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.
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.”