A founding shareholder of Dart Energy is demanding that the troubled company remove a number of Board members on the basis of the company’s poor performance in a desperate bid for the company to ‘get back on track’.

In a letter to fellow shareholders, New Hope Corp Ltd, a 16.4% shareholder in Dart Energy describes a ‘sad and long history of the Dart Energy board’s failures to deliver on stated strategy and objectives’. New Hope describes itself as a ‘patient long-term shareholder despite a total shareholder return of negative 49.3% each year over the last three years.’

Mary Church, Friends of the Earth Scotland Head of Campaigns said:

“In this forthright criticism of Dart Energy’s financial performance, New Hope outlines the stark reality for fellow shareholders that their money has been going down the drain for the last few years. This is the latest in a long line of blows to Dart’s credibility, coming close on the back of frozen banking facilities and desperate attempts to re-finance.

“Simply replacing a few board members won’t be enough to turn Dart Energy’s, and its shareholders’, fortunes around. Dart’s global hopes are pinned on its much delayed and controversial coalbed methane development at Airth, which faces strong community opposition and a complex, lengthy public inquiry process.”

Friends of the Earth Scotland are calling for a ban on all unconventional gas extraction because of the climate and local environmental and health risks associated with the industry.

ENDS

Notes to editors

1. New Hope Corp Ltd’s letter to Dart Energy and fellow shareholders is available on the Australian Securities Exchange website http://www.asx.com.au/asx/research/companyInfo.do?by=asxCode&asxCode=DTE and at http://data.iguana2.com/hemscott/news-item?N=757603&Code=DTE . New Hope owns 16.4% of Dart Energy’s shares through its wholly owned subsidiary company Krestlake Pty Ltd.

2. In April 2013 Dart announced a major restructure including slashing 70% of its global workforce http://data.iguana2.com/hemscott/news-item?N=728430&Code=DTE . In July Dart’s Top man in Europe Mark Lappin quit http://foe-scotland.org.uk/node/1623. In August HSBC froze its substantial loan facility to Dart on the basis of delays to the Airth project http://data.iguana2.com/hemscott/news-item?N=751048&Code=DTE. Shortly afterwards, trading was halted on the Australian Securities Exchange http://foe-scotland.org.uk/node/1636 pending a re-financing announcement in September 2013 http://foe-scotland.org.uk/node/1639. 

3. “‘Baseless economics’: Lord Stern on David Cameron’s claims that a UK fracking boom can bring down price of gas” http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/baseless-economics-lord-st…

4. “Fracking row: Scottish village of Airth could be next battleground between energy firms and green campaigners” http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/eco-campaigners-energy-f…

5. Australian company Dart Energy is the leading unconventional gas developer in Scotland.  Dart’s flagship development at Airth, near Falkirk faces strong community opposition and has been beset by delays. In June 2013 Dart appealed their application for 22 new wells, a gas and water treatment facility and a network of pipelines to the Scottish Government on grounds of non-determination. A Public Inquiry process is expected to start late October – November 2013.

6. Dart Energy’s Australian ventures are going nowhere following a ban on all unconventional gas activity – not just hydraulic fracturing – within 2km of residential areas introduced by the New South Wales Government. http://www.resources.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/458018/TOUGH… A conservative estimate suggests there are at least 2,000 homes within 2km of Dart Energy’s Airth development. If a similar ban were in place in Scotland Dart’s development at Airth could not go ahead.  

7. A study by the Queensland Government found that 44% of the 58 wells tested in 3 fields were leaking http://mines.industry.qld.gov.au/assets/petroleum-pdf/tara_leaking_well_…. Research by the Southern Cross University in Australia found gas was leaking at around 3.5 times the level expected in coalbed methane fields http://www.scu.edu.au/news/media.php?item_id=6041&action=show_item.

8. The industry in Australia estimates that up to 40% of coalbed methane wells will eventually be fracked. See Australian National Greenhouse Accounts, Coal Seam Gas Estimation and Reporting of Greenhouse Gas Emissions 2012, http://www.climatechange.gov.au/climate-change/emissions/~/media/climate…

9. Methane is a highly potent greenhouse gas that over its short lifetime is over a hundred times more damaging to the climate than carbon dioxide. Research indicates that unconventional gas could be worse in climate terms than burning coal because of methane leakage from gas fields. Seehttp://www.eeb.cornell.edu/howarth/Howarthetal2012_Final.pdf from Cornell University and http://www.nature.com/news/methane-leaks-erode-green-credentials-of-natu… from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) who found that 9% of total gas production at a field in Utah was leaking into the atmosphere.

10. An investigation by a GP in early 2013 of 38 households in close proximity to coal seam gas wells in Tara, Queensland, found that 58% of residents reported definite adverse health effects related to gas drilling and a further 19% were uncertain. Symptoms include breathing difficulties, rashes, joint and muscle pains, nausea and vomiting, and spontaneous nosebleeds. See http://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/lockthegate/pages/49/attachments/or…

11. Bans and moratoria around the world
France: A nationwide ban on fracking 
Switzerland: A moratorium on fracking was introduced in the canton of Fribourg 
Germany: Moratorium in Northrhine-Westphalia on fracking. Lower Saxony likely to do the same.
Netherlands: recently confirmed a continued moratorium on unconventional fossil fuels Bulgaria: Government banned fracking
Czech Republic: A moratorium on fracking, considering outright ban
Spain: Cantabria, La Rioja and Navarra have banned fracking, Catalonia is also currently considering same
Denmark: Moratorium on fracking 
Quebec: A moratorium on fracking 
United States:  Vermont banned fracking, and New York has moratorium 
New South Wales: ban on any coal bed methane activity within 2km of residential areas, and within critical industry clusters such as winegrowing areas
Ireland: 2-year moratorium on fracking

12. Friends of the Earth Scotland is
* Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation
* An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland
* Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 77 national member groups, and some 5,000 local activist groups – covering every continent. www.foe-scotland.org.uk