MPs to investigate shale impacts in former mining areas


former mineworkings in northern England.jpg

Former collieries in northern England. Map: Professor Peter Styles

A new parliamentary group has called for evidence on how fracking could affect former coal mining areas.

The issue is to be discussed later this month by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Shale Gas Impacts, chaired by Lee Rowley, the Conservative MP for North East Derbyshire.

Large areas of England’s former coalfields in the East Midlands and northern England are now licensed for shale gas exploration.

northern licences.jpg

Oil and gas exploration licences in the East Midlands and Northern England. Map: UK Onshore Geophysical Library

Potential risks of subsidence and seismic activity from shale gas development have been raised at inquiries into Ineos plans for the villages of Harthill in South Yorkshire and Marsh Lane in North East Derbyshire.

In an interview earlier this year with DrillOrDrop, Emeritus Professor Peter Styles raised concerns about fracking near pre-existing faults in mining areas. His report Fracking and Historic Coal Mining: Their relationship and should they coincide? mapped previously identified faults in areas near proposed shale gas exploration areas.

180522 S YOrkshire shale sites Peter Styles

Geological map with faults (black) from BGS and faults (highlighted white) from underground mine maps. Historic induced seismic events are shown with white and red dots and fall on the small mapped faults as well as the large ones and sometimes within a few kilometres of the proposed boreholes at Marsh Lane, Harthill and Woodsetts.  Source: Professor Peter Styles

He is expected to give evidence to the group at the meeting scheduled for Tuesday 24 July 2018.

Written and oral submissions are invited from other potential witnesses.

The APPG said it wanted to examine:

  • implications of fracking specifically on former coal mining areas
  • which practical, geological or technical issues should be understood if fracking is to be conducted in former mining areas
  • what research has already been conducted on this area to date
  • what work the Coal Authority and other regulators have already conducted on this subject
  • what recommendations may be appropriate for Government to consider for mining areas
  • what evidence there already is of the impacts of drilling in former mining areas in the UK and abroad to date

Potential witnesses should contact Lee Rowley by Friday 13 July 2018.

The APPG met last month to examine the cumulative impacts of shale development. DrillOrDrop report

19 replies »

  1. It’s a given that as seismic activity already occurs in this area then the integrity of the pipes and well heads needs to have not gold but platinum standards to protect the land, water supplies and people.

    • Paula Cooper

      That will be discussed under the last bullet point I guess.

      As seismic activity and subsidence have already occurred in mined areas, which already contain oil wells ( see Eakring Oilfield et al ) and pipelines ( gas, water, oil, sewage etc ), then there should be some evidence that the existing standards are OK, be they cardboard or platinum.

      Maybe having survived the more active issues of coal mining, the lesser impacts of fracking will not cause as much trouble.

  2. The Oil & Gas companies are very aware of the problems , they choose ignore them and deny them , just like the tobacco industry .

    • They also would kill the coal seams so there is no coal competition also, the oil and gas done the same thing to Hemp Farmers back in the 1920s, Coal as the same chemicals as oil, just at different amounts, it can also produce domestic gas.

      • Peter Wyatt
        Coal in the UK is disappearing due to CO2 targets, leading to the closure of coal fired power stations.
        But interesting to see your support for coal against the oil and gas industry. I think that is a first on this site.

  3. East kent and the Potteries -both areas of former mining activity – have both turned down fracking/coal seam gas. To overrule local authorities on these decisions would show serious failure of duty of care for people, property and water supplies.

  4. 200 small seismic events on average each year in UK. Nothing new. We have managed to accept they happen, and mitigate against their impact where necessary eg. design of nuclear power stations. What about on shore wind turbines?

    O&G can accommodate such events quite easily-they have done for decades.

    • It goes some length in explaining why Cuadrilla asked for a future seismic threshold of 2.6 magnitude. A brave request after they got stopped dead in their tracks for causing a 2.3 magnitude earthquake.

      I think we all know what a threshold of 0.5 magnitude “for the next few operations” and “can be adjusted over time” really means although strangely many pro frackers seem to be blissfully unaware of this.

      More pressure and more volume equals more gas……….and bigger seismic events

      Tricky position for a desperate isolated industry to have commercial potential directly connected to seismic activity size.

      • Taken from the official report by the BGS on the Preese Hall events of 2011

        4.3 Job Size and Induced Seismicity

        There is a strong indication from the data in the consultants’ reports that the strength of a
        seismic event is linked to the amount of fluid injected. This inference is consistent with the
        mechanism considered to be the most likely cause of most induced earthquakes, where the
        induced pore pressure reduces the effective stress and faults weaken, or are lubricated to move
        (Hubbert and Rubey, 1959). The size, rate and type of induced seismicity would therefore be
        dependent on:
        1) Rate and amount of fluid injected
        2) Orientation of the stress field relative to the pore pressure increase
        3) Extent of the fault system
        4) Deviatoric stress field in the subsurface

        It is very difficult to predict what will happen in highly stressed reservoirs once hydraulic
        fracturing operations occur, especially where there are no local analogous fields for comparison
        or historical data to analyse.

        Clearly an industry that should not be operating any ware near faulted, unstable, or mined areas.

      • Some fracking sites are earmarked to be used in the plastics industry nothing to do with generating power , I suspect other sites will be the same , ialso wish people would look at the number of wells per site , it’s frightening!

  5. Better late than never, but needs to include salt mining areas, too. Although this corrupt government has a bad record of ignoring sensible decisions and evidence.

  6. I believe that the initial concerns related to’former mining areas and other faulted areas’.

    Well that certainly includes the Fylde Peninsula where peat and sand movement among other underlying geological issues can be seen to cause constant land movements.

  7. The most severe recent seismic event was in the Scottish Highlands. Not exactly a hot bed of former mining. Maybe all that vibration from the whirling wind turbines?

    • Lol. So true…with all the wind mill bolted onto foundation which are sunked into the earth and cause vibration during high wind it is entirely possible…..might even slow down the rotation pf the earth……LOL

    • WD
      Due to a combination of shallow quakes, an unique type of soft clay and a government, strapped for cash, who needs the income from the conventional gas field, as well as the gas for heating most Dutch homes.
      An interesting issue.

  8. Although the APPG on the “Impact of Shale Gas” is due to meet at Westminster on 24 July, when will it actually issue the details of the time and exact place for its meeting ? I would travel to and from the meeting mainly by train from Sheffield, but which trains will I need to book my tickets for ? It would be helpful to be told as some of us also have other commitments that day, especially when our submissions have been in their hands for a while. They are not answering emails on this matter.

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