Largest tremor so far stops Cuadrilla’s fracking again

181029 bubble chart Refracktion

Size of earth tremors around Cuadrilla’s fracking site at Preston New Road. Author: Refracktion using data from the British Geological Survey

Cuadrilla had to stop fracking again this morning because of another earth tremor – the biggest recorded so far.

A 1.1 magnitude (ML) tremor happened while the company was fracking the well at Preston New Road near Blackpool.

This is the second time in the past four days that Cuadrilla has had to stop fracking.

Today’s tremor was classed as a red event under the government’s traffic light system regulations.

Red events cover all seismic activity at 0.5ML or above that happen during fracking. Under the regulations, a red event requires Cuadrilla is required to stop fracking for 18 hours and to check the integrity of the well.

The 1.1ML tremor follows another red event, measured by the British Geological Survey at 0.8ML, on Friday (26 October 2018). DrillOrDrop report

There was also a 0.8ML tremor on Saturday (27 October 2018), after fracking had finished, which was classed as a “trailing event”.

181029v2 tremor tracker

Recorded tremors at Preston New Road up to 13:00 29/10/18 Data:BGS, Background photo: Google Earth; Graphic: DrillOrDrop

This morning’s event was at 11.30am and was located west of the well pad and north of Preston New Road. It was close to the location of Saturday’s trailing event.

There were also three other smaller seismic events today, measuring -0.2, -0.4 and 0.1ML

This group brings the total number of tremors near the site to 27 tremors since seismic activity began on 18 October 2018. DrillOrDrop tremor tracker

181029 BGS chart

Extract of data from the British Geological Survey of seismic activity in the British Isles since 18 October 2018

Cuadrilla started fracking on 15 October 2018. Under the terms of its planning permission, it can frack all day Monday-Friday and on Saturday mornings. Including today, the company has had 13 days available for fracking, although it would not reveal to DrillOrDrop on which days the operation was carried out. Seismic activity has now been recorded on 10 of these available days.

A statement from Cuadrilla this afternoon said:

“Cuadrilla can confirm that a micro seismic event measuring 1.1ML (local magnitude) was detected at about 11.30am today (Monday, October 29) whilst the team were hydraulically fracturing at our exploration site in Preston New Road, Little Plumpton, Lancashire.

“This is the latest micro seismic event to be detected by the organisation’s highly sophisticated monitoring systems and verified by the British Geological Survey (BGS). This will be classed as a ‘red’ event as part of the traffic light system operated by the Oil and Gas Authority but as we have said many times this level is way below anything that can be felt at surface and a very long way from anything that would cause damage or harm.

“In line with regulations, hydraulic fracturing has paused for 18 hours now, during which seismicity will continue to be closely monitored by ourselves and the relevant regulators. Well integrity has been checked and verified.”

The traffic light system was introduced after fracking by Cuadrilla in 2011 at Preese Hall, also near Blackpool, caused a series of 50 earth tremors. These included events measuring 2.3ML and 1.5ML.

DrillOrDrop tremor tracker

What does a red light mean for fracking?

The shadow of Preese Hall over UK fracking regulations

105 replies »

  1. I like the way Egan constantly deflects from the fact by mentioning the effects ‘on the surface’, when the real issue is the damage being done to the well-bore integrity, such as were seen in 2011 when they experienced a fire in the well and hushed it up for 6 months, before telling DECC, who then also hushed it up for 6 months. Gold-standard safety regulations my arse!

    • Doctor Dave
      Are you sure you meant to say they had a ‘fire in the well’ and hushed it up.
      Or that the DECC were not informed ( rather than the HSEx ).

      I guess it must be a wind up, as a fire in the well would be something of a global first I expect ( with a least two of the required legs of the fire triangle missing ).

      Re regulations, see below for how and who enforce regulations relating to well integrity.

      For possible damage to wells from seismic activity see the OGA data below, looking at the number of wells in Notts and east Derbyshire, then compare to the BGS seismic activity map and ponder on how the wells have survived such an onslaught, as indeed have the mine shafts ( the majority of which have now been filled and capped … mine shafts that is )

  2. This one was reported felt at surface . It seems that micro seismic events are those less than zero so how can 1.1 be called micro ?

    Microseismic science grew out of earthquake seismology and focuses on micro-earthquakes (i.e. magnitude less than zero). These micro-earthquakes are too small to be felt on the surface, but they can be detected by sensitive equipment such as geophones and accelerometers.

    • Jono
      Where was this reported as being felt at the surface? There is nothing on the BGS data. However it is getting close to 1.3 which was felt in Ffestiniog on 24th October 2018.

  3. Was wondering why all the seismographs in the North West had no reading from 10.54 to 11.08 this morning. I am not into conspiracy theories but it seemed odd

  4. It looks like the TLS is indeed working well. No wonder Claire Perry alluded to changing it. The usual suspects will no doubt pop up on here saying these are all unimportant minor events that nobody will even feel. I suspect the experts in seismology and geology (preferably the ones not paid by the industry) will tell us that such an increase in frequency and intensity is a serious warning of what happens when you ‘grease the works’. After all, I’m sure residents of Oklahoma had no concern or interest in seismic activity until the frequency and intensity there increased exponentially due mainly to re-injection (currently not regarded as best possible technique over here, but watch this space) but also from fracking.
    Investor confidence won’t be at a high will it? What level of tremor does it take to burst a bubble?

  5. Can you imagine what it would be like if they were in full production mode, rather than doing test fracks “very carefully”? And there were hundreds of other wells across Lancashire doing the same thing? And thousands across the north of England? Just shut it down and put us all out of our misery.

  6. Well, what do we see here? 1.1 and climbing? And of course we are told that fracking doesn’t cause earthquakes does it? That must have been a very big toxic fracking waste tanker going over a manhole (frackhole?)? Or maybe it was the dense smog travelling up from the south? Heavy stuff that smog, it hides a multitude of spins……

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