Project team

Dr John Roberts CBE – Chairman

John is a prominent figure in the UK’s energy sector. A graduate of Liverpool University and a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, he spent 30 years with Manweb plc, joining as a graduate trainee and working his way up through the organisation to become its Chief Executive in 1992. He then spent three years as Chief Executive Officer at Hyder Utilities, before taking up the position of Chief Executive Officer at United Utilities plc, which he held for seven years.

John currently holds non-executive board positions with a number of organisations that are developing significant energy projects across the UK including Royal Bank of Canada (Europe) Limited, BlackRock New Energy Investment Trust and Electricity North West.

Originally from Wallasey, John is a great advocate for the North West and has previously been Chairman of the Manchester Investment Development Agency Service (MIDAS) and a non-executive director of The Mersey Partnership. He is also a Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University.

John accepted the Chairmanship following an extensive review of the project and will play a key role in leading the Halite Energy project team.

Keith Budinger – Chief Executive

A qualified gas engineer with over 30 years experience in the energy and utilities sector, Keith spent 18 years at British Gas where he was Network Operations Manager. In 1997, Keith joined Price Waterhouse for four years as an Operational Risk Management Consultant. Keith’s next role was Asset Management Director at United Utilities plc (UU) where he was appointed to the regulatory boards of UU Water and UU Electricity plc. During his five years at UU, Keith delivered a £3.8 billion capital investment programme, building 1001 projects in the UK North West, including Lancashire.

In 2006, Keith founded his own energy and utility infrastructure advisory business, whose clients included Goldman Sachs, Exelon Corporation, 3i Group plc and Tata. Keith also worked for Nicor Gas, the owner and operator of seven large gas storage sites. In January 2011, Keith was appointed to the board of Halite Energy Group as Chief Executive Officer. He is also currently a board director at Greensands Holding Company, the owner of Southern Water.

Keith left school in 1981 to complete a British Gas Service Engineer apprenticeship. Over a period of nine years he obtained BTEC ONC, HNC and a post graduate diploma in Management Studies (with Distinction) from Leicester University. In 1997, he graduated with an Open University MBA studying at Homerton College, Cambridge.

Colin Harding – Project Director

Colin Harding

Colin is a chartered geologist and a chartered engineer with over 40 years’ experience with the investigation, design and construction of major infrastructure projects throughout the UK, West Africa and the Far East. After initially working for a contractor where he gained experience of drilling and investigation techniques he moved to an international technical and management consultancy where he has undertaken design and construction supervision of geo-engineering inputs.

Projects have included major energy generation and distribution schemes, dams, water supply and waste water treatment, highways, pipelines, waste management, mineral extraction, transportation and buildings. Project roles have ranged from site investigation management, design management and also project management. He has been a regional and national director of geo-engineering divisions within a number of large international, multi-disciplinary consultancies.

Colin has undertaken numerous detailed geological assessments in a wide variety of geological settings. He has acted as an expert witness in planning inquiries, arbitration hearings, conciliation and litigation. He is a Registered Ground Engineering Professional Advisor and a Specialist in Land Condition (SiLC)

Karen Archer – PA to CEO & Project Administrator

Karen is responsible for the day-to-day running of Halite’s office together with producing all relevant reports and data required by the Management Team. She is the liaison between businesses and individuals and provides project support to the team. She has worked as a Private Secretary in the banking industry for over 27 years before joining the team of Halite as a Personal Assistant providing a full range of secretarial services at executive level. As a Project Administrator she helps co-ordinate business events, meetings and conferences.

Brad Johnson – Financial Controller

Brad has wide experience as a financial controller gained as a result of over 20 years in the energy sector. Brad has operated at the senior level of chief financial or financial controller for 14 years.

Brad holds a degree in Accountancy and his experience spans manufacturing and energy development projects.

Geology and subsurface design


Geostock is an international engineering group and a key player in the underground storage of liquid, liquefied andgeostock-logo gaseous hydrocarbons.

Founded in 1965, the company has acquired unique know-how in its field. Whatever the products stored or the techniques used, Geostock’s expert knowledge enables it to provide quality services and solutions at the forefront of technology.

The Geostock group is made up of the Geostock Holding company, whose shareholders are Entrepose Contracting (90%) and Total (10%) and a number of subsidiaries and interests all over the world, offering their expertise in the field of underground storage.

Geostock has conducted a Solution Mining Study for the Preesall project, provided technical assistance to review project data and develop a preliminary solution mining plan for the project. The study includes a geology and geophysics review and a cavern development plan. www.geostockgroup.com

Baker Hughes

Baker Hughes has been a technology leader in the oil and gas industry for over 100 years and continues to partner with operators to find solutions for progressively more complex technical challenges. A leading global oilfield service company with operations in over 90 countries and nearly 50,000 employees globally, Baker Hughes provides advanced products and services to help customers drill, evaluate, complete and produce oil and gas wells.

Baker Hughes’ reservoir technology experts offer independent consulting services, geomechanics modelling, petroleum engineering and reservoir simulation services to achieve superior results that lower costs, reduce risk, improve productivity and increase ultimate recovery.

Baker Hughes is providing consultancy services to Halite Energy regarding the drilling and completion aspects of the proposed gas storage development. www.bakerhughes.com

Mott MacDonald

Mott MacDonald is an international management, engineering and development consulting firm with extensive expertise on planning and delivering major infrastructure projects in the UK and around the world.

Halite Energy has engaged a senior geologist, Colin Harding, within Mott MacDonald who has over 35 years of geological expertise on development projects from feasibility to detailed design, to advise the company on planning strategy related to geotechnical issues and to assist in the preparation of a comprehensive geological study. http://www.mottmac.com/

Costain Energy & Process Ltd

Costain, the engineering and construction group, is one of the UK’s top solutions providers, offering consultancy, construction and care across the infrastructure, environment and energy industries. Costain Energy & Process, a division of the Costain Group, delivers innovative solutions for the gas processing, nuclear and power industries.

Costain’s expertise ranges from conceptual design through detailed engineering and procurement to construction and commissioning. Costain also provides maintenance and turnaround management and is committed to ensuring the highest standards of safety, environmental protection and performance.

Costain has been working with Halite Energy on the concept design for all above ground infrastructure for the Preesall gas storage project, including the pump house, booster station and the gas processing plant, well pads, gas manifolds and pipelines. http://www.costain-group.com/energyandprocess

Hyder Consulting

Hyder is a global consulting firm with specific expertise in conducting environmental assessments for development projects. The company has been established for over 150 years, working on some of the world’s most iconic landmarks and infrastructure including Burj Khalifa, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Tower Bridge in London and the Taiwan High Speed Railway. The firm has offices across the UK, including the North West.

Hyder provides environmental advice, including the development of an Environmental Statement, for Halite Energy. http://www.hyderconsulting.com/

The Write Angle

The Write Angle logoThe Write Angle is a Lancashire-based public relations and marketing agency. Since the company was established in 2002, The Write Angle has worked with a wide range of public and private sector clients across the North West to become one of the region’s leading communications consultancies, winning numerous awards for its work.

Consulting with the local community on future plans for the Preesall gas storage project is a priority for Halite Energy Group. The Write Angle has worked with the company to deliver a wide range of activities to ensure local people, businesses and stakeholders are informed of developments as they occur and, crucially, that we listen to the local community’s issues and respond to their concerns. http://www.thewriteangle.co.uk

Finsbury                                                   Finsbury logo

Finsbury is a global leader in strategic communications and a trusted adviser to boards of directors, senior executives and legal counsel of many of the world’s most successful companies, institutions and organisations. Finsbury works extensively with corporations in the Fortune 500, FTSE 100 and Eurofirst 300, as well as other public and private companies, academic institutions, associations, major nonprofits and NGOs around the world.

Finsbury advises Halite Energy Group on their communications and relationships with national and regional political, official and third-party audiences. http://www.finsbury.com

Barton Willmore

Barton Willmore is the largest independent planning and design consultancy in the UK employing over 250 staff at offices in Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Ebbsfleet, Edinburgh, London, Leeds, Reading and Solihull. The Energy Team deals with all aspects of the permitting and land acquisition of energy projects and is able to take proposals from initial site appraisal through the design and consenting process, to implementation and construction.

The Energy Team is dealing with a wide range of gas projects including the underground gas storage facilities at Caythorpe in Yorkshire, Portland in Dorset and Saltfleetby in Lincolnshire. At Preesall, Barton Willmore is providing planning, architectural and landscape design advice to Halite Energy. http://www.bartonwillmore.co.uk/

Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP (BLP)

BLP is a London-based law firm that is consistently rated as the top UK planning firm by planning industry publications. BLP has extensive planning experience across a range of sector areas, advising on all aspects of a project from inception to operation. In the UK energy infrastructure field, BLP has advised the UK Atomic Energy Authority, has done significant work with National Grid plc, and has advised over a number of years on the Dragon LNG facility in South Wales. As part of its work advising the Olympic Delivery Authority on the London 2012 Olympic Games site, it also advised on the energy needs and infrastructure for the venues.

Halite Energy has engaged BLP to serve as the company’s legal adviser going forward. http://www.blplaw.com/

The Preesall halite salt was deposited over 200 million years ago