The Environment Agency announced this afternoon it has approved Third Energy’s hydraulic fracturing plan for the Kirby Misperton site in North Yorkshire.
The news comes as Third Energy moved a workover rig onto the site this morning (DrillOrDrop report).
Third Energy welcomed the decision. The company’s chief executive, Rasik Valand, said:
“We are very pleased to have achieved another significant regulatory milestone towards hydraulic fracturing of our KM8 well following a thorough review of all the technical issues and protections. We will now be in a position to prepare and submit a formal application to the Secretary of State for Hydraulic Fracturing Consent (HFC).
“The Hydraulic Fracture Plan is a technical document that sets out how the company will meet a range of specific regulatory protections around hydraulic fracturing. These measures are in addition to the established regulatory environment which covers all onshore oil and gas development.”
“Sad day for Ryedale”
Cllr Di Keal from Frack Free United said:
“This is a sad day for Ryedale – only one more step remains until the district faces the reality of fracking and the devastation it will bring.
“Hydraulic fracturing is a completely unknown industry in England and the Environment Agency has no expertise or sufficient manpower to regulate it, so how can they claim that they are confident that Third Energy’s operations will be safe?
“We have seen the horror of water pollution, health implications and devastation of agricultural land in the US, Canada and Australia – how dare the Tory government inflict this dirty industry on the UK and effectively treat us as guinea pigs.”
Simon Bowens, Friends of the Earth campaigner, said:
“A matter of mere days after Scotland effectively banned fracking, England is the only country left pursuing it in the UK. The responsibility now lies with the Minister, Greg Clark to stop this industry: it is an unwanted, unneeded, and unnecessary presence in Yorkshire.”
EA satisfied with arrangements
In a statement, an EA spokesperson said:
“We are satisfied with Third Energy’s arrangements for monitoring during and after hydraulic fracturing. The Environment Agency is committed to ensuring that shale gas operations meet the highest environmental standards and can only go ahead if they are safe for people and the environment.
“Our environmental permits set out the legal conditions needed to protect groundwater, surface water and air quality and to ensure the safe storage, management and disposal of waste. Our staff will continue to carry out regular on-site checks and audits to ensure that the company is meeting the high standards we require.”
The EA issued permits for the proposed operation at the KM8 well in April 2016. They cover ground and surface water, emissions, storage of waste and noise from mining operations.
The 37-page hydraulic fracturing plan is one of the final permissions needed before Third Energy can go ahead and frack the well.
The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) must also be satisfied that hydraulic fracturing will not cause seismic events.
The final step is for the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy to check that all the conditions required under section 50 of the Infrastructure Act have been met. These cover the depth and location of the proposed fracturing, monitoring arrangements and other permissions. The OGA will then issue a formal consent.
The fracturing plan proposes to frack five zones of the KM8 well, drilled in 2013. They range in depth from 2,123m to 3,043m. Each stage is expected to take between 1 and 3.5 hours.
According to the plan, the total volume of water to be used will be 3,291 cubic meters, ranging from 424.90 cubic meters for zone A to 1,248.90 cubic meters for zone E. The flowback from each zone is predicted to be 30-50% of the fluid volume.
Last week, the company said it expected to complete fracking before the end of the year. After that, it proposes to test the flow of gas in the well.