UPDATED 29/4/16: TRANSGAS IS SW ENERGY PARENT COMPANY?

Company geologist Oliver Taylor told Forest of Dean District Council (so we have been informed by a councillor) that the parent company of South Western Energy Limited is Transgas Limited. This contradicts records at Companies House (see below under UKOG heading) which show South Western Energy is a subsidiary of UK Onshore Gas (UKOG) Limited – another one of Gerwyn Williams’s 18 current companies.

Transgas, according to its last filed accounts, has net assets of £36,903. As Oliver Taylor also told councillors one well would cost £500,000, it’s still unclear where the six-figure sum is coming from.

Included on the latest list of shareholders is Damor Investments, based in Jersey. Further research reveals Damor is a subsidiary of the Royal Bank of Canada, which also operates from Luxembourg (the tax avoidance hub of choice for Gerwyn Williams’s investment company Infinity Energy SA, formerly Global Brands – see below again for more on Infinity). RBC Capital Markets – is ranked as the world’s 11th largest full-service investment bank.

Damor is also a shareholder in some of Gerwyn Williams’s other companies, namely UK Water Supplies Limited (last accounts show MINUS £278 in net liabilities), MANDACO 727 Limited (net assets of £7,684), South Wales Gas Limited (MINUS £1,507), Modal Mining Limited (company dissolved/ struck off register in 2015 – Damor was the joint majority shareholder in 2013, the same year the company showed MINUS £36,396 in its accounts), UK Gas Limited (MINUS £76,598) and UK Wind Energy Limited (MINUS £7,694).

Damor Investments is mentioned 55 times in the Panama Papers.

WHAT ELSE DID OLIVER TAYLOR TELL COUNCILLORS?

Thanks to several councillors sharing their notes with us (we hope some official minutes will be released publicly), we have been able to glean…

  • OT (Oliver Taylor) said it would be two or three years before SW Energy submits an application for a test well [if this is the case, they are leaving things to the last minute, as they must complete all their exploration work by December 2020].
  • Initially he will be building a geo-model of the Forest of Dean. It seems this may involve 3D seismic surveys (ie simulating earth tremors to build a picture of deep underground rock layers), but will be mostly a desk exercise. The company is also consulting mine maps from the Coal Authority, securing gales (coal seam areas) and sites within the Forest.
  • OT said wells could be drilled in forest clearings – they have already done so in a South Wales forest.
  • The target depth for drilling is 1,000m (this is BELOW all the coal measures/ seams which have previously been estimated at 630m at their deepest level), so indicates shale gas is the real objective, not coalbed methane (CBM).
  • South Western Energy believes they will find gas. They are not interested in Underground Coal Gasification, but are interested in shale gas.
  • OT would not go into detail about drilling techniques (such as fracking) because he said he could not predict what technology will be available when they get to the drilling stage.
  • They say they won’t drill on or under environmental protected sites.
  • Thinks there is probably no oil , but claims there is methane/ natural gas.
  • Touted a scheme called ‘local gas for local people’, where gas could be pumped directly to a hospital, for instance.
  • Wouldn’t use same chemicals as they use in America
  • Claimed no noise could be heard from drilling if people are more than 200 metres away.
  • Is working with a Newport-based company to store and treat waste water on site before discharging it back into the water table

 

A QUICK RECAP AND A LETTER FROM THE GOVERNMENT

In December 2015 the Government confirmed it had awarded two Petroleum Exploration and Development Licences, giving exclusive rights to explore for gas and oil to a company called South Western Energy. For one licence covering the Wye Valley and west of the Forest of Dean, the licence-holder is keeping its options open on whether to drill (called “drill or drop”) – for the other licence, covering most of the Forest of Dean, east as far as Westbury and Longhope, and across the Severn to Sharpness area, South Western Energy has made a “firm commitment” to the Government to drill at least one well.

The Government has refused to withdraw these licences, insisting that the planning process and regulatory agencies will take into account our concerns. We don’t have any faith in these agencies or the planning process, because of changes in law which override local democracy enabling one Government minister to decide, and also have seen many case studies which show the HSE and Environment Agency to be understaffed, ineffectual, rarely – if ever – visiting sites, issuing permits with few questions asked, and failing to adequately monitor sites.

We have tried to make the case to the Government in a meeting in the House of Lords  (see the document we presented).

The Government also tells licence applicants that they can’t relinquish their licences until they have fulfilled their commitment – so if South Western Energy has said it will drill at least one well in our beautiful Forest, then the Government says it must do! It appears to be predetermined, whatever local democracy says.

The Government has told us South Western Energy could have their drill site(s) on public forest land. Surely – after the commitments HOOF was repeatedly given by the Government up to the last election that our Forest would remain public and be protected – this is an outrageous breach of trust!

The Deputy Gaveller Dan Howells, who works for the Crown and the Forestry Commission at Bank House, in Coleford, is the public official obliged to work with the Government’s Oil & Gas Authority, South Western Energy and the owners of gales (areas of the coalfield) – which include freeminers, the Coal Authority and outsider private owners.

Lord Bourne has listened to our concerns and this is his response. It doesn’t allay any of our concerns. But really – coupled with South Western Energy starting to organise choreographed private presentations to the council, police and a small group of us “antis” – it shows us that they mean business.

Despite what some local politicians may say – the licencing is no idle threat.

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SOUTH WESTERN ENERGY . . . WHO?

We can’t lift the company’s snazzy logo because if they have a logo at all, it’s not available online. They also have no website, unless it’s a secret one.

The Government has been apparently satisfied with the operator’s credentials to give South Western Energy exclusive rights to search for coalbed methane (CBM) in the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley, plus west Wiltshire, and look for shale gas in north and west Somerset, including the coast, the Quantocks, the western edge of the Mendips, and part of Exmoor… and right across central Dorset and Bournemouth. The Oil and Gas Authority awarded nine licences in all in December 2015 to South Western Energy – a company that has not previously drilled or had a licence to explore for CBM or shale gas.

As a private limited company, South Western Energy is required to register with Companies House, provide director and shareholder information, and also its end of year accounts, currently published up to the end of 2014… the company is described as “dormant”:

FOOFSWenergybalance2014

So that’s MINUS £8,616, down from minus £12 in shareholders’ funds. Maybe the money went on the successful PEDL 14th Round applications (made between July and October 2014)?

South Western Energy began life as a shelf company in 2012 called MANDACO 726, created by Steve Berry from Cardiff Bay-based corporate law firm Acuity Legal Limited – one of the firm’s specialities is setting up companies. Actuity co-founder and chairman Berry also includes advising South Western Energy’s “parent” company UK Onshore Gas on fundraising and public listing as one of his work highlights.

A month after its incorporation, in May 2012, South Western Energy Limited was born with £1 share capital.

THE PARENT: UK ONSHORE GAS LTD

Might the money to fund the exploration, and ensure the completion of it and clean-up afterwards (as per the Government’s criteria) be coming from South-Western Energy’s parent company, UK Onshore Gas Limited?

Again, no website, nor logo for UKOG Ltd that we can find on the net…

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And UKOG’s latest files to Companies House don’t look financially rosy either. They were filed at the end of 2014, by which time South Western Energy would have submitted its application for these new and current licences.

UK METHANE AND COASTAL OIL AND GAS – OLDER SIBLING AND NIECE/NEPHEW OF SOUTH WESTERN ENERGY

Meanwhile UKOG’s other wholly owned subsidiaries, Coastal Oil and Gas and UK Methane had been putting plans in for both CBM and shale gas exploration wells in the heart of South Wales, where they’d been granted licences in previous licensing rounds.

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So according to the latest legal accounts filed, all these companies are in negative equity. But where’s Coastal Oil and Gas Ltd on this list? Turns out Thistle Gas Limited (listed as a “dormant” company above) is the “parent” of Coastal – one of the two companies putting plans in for gas exploration in South Wales (along with UK Methane, listed above). These two companies have so far drilled six wells in Wales, with another six given planning consent. And yet nothing is showing up on their books?

How about Coastal Oil and Gas, who have exclusive rights to explore in thousands of square km of South Wales (again no website)?

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This account shows more sign of financial activity, but there’s no getting away from the fact the shareholders’ funds are MINUS £280,938 (or were at the end of 2014).

So a raft of companies – all of which share the same director and shareholders, and the same secretary: Gerwyn Llewellyn Williams, and secretary Mrs Shelagh Williams (Gerwyn’s wife)?

CLICK ON TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT GERWYN WILLIAMS AND HIS DEALINGS

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GERWYN: LICENSED TO DRILL 2008-11

GERWYN: BREAKING GAS 2012-16

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