License: All rights reserved. Credit: Greenpeace

Tory donors linked to unconventional gas industry

Damian Kahya
Damian Kahya is Energydesk editor
General view of the Cuadrilla hydraulic fracking drill site in Balcombe, West Su
License: All rights reserved. Credit: Jiri Rezac


The government has been very supportive of shale gas extraction

At least five people at a Conservative fund-raising dinner exposed by The Guardian and Bureau of Investigative journalism had financial or commercial links to the UK’s unconventional gas industry, including many who shared a table with energy minister Michael Fallon bought by Shore Capital.

The Mayfair-based investment bank is 41% owned by Howard Shore a controversial banker with well publicised Tory links, who also heads up the firm.

His small investment bank is listed in a Conservative register of major donors attending leaders groups meals. Howard Shore was seated alongside the Prime Minister, David Cameron. 

Shore Capital has a natural resources division which “have expertise in some of the world’s most exciting emerging hydrocarbon provinces, and in unconventional hydrocarbons such as shale resources and coal bed methane”.

Many of his executives and business associates were seated at a different table booked in his name alongside Energy minister Michael Fallon.

They included company CEO David Kaye,   CEO of markets Simon Fine and close business associate Tim Childs.  Former director, Earl de la Warr, who is now involved in a coal to gas firm, Cluff Natural Resources sat at a table with Home Secretary, Theresa May.

Fracking links

Shore capital recently hosted an event on UK shale energy (2013) at which EU fracking firm 3 Legs resources gave a presentation and has, or has had, commercial involvement with a range of firms including US shale oil and gas producer, Northcote, UK unconventional coal to gas firm - Cluff and UK shale gas firms Eden Energy and Union Jack Holdings.

The investment bank recently helped raise around £650,000 for  Union Jack, a UK based fracking company for whom it is both the broker and advisor.  Union jack wanted money to investigate “the shale oil and gas opportunities on existing licenses and additional onshore UK licenses.”

In 2007 Shore Capital joined up with Broughton, led by Tim Childs, to launch St. Peters Port Capital.

According to its 2013 final results, St. Peters Port is invested in a range of environmentally dubious companies including a Brazilian Potash firm, a Chinese coal to liquids firm, a Niger based uranium outfit, a Mozambique timber company, a Nigerian oil producer and an Australian shale gas firm also operating in the UK called Eden Energy.

Whilst it looks as if St Peters Port has subsequently cut their stake in Eden the documents suggest it was part of their holdings at the time of the meal.

Coal gasification firm

Shore Capital is also linked to Cluff Natural Resources whose non-executive director, Lord de la Warr, used to be a director of Shore with a particular role on their natural resources team.  Shore Capital are Cluff’s brokers and advisors and also handled their £3.75m share issue.

At the time of the dinner Cluff was busy adding new licenses (including one in Wales) to their Underground Coal Gasification portfolio - a form of unconventional gas extraction. The technique is environmentally risky and - unless accompanied by carbon capture - has extremely high CO2 emissions.

The following November, with the help of Shore Capital, Cluff raised a further £2m for their UK UCG efforts. By December, Michael Fallon, signaled government support for coal gasification. The story, in The Telegraph, included quotes from both Fallon and Cluff. There is no suggestion either fracking or underground coal gasification were discussed during the meal.

Also on the table with Theresa May and Lord Warr were a couple more Lords and some high society, high profile billionaires.

Oil connections

Among them was Wafic Saïd. Syria born and living in Monaco and the UK among other abodes, he is worth around £2.5bn. He is most famous for facilitating the Al-Yamamah arms trade deal between the Saudi government and Margaret Thatcher in the late 1980s. The deal was paid for in £15bn of Saudi oil - 600,000 barrels were delivered per day. Said denies receiving any money from the deal and says he played a minor part in the negotiations.

Saïd has historically been one of the Tory party’s most prominent donors, giving more than £500,000 in donations through his wife Ann (link to spreadsheet).

In 2005 Saïd’s daughter Rasha was recorded as donating £47,000 to the party - when she was only a teenager. The Electoral Commission said there had been no wrongdoing, accepting the ‘clerical error’ stating Rasha instead of her mother Rosemary.

Nowadays Saïd is a philanthropist and chairman of Saïd Holdings Ltd, a Bermuda-registered holding company that has a varied portfolio of global investments including Saudi firm Daiym Holdings, which has a joint venture with the Indian Punj Lloyd Group to build oil, gas and petrochemical infrastructure in Saudi Arabia.

Another oil linked billionaire at the dinner was Dr Jim Hay (sometimes called James). He worked for BP for 27 years, is a well-known racing horse and stables owner (something he has in common with Saïd), and is friends with Carole Middletonand donor to a Conservative Police commissioner candidate.

He was chemical development director for BP Chemicals, leaving the company in 2002 before the Texas City refinery blast in 2006 in which 15 people died and around 500 were injured, having been asked in 2002 to follow up on how the refinery had deteriorated.

Hay broke off from BP in 2002 and acquired chemicals company Fosroc from his former employer. Fosroc is part of JMH Group, a property development, construction and chemicals company that he co-owns with his wife Fitriani Hay (beloved of the high society glossies).

The influential Lords Sterling - of P&O fame – and Viscount Astor – who is a director of Canadian Overseas Petroleum - were also present on the table with Earl de la Warr.

Climate sceptic

Sir Michael Hintze was another guest at dinner. The hedge fund billionaire who has given more than £3m to the Conservative party shared a table with blogger Paul Staines (Aka Guido Fawkes).

Mr Hintze is no stranger to blogging himself, he is the only known funder of the climate sceptic think-tank (and blog)  - The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF).

** Additional reporting by Christine Ottery

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