and seismic activity to appraisal drilling to the production of gas and power.
We operate gas fields in the Vale of Pickering in North Yorkshire and convert the gas produced to electricity for the UK's national grid. Over the next five years, we will be expanding our operations, both onshore in Yorkshire and offshore in the Southern North Sea to build a portfolio of gas assets. This will help to maintain national production for longer and reduce the need for UK imports of gas.

Interestingly, no direct mention of shale gas exploration was evident on the company's website in May 2014. {{#ev:youtube| BBC Look North Report December 2017}}

That same year its owners, Barclay's bank's private equity arm, Barclays Natural Resources Investment (later renamed Global Natural Resource Investments), described Third Energy as a 'start-up business that is focused on acquiring and developing gas assets in the Southern North Sea and Central North Sea. [3]

Fracking in North Yorkshire

In May 2015 Third Energy became the second firm after Cuadrilla to apply for a licence to frack for gas in Britain with an application for a test well at Kirby Misperton in Ryedale - about 25 miles from York.

Despite strong protest from local residents and environmental campaigners, Third Energy said it was confident it could proceed 'in a safe way'. Its application came after the new energy secretary, Amber Rudd, announced 'she was determined to push forward with shale and even allow extraction under national parks', although also promised it would be tightly regulated.[4]

The firm was granted approval on 23 May 2016 to frack for gas at Kirby Misperton by North Yorkshire County Council's planning committee, which voted with a clear seven to four majority.

Third Energy said it would begin fracking for gas at the Kirby Misperton site at the year's end, when cold weather would minimise protests. Campaigners expressed concern about the controversial ruling's impact:

'These plans could pave the way for thousands of fracking wells to spread across Yorkshire and many other parts of the country if not stopped. Impacts, including pipelines, air pollution and waste disposal will spread far beyond the areas being drilled. Third Energy's plans in Ryedale are the thin end of a very large wedge,' said Frack Off.[5]

High court defends council's 'unlawful' fracking approval

Protests North Yorkshire, August 2016

In November 2016, the council faced a judicial review challenge in the high court over its 'unlawful' decision to allow fracking. Law firm Leigh Day acted on behalf of resident group Frack Free Ryedale and Friends of the Earth, on the basis that:

  • North Yorkshire had failed to properly assess the climate change impact of the fracking through its failure to consider the environmental impact of burning the shale gas extracted to create electricity at a nearby power station in Knapton
  • The council had failed to secure long-term financial protection from the fracking company against environmental damage of the area.

Lawyer Richard Stein argued that 'Nearly everyone who responded to the council’s fracking consultation in Ryedale rejected the plans'.

In December 2016, the High Court ruled against the legal challenge, thereby backing the council's decision and Third Energy's plans to frack. [6]

Campaigners and resident groups expressed disappointment and outrage at the result. Friends of the Earth insisted 'councillors didn’t have the information about the total carbon emissions produced from the fracking project' to make a fair decision. The non-profit was ordered to pay £10,000 in legal costs.

The Green Party said the decision was 'a bitter blow not only to the communities there, who have fought so hard to stop this from happening, but to all who care about the fight against climate change.' [7]

Communities action group Frack Free Ryedale issued a press release saying:

'We are devastated that this decision allows the government to continue to ignore the views of local people in this case. We are saddened that the very sound grounds that were raised in the case have been dismissed in the ruling. We will not be defeated though, because we hold firm in the belief, supported by a huge amount of evidence, that fracking is wrong, and will continue to campaign against this ‘stop-gap’ industry that the Government is trying to force on communities across the country.' [8]

North Yorkshire County Council welcomed the result, saying it was 'grateful for the judgement of the High Court, which confirms the planning committee gave proper regard to all material planning considerations', adding 'the plan will become a key reference for planning decisions for development for the next 15 years, including hydraulic fracturing for shale gas'. [9]

Environment Agency approves Ryedale fracking plan

KM8 site in October 2017

In October 2017 Third Energy said it planned to carry out five fracks by December at the Kirby Misperton site. The Environment Agency announced on 12 October it had approved Third's hydraulic fracturing plan for the KM8 well, which was originally drilled in 2013 (see controversies section below).

The fracking plan states that 'a summary report will also be made available within 2-4 weeks of completion of operations and demobilisation'. And that:

All chemicals used in the operations will be posted on the Company website and released to all relevant UK government agencies and posted on the UKOOG website within 2-4 weeks of completion of operations and demobilisation. [10]

Community liaison

The company originally set up a 'KM8 Community Liaison Group' in 2015. Its terms of reference state that 'the aim of the group is to build an open and constructive relationship between the local community and Third Energy by:

  • Involving local stakeholders in the planning and operations of the proposed hydraulic fracturing project in Kirby Misperton
  • Be a focal point for members of the community to raise questions on regulation and compliance
  • Supplement Third Energy’s other communication activity by acting as a two-way channel between the local community and project team
  • Provide a forum where members can ask in-depth technical questions about the project
  • Provide a mechanism for discussion and information exchange with other similar groups' [11]

The CLG is a maximum of 12 people, plus a facilitator. Its membership is by Third Energy's invitation and made up of: -Kirby Misperton residents’ representatives x 2 -Kirby Misperton Parish Council x 1 -Great and Little Barugh residents’ representative x 1 -Great and Little Barugh Parish Council x 1 -Great Habton residents’ representative x 1 -Great Habton Parish Council x 1 -Ryedale District Councillor for Amotherby ward -North Yorkshire County Councillor for Malton Division -Farming Community x 1 -Tourism Business x 1 -Third Energy x 2 -Other x 1.

Political access

Attendee at May 2018 roundtable with shale gas companies and suppliers

Energy minister Claire Perry hosted a May 2018 roundtable with the fracking industry just hours before she gave evidence to a committee of MPs on the Conservative government's proposed changes to relax the rules on shale gas development in the UK.

A 'reconstructed' attendee list was released under the freedom of information act to North Yorkshire resident Jonathan Bales following an internal review of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy's initial almost completely redacted FOI response. [12]

Oil and gas companies at the roundtable included:

Other industries and organisations: Chemical Industries Association chemical company SABIC, Coalfield Regeneration Trust, Engineering Employers’ Federation, GMB. [13]


In summer 2013 at the height of anti-fracking protests in Balcombe, Surrey, Third Energy took shale rock samples while drilling for conventional gas in Kirby Misperton, Ryedale. [14]

The company has drilling rights across a 154 square mile area around the Vale of Pickering, which sits above part of the Bowland shale formation which stretches from Cheshire to Yorkshire and is estimated to hold around 1,300 trillion cubic feet of shale gas.

According to campaign group FrackOff, there was a degree of stealth involved:

Viking UK Gas (a subsidiary of Third Energy) was caught using Cuadrilla’s drilling rig (which is now drilling for IGas at Barton Moss) to drill a deep well into the Bowland Shale at Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire. The primary target of the well was the conventional Skipton Moor Grit formation but the well was drilled to a total depth of around 9,000 ft, below the bottom of the Bowland Shale. Core sampling the Bowland Shale at Kirby Misperton is just one small step towards fracking Yorkshire, but given that slowly creeping forward seems to be the name of the game at the moment, all these small steps need to be fought or full-scale fracking will soon be a reality.
It turns out that at the same time a company called Rathlin Energy were doing a very similar thing in the East Riding of Yorkshire, just to the north of Hull. Rathlin has drilled two wells at Crawberry Hill near Beverley and at West Newton near Aldbrough (see map below). While portrayed as purely conventional oil wells both were drilled much deeper than the primary target, ending just below the bottom of the Bowland Shale (9,200 ft for Crawberry Hill and 10,500 ft for West Newton – see schematic below). For both wells, the primary target was the Permian era Caedby Formation at a depth of less than 4,900 ft but a secondary objective was to take core samples of the Bowland Shale. Rathlin has now submitted applications for two permits from the Environment Agency for continued testing of the West Newton well, with a public consultation (ending on the 4th March 2014). The permits are for the management of extractive waste (EPR/BB3001FT/A001) and a radioactive substances activity (EPR/PB3030DJ/A001). This application for a radioactive substances permit has attracted some attention in the area but not nearly as much as it should have done. Even more worryingly Rathlin has now submitted a similar application for the Crawberry Hill well (Mining Waste Operations – EPR/BB3000KC/A001, Radioactive Substances Activity – EPR/PB3930DV/A001) with a public consultation (ending on the 12th March 2014).

Property damage caused by fracking not covered by insurance

In January 2016, a Spinwatch investigation published in The Independent found that two-thirds of UK insurance companies will not insure against fracking-related damage, including polluted water from a fracking site being spread during a flood, or water contamination.

Top domestic insurers were approached by a test consumer saying they lived within five miles of the Third Energy's planned fracking site in Ryedale, North Yorkshire. Direct Line offered 'no cover for contamination caused by fracking as contamination is a general exclusion of our policy'. Lloyds Banking Group said 'for a claim to be successful, you would have to be able to prove that fracking is the actual cause of the damage'. Both More Th>n, Axa and Aviva replied that water contamination or damage caused by fracking would not be covered by home insurance, and LV= said 'if the damage was caused by poor workmanship of [fracking] contractors, this would not be covered'.

The investigation came after a DEFRA report was released, which warned properties located within a five-mile radius of a fracking operation may incur an insurance premium. [15]


Newgate Communications from September 2013 until 31 August 2018 [16] Former journalist turned lobbyist Jason Nisse handled Third's account from late 2014 until his departure in mid-2017, as well as the industry trade body group UKOOG account.

In September 2018 the Guardian reported that Newgate was no longer retained by Third, due to the uncertainty over when the fracking firm would be given the go-ahead at its Nth Yorkshire site. Newgate was still listing Third as a client on the APPC register in the quarter up until 31 August so it's not clear exactly when it ceased working with Third.[17]

Constituencies including Third Energy licences


  • Alan Linn, chief executive of Third Energy Onshore as of July 2019, former chief operating officer
  • Rasik Valand - co-founder, former chief executive
  • Andy Mortimer
  • John Dewar - co-founder and operations director, retired as a company director officially in January 2018


  • Meb Somani – Non-executive Chairman
  • Tom Cairns – Non-executive Director - Tom is a Director in BNRI based in London.

Former board members

  • Keith Cochrane from September 2017-12 September 2018. Cochrane is former CEO of the international engineering firm, Weir Group, which is a big supplier to the fracking industry in the US. From 2015 he was interim chief executive of the giant construction firm, Carillion which went into administration in January 2018.
  • Lord Jitesh Gadhia, senior independent director from September 2017 - 12 September 2018. Lord Ghadia is an investment banker and a board member of UK Government Investments and UK Financial Investments and a director of BGL Group, which owns He previously held senior positions at Blackstone, Barclays Capital, ABN AMRO and Barings Brothers. [18]

Directors listed at Companies House


  • John Alexander Gordon Dewar, Director, 26 Jul 2011- January 2018. Was Third's operations director until the end of 2017, remains a consultant. [20]
  • David James Robottom, Director, 12 Mar 2012- March 2017. chief finance director. has worked for Shell, BG Group and Texaco in technical, commercial and managerial roles over the last 35 years. Resigned as a company director on 28 March 2017.
  • Grant Emms - co-founder and geoscientist. Resigned as a company director in Oct 2013.
  • Jeremy Tyrie -appointed March 2011, resigned March 2012

Companies House details

Company Number: 01421481
Status: Active
Incorporation Date: 21 May 1979 (almost 35 years ago)
Company Type: Private Limited Company
Jurisdiction: United Kingdom
SIC Codes
06.10 - Extraction of crude petroleum
06.20 - Extraction of natural gas

  • Third Energy UK Gas Limited,
  • Third Energy Trading Limited which owns the power generating station at East Knapton, North Yorkshire.

Previous Names


Video resources




Spinwatch and Powerbase resources

See: Fracking lobbying firms

External resources


  1. Third Energy, THIRD ENERGY agrees sale of onshore business, press release 25 April 2019
  2. Chris Burn, Fracking fears reignited for Yorkshire village as US firm buys shale gas company Third Energy, The Yorkshire Post, 10 July 2019, accessed 11 July
  3. 3.0 3.1 Current Investments, Oil and Gas, Barclays Natural Resource Investments, acc 12 May 2014
  4. Terry Macalister UK fracking firm applies for licence in North Yorkshire Guardian, 22 May 2015, accessed 26 May 2015.
  5. Agnes Chambre, 'Watershed North Yorkshire fracking project' 24 May 2016, Politics Home, accessed 24 May 2016
  6. Adam Vaughan, Fracking to go ahead in North Yorkshire after high court ruling, The Guardian, 20 December 2016, accessed 20 December 2016.
  7. Green Party: North Yorkshire fracking ruling a bitter blow for fight against climate change, Green Party, 20 December 2016, accessed 20 December 2016.
  8. High court ruling press release, Frack Free Rydale, 20 December 2016, accessed 20 December 2016.
  9. North Yorkshire Council 'grateful' for High Court judgement, ITV, 20 December 2016, accessed 20 December 2016.
  11. Third Energy, KM8 Community Liaison Group Terms of Reference last accessed 13 July 2018
  12. What do they Know?, Shale Gas Round Table: internal review of Freedom of Information request to Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, 24 July 2018
  13. Ruth Hayhurst, What government told the shale gas industry about success, regulation, jobs and support, Drill or Drop, 22 October 2018, accessed same day.
  14. Emily Gosden, Barclays invests in shale gas revolution, The Telegraph, 30 Nov 2013 9:30PM GMT, acc 12 May 2014
  15. Andy Rowell, Householders affected by floods face insurance double-whammy if they live nearby planned fracking sites, Independent, 9 January 2016, accessed 6 January 2017.
  16. APPC register last checked for quarter ending 31 August 2018.
  17. Newgate Communications, APPC Lobbying register, last checked 21 September 2018
  18. Third Energy press release 4 September 2017
  19. Third Energy UK Ltd Officers, Companies House, accessed 24 January 2018
  20. Third Energy UK Ltd Officers, Companies House, accessed 24 January 2018