CUADRILLA, the natural resource company, has been granted government approval for fracking at a second onshore site in Lancashire, UK.
The Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) gave approval on 19 September, and drilling could begin within the coming weeks. This is the second time a company has received approval for onshore fracking in the UK. Cuadrilla received hydraulic fracturing consent for its first site earlier this year. This site is also located at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site in Lancashire, UK.
The first shale well was completed in April and is approximately 2.3 km below the surface and extends 800 m laterally. The newest site, completed in July, is about 2.1 km below the surface and extends 750 m laterally.
Cuadrilla has already secured planning and permits for both wells.
Initial flow tests of the gas produced from both wells will be conducted for six months following hydraulic fracturing. After tests Cuadrilla will begin commercial operations.
Francis Egan, Cuadrilla’s CEO, said: “We are delighted to receive this consent. We are currently completing works on site in readiness to start hydraulically fracturing both wells in the next few weeks. The UK’s need for a new and reliable source of natural gas, the cleanest fossil fuel, is underlined by a new report suggesting the UK is going to have to rely on more coal to generate electricity. That would be a massive backwards step in reducing carbon emissions, as would continuing to import gas over long distances by pipe and ship. We are very proud to be the first operator in the UK to make significant headway in shale gas exploration.”
Earlier this year, following approval of the first site Claire Perry, minister of state for energy and clean growth at BEIS, spoke of the potential benefits of shale gas as an energy source. She said that it could enhance energy security and help in the transition to a lower carbon-economy. She also discussed the potential for local and national economic benefits.
In addition, Perry said that the “world class” regulations currently in place would “ensure that shale exploration will maintain robust environmental standards and meet the expectations of local communities.”
Approval of both horizontal shale gas wells came, despite public and political opposition due to environmental concerns.
Caroline Lucas, a Green Party MP, said on Twitter: “Claire Perry has just granted permission for another fracking well at Preston New Road – just two months after it trampled over local democracy and approved the first. And they've done it during recess, so MPs can't hold them to account.”
Several other MPs expressed their concerns over fracking as recently as last week, going as far as to threaten rebellion, The financial Times reported.
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