Concerns over vibrations from Lancs seismic testing

Sefton Seismic testing

Seismic surveying near Halsall today.

Council officials are being urged to monitor surveying for oil and gas which got underway in Sefton and West Lancashire yesterday after residents complained about vibrations.

Tesla Exploration is carrying out a seismic survey for Aurora Energy Resources in an area inland from Formby and Southport.

Tesla has laid explosive charges in fields creating low booms, at times every three minutes. In local villages specialist vehicles, called vibroseis trucks, have created vibrations.

“Shook to hell”

This morning, one couple contacted the police when they said they felt the walls of their home shake. They said:

“We are calling the police. Our houses are being shook to hell here and there are young kids”.

Another resident said pictures had been shaken off walls at his home. There have been concerns about the impact of the survey on livestock. There were also reports of dogs bolting.

“Extreme worry for many residents”

Maureen MillsMaureen Mills, a local borough councillor, said this evening:

“I have had many phone calls and emails today from very concerned residents of Halsall and Haskayne about the effects of the shot point explosions and vibroseis trucks too close to residential properties and livestock. This is causing extreme worry for many residents.”

Cllr Mills, who represents Halsall on West Lancashire Borough Council and opposes fracking, contacted Lancashire County Council today about residents’ concerns. She asked Jonathan Haine, Lancashire’s principal planning officer, to send someone out to the area urgently.

Mr Haine replied that he had no reason to believe that the survey was not being carried out within planning law. He said:

“There will be some vibration arising from the survey as this is an intrinsic and essential part of the process”.

But he said there was nothing in planning law to limit the level of vibration, other than a restriction on the size of any charges. He said:

“I have no reason to think that the charges are greater than the 2kg permitted”.

But he said he would mention local concerns to the manager of the operation.

“No risk from vibrations”

Tesla told residents in a leaflet:

“Neither the surveying equipment used nor the vibrations produced pose any risk to property, public safety or health.”

Lancashire Constabulary has confirmed that Tesla is appropriately licensed and experienced in handling explosives. It said the company had a track record of similar operations elsewhere and that it met all the requirements of the Health and Safety Executive.

According to correspondence from Lancashire County Council, Tesla has been monitoring vibration at homes. The highest vibration level recorded for the charges is 2.2 mm/sec and 2.6 mm/sec for the vibroseis. Both readings are well below the 15mm sec level stated in British Standards when cosmetic damage to properties might be possible.

What’s involved in seismic surveying?

Seismic surveying creates vibrations by explosive charges buried in the ground – the shot point explosions – or by dropping a pad from the vibroseis truck onto roads. The vibrations travel through rock layers and where the rock type changes they are reflected back to the surface. Microphones detect the reflected vibrations and help to produce images of the underlying geology.

The process is carried out under permitted development rights, which means companies do not have to apply for planning permission. But the mineral planning authority – in this case Lancashire County Council – is responsible for ensuring that seismic surveying is carried out according to the permitted development rights.

DrillOrDrop watched the process near Halsall today.

At one point, a member of the Tesla team asked us to leave the public road alongside one of the fields because “dangerous equipment was being used”. We were photographed and the car number plate was recorded.

Aurora seismic testing updated

The survey is being carried out in Petroleum Exploration and Development Licence (PEDL) 164 in an area east of Formby and south of Southport. The shot point explosions were at precise locations on 18 lines running north-south and a series of lines running roughly east-west (see map above).

DrillOrDrop understands that fields in the survey area were pre-drilled with 8 metre holes some days before testing began. Today, teams of five people were carrying out the explosions.

The pre-drilled holes were located using GPS. The explosive, weighing ½ kg, was added to each hole and detonated. The vibration from the explosion was picked up by microphones and a measuring device.

We understand Tesla had three teams working on shot point explosions across the area today. A vibroseis truck was also in use. The surveying is expected to last about 10 days and must end by the middle of August under an agreement with Lancashire County Council.

Church Commissioners visit

The biggest local landowner, the Church Commissioners, visited the area yesterday to observe the surveying. The body originally refused access to land farmed by its tenants. But when it faced legal action in the High Court it negotiated with Aurora. DrillOrDrop report

The head of responsible investment, Edward Mason, has said the Church Commissioners would not benefit financially from the surveying and added:

“A geophysical survey does not create a presumption of later test drilling or extraction and the agreement we are negotiating covers seismic testing only.”

But Aurora told Halsall Parish Council if the results of the survey were encouraging, it expected to seek planning permission to drill exploration wells.

The parish council has supported the community group, Halsall Against Fracking. At the June meeting, the clerk was asked to write to Lancashire County Council and United Utilities to express concerns about possible damage to underground pipes during the surveying.

Local protest

On Sunday, Halsall Against Fracking is organising a protest about fracking and the seismic testing programme. The Everything We Stand To Lose tour will use a double-decker bus to take opponents on a tour of the survey area, before heading to Southport with the intention of raising awareness locally. Details

Today Halsall Against Fracking published contact details for Tesla and Aurora for people concerned about the seismic testing. Link

Future seismic surveying

More seismic surveying can be expected in the next few years. According to information from the Oil and Gas Authority, which overseas exploration licences, there are firm commitments by companies to do 2D seismic surveying in 45 licence areas and 3D surveys in another 33. DrillOrDrop report

Updated 29/7/2016 to include data from Tesla monitoring of vibrations at homes.

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26 replies »

    • “Oh my gosh, George, did you feel that shaking?”

      “Yes, Maureen, I’m afraid it was just a little flatulence on my part”

      “What was that, George?”

      “I said it must have been those evil seismic frackers in the next town over. Call the newspaper, Maureen! ”

      Clearly the sky is falling.

      • Careful there hball, you don’t want to feel the wrath of the moderator’s eraser for being antagonistic, nor the ire of the anti’s led by the legendary John Hobson.

        • Michael – why would such a fatuous post make anyone angry? (It’s antis not anti’s again btw)

          • Hi John! We all still eagerly await your answers on a couple of questions.

            1) What kind of empirical evidence can you provide that confirms your thesis that smaller frack jobs, with more limited laterals, requiring less less fluid, are governed by different physical properties than larger lateral frack jobs and thus have different impacts? What empirical evidence can you provide that demonstrates that the 200 fracked wells in the UK used 160 cubic meters of fluid each?

            2) Also, you have made the rather sensationalist claim that the natural gas fracking industry is a Ponzi scheme. Of course someone would only make such a powerful claim with very solid evidence that convincingly proves the point. Can you explain then, John, how it is that in 2009, the natural gas rig count in the US dropped from around 1,600 to just over 600 – a stunning drop of 60%+ – and the entire industry did not go belly up? As you are quite aware I am certain, for a Ponzi to work in the gas industry, you need to keep drilling an increasing number of wells. In fact you need to increase drilling activities at an almost exponential rate because the decline curves are so steep and you need to show growth to continue to attract the capital (and hide the losses) necessary to fund your business which naturally loses more and more money the more you drill (because your costs are higher than your realized prices). So, were the business a Ponzi, this would have been the defining moment where it was exposed, where the industry went bankrupt as production and capital evaporated, where massive lawsuits and insurance claims were filed, where headlines would have raged about the Ponzi, where executives would have been thrown in jail, John!

            But instead, the industry went on to thrive, producing prodigious cashflow over the next five years, adding massive growth to the US economy, creating jobs, cleaning the air, and coming to produce 2/3 of the the gas sourced in the country.

            So, explain to us all, once and for all, John, how you account for these circumstances? And what definitive proof do you have that this is indeed a giant Ponzi?

            Or are these both just the latest in a never ending list of spurious claims made by the less-than-honest anti-fact, anti-frack mafia, John?

            • Still waiting Peeny? You haven’t asked the question – or even answered the one I asked you about what evidence you have that 200 wells have been fracked. You see I know you can’t provide any because DECC told me directly that there are no records, so the chance of you having any direct evidence are vanishingly slim. Do prove me wrong if you can though!

              Apart from the fact that HVHF slickwater horizontals are done using higher pressures (a different physical property if I am not mistaken) you are (probably deliberately) missing the point. The higher fluid volumes are drivers for all sort of other impacts as you really ought to know – waste fluid disposal being the most obvious. I didn’t say all of the previously fracked wells used 160 m3 – I said one did – it was at Elswick and had been used frequently to try to persuade people fracking is OK until the ASA stopped Cuadrilla using it as a false example. The data on fluid use came from Cuadrilla themselves,

              Your definition of a Ponzi scheme is a reasonable one

              “you need to keep drilling an increasing number of wells. In fact you need to increase drilling activities at an almost exponential rate because the decline curves are so steep and you need to show growth to continue to attract the capital (and hide the losses) necessary to fund your business which naturally loses more and more money the more you drill (because your costs are higher than your realized prices)”

              – I think we are just disagreeing at which point in the cycle we find ourselves. Those lines of credit are getting tighter …

              • The 200 well figure is not from me, John. It came directly from industry through the government. It’s not scientific, but it is an estimate. Some of the well sites have been specifically named, but not all of them. My guess is that there are far more than 200, but industry is a bit shy about admitting what was going on in the UK before attention had been drawn to the subject.

                A one stage frack with less fluid isn’t going to use dramatically different pressure vs. a 24 stage frack with 24x the amount of fluid John. And HVHF fracking has been going on for decades.

                You point to the major difference in the 200 wells vs. what is being done today as one of scale. This is something that we finally agree upon, John. The 200 or so wells previously fracked in the UK were on a smaller scale than what is proposed. Now, since we have shown that the industry can safely operate on a small scale in the UK, it is time to slowly scale it up so we can all see it operate safely at a larger scale as it has in the US.

                I’m glad that your thinking has come around on this subject, and that you’ve seen my point on the Ponzi too.

  1. What kind of government allows its country’s citizens to be submitted to this? Explosions, stress, upset of children, pets and livestock? And all for the exploitation of a dirty energy source that does nothing towards sustainability and a better future. This is backwards development. Unbelievable also how landowners are bullied into submission by the threat of being taken to court, and worried observers intimidated. Do keep up the protest though. In many European countries including my own, fracking companies have pulled out after protests of people, local councils and landowners united. It can work, make them leave.

    • The seismic acquisition process, technology & equipment is exactly the same for conventional oil and gas exploration as it is for shale gas (“fracking”) exploration. Thousands of km of 2D seismic and thousands of sqare km of 3D sesimic have been acquired onshore UK over the past 50 years. 3D seismic is important to try and identify faults to minimise farcking seismicity. And to pick the potentially most productive areas to reduce well counts.

  2. Submitted to what?

    Get a grip Lylith.

    Nothing has happened……………yet!
    And you lot feign offence when labelled as scaremongers.

    [Edited by moderator]

    • Michael – Lylith is referring to the seismic testing – what do you mean “Nothing has happened……………yet!” – are you still living in the past old boy?

      As I posted yesterday, a lot of the scaremongering comes from your side – people like The Rev. Roberts and his sidekick are past masters at it.

      • John, I was responding to that section of your comrade’s post that referred to fracking in general, not to seismic testing.

        And John, don’t you or any of your herd go throwing stones now about living in the past. By the tone and content of so many of your comrade’s posts, you are a brave man suggesting others may be living in the past.

        • What is this silly “comrade” thing you are doing Michael – surely you aren’t getting all reds under the bed again are you? Oh dear 🙂

          FWIW I have no idea who Lylith is, so lovely though s/he no doubt is, they are no “comrade” of mine. And you were actually referring to the bit where she describes seismic testing. Try reading a bit more attentively next time?

  3. I seem to recall at the Lancashire planning inquiry that some had suffered damage to their properties from seismic testing and were in dispute with their insurance companies and Cuadrilla.

  4. Quote – ” Drill or Drop watched the process today. At one point a member of the Tesla team asked us to leave the public road alongside one of the fields ‘because dangerous equipment was being used’. We were photographed and the car number plate was recorded.”
    What right has a private company to photograph a member of the public, on the public road, and record their car number plate?
    A similar thing happened a few weeks ago when I went together with a guide from Fleetwoood Museum and a group of around 10 other local people, including Cat Smith MP. We went on a tour of the old Preesall Salt Mines, along the River Wyre, to look at the history of the mines and what the impact would be of Halite’s proposed 19 caverns for Underground Gas Storage. Although the whole walk was on public roads and public rights of way, we were followed all the way round and photographed by 2 burly security guards in an unmarked car.
    Again I would ask what right have private companies to carry out this surveillance on members of the public on public roads?
    I agree with Lyleth’s comment, “What kind of government allows its citizens to be submitted to this?”
    It seems to me it’s a government that is totally controlled by large private corporations.

  5. The Beach Boys causes more ‘Good Vibration’ than this. Even my break wind can cause more vibration than this.

  6. Just a note to remind people what the issues are..

    The excellent Simon Jack, BBC’s business editor reports that the UK’s nuclear stations are getting close their use by date, renewables are not yet able to take the strain in “January when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow…. it’s a poker game where the stakes are very high.”. The Government understand that. I remember the quote from the Guardian, roughly “one of the first duties of government is to keep the lights on”.

    Personally I think the fracking companies, or the government if they think the issue is important enough, should set up a compensation scheme for any proven damage, I suspect ir wouldn’t be called on much but it might allay some fears.

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