Cuadrilla to start fracking second well

Article by Amanda Doyle

CUADRILLA plans to frack a second well in Lancashire, UK, before its planning permission expires in November.

Cuadrilla hopes that fracking the well will provide enough data to convince policymakers to relax the current rules on seismicity. The current regulations are known as the “traffic light” system, where a tremor above 0.5 on the Richter scale constitutes “red” and fracking must be stopped. Last year, Cuadrilla was only able to partially frack its first well as it had to suspend work multiple times due to numerous tremors.

The seismicity limit on fracking in the US is magnitude 4.0 on the Richter scale, leading both Cuadrilla and Ineos to criticise the UK Government’s regulations. Ineos has the rights for shale gas exploration in parts of north England and the East Midlands, and its founder Jim Ratcliffe previously called the regulations “unworkable”.

Cuadrilla’s previous attempts to get the Government to relax the seismicity rules failed, and it hopes that providing new data will support an expert technical review.

Francis Egan, Chief Executive Officer of Cuadrilla, said: “We look forward to returning to operations at Preston New Road which will further prove the flow of high quality natural gas from the Bowland Shale. Work to date on what is probably the most highly monitored onshore oil and gas site in the world has proved that this is an entirely safe, well run and well-regulated operation.

“The new hydraulic fracture plan will operate in line with the existing traffic light system for induced seismicity. However one of the key differences will be a more viscous fracturing fluid which has been reviewed and approved by the Environment Agency as non-hazardous to groundwater and which we expect will improve operational performance under the uniquely challenging micro-seismic regulations.”

Jamie Peters, a campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said: “Fundamentally, at a time when the Government have declared a climate emergency, the last thing we should be doing is starting an industry that extracts gas — a fossil fuel, along with coal and oil, that should be left where it is. Fracking just isn’t viable and investment in renewables and energy efficiency is clearly the answer.”

Petroleum exploration and development company Aurora also recently applied for rights to drill a fracking well on a different site in Lancashire.

Article by Amanda Doyle

Staff Reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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