11th July 2014
Cuadrilla has again confirmed to Balcombe Parish Council that it does not plan to frack at Balcombe “now or in the future”.
The company was responding to a letter, written three years ago by one of its directors to the Department of Energy and Climate Change, which said Cuadrilla had to frack at Balcombe to be “commercially productive”.
The letter emerged earlier this year during a trial of people arrested at the Balcombe anti-fracking protests. When the trial ended in May, with the acquittal of all the defendants, we carried this report.
Balcombe Parish Council said it had been asked to put the letter on its website but wanted to confirm the authenticity first.
The letter was dated June 10th 2011 and signed by director Andrew Price to Toni Harvey, DECC’s senior geoscientist. Mr Price wrote that the company would “need to rely, to a significant degree, on being able to undertake hydraulic fracture stimulation(s) of this unconventional reservoir.”
Yesterday, Cuadrilla issued an unsigned statement to Balcombe Parish Council confirming that the letter was genuine. In the statement, the company said Mr Price wrote to DECC to ask for an extension to the time period it had been given to drill an exploratory well.
The statement added that two years later, in August 2013, when Cuadrilla drilled its exploratory well at Lower Stumble in Balcombe, the company was still not certain whether it would need to frack the micrite limestone to release oil. However, information from the well and other sources later confirmed that fracking wasn’t necessary, the statement said.
“Cuadrilla has therefore confirmed that we will not be carrying out hydraulic fracturing at the Lower Stumble site now or in the future.”
The planning application, approved by West Sussex County Council’s planning committee on April 29th 2014 was for flow testing, flaring and site restoration. It did not include hydraulic fracturing.