Barclays to exit British gas fracking industry

FILE PHOTO: Workers are seen in at Barclays bank offices in the Canary Wharf financial district in London, Britain, November 17, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Barclays said it is exiting the British gas fracking industry after gas developer Third Energy, in which the bank owns a significant stake, agreed to sell its onshore gas activities to a division of U.S.-based Alpha Energy.

Third Energy had planned to frack at the Kirby Misperton site in Yorkshire, northern England, last year but failed to receive government consent after a crack down on the financial status of fracking firms.

Third Energy Holding Limited said on Thursday it had signed a sale agreement with Alpha Energy owned York Energy UK Holdings Ltd, for its onshore business, including Kirby Misperton.

“The deal confirms that we no longer have the stake in the fracking site”, a Barclays spokesman said via email, adding that the bank had planned to offload the stake for some time.

Fracking, or hydraulically fracturing, involves extracting gas from rocks by breaking them up with water and chemicals at high pressure.

It is fiercely opposed by environmentalists who have raised concerns about potential groundwater contamination and say extracting more fossil fuel is at odds with Britain’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Cuadrilla, the only company to have fracked for gas in Britain, had to halt operations several times last year at its Preston New Road site in northwest England due to seismic events.

Alpha Energy is a U.S.-based oil and gas asset business.

The sale is subject to regulator conditions being met, a statement from Third Energy said.

Reporting by Susanna Twidale; Editing by Alexandra Hudson and Kirsten Donovan