Regulation

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. Well. The public domt see or feel the earthquake so they wont see any problem. But Cuadrilla will have trouble completing the fracking program. No wonder Mr Egan did look worry on TV.

  2. Anyone know what odds the bookies are giving for a 2.0ML or greater? Probably a better punt than on the shares of Cuadrilla and A.J.Lucas Group .

    • AD
      I have not seen any bookie offering odds on Preson Road seismic activity. I guess they do not have a handle on the odds.
      A better punt would be to buy or short IGas, or go long ( or short ) on any company likely to benefit from high gas prices.

  3. Anything less than ML 1.9 can barely be called an earthquake (although called micro earthquakes), but looking at the frequency and increasing amplitude I’d reckon we’ll be seeing 2.5 plus events before long. That’s not just because of extrapolation its down to the cumulative effects of small fault slippages having a cumulative effect on larger pre-stressed faults that may be waiting to happen. We’ll see.

  4. Glad to see systems working once again. Yes the delays are a nuisance but they’ve been factored into the exploration sums.
    Just need to prove the country doesn’t implode and can get that 0.5 figure substantially increased, then we can reduce the anxiety levels of the snowflakes.

    • The origin of the word epithet “snowflake” is actually a racial slur and has no place here:-

      Emily Brewster, lexicographer and associate editor at Merriam-Webster, found what she believes is the earliest use of snowflake as an epithet: Early 1860s in Missouri, as the Civil War began and citizens battled over whether or not slavery should continue within the state. “A snowflake was a person who was opposed to the abolition of slavery,” Brewster said. “They were called snowflakes because it said they valued white people over black people.”

      The other two bits of Missouri slang from that political moment — the “claybank,” a group that wanted gradual transition from slavery to freedom plus compensation for slave owners, and the “charcoals,” also known as “brown radicals,” who pushed for immediate emancipation and for black people to be able to enlist in the armed forces — didn’t stick. And for a long time, neither did snowflake. It was about a century before snowflake slang made its way back into the vernacular, when it was used to describe “a white person or a black person who was perceived as acting too much like a white person,” according to Green’s Dictionary of Slang.

      “Snowball” was also used as a term for a black person, Green said, as far back as the 1780s; Bartlett’s Dictionary of Americanisms from 1848 defines snowball as “a jeering appellation for a negro.” For a time, snowflake and snowball were used interchangeably in this manner. “It’s this thing about, ‘ha, ha, ha, here’s a black person, let’s call him something white,’” said Green. And even as snowflake and snowball were used in technically non-racial contexts, like as slang for cocaine, “it’s [still] to do with the whiteness.”

      I suggest we ban the epithet to avoid the quite true, accusations of right wing racial discrimination.

      Attempts to hide behind its recent connotation is merely a disguise of the real meaning. Interestingly it could be reversed back to the accuser from alt right sources?

      [Typo corrected by moderator]

  5. Not just snowflakes,
    but professional environmental systems specialists , not in the pay of the oil and gas industry.
    My ‘anxiety is based on sound scientific principles and evidence not on a false evidence economic premise.

  6. BGS call them EARTHQUAKES,so that’s good enough for me and should be for everyone unless they are very, very highly qualified in this sphere!

    Anyway I suggest there’s an event on the way that will shut all you pro-frackers up for good!

    • Peter Roberts

      What size event would be required to silence pro frackers?

      I ask as there could be a difference in size of event which stops fracking at Preston New Road and that which stops pro frackers posting on here.

      Presumable the event would be one reaching or exceeding the levels attained by coal mining, or one reaching those levels attained last time the fylde was fracked?

  7. The size of earthquake that will stop Cuadrilla? Here is what I just wrote in response to a similar query.

    I haven’t found any references to wellbore deformation that explicitly link it to induced earthquakes, but instances of such deformation caused by ‘shale slip’ are common.

    Unfortunately for Cuadrilla, the Fylde may well be an unusual area. Here is a quote from the Cuadrilla-commissioned study of the Preese Hall-1 seismicity of 2011 [de Paiter and Baisch]:

    However, even mapping of many treatments in US shale plays has only shown events up to
    0.8 ML for a treatment volume of 15,000 bbls (N.R. Warpinski, private communication). There are only two
    documented cases of a hydro-frac treatment causing events up to magnitude 1.9 ML and 2.8 MD, respectively
    (from massive hydro-frac treatments in Oklahoma; Luza and Lawson, 1990; Holland, 2011).
    The seismic events observed after two treatments in the Preese Hall well are therefore quite exceptional. Two
    events reported by BGS (magnitudes 2.3 and 1.5) and 48 much weaker events have been detected, and it is
    therefore hard to dismiss them as an isolated incident.

    The PH-1 quake(s) damaged (squashed it, or ovalised) the wellbore seriously enough that the well had to be abandoned. They were around 500 m horizontally from the vertical bore, and about 300 m deeper; 600 m away in 3D. So in round terms if Cuadrilla triggers a mag 2 tremor within 300 m of their horizontal bore it is quite likely to damage it, if the fault that slipped intersects the wellbore. The latest quake, ML=1.1, is 200 m north of the bore horizontally, and probably at a similar depth, so was not much more than 200 m from the bore. Clearly a tremor hypocentre (the actual origin) nearer the bore will do more damage.

    Cuadrilla might also be seeing loss of pump pressure if their fluid is 'escaping' into a fault – but they are not going to tell us that, are they?

    [Report authors added at poster's request. Formatting tweaked to make the quote clearer]

  8. Lots of squealing in the anti pen as the completion nears. Now who would have expected that?

    Doing a great job Paul, under difficult circumstances. I can cope with one moderator, I know where I am. A handful becomes less objective.

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