Regulation

Cuadrilla granted fracking consent for UK’s first horizontal shale gas well

pnr 180721 Ros Wills

Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site near Blackpool, 21 July 2018. Photo: Ros Wills

The government has granted final consent for fracking at the UK’s first horizontal shale gas well at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site in Lancashire.

The announcement, from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, came on the final day of parliament.

Cuadrilla welcomed the news and said it would now apply for consent to frack the second well, where drilling was completed earlier this month.

Friends of the Earth and local residents said they would continue fighting fracking.

Condition

The Treasury decided that Cuadrilla had adequate financial resilience to undertake the work, but set a condition on one of the project’s backers, Spirit Energy.

The company must submit accounts for the last financial year, or transfer £557,000 into an escrow account set up to hold funds until a condition has been met.

Spirit Energy was formed in 2017 when Centrica’s Exploration and Production business was merged with the Norwegian firm Bayerngas Norge.

“Meet expectations of local communities”

The energy minister, Claire Perry, said in a statement:

“Shale gas has the potential to be a new domestic energy source, further enhancing our energy security and helping us with our continued transition to a lower-carbon economy. It also has the capacity to deliver substantial economic benefits, both nationally and locally, as well as through the creation of well paid, high-quality jobs.

“We already have an excellent, long-standing reputation for safe oil and gas exploration. Our world class regulations will ensure that shale exploration will maintain robust environmental standards and meet the expectations of local communities.

“I have carefully considered Cuadrilla’s application and I am content that Hydraulic Fracturing Consent should be granted in this instance.”

“World class shale gas exploration site”

Francis Egan, chief executive of Cuadrilla, said:

“We are very pleased to be the first operator in the UK to have been awarded final consent to hydraulically fracture the UK’s first onshore horizontal shale exploration well.

“This is a testament to, and underpinned by, our strong track record of running a world class shale gas exploration site at Preston New Road, in compliance with robust health, safety, environmental and planning regulations.

“It is also a win for Lancashire, which has already benefited directly from over £10m of investment as a result of our exploration works at Preston New Road to date.

“We now look forward to submitting a fracture consent application to BEIS for our second exploration well and moving on to fracture the shale rock and flow the natural gas which we believe will make a major contribution to reducing the UK’s gas imports and improving our environment and economy.”

“Localism is a sham”

Frack Free Lancashire said it was saddened that permission had been granted, regardless of opposition from local councils, MPs and residents.

“They have now proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that localism is a sham.

“The irony of allowing this water intensive industry to go ahead at exactly the moment when the country is in the grip of the worst drought for 40 years, will be lost on nobody.

“The fact that they are also proposing to kill off small scale renewable investment by removing the feed-in tariffs at the same time as enabling fracking is further evidence that this government’s energy policy is hopelessly out of step with the real world and the issues that we all face as a result of imminent climate change.”

“Reckless behaviour”

Liz Hutchins, director of campaigns at Friends of the Earth, said this was “a dark day for the climate”:

“The government backed the wrong horse. Renewables have cleared the finishing line and have taken the cup while fracking is limping along on the first stretch.

“They have also had to really push the boundaries of planning law by trying to change regulations to go all out for fracking, and they’ve put everything into resuscitating this nearly dead-on-its-feet industry.

“Sneaking these unpopular decisions out at the eleventh hour shows a brazen disregard for people everywhere suffering from climate chaos.

“Today of all days, as Europe burns, and the UK is a tinder box, this is reckless behaviour towards our environment and the planet’s future.”

Court challenge

The go-ahead came as a legal challenge by Friends of the Earth against regulation at Preston New Road is still being considered by the High Court.

Cuadrilla’s first well was completed in April 2018 and targets the Lower Bowland shale at a depth of 2,300m. The second well is at 2,100m and targets the Upper Bowland shale.

Following hydraulic fracturing of these first two horizontal wells, Cuadrilla said it would run an initial flow test of the gas produced from both wells for approximately six months.

“Kick in the teeth for localism”

The Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas, speaking in the House of Commons Summer adjournment debate this afternoon, said:

“This is an absolute kick in the teeth for the local community, who almost unanimously oppose fracking in their back yard, and who have been fighting an incredibly strong campaign against it.

“However, it is not just a kick in the teeth for localism; it is an extraordinarily perverse decision, given the reality of accelerating climate change. The Government are locking us into a whole new fossil fuel industry at exactly the time when the experts are telling us that we must leave the majority of known fossil fuels in the ground.”

Referring to the heatwave, she said:

“The idea that now is a good time to give the green light to fracking, while making it more difficult, for example, to pursue renewable energy … seems to be taking stupidity to new heights.”

“Forget fantasy dash for gas”

Green Party of England and Wales co-leader Jonathan Bartley said:

“The Government is entirely wrong to give permission to frack. At the same time as it is suppressing peaceful resistance, it is railroading through its own path to environmental destruction. “We stand in solidarity with all those putting themselves in the way of the drills and will continue to resist this destruction.

“We stand in solidarity with all those putting themselves in the way of the drills and will continue to resist this destruction.

“It has taken 7 years to get this far, we urge the government to forget the fantasy of a dash for gas and invest in a renewable future.”

“Momentous achievement”

Ken Cronin, chief executive of UK Onshore Oil and Gas, said:

“This is a momentous achievement and UK Onshore Oil and Gas wish to congratulate Cuadrilla, its suppliers and staff for their success.

“At a time when the UK, and indeed the whole of Europe, is becoming ever more dependent on imported fuels it is very encouraging that we are taking steps to reverse the trend. By doing this we will bring back home the job opportunities, investment and tax revenues lost by outsourcing our energy needs while securing our energy future and signalling that the UK is beholden to no one now or into the future.

“I am also pleased to see that the two wells at Preston New Road have helped drive over £10 million into the Lancashire economy and create over 60 jobs, whilst communities are directly benefitting through Lancashire based funds and payments. This is just a flavour of what a fully-fledged UK onshore gas industry can provide.

“With 84% of us heating our homes with gas, industry using it as a vital feedstock and gas meeting nearly half of our electricity demand, the question is not whether we use gas, it’s where we source it from, and the answer should be at home. With this in mind, Lancashire can today be proud that it is at the forefront of Britain’s indigenous energy revival.”

“Disappointing decision”

A spokesperson for Frack Free United said:

“Yet again this government never ceases to amaze! This is a disappointing decision that could open the flood gates to a shale fail. The government are sorely out of touch in making this decision.  Third energy’s hopes  of coming back to Ryedale hang on a decision by this very same minister. Claire Perry, our message is simple: LISTEN to the people, LISTEN to the evidence mounting against fracking, this is an atrocious decision. We are groundswell rising, we will fight all the way to prevent an industrial onslaught and the fracking up of our communities.”

“Astonishing scope to grow”

Lee Petts, chairman of Lancashire for Shale, said:

“This is fabulous news for Lancashire, putting it squarely at the forefront of the UK’s nascent shale gas industry. The opportunity for local suppliers to gain a significant first-mover advantage cannot be overstated. Already, operations at Preston New Road have seen millions of pounds spent with Lancashire businesses, and the scope for that to grow in the future is astonishing – there really is nothing with the quite same potential to change the game for Lancashire’s economy.

“We are delighted that the Secretary of State has recognised this potential, and given Cuadrilla the final approval it needs to get on with demonstrating that Lancashire shale gas can be recovered in commercial quantities so that we can better assess the role it will one day play in meeting our energy needs as a nation.”

Link to decision notice

25/7/18  Report updated to include condition on Spirit Energy

49 replies »

  1. Sneaked out by the government under cover of Brexit announcements on the last day of parliament. Disgraceful, but sadly not surprising. The fact that Cuadrilla have no emergency plan in place obviously isn’t enough to stop this irresponsible company from fracking against the will of local people.

  2. I’m certain everyone will welcome this momentous announcement. The first is always the hardest. Glad it came before summer recess. Happy days 😊

    • Happy days for who Gottabekidding? Certainly not the residents of the Fylde which I take it you’re not?
      A genuine person would post under their real name not an alias by the way!

      • I am a local resident and speak for many local residents who are more than happy to welcome shale gas on the Fylde. As for posting real names, the farmer leasing the land to Cuadrilla gets regular death threats and has to have police protection (peacfull protest?)

          • We have now received a reply from Lancashire police regarding “regular death threats” to the landowner at Preston New Road:
            The reply reads: “We’re not aware of any threats of this nature.”

            Please don’t make or repeat unsubstantiated allegations in comments. If you wish to make a claim, please back it up with a link to the source of your information.

            We don’t always have the time to check out such claims, so allegations made without supporting information are liable to be removed from comments.

            • I was told of the death threats to the farmer in question by an adjoining farmer. That is why there is a police car on the farmers drive at all times. When I have driven past the farmers house I have seen the police there every time for over a year. I am currently out of the Country but will endeavour to substantiate this in due course.

    • Happy days when the hosepipe ban comes into effect next week. Frackers finally lose touch with reality – how on earth can the industry take off in Lancashire if there is no reliable water supply?

  3. It’s been 33*C in the Arctic; the sea ice there is barely 1m thick; wildifires rage in Siberia, Sweden, America, Ukraine, Greece etc; methyl hydrates are leaching methane from the seabed floor creating emission spikes of 3000ppb; Antarctic ice melt has tripled in 5 years; crops are failing internationally at 10-50% rate, and these neo-liberal ecocidal maniacs want to make it worse.
    Farewell it ice it maybe, but farewell to your fracking investments too. You’d be better off spending that investment money on food.

    • THE EXTINCTION OF HUMANITY

      PRO FRACKERS ………. ON HERE have compared the current heatwave to the Summer of 1976 .

      BUT science has CLEARLY shown that the summer of 1976 is NOTHING compared to today’s heatwave .

      TAKE A LOOK at the world globe in this article , it shows the temperatures around the world in 1976, then it shows you the global temperatures in 2018

      https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/metro.co.uk/2018/07/24/climate-change-happening-right-eyes-proof-7753745/amp/

      • AND IF YOU NEED ANY MORE PROOF about the serious effects of Climate Change and the problems it causes like,

        Extreme Heatwaves
        Extreme Cold Temperatures
        Extreme Floods
        Extreme Hurricanes

        Then take a look at what the world’s leading scientists at NASA have to say about it .

        NASA Global Climate Change

        https://climate.nasa.gov

        Some Pro Frackers will tell you that there are financial benefits to Fracking.

        I THEN WILL ASK, WHAT ARE the financial costs , of the devastation caused by the extreme swings in global temperatures when you consider the following..

        ( 1) Financial costs to communities from floods
        ( 2 ) Financial costs to communities from Hurricanes.
        ( 3 ) Food prices with Crop failures from droughts
        ( 4 ) Financial costs to public health due to ( illegal ) high levels of airborne pollution .
        ( 5 ) Financial costs associated with the contamination of Water Aquifers .

        ANSWERS PLEASE ????????

        • @Jackthelad

          How does importing so much LNG from Algeria, Egypt, Qatar and Russia help to prevent climate change? I mean, it’s not like we’re just going to stop using gas when you consider how much we use in heating, electricity generation, fertiliser production and chemicals – so, isn’t it better to use our onshore gas resources and save the CO2 emissions that stem from liquefaction, shipping and re-gassification? Because LNG comes with a 10% CO2 premium compared with Lancashire shale gas.

          • @_oppinion changer.

            ONLY ….13 % of gas arrives to the UK via tankers, in liquefied form .

            https://www.britishgas.co.uk/the-source/our-world-of-energy/energys-grand-journey/where-does-uk-gas-come-from

            43 % is from the North and Easy Irish sea
            44 % is from Europe brought in via a pipeline .

            Thats right , ONLY 13 % Is brought in via tankers …..When you consider the APPALLING WASTE OF ENERGY in this country and what could be done to stop that waste, whilst at the same time harnessing FREE renewable energy, it’s criminal for any government to continue with the current status quo of wanting to scrape the bottom of the barrel with widespread fracking.

            You may ask where all this money would come from to fund such grand energy saving projects ….. That one is simple ..

            Maybe if we stopped wasting £100 Billions on wars and bailing out incompetent Banks there WOULD be plenty of money for all.

            TAKE A LOOK at the world globe in this article , it shows the temperatures around the world in 1976 ( the great summer of 1976 ) , then it shows you the global temperatures in 2018…… The problems for the human race are clearly serious .

            https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/metro.co.uk/2018/07/24/climate-change-happening-right-eyes-proof-7753745/amp/
            REPLY

            I WILL AS THIS QUESTION AGAIN ……. WHAT IS THE FINANCIAL COST OF CLIMATE CHANGE ??????

            LET’S CONISDER SOME OF THESE .

            1) Financial costs to communities from floods
            ( 2 ) Financial costs to communities from Hurricanes.
            ( 3 ) Food prices with Crop failures from droughts
            ( 4 ) Financial costs to public health due to ( illegal ) high levels of airborne pollution .
            ( 5 ) Financial costs associated with the contamination of Water Aquifers .

            This above is ONLY A SMALL sample of the problems that are playing out right in front of our very eyes … Just look at this country and around the world RIGHT NOW and this is set to continually get worse and worse as time goes by .

            AGAIN I ASK , WHAT IS THE FINANCIAL AND HUMAN COST ??????

            • That’s 13% too much though if you’re serious about cutting emissions. Oh, and there’s no such thing as ‘free renewable energy’: from the mining companies that supply the commodities, to the equipment manufacturers, installers, maintenance companies and those that retail the energy to us – they all do it to make a profit.

  4. Does Greg Clark have a reputation? Not sure he is at that stage of his career that he should be too worried about his reputation.

    Well, Peter, I think you will find the anti posters who hide their identity are in the majority. Grasping at straw stage now, so to be expected.

    And, yes, sorry to burst your bubble but certainly happy days for some residents of the Fylde.

  5. On the day when extreme weather events resulted in significant loss of life through fires in Greece and floods in Laos, our “government” gives the go-ahead for fracking in Lancashire, an activity which, if followed as an example, will inevitably result in a boost to global warming,to climate change, and to the subsequent increased incidence and severity of such events. One’s disgust is matched only by one’s anger at the stupidity, cupidity and avarice which keeps these puppets tied to the fossil fuel industry.

    • How will it inevitably result in a boost to global warming if it displaces higher C02 liquefied natural gas shipped from all over the world? The Committee on Climate Change and UN IPCC both say shale gas can be compatible with the UK’S climate emissions targets

  6. Perhaps iaith could tell us how one dollop of UK fracked gas, replacing one dollop of USA shale gas hauled across the Atlantic, is suddenly going to change the balance of anything?

    Here’s a clue-only the Balance of Payments, and tax income to help fund public services-and, oh yes, may even be able to help subsidise the roll out of some alternative energy technology.

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