Regulation

First red-level tremor at Cuadrilla’s fracking site

181026 location map

Location of earth tremors linked to fracking at Cuadrilla’s shale gas site to 26 October 2018. The most recent events are marked in red. Source: Google Imagery (c) 2018

A 0.8 magnitude earth tremor was recorded today near Cuadrilla’s fracking site at Preston New Road on the edge of Blackpool.

The event, at 12.30pm (bst), happened while fracking was taking place, the company has confirmed.

It qualifies as the first red event near the site under the government’s traffic light system regulations for induced seismicity.

It is also the largest seismic event near the site since fracking began on 15 October 2018.

181026 BGS chart

Extract from British Geological Survey list of seismic events around the British Isles since the Blackpool activity began.

A red event is where seismic activity during fracking measures 0.5ML or more.

Under the traffic light system, Cuadrilla must stop fracking the current stage, flush the well, reduce pressure and pause fracking for 18 hours. The integrity of the well must be checked and ground motion recorded. A report is sent to the regulators before operations can restart.

There have also been two amber events so far at Preston New Road were on 19 October and 25 October 2018. Amber events are where seismic activity measures 0.0-0.5ML. Fracking can be completed with caution, pressure reduced in the well and the integrity checked.

Cuadrilla said work would pause today for at least 18 hours and was expected to recommence tomorrow morning (Saturday 27 October 2018).

The company said in a statement:

“Micro seismic events such as these result in tiny movements that are way below anything that would be felt at surface, much less cause any harm or damage.

“It is reassuring that the monitoring and traffic light system is working as it should.

“All the relevant regulators were informed without delay and we have verified the well integrity is intact.

Today’s seismic event is the 17th earth tremor in a series that started on 18 October. There were two other events today, measuring 0.2 and -0.2ML.

There have been four consecutive days of seismic activity this week, comprising a total of 12 tremors.

Cuadrilla recorded today’s event as 0.78ML but the British Geological Survey, which records to one decimal place, listed it as a 0.8ML.

A spokesperson for Lancashire for Shale said:

“Like the others that have preceded it in recent weeks, this is still a microseismic event that we only know about because of the intensive monitoring being performed by both Cuadrilla and the British Geological Survey, using highly sensitive instrumentation.

“It is many thousands of times smaller than the 4.4 ML earthquake that struck South Wales earlier in the year, but which caused no damage to property or injury to people despite being felt over 100 miles away, including in Lancashire.

“People need to accept that these imperceptible microseismic events are just a feature of the fracking process. Provided that Cuadrilla continues to observe the requirements of the Traffic Light System and adheres to its government-approved Hydraulic Fracture Plan, there is no reason to suspect they are a precursor to more significant ‘felt seismicity’.”

What does a red light mean for fracking?

 

136 replies »

  1. If I have it right, relatively little of our gas is usually imported from Russia since most comes from Norway, the North Sea, Qatar or the Netherlands. However at times of shortage when those sources are fully stretched, such as during the “Beast from the East” (no fascist slur intended) we import from the European market via the Bacton terminal along with using other measures to increase supply or reduce demand. It is these European market supplies which I gather tend to contain roughly 40% Russian gas. In other words it as at times when our supplies are most vulnerable that we rely on European imported gas most. Overall I guess I think for the economic and environmental health of the country we would be better off producing gas onshore.

    • Obviously your guess either fails to take into account any impact on local communities affected by shale gas development or views them as as acceptable collateral damage.

      • Well said Crembule; in addition, if we stopped wasting gas for electricity generation we would have plenty in times of cold weather to meet the demand, storage allowing, of course – small point missed by many that our gas storage capacity is woefully inadequate unlike other European countries…..

        • Sherwulfe – this is a very valid point which no one seems concerned about. Even when we had Rough we were way behind France and Germany for storage. I recall we had 10 days, other countries have 3 or 4 weeks. Now with Rough gone we have even less.

          The linked article is from 2013 and includes Rough. Rough was over 70% of UK storage – clearly large as 2017 gas imports showed an annual reduction primarily due to Rough blow down. Not good reading….

          https://www.carbonbrief.org/is-the-uks-limited-gas-storage-capacity-a-problem

          There is a new facility being built at Preesall not far from Cuadrilla’s operations. I recall massive local opposition to this? I assume you are happy with it Sherwulfe?

          https://www.gov.uk/government/news/preesall-underground-gas-storage-facility-receives-planning-consent

          • Thought our off shore fields were depleting so please explain why another community have to carry this burden of this storage facility? Rough was a repurposed off shore facility why can the new storage facilities not be?

            Oh yeah it comes down to money and Government myopia, see Baird gas storage project for a perfect example

            • Yes, economics. No subsidies and therefore not economic. A bit like Swansea Bay although Baird would have been a lot more useful. So we depend on overseas storage – weather is cold, gas supply short, prices up. Supply and demand. Preesall will help.

              Although I did read on DOD that people are worried that Cuadrilla’s fracking program at PNR will result in leaks at Preesall?

              • Paul that reads to me like it’s cheaper to put communities at risk and inconvenience than it is to choose the safer more sensible option.

            • It is not often possible to do direct correlations between countries because there are so many factors involved which differs from nation to nation. So possibly the fact that we are surrounded by sea and thus able to keep much of our storage requirement within tankers moored offshore ? As for not using gas to drive generators, well if you prefer to sit in the dark, switch off your lights and tv and save gas !. The majority regard the means to generate electricity is a necessary evil. I imagine many people with green credentials would be rather put out if there was no electricity at night !

          • There are moves to provide underground storage facilities in UK, unfortunately the events of the USA SoCalGas Aliso Canyon release were analysed it this study and points out some very serious considerations:-

            https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2016/10/f33/Ensuring%20Safe%20and%20Reliable%20Underground%20Natural%20Gas%20Storage%20-%20Final%20Report.pdf

            On October 23, 2015, the largest methane leak from a natural gas storage facility in United States history
            was discovered by the Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) at well SS-25 in its Aliso Canyon
            Storage Field in Los Angeles County. The leak continued for nearly four months until it was permanently
            sealed on February 17, 2016. In the interim, residents of nearby neighborhoods experienced health
            symptoms consistent with exposures to odorants added to the natural gas; thousands of households were
            displaced; and the Governor of California declared a state of emergency for the area. Approximately
            90,000 metric tons of methane was released from the well, although estimates vary and the State of
            California is continuing its analysis. The incident also created serious energy supply challenges for the
            region and prompted broader public concerns about the safety of natural gas storage facilities.

            https://news.usc.edu/136300/who-should-be-held-responsible-for-the-aliso-canyon-gas-leak/

            That resulted in the worst greenhouse effect in human history and to date, a $120 million settlement from SoCalGas with more in the “pipeline”.

            This event will require much more stringent regulations and precautions if instituted in UK, and the question is, does this government have either the expertise, or the will, and do the operators have the required competence, to do any such thing? And then of course we have to ask ourselves, where such a facility can be placed in our all ready overcrowded geologically complex and faulted country?

            There you go Paul, not a song in sight? But don’t tempt me? I might just decide to kill this page out of sheer enjoyment?

            Always a pleasure!

            Have a nice day…..

            • Yes Phil C. Good you got the story correct. Many on this BB blamed the Aliso Canyon leak on shale gas and fracking which of course was nothing to do with it. Failed / corroded production casing caused the problem from what I remember. This is one of the risks of using old production wells for gas injection and storage.

              The reason Rough was shut in was because the wellheads were de-rated to a level where the storage facility was no longer viable. Old gas wells from the the mid 1970’s. So the UK “gold plated legislation” worked – I believe this was picked up by independent well examination thus preventing a similar issue to Aliso Canyon. They don’t have independent well examination in the US.

            • Phil C
              The UK has existing similar gas storage facilities and always good to read round the subject. So already instituted in the UK, and doing ok thank you very much ( as they say ). But I think you already know that?

              Maybe the US should have visited the UK to see a well run gas storage site, such as Hornsea ( and look at the COMAH Regulations ).

              Here is some background reading.

              http://www.bgs.ac.uk/research/energy/undergroundGasStorage.html

              Worst case examples are bread and butter to anyone working in industry, and serve as a warning as to what can go wrong.

              Dam failures are always top of the list in terms of immediate impact, so maybe we should ponder whether the UK has sufficient engineering capability and regulation to have them?

              https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dam

              A good read for past events can be found in

              https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normal_Accidents

              Although written in 1984, still a good read, and cheap.

              But good to be aware of the risk.
              of course, coal storage does not carry that risk. No coal pile has exploded, no coal pipeline has ruptured, it is cheap and does not comprise a COMAH Site.

            • I think Paul, that you will find i neither requested, nor require at any time your assumed definition to approve, or disapprove of anything i write in any way whatsoever? Whether you claim to read it or not? i use the word “claim” advisedly.

              Oh, i know you like to appear to be the “fount of all knowledge” and “expert” in all things oil and gas, and hence the attempts to subsume everyone under your all encompassing “superior” opinion?

              Unfortunately i find such an assumed position to be somewhat spurious and over egotistical and would tend to refute such assumptions out of hand.

              However, i reserve the right to write the truth and not have to your unasked for comment as to whether such truth is within your undoubtedly self assumed deity like opinion of how the world should, or not be in any respect?

              Do i make myself clear?

              Did that “kill” the page sufficiently for you? I rather hope it did.

              Have a nice Sunny day!

            • Good morning everyone, its the second frack desecrated Sunday on October 28th 2018, and the last Sunday before “All Hallows Eve” otherwise known as “Halloween” which was originally the Celtic festival of “Samhain”.

              If you think Halloween is just a weird American event, then look at the history of its Celtic origins, the actual origins, like everything else, is far more interesting than the modern myth.

              https://www.history.com/topics/halloween/history-of-halloween

              There are some interesting aspects to the timing of these events in relation to the activities of fracking and the connotations are quite interesting to be explored on this coming eve of the dead.

              OK, we move on out of the death cult dying page, leaving the zombie like rotting incumbents to wander stiffly stupidly moaning “gasss……gassss…….gassss……..” and and lets say something that the overbearing deity will not “approve” of for one miserly miserable frack polluted second…..

              And of course our Sunday song can be only one thing cant it?

              Yes, you guessed it folks, its……

              Michael Jackson

              “Thriller”

              Changed slightly just for Paul and his ankle biter attack puppy BTW, to:-

              “Driller Killer”

              It’s close to midnight and something evil’s lurkin’ in the dark
              Under the moonlight you see a sight that almost stops your heart
              You try to scream but terror takes the sound before you make it
              You start to freeze as horror looks you right between the eyes,
              You’re paralyzed

              ‘Cause this is Driller, Killer night….

              And no one’s gonna save you from the beast about to frack

              You know it’s Driller, killer right….

              You’re fighting for your life outside a killer, driller tonight

              You hear the door slam and realize there’s nowhere left to run
              You feel the cold hand and wonder if you’ll ever see the sun
              You close your eyes and hope that this is just imagination, girl
              But all the while you hear a creature creepin’ up behind
              You’re outta’ time

              ‘Cause this is Driller, Killer night….

              There ain’t no second chance against the thing with the faulty eyes, girl
              Driller, Killer night
              You’re fighting for your life outside a killer, driller tonight

              Night creatures call
              And the fracking dead start to walk in their masquerade
              There’s no escaping the lies of the alien this time (they’re open wide)
              This is the end of your life

              They’re out to get you, there’s demons closing in on every side
              They will possess you unless you change that 0.5 number on your dial
              Now is the time for you and I to protest close together
              All through the night we’ll save them from the terror on the scene,
              I’ll make you see

              That this is Driller, Killer night
              ‘Cause we can Thrill you more than any fracking ghoul could ever dare try
              Driller, Killer night
              So let us tell you right and scare the Driller, Killer, Chiller,
              Thriller here tonight

              ‘Cause this is Driller, Killer night
              Girl, we can thrill you more than any fracking ghoul could ever dare try
              Driller, Killer right
              So let us protect you right and scare a Killer, Driller

              They’re gonna try to drill you tonight

              [Voice of Vincent Price:]

              Darkness falls across the land
              The midnight hour is close at hand
              Creatures crawl in search of crud
              To terrorize y’all’s neighborhood
              And whomsoever shall be found
              Without the soul for getting down
              Must stand and face the hounds of hell
              Or rot inside a corpse’s shell

              [Voice of Michael Jackson:]

              They’re gonna try to drill you tonight…

              [Voice of Vincent Price:]

              The foulest stench is in the air
              The funk of 500 million years
              And grisly ghouls from every fracking tomb
              Are closing in to seal our doom
              And though we fight to stay alive
              Your body starts to shiver
              For no mere mortal can resist
              The evil of the Driller

              [Into maniacal laugh, in deep echo]

              ——

              That was fun!

              Have a great Sunday with family and friends, and remember, even the darkest night is followed by the dawn, and the all zombie companies will always have to stumble and groan back to their dark little holes in the ground to avoid the Sun, the giver of all life, fossilised or not.

              [Typos corrected at poster’s request]

          • Paul

            This project is interesting for those used to living and working in and next to East Coast gas terminals and storage facilities.

            The anti group http://nogasstorage.co.uk/index.html troubled the Halite Energy Group one could argue, when the plan was initially rejected. But patience is rewarded.

            http://www.blplaw.com/expert-legal-insights/articles/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Presall-DCO-blog-article.pdf

            Now it is back on, I wonder how the non existent ER plans and stretched blue light services in Lancashire can cope with an additional COMAH Site? Or maybe their plans are OK and Tourist industry encouraged and related Alcohol Abuse takes up 100,000 times or more Ambulance space in Lancashire than Gas Storage and the othe COMAH sites ever will.

            https://www.blackpool.gov.uk/Residents/Health-and-social-care/Documents/Health-and-wellbeing-board/Blackpool-Alcohol-Strategy-2016-2019-FINAL.pdf

            • Can you post a comparison of the money and jobs that each Industry does or is predicted to bring into the area?

              Blackpool and the Fylde seaside villages owe their existence to the tourism industry.

              Locals in the main except the problems caused, sometimes through gritted teeth. The shale gas industry is unlikely to ever gain the same level of acceptance.

          • ‘There is a new facility being built at Preesall not far from Cuadrilla’s operations. I recall massive local opposition to this? I assume you are happy with it Sherwulfe?’ – a very odd thing to ask Paul. I don’t use the stuff, so for me this decision rests with those who do and those who are local to the site. Am sure many are suspicious of its location.

            As I have said before, local people should decide on these projects, including shale. If they don’t want them, then that is a consequence which they are willing to take. The decisions should not weigh on negativity, let the locals come up with a better way to generate power, and if this means, like 85% of the population, they want renewables and community renewable generation, let it be and stop putting up barriers that only protect the dirty industries and super yacht owners.

            Look, whatever way you spin it, with the urgency now of escalating climate change and its repercussions of mass migration and food shortages, we have to wean ourselves off the fossil fuels and fast. Minimum gas, maximum renewables, don’t waste gas for electricity; if you have to, create realistic tariffs not based on profit, but on effect on the planet.

            It cannot be stressed enough that this bandying round of ‘equivalent retaliation’ is not helping the bigger problem. Whether gas comes through trade deals with questionable regimes or from stable countries, it has to be reduced, and fast.

            New fossil fuel extraction like shale is just suicide, and now in our lifetime, not just that of the children. When will you wake up and smell the coffee [don’t get me started on that one ha ha]………..

      • Oh I think it is a clear indication that the Red levels are set too low. If a tremor cannot be felt on the surface then it is pretty much a non-event and shouldn’t make the news . I would also suggest that what is being recorded is settlement after a fracking shock

    • Mortgage lenders, banks, and insurance companies will be watching these events very very carefully. It will be their money on the line if property damage or property depreciation occurs from repeat seismic activity.

      Good conveyancing solicitors will be getting concerned from possible financial repercussions.

      Companies like Groundsure may well start showing seismic hot spots on their surveys

      https://www.groundsure.com/report/energy/

    • ‘Overall I guess I think for the economic and environmental health of the country we would be better off producing gas onshore’

      Wrong. UK Shale gas would have been to expensive, to environmentally damaging, to slow and to unreliable.

      Meanwhile our 400,000 skilled offshore workers are seeing growth in the North sea for the third year running with many new developments including,

      https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/bp-gets-nod-for-200mnorth-sea-development-9vqn6mg5v

      Oil prices high…..North sea cheaper than shale.
      Oil prices low……North sea cheaper than shale

      In other words UK shale is not viable.

      Penny dropped yet?

        • “However, Friends of the Earth Scotland director Dr Richard Dixon said: “This exploitation of this new gas discovery off the coast of Shetland is incompatible with a country and a world that takes climate action seriously.”

          “This gas should stay where is it.”

          Enemies of Industry, central heating and everything else that hydrocarbons are used for…..

          Someone I know who works on the Total West of Shetland fields claims Total are not making any money due to cost over runs. Hopefully they will do better with the new discovery.

          And of course they are set to make a fortune from shale gas in Argentina.

          https://www.worldoil.com/news/2017/4/27/total-to-invest-500-million-to-produce-shale-gas-in-argentina

          I see from the article that the German company Wintershall are also Partners. So we have two leading companies from two EU Countries who cannot exploit shale at home drilling for, fracking and developing shale gas in Argentina. “Hypocrisy”

          • Paul
            I bet Total are pleased they have something more to pop in the Lagan Tomore line.
            That job kept a lot of the lads in work during the recent downturn. Once finished the have gone abroad. But still live around Grimsby, the Fylde, South Wales, the NE and so on, contributing to the local economy and UK tax base.

  2. All these media reporting just point to the facts that Cuadrilla is following it regulated obligations. And these microseismic events are non event to daily lives on the surface and if it wasnt for Cuadrilla and BGS sensitive monitoring all of us wouldn’t know about it and there would be no news to report.

    • Like in the halcyon days of 2011 you mean. When any responsibility was denied in public for months and the regulators not advised of well integrity issues for weeks. Ahhh Franny’s happy times.

  3. The BGS page at the start of the week reported 50 days worth of activity, now it reports 100 days activity, presumably this to account for the additional activity being created by Caudrilla.

    As works continue and the list fills up with more and more Blackppol events will BGS eventually throw in the towel and stop reporting them on this list, will fracking activity get its own page to filter the noise out from other seismic events around the country and would this be a good or a bad thing?

      • The jack hammer guys causes more vibration to my house while they dig up the road to fix the wate pipe in front of my house than fracking.

      • John
        The more reports the merrier, once past the click bait header, hopefully people read the article and seek to understand the traffic light system. They can also listen to F Egan on the Today programme.

        Then there is always the telegraph article. ‘European gas prices hit three year highs and are set to keep rising as companies scramble to store enough gas for winter’ 26 Aug 2018.

        That article notes that our energy security is a bit shaky, as gas companies ( not oil companies of course ) lambast the gov for not focusing on gas storage and fracking, but focusing on intermittent renewables!

        Plus LNG is taken up by Asia, who are prepared to pay more for it.

        There are many articles on gas storage, http://www.cedigaz for example (and we do not have much it fails to make money ), including recent ones which note that a cold winter and spring has left European storage levels low ( as storage requires a surplus at some time to fill it ).

        Meanwhile, the remaining UK coal fired power stations are stocking up on coal for winter, as coal is ( relatively ) cheap and safe to store.

      • You lot need to get a grip 0.8 on the ricter scale is nothing if you ever visit a drag race track the cars register 1,5 on the ricter scale do you want to ban drag racing too ?

      • Do not confuse reporting with ‘danger’, all of their reports indicate no dangerous earth tremors to report. You appear to be converting that in your mind to read all tremors are dangerous

        • No Vernon, the media are waiting for the big one…they sell news; a slow build up is great for them, don’t you know 🙂

  4. With all the reported news the public will become increasingly aware of fracking and earthquakes. Obviously they will be scared at first and will ask questions and even do their own research. Through this they will understand what these tremors really are in terms of its strength and impact. In the end by observations alone they will say these are nothing but part of process and move on with more important things.

    • Well we have different opinions on the affect of the general public doing their own research TW.

      The Public opinion tracker doesn’t support that assertion and nor does what has occurred in the communities under threat of being fracked with community action groups appearing wherever the F word is mentioned.

      • The ‘general’ public on the whole do not do their own research; the Brexit vote proves that……
        Who will now buy a house near and earthquake zone….think about it.

  5. No pressure Phil C. Sorry but I think “Pressure” is a Billy Joel hits. Not Billy Ocean as you quoted. Both are my favorite artists so I am pretty sure on this one.

  6. Any fracking at PNR this morning please?

    We’ve just driven past and there are no cops, a couple of environmental activists and locked gates!

    Have Cuadrilla closed up shop and vaporised?

  7. Another 0.8 today. Even the Telegraph seems to be getting tetchy. “The hunt for shale gas in Lancashire has been brought to a halt after fracking triggered a tremor which ripped through the Government’s safety guidelines.”

  8. Looks like I was right…..a 0.8 again this morning…perhaps Cuadrilla do read DOD?

    “They haven’t lost a day, in fact they probably haven’t lost much time at all. They are not allowed to frack at night are they?

    Cuadrilla should go for another red light tomorrow as they can’t do anything on Sundays. Then back to fracking on Monday.”

  9. When the antis are in town who you gonna call? Myth Busters! Liquid was not being pumped at the time so isn’t a red light event under the TL conditions however it’s a nice day so decided to enjoy the rest of the weather and give the antis something to get excited about.
    Maybe we should set up a demonstration to show what 0.8 feels like in the ‘real world’.
    This lot don’t like the term ‘snowflakes’ but they really do live up to the term. Far to fragile to be taken seriously and demonstrates they have lived very sheltered lives. Apart from the NIMBYs who let’s face it just don’t want any development locally. That’s fair enough but it’s also harsh reality that they’re overridden when called for.
    Will be interesting to see this lot out in protest over HS2! Now that really is disruptive.

    • ‘Maybe we should set up a demonstration to show what 0.8 feels like in the ‘real world’.

      I think you would both go unnoticed.

    • I received an attachment to a reply to my request to Claire Perry, for her to stop backing fracking, which was an attempt to copy our long standing Anti-fracking Mythbuster leaflet.
      The content was totally unacceptable due to incorrect and misleading claims probably supplied to her by the industry in that newly exposed private meeting between them!
      I have accordingly lodged a formal complaint with the BEIS and await a response!

      Wondering how long Cuadrilla will be allowed to continue fracking this week? Wondering also how Cuadrilla’s and their investors share prices are doing?

  10. I have added a link to a very informative article from The Times

    In brief it details the closer relationship between Saudi Arabia and Russia, also upcoming LNG projects and our reliance on foreign gas and the implications to the price of our energy bills and political handcuffs that go with it.

    It is behind a pay wall but registering with The Times allows you to view two articles per week for free. So if you are engaged in the subject above, ie shale gas etc please take a look…

    https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/saudi-arabia-banks-on-putin-to-keep-its-energy-crown-ns0j66qwb

    • So buy it from Norway; what plonker!
      p.s. don’t forget to tell the workers at Warton who are building the aircraft – that is the trade off…..

      • I have worked in Norway over 60 times and their Gas output is on the decline as is Dutch Gas. Russian Gas is filling the void.

        Anyway a very cavalier way to describe getting your energy. The just get it from another Country is neither responsible either environmentally or financially. A very Nimby attitude. The U.K should take responsibility for the energy it uses and the waste it produces.

        As for Warton, I agree selling arms to middle East is wrong be it to Saudi or Qatar. People should be more concerned about unmanned aircraft flying out of Warton rather than shale Gas. No protesters at the gates there…

        • Dear god, you really are in a world of your own….

          ‘The U.K should take responsibility for the energy it uses and the waste it produces’ hallelujah, time to go green; silly Kishy!

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