Riverstone has sold its 45 per cent stake in Cuadrilla to mining firm AJ Lucas, meaning that the Australian company now owns 93 per cent of the UK’s only fracking firm.
The sale of Riverstone’s stake comes as no surprise, as the investment group has long been looking to exit the business after a series of setbacks to the industry.
In September it was reported that the firm had appointed bankers from the Royal Bank of Canada to help facilitate its exit.
Fracking is currently suspended in the UK after ministers decided in November that it was not possible to accurately predict the probability or magnitude of earthquakes linked to its operations.
Operations at Cuadrilla’s site at Preston New Road in Lancashire have been at a standstill since a magnitude 2.9 seismic event was recorded on 26 August.
Riverstone’s sale came as the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy today shared data showing that public support for the controversial mining technique had fallen to its lowest ever level.
In a statement, Cuadrilla said: “The streamlined ownership will simplify decision making and alignment as AJ Lucas and Cuadrilla continue to work with regulators and other UK shale gas operators.
“The focus of this work will be to address the technical concerns in relation to induced seismicity, which led the Government to announce a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in November 2019”.
It added that it “envisaged limited, if any, operational activities at our Preston New Road site during 2020”.
Despite the moratorium, Cuadrilla remains committed to the industry, saying that the UK’s need for natural gas as a means to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 is widely acknowledged.
According to the firm, the Bowland shale site is a “world-class resource”.
It finished:” We continue to believe that indigenous gas production is preferable to importing increasing quantities of overseas gas with up to double the pre-combustion emissions and no economic benefit for UK workers, businesses or communities”.