ANTI- FRACKING protestors have stepped up their campaigns following the news that Third Energy UK Gas Limited is in talks with one of the world’s largest oil services companies.

Members of Frack Free Ryedale and Frack Free York gathered outside the entrance to Third Energy’s generating station at Knapton to urge Third Energy to halt negotiations with American corporation Halliburton.

Halliburton was forced to reach a $1.1billion settlement deal last year for their part in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster which resulted in 11 deaths as almost five million barrels of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico. The company had provided the cement intended to seal the well in the event of a disaster.

Third Energy told the Gazette & Herald that they were in talks with the company but that no firm contracts had been drawn up.

A spokesman for the company said: “As is normal in the oil and gas industry, Third Energy is discussing the scope of work, for various services and equipment contracts, with a range of potential sub-contractors for different elements of its proposed operations at the KM-8 well at Kirby Misperton.

“At this stage no contracts have been awarded but Halliburton is one of the companies with whom we are in discussion.”

However local residents have said that they are extremely concerned about Halliburton’s potential involvement.

Speaking at the protest on Tuesday morning Sue Gough, of Little Barugh, said: “I have deep concerns about this and we are all very worried.

“I am particularly concerned about the casings to the pipelines as I think Halliburton’s casings have been known fail on some occasions.”

Ian Conlan, of Malton, said: “This is going to scar our landscape and have a massive impact on tourism for the area, not to mention it is industrialising our countryside.

“I am also concerned about water pollution, waste water and the noise and amount of traffic we are going to have.”

Third Energy announced in November last year that they would be submitting an application to test frack an existing well at their Kirby Misperton site.

Members of the anti-fracking groups also gathered to protest outside the Environment Agency in York last Friday (January 9) after discovering via emails obtained under the Freedom of Information Act that Third Energy was meeting to discuss hydraulic fracturing products.

The emails stated that Third Energy was meeting to “discuss Halliburton’s hydraulic fracturing fluid products which are proposed to be submitted as part of Third Energy’s permit application for KM-8.”

Chris Redston, of Frack Free Ryedale, said that the group was particularly concerned about the chemicals which could be used in the process.

He said: “Just because a chemical can be found in your home does not mean it is safe to human health. Most people are happy to keep cleaning products under their sink, but would not be happy pouring them into their kettle.

“Frack Free Ryedale strongly dispute Third Energy’s claim that all the chemicals in the fracking fluid can be considered ‘non-hazardous.’”

Thirsk and Malton Green Party Parliamentary candidate Chris Newsam, who attended both protests, said: “We believe that there is the potential for pollution and for the pollution of the water supply. We do not want the people of Ryedale to be guinea pigs in this experimentation.”

However Third Energy has said that any chemicals used will undergo a rigorous assessment and must be approved by the Environment Agency beforehand. A maximum of eight chemicals will be used in the process.

The spokesman said: “All additives used in the hydraulic fracturing process have to be approved as non-hazardous by the Environment Agency.

“Once approved, we will publish the names, concentrations and quantities of the additives through our website and the local media.”

A spokesperson for the Environment Agency said although they had not yet received an application from Third Energy to carry out hydraulic fracturing; it was their duty to be in regular contact with companies thinking of applying to provide guidance.

The spokesperson said: “If the company does submit an application, it will be subject to our usual environmental permitting process, which is an open and transparent procedure and specific milestones of all permit applications are publicised appropriately.”