Cuadrilla’s plans mean wellpads 3km apart and practically every metre of the Fylde fracked, say campaigners

Opponents of fracking in Lancashire have published a map, which they say shows what the area would look like if Cuadrilla built its planned number of shale gas wellpads.

pedl165_3A letter from the company in a local magazine this month said it was aiming for between 80 and 100 wellpads in the Fylde near Blackpool.

The Preston New Road Action Group, which is fighting Cuadrilla’s planning application to drill, frack and test up to four wells at Little Plumpton, said the map showed that there could be wellpads every 3km across the area.

Cuadrilla said the group had misinterpreted the facts and the total area covered by the pads would be 2km2. But PNRAG said its map was based on Cuadrilla’s figures and it was important that the consequences of the company’s ambitions were understood.

Cuadrilla holds the Petroleum Exploration and Development Licence (PEDL) 165, which covers 1,180sq km of the Bowland Basin.

In the June issue of InFocus magazine, Eric Vaughan, Cuadrilla’s Well Services Director, responded to a suggestion that the area would become industrialised because the company planned to drill 2,000 wells.

Mr Vaughan said:

“There is no plan that envisages this scale in the Fylde. If we moved into a production stage, over decades, potentially between 80-100 well pads could be installed over Cuadrilla’s total 1,200km2 Bowland exploration area.”

The Preston New Road Action Group (PNRAG) said its map was intended to be illustrative only but it had “a firm rationale based on Cuadrilla’s own figures they have repeatedly quoted to promote the idea that shale gas would bring economic benefit.”

The group said it had excluded urban areas because they were assumed not to be frackable. A spokesperson said: “That leaves us with about 1,000 square kilometers for 100 pads. This sounds a lot, but it means there would have to be a grid of pads only about 3 kilometers apart – less than two miles.”

 “Cuadrilla’s projected benefits such as jobs are projected on figures of up to forty horizontal wells per pad. This means practically every square metre of the rural Fylde would be fracked under”, the spokesperson said.

“If the public knew what is involved in this fanciful scheme we believe there would be an overwhelmingly ‘no’ to fracking the Fylde. The whole plan will never happen, it is pie in the sky.”

“Cuadrilla have claimed to be able to provide a quarter of our gas needs [from the Fylde]. This is a pipe dream. Even if four thousand wells were dug in Cuadrilla’s licence area, US experience says over thirty years they would only have provided about seven and a half percent of the UK’s gas need. This will not contribute any significant benefit in terms of the UK’s energy security. What it will threaten to do is damage irreparably the Fylde’s environment, and its tourist and agricultural industry.”

A spokesperson for Cuadrilla said:

“The [PNRAG] press release is not correct in its interpretation of the facts.  The information the press release refers to is taken from a letter from Eric Vaughn that was published in the June issue InFocus magazine in response to a previous letter that claimed 2,000 wells would be drilled.”

Mr Vaughan said the total land area at surface would be 2km2, the spokesperson said.

But PNRAG said Cuadrilla’s statement confirmed entirely the accuracy of its press release. The group said it was looking at what could happen over 30 years in PEDL 165.  It said a report by EY had developed a scenario under which the first 100 wellpads would create 64,500 jobs at peak production. An earlier report by the Institute of Directors had also envisaged 100 wellpads.

PNRAG spokesperson said: “The ambition of 100 wellpads in the PEDL165 licence area is therefore entirely in accordance with what Cuadrilla have confirmed recently, the 2013 IoD report paid for by Cuadrilla and the 2014 Ernst & Young report commissioned by UKOOG of which body Cuadrilla is a prime member.”

“If Cuadrilla are now saying their figures are wrong then we would like to see exactly what their current projections for number of wells in PEDL165 is, and to see new revisions for their estimates of economic benefits. If they are drastically reducing their expectation of number of wells they can hope to drill then they must also drastically revise downwards any figures for jobs and economic benefits and recoverable gas accordingly.”

“The reality is that Cuadrilla will never drill thousands of wells in their licence area. They will never come anywhere near matching their boasts about expected production and contribution to the economy and energy security.”

8 replies »

  1. I think it is fair that they publish what it might look like, but at the same time 100 pads over 30 years would be 3 per year. 3 football field sized areas.

    While this adds to the current industry in Lancashire any realistic and honest appraisal would admit that 3 operating wellpads per year does not exactly massively increase the activity there, or anywhere in the UK.

    Yes, just like you are sure to occasionally get stuck behind a tractor or a caravan you’ll occasionally get stuck behind another type of lorry.

    The issue is noise and traffic, but it often seems that planners will design an out of town shopping complex that grinds to a complete halt every day and takes 3 hours to get out of at Christmas, or allow housing and industry to build up in one local to the point where it takes 45 minutes to travel 5 miles, but if a company wants to move 5 HGVs per day and 25 per day a couple of times every couple of months then that is a no go.

    Caudrilla might have picked the wrong sites, or perhaps it is completely impossible for Lancashire to accommodate 3 drilling sites per year. Having worked on rigs for years I find that hard to believe. It is incredibly easy to stir up trouble around drilling, but I know for a fact it can be done without too much impact and often without any impact at all. The last several wells I have drilled I have been particular about speaking to people locally. Many did not know we were drilling at all and the majority support the activity. Many even make a point of saying they are not ‘tree huggers’. That might be inflammatory language, but it is theirs, not mine.

    I think we can be reasonably confident that Caudrilla’s plans will be turned down. It will be natural for opponents to see that as a victory, but planning applications being turned down are pretty normal and do not mean much. A couple of things will happen after that. It will go to appeal and travel up to Westminster, but what should really happen is a response to the actual concerns about traffic (since it feels like that is what it is now coming down to and the noise issue isn’t being spoken about any more).

    The fracking industry is moving so fast at the minute in terms of technical development that few realise just how adaptive the industry is. It is consistently said that if you are using information from 6 months ago you are already out of date – such is the nature of transformations.

    I would also be interested in seeing maps of current development in the UK. I can drive 5 miles from my house and see several gas production facilities. They are only small and buried behind trees and I hadn’t noticed them before all this, but they are there. It would be interesting to see maps of what the country looks like already to put something like the above image in context.

  2. Excellent comments above. I wonder what the map of farm building, concrete pads and sheds for farming that have been built in the last 20 years would look like? When you look at the countryside it is full of farming infrastructure that blocks roads, with machinery animals, and trucks. We all accept that as its what is needed. We do not live in a perfect world. We need food, we need energy, we need jobs, and we need economic activity.

  3. The operator Cuadrilla is not a competent enough organization even to attempt to embark on a project to extract unconventional gas and oil. If it feels so ashamed of the prospect of the number of wells, the amount of water and the amount of waste the industry requires that it attempts to obscure these issues at any opportunity then a rational person would suspend any activity until a proper account of the impact of the industry has been given. All the evidence points to it being extremely intrusive.

  4. If you ban an economic activity because it cause traffic jam a couple of times every few months then London and other city community are in trouble. We get traffic jam almost everyday and the council didn’t ban the commuter drive cars.

    • If the community or council or any other responsible body took steps to vary working hours and patterns then traffic jams would be less frequent and shorter. The grounds for rejecting an application to drill and or frack are restricted by the planning process. Those restrictions do not negate the validity and relevance of grounds for objection which fall outside those restrictions imposed by an inadequate planning process as it exists currently.

  5. Whilst those posting above would like this to just be an issue about traffic, concerns about long-term environmental damage and the industrialisation of a rural landscape are far more pertinent. Cuadrilla seem to deliberately confuse ‘wells’ with ‘well pads’. If each pad has only 20 wells, the figure of 2,000 wells is entirely accurate. If, similar to the US, each well needs 5 million gallons of water, that’s nearly 650 tanker journeys multiplied by the number of wells , (assuming that the site is accessible for petrol tanker sized vehicles). Each well head could easily receive between 12 000 and 24 000 tanker visits. For people living nearby that’s more than an occasional inconvenience, or a traffic jam every couple of months. Assuming that these millions of gallons of toxic will need to be stored somewhere afterwards, the scale of the impact on local communities is likely to be far larger than current gas wells, so the comparison between the two is a red herring.

  6. frack off some of yu clowns it needs BANNING full stop never mind traffic jams etc its health concerns that bother me caused by this ABOMINATION and QUADRILLA are liars absolute liars so are tory trash /hiding the dangers from the public but we researched n found out the truth so if some of yu want to be damnwell poisoned by the disgusting water through fracking well so be it /but I don’t and I happen to live in the god forsaken place unfortunately 5 miles away from bloody Preston I just pray LCC sees sense like the Fylde and Wyre councils have

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