Cuadrilla publishes seismic data for fracking site

181001 Cuadrilla seismic eportal

People will be able to view seismic monitoring data from around Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road fracking site, the company said today.

The site, near Blackpool, could be days away from the first high volume hydraulic fracturing in the UK since 2011.

The last UK frack at Cuadrilla’s site at Preese Hall was linked to a series of small earthquakes. This led to a moratorium on fracking in the UK until December 2012.

In the run-up to fracking at Preston New Road, Cuadrilla said its ePortal would show any seismicity, the magnitude and depth, in an area about 4.8km around the site.

The company has the go-ahead to frack its first horizontal well at the site, drilled at 2,300m deep. Fracking at the second horizontal, at 2,100m deep, is waiting for final approval from the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA).

Fracking must pause if there is a seismic event induced by fracking at a magnitude of 0.5 or above.

Francis Egan, CEO of Cuadrilla, said today:

“As we prepare to carry out hydraulically fracturing of the shale rock around the site’s horizontal wells, this additional reporting will help reassure people that monitoring is in place to ensure that operations will continue to be conducted in a safe and responsible manner.

“In fact, the data already shows that naturally occurring seismic events of 1.5ML to 2.0ML, which are rarely felt at surface, occur relatively often across the North West. Once we start hydraulically fracturing our limit to temporarily pause operations, in the event of a seismic event induced by fracturing, is significantly lower, at 0.5ML, than the existing background seismic events of 1.5ML and above.”

Cuadrilla said people could also view historic seismic data on the portal. This includes the results of a recent investigation by the University of Liverpool’s seismology department research group on earth movements induced by human activity in the Blackpool area.

Cuadrilla said the team discovered that standing beneath The Big One Blackpool rollercoaster was the same impact as a 1.8ML earthquake at a depth of 2km below ground. A passing tram in Blackpool caused the same vibrations 2m away as a 2.OML seismic event, the company added.

Dr Ben Edwards, of Liverpool University, said his team had been monitoring seismic activity across the Preston-Blackpool region using a network of high-sensitivity seismometers.

“We were pleased to be asked to help improve public understanding of the effects of minor seismicity that may be detected.

”As seismic events of less than less than 1.5ML are unlikely to be widely felt, and only just felt by some people very close to the epicentre, it can be hard to comprehend what minor or micro seismicity corresponds to in terms of everyday experiences of ground motion.”

26 replies »

  1. Maybe Cuadrilla should explain to the public why they asked for a threshold limit higher than the 2.3 magnitude which caused the earthquakes.

    Also how they interpret the BGS saying that the 0.5 magnitude threshold is for ‘the next few operations’ and ‘can be adjusted over time’

    Could it be ‘adjusted over time’ to suit the 2.6 magnitude equivalent request by Cuadrilla?

  2. It doesn’t matter how much monitoring or regulations the activists are already made up their minds against fossil fuels. So it is quiet pointless.

  3. Nah R8, who would believe what is obviously the truth. Much more exciting to follow the anti truth.

    (I remember when I used to conduct nutritional trials for livestock. You had a control group where you measured the performance-usually growth-and then the trial group where you measured whether their performance was above that of the control group. All pretty standard and replicated in many industries. Call it background noise or whatever. Quite standard in the real world.)

    They gave up with the attempts at sensible arguments when the two thirds refused to be moved. Now, it appears, just content to fish in the swamp.

    Meanwhile, down in the Weald the tremors have ceased as the oil gets extracted! Discuss.

  4. Last tremor in Newdigate was minus 0.7. The one before that minus 0.4. A butterfly passing wind would probably register higher!

    [Typo corrected at poster’s request]

    • In their report on Preese Hall the BGS state that the size of a seismic event is determined by the rate and amount of fluid injected.

      Preese hall used small amounts of fluid during 6 fracking operations. 50 seismic events were recorded. The largest at 2.3 magnitude caused DECC to shut Cuadrilla down.

      Keep the seismicity low and appease the public or increase seismicity through injecting larger volumes to access more gas and keep the investor happy.

      Which is it to be?

      The big issue is of course that every new well would run the same risk . With the industry needing to continually drill new wells it is highly likely that it is only a matter of time before large events occur.

      The BGS disagree with Cuadrilla who say there is a very low probability of other earthquakes during future treatments of other wells.

      The BGS also state that the size of events are determined by the extent of the fault system and state ,

      ‘we note that the causative fault has not actually been identified, and more generally that there is only a limited understanding of the fault systems in the basin’


      ‘Although some large scale structures have been mapped, earthquakes in the magnitude range 2 to 3 ML require only relatively small rupture areas, and so can occur on small faults’.

      The industry could never be free from the possibility of triggering earthquakes and the cumulative effect from multiple well sites could have disastrous consequences.

      Gambling on the secrets of the geology and fault system of the Bowland basin is madness when you consider what could go wrong at any time.

  5. Why are the pro-frackers (onshore shale, oil, hydrocarbons luvvies) so worried about this topic and so many other topics. If they are sure it is all find and dandy why are they even bothering to visit this website. They should be at ease; perhaps looking at their share prices. At present they represent more that 50% of comments on this thread. To be honest, on this and many other forums they are simply talking to themselves, because I cannot see any of the usual posters making a jot of impact on those of us who care about our countryside.

    We can manage without fracked gas from England (the only part of UK that allows it) because we have never used it. You cant miss what you never had. Six years to drill a few wells. That is some going, really productive. Perhaps another few wells in 2014 maybe. Wow, that will be such a huge impact – not!

    By the way, I only use the word ‘fracking / frackers’ because this is the term that the onshore oil and gas industry constantly refer to. This is despite managing to change the threshold definition of a frack to one that is 4 times higher than the average ‘actual frack’ in the USA (see The Infrastructure Act 2015). They still call it a frack because they still know that in reality it is a frack.

    • Waffle
      Are you sure that you have to wear your anti fracking badge to qualify as someone who cares about the countryside? Maybe only catholics go to heaven, or is that only Muslims, maybe only Methodists are holy enough to pass through the pearly gates ( or green gates ).

      Caring about the countryside may be more about having less children, not having any cars, travelling less, living in a small house in town, not going abroad, not using slug pellets, investing in renewables, encouraging your children to go into engineering, litter picking, planting trees, contributing to wildlife charities, p,anti g bee and insect friendly plants, shooting your cats, eating less, converting from gas, installing solar panels on your ( now small ) roof, never going on a cruise, .so on and so forth.

      But maybe you just need to slap on a plastic badge ( or worse, a water hungry cotton one ) and emote away.

      Or maybe protecting our countryside is a multi faceted issue.

  6. Waffle-we are the majority when you include those who have no wish to see fracking within the UK stopped. So, mathematically we should represent more than 50% of the comments on an independent site! What are you suggesting? Shame on you. Re-education could be required.

    Equally, the last tracking survey showed support for the antis was dropping, and that has been replicated on this site.

    We are at ease. Those who bought AJL at 0.18 less than a year ago with it now at 0.41, will be more at ease than some of us who did not. They might be within a state of bliss if they funded their purchase by selling out of Tesla.

    Besides which, it is always good to have a bit of fact alongside the waffle.

  7. Bearing in mind that the horizontal test wells are dramatically shorter, at 700 metres or so, than anticipated, very little seismic activity should result. However the months of flaring are the main cause for concern for local families I’m sure. Especially since their health effects may not become clear for some years!

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