KNAPTON-based gas company Third Energy has said that it will file its accounts "in due course".

The company made the statement in response to mounting criticism from anti-fracking groups about the lateness of the company's 2016 accounts.

The accounts, which were due on September 30 2017, have not yet been submitted to Companies House as of January 19 2018.

The anti-fracking KM Protectors group is also calling for the accounts be published after it was revealed that one of Third Energy's directors is a former Carillion boss, and is being investigated in the wake of Carillion's collapse.

Keith Cochrane was appointed to the board of Carillion in July 2015, and in July 2017 he became its interim chief executive - a position he retained until the company went into voluntary liquidation on Monday.

He joined Third Energy Onshore Ltd, registered at Knapton, on September 8 last year.

On Tuesday, business secretary Greg Clark said he had ordered a "fast-track investigation" into Carillion’s directors.

Mr Clark said: "It is important we quickly get the full picture of the events which caused Carillion to enter liquidation, which is why I have asked the Insolvency Service to fast-track and broaden the scope of the Official Receiver’s investigation."

Third Energy confirmed Mr Cochrane would remain as director while the investigations take place.

'Losses shown during project development'

Anti-fracking protestor Sue Gough, who lives in Little Barugh not far from the fracking site, said: "There are enormous costs associated with the disposal of potentially 1/2 a million gallons of waste water per frack. It is deeply troubling that this company appears unable or unwilling to publicise its finances."

Leigh Coghill of the KM Protectors added: "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."

The group also said company accounts from recent years showed the company making losses.

But a spokesperson for Third Energy said: "Third Energy has, for some years, been investing in projects to increase gas production within our licence areas.

"As is normal with natural resource development, the company has made significant investments upfront ahead of the subsequent long term revenues.

"This is the reason why company accounts show losses during project development. This investment will also secure local jobs.

"Our investors and board fully support this investment programme and we have the necessary funding in place to cover all our current operational well sites and our plans for KM8. We always adhere to the highest health and safety standards and carry full insurance to cover operations.

"The Third Energy annual accounts will be submitted to Companies House in due course."

Dormant companies dissolved

Since the start of 2018, Third Energy has been allowing some of its dormant businesses to be dissolved by Companies House.

A number of companies - including Third Energy Petroleum Ltd, Third Energy Oil and Gas Ltd and Third Energy Ltd - all incorporated on November 17 2015, have all been dissolved since the start of 2018. The last one on the list was dissolved on Tuesday.

However, all its operating companies such as Third Energy UK Gas Ltd, which sits poised at Kirby Misperton to undertake the first onshore frack in the UK since 2011, are operational as normal, the company said.

A spokesman for Third Energy said: “The Third Energy group has a number of named entities, some of the companies have always been dormant and we have allowed three dormant companies to be dissolved: Third Energy Ltd, Third Energy Oil and Gas Ltd and Third Energy Petroleum Ltd.

"The operating companies continue as normal.”