Cuadrilla produces first shale gas from fracking site – despite “strict” earthquake rules

pnr 181102 Cuadrilla Resources

Gas flares at Cuadrilla’s fracking site at Preston New Road near Blackpool, 2 November 2018. Photo: Cuadrilla Resources

Shale gas has flowed to the surface at Cuadrilla’s fracked well at Preston New Road near Blackpool, the company said this lunchtime.

The news, described by Cuadrilla as “significant” and “providing early encouragement”, follows its complaints earlier this week that rules on earthquakes caused by fracking were too strict and could “strangle” the UK industry.

The company has distributed a video showing the gas being burnt in a flare on the site.

The pro-fracking group, Lancashire for Shale, said the gas flow was a “real credit to the expertise and tenacity of Cuadrilla.”

The opposition campaign group, Frack Free Lancashire, said Cuadrilla was desperate to give investors some good news after fracking at Preston New Road had caused more than 30 earth tremors.



The company has been required to halt fracking twice because seismic activity exceeded the 0.5ML (local magnitude) red-light threshold.

Mr Egan had called for the 0.5ML limit to be raised to 2.0ML. But the energy minister, Claire Perry, said this would be “foolish” while the government was trying to “reassure people about safety”.

In an interview with the Times, Mr Egan said the company was not getting effective fractures and may not want to flow test.

But in a statement today, the company said flow testing on both wells was now planned for late 2018 and into the new year.

Mr Egan said today’s gas flow, though small, was indicative of the potential of shale:

“Considering that we are only at the very start of fracturing operations and, given operating constrains, have not yet been able to inject as much sand into the shale as we had planned, this is a good early indication of the gas potential that we have long talked about.”

“This Preston New Road site is being monitored to an unprecedented level. This initial gas flow is by no means the end of the story.

“However it provides early encouragement that the Bowland Shale can provide a significant source of natural gas to heat Lancashire and UK homes and offices and reduce our ever growing reliance on expensive foreign imports.”

The campaign group, Frack Free Lancashire, said in a statement:

“After the public relations disaster that Cuadrilla have suffered over the last three weeks, and the 25% crash in their parent company’s share price over the last 48 hours, Cuadrilla are clearly desperate to be able to give their investors some good news.

“However, it sounds as though they are now claiming that a small quantity of gas that returned when they had to depressure the well (after triggering both amber and red events) is somehow exciting news.

“We doubt that either their investors or the government are going to impressed by this last-ditch attempt to salvage something positive from a three-week series of unfortunate events.

“We look forward to seeing the associated data on the flow rate, which they will no doubt be publishing shortly.”

Shares in one of Cuadrilla’s investor, the Australian mining group, A J Lucas, fell sharply on 31 October 2018, the day of Ms Perry’s statement.

The Preston New Road Action Group, a resident’s group which opposed Cuadrilla’s plans through an inquiry and two court cases, last night welcomed the government’s decision not to relax the seismicity rules. It warned that it would challenge any move to raise the threshold in the courts. DrillOrDrop report

Lee Petts, chair of the pro-fracking group, Lancashire for Shale, responded to the announcement of the gas flow:

“This is fantastic news, and a real credit to the expertise and tenacity of Cuadrilla and its partners, proving that it is possible to safely recover gas from the rich shale deposits beneath our feet.

“Earlier this week, we saw three LNG cargoes land into the UK on the same day, two of which were fracked shale gas from the United States. There is no justification for remaining so reliant on imports of costlier, less secure and higher emission LNG from abroad when we are sitting on a vast untapped source of our own gas here in Lancashire.

“The news that Cuadrilla has been able to produce gas to the surface sets the scene for the future development of a successful new industry, and will be welcomed by the business community for the benefits it will bring to the local economy.”

109 replies »

      • On the subject of propane…..More costs the mug punter investors don’t know about?

        The low calorific value of shale gas is a major issue, says gas guru

        The average calorific value (CV) of the UK national gas grid is 39.5 megajoules per cubic metre; shale gas is quite low at around 37. To get round this, shale gas suppliers may have to inject propane, which costs 140p per therm, into gas transmission pipelines to make up for the shortfall.

        “This is a major issue,” said John Baldwin, managing director of CNG Services Limited. “You probably will have to add propane in LTS (Local Transmission Systems).”

        More transport, more infrastructure, more risk, and more cost.

            • Sherwulfe
              Maybe so….it was before I drank my first coffee.

              But, not so long ago I had a discussion about frack gas with some people ( against fracking ) who were sure it was all about plastic, and the Ethane in the INEOS frack gas was going to be taken off to Scotland to keep Jim happy. Hence …. it is all about the plastic.

              No amount of chit chat that our frack gas was probably going to be low in heavy ends and therefore not much use as feedstock, and only use to the plastics industry if they could get gas cheap ( to burn it ).

              So, good to see that this subject ( lack of Ethane, Butane, Pentane et al ) has come up.

              I expect that there is not much to worry about yet, as there may not be much gas to pop into the grid, but if so, I have a couple of bottles of propane round the back they can use.

              If it is rich in Ethane, then the calorific value is ok, or if too much, too high.

            • I think JP was dismissing it’s effectiveness of shale gas as a heating fuel; the addition of propane to the mix would increase the costs exponentially.

              Regarding the ethane, clearly this is the motivation of INEOS for shale products in the UK; to produce more toxins to put on our fields and wrap our food up with 🙂

              • Sherwulfe
                Yes … I got that.

                CNG have noted that as shale gas is likely to be 99% methane, and hence like biogas ( which they deal with ) will need propane injection to up the flow weighed calorific value.

                Biogas requires around 10% injection of propane by volume to achieve grid standard it would seem.

                Click to access Biomethane-Industry-Developments.pdf

                Hence, as Ethane is not likely to be in the gas in any meaningfull % , it is useless for making plastic( other than for burning, in which case any gas will do ).

                But we shall see, maybe INEOS think that shale gas east of the Pennines has some higher ends in it, or the Fylde gas has the required calorific value. Or the bit about it being all about plastic is a diversion.

    • Nick, do try to retain some credibility. “Excellent news, well done..” is to put it mildly premature for, as we all know, only a few cubic metres of gas has been produced at this early stage. At this minute it ranks as the most expensive methane per cubic metre ever produced in the UK o be declared “excellent news” by a geologist such as yourself. After considerable effort and expense, Cuadrilla have as yet only succeeded in producing a very modest “gas show”. This is in line with dozens of exploration holes drilled onshore and offshore that had modest “gas shows” and proved in the end to be utterly non-commercial.

      I respectfully suggest it would be prudent for you to consider delaying your cheer-leading until such a future time as the flow rate reaches a consistent daily rate sufficient to be deemed commercially viable; and when the gas quality is shown to be of consistently high quality to be allowed to enter the National Gas Grid. Bide your time.
      Robin Grayson MSc Liberal Democrat Geologist.

    • Yes excellent news and well done Cuadrilla: twelve working days of fracking at £94,000 a day means it cost over £1 million for a few cubic metres of gas.

      – David Burley, BSc (Hons) and ex-member of the Tufty Club.

  1. Terri-be careful with advice from some. AJL are one of the parties who have a stake in Cuadrilla, but not the only one and certainly not the only one funding them. If you find where their funds come from, (the internet is more reliable than refracktion) you will find AJL are used as a red herring.

    Equally, AJL have other significant interests in other businesses, so their share value will not always represent what their progress is at PNR. When the share price is low, some will say it is because of PNR, when it is higher, the same people will say it is nothing to do with PNR. Best to remember the anti truth from 1984, and seek the real truth elsewhere.

    • Thanks all for your opinions.
      It seems to me that our country should rely on our own supplies of gas, rather than rely on imported gas from Norway. What would happen if Russia reduced supplies to Germany – say there was a spat over spying or trade. There’s no doubt that Norway’s supplies would be diverted to Germany. What would we do for our domestic use and our electricity supply then?
      If we don’t access our own huge resources, we are putting ourselves in great danger. Hopefully our government will always be responsible enough to ensure we can be self-sufficient. I shall research the owners to see if I can invest in some way in Cuadrilla, or find another company in this country involved in the same industry to invest in. I feel it is my public duty, and I’ll be betraying my grandchildren and their peers if I don’t.

          • The best investment for shale supporters is to buy property as close to the site as you can. I attended a meeting where Cuadrilla stated that house prices near fracking sites would rise.

            You could hear a pin drop……and then the roars of laughter.

            • Since the fracking companies are keen to claim that property prices will rise in fracking areas, why don’t they solve everyone’s problems by buying up all the properties of those opposed to fracking at pre-fracking valuation? That would rid them of the anti frackers and if, as they say, property prices will rise, the companies can then sell the said properties for more than they paid for them. It’s called putting their money where their mouth is.

              • Pauline Jones
                I am not sure that INEOS or Third Energy have intimated that fracking would cause house prices to rise.

                But they have risen in Woodsetts since fracking was announced, but dropped in Blackpool, according to Zoopla.

      • Terri; you’re forgetting something….a little problem with climate change; think – swap gas, not add gas!

      • Terri, the antis are clueless, and believe in magic money trees and unicorns. Let us just turn a blind eye to Qatar, a horrid little country that the antis absolutely love.

    • Oh Martin – AJL have been selling off all their other interests in order to sub Cuadrilla. Didn’t you realise?

      Sure Cuadrilla are also funded by Riverstone and if they can prove flow get some more cash from Centrica but come on – do you think Centrica are going to get excited by that pathetic you tube video 😂

      Dear me!

  2. Terri-I agree with you.

    I remember an insecure energy supply in the 1970s and the costs to the UK of that.

    Also, with a lot of our gas coming from Norway, some suggest that is OK. Well, the Norwegians are very nice people but every dollop of gas we buy from them includes all the taxes into their coffers that could be diverted into UK coffers if produced in UK. That is what will help pay for your grand children’s education, health service etc. At the moment, it is paying for theirs, and as a result, theirs is far superior.

    It is a red herring to suggest when we are importing a large volume of gas that suddenly we can continue to do that, or just stop using overnight. It will not happen. Additionally, every dollop we import is subject to currency fluctuations, so with a weak £ forecast for some time to come, any government should deal with that if they can. Looking at our lot at the moment, maybe they can’t, but we will see.

    (Norway are quite good at utilising alternative energy technology-guess how they are funding that?)

    • Well i think that won this years golden rasberry award for possibly the worst acting in an advert for financial suicide i have yet seen on these poor pages of Drill Or Drop?

      I have seen more convincing tory party political broadcasts than that? And i didnt believe those either.

      Ha! Ha! You guys kill me!

      No, I am serious, you guys really will kill me…..and everyone else….

      • There is a word for their arguments, Phil, tailor-made. ‘Specious’! The trick is to use your opponent’s unassailable arguments and adapt them for two purposes – to make it look as though you are on the side of the angels, gaining credence and sympathy, whilst at the same time trying to win converts to your real purposes. It’s a last stand device, I guess. If you can’t beat them….etc. The essential facts are unassailable – the planet is on course for self annhilation. By inaugurating a new fossil based industry, we are contributing to this process and hastening it. In the long term nobody gains, in the short term and in view of the time shale will take to yield any profit, ditto. Save for the very few. The borrowing required to facilitate it keeps the wheels turning long enough for the very few to earn nice salaries and bonuses: the rest can go to hell. You’ve rumbled them, Phil.

  3. SORRY ladies and gentlemen, I’m first in the queue.

    My pocket lighter is ready and waiting for a refill Mr Egan.

    HMMMMM that being said, looking ar the overall cost of extraction. I reckon it would be cheaper to take a direct flight to Qatar and get my refill there.

    Anyway for Cuadrilla , it’s just the sort of hype, sorry news that’s needed to HOOK a few more naive investors…….. Milk it while you can Cuadrilla, as they say, there’s one born every minute.

  4. Could it be that Cuadrilla have released the gas as they have admitted defeat? No fracking for three days? Clearing it out ready for plug and abandon?

  5. The standard desperados, being desperate.

    For a “geologist” someone shows more Lib. Dem.! Ermm, of course no one realises that when the first oil was extracted from the N.Sea, after many years of trying, it did not mean that suddenly the UK was self sufficient?

    Quite a few of the “no gas” brigade seeking to mitigate their previous positions, rather than admit they were wrong.

    Yep, expect it from a “politician” (remember tuition fees?), but thought geologists were a little more scientific.

    Of course most people recognise it is a point within a process. But, it is a significant point which you recognise hence the cold water attempts. However, it will be the main stream media who will follow this up this weekend and the antis standard negativity, which has already been reported many times, will fade into the background within the story.

    There was always going to be a time when real news would start to emerge that focuses peoples attention rather than the negativity of the antis. Into the sore losers stage.

    Sorry refracktion, coming towards the end of a market for your pictures. Memoirs can do quite well, but not sure how many refills of diesel into the BMW that would fund. Can’t wait! I’ll put it on my list when I’ve finished Jim’s offerings.

  6. ?…?..?…
    So the latest armchair scenario from a pleb not confidential to the information…..

    They’ve disastrously failed on the lower Bowland beds on well one. The microseismic from the down hole geophone array in well two has shown little effective fracking. Lots of induced seismicity. So might as well open the well frack sleeves for a bit of PR and burn off the gas that comes out. And my wasn’t that pathetic. Is it just me or is the video curtailed?

    So now what? Well originally the idea was to presumably send Schlumberger packing with their expensive down hole array after hopefully getting good fracture growth in the lower Bowland. Leave well one shut in and then fracture well two. Then open both and get a good PR burn off.

    Anyhow they’ve now got to swap the downhole geophone to well one and fracture well two. Though I seem to remember that someone commented it’s risky to put these arrays down wells with sleeves previously opened? Likely to loose the array? Maybe that was Cuadrilla hinting that in their pathetically ambiguous hydraulic frack plan so that they didn’t have to do it and save money. Anyhow they’ve now got to do it to analyse the fracture growth of well 2

    So, hope for better fracturing in the upper beds with the dowhole in well one. Maybe they’ll get it stuck like the drill in the well at Anna’s Road! Another Cuadrilla blinder.

    Originally they were due to frack the upper bowland beds first… Why that change? Anyone?

    Just trying to read between the lines Martin and provoke analysis and discussion. The lines that you don’t appear to see, Martin.

    Oh, remember the 80 down hole dedicated boreholes for getting a picture of the microseismic fracturing! Who dreamt that one up? Imagine, after every frack having to go to each of the 80 boreholes littered round the Fylde and get the data out and analyse. Not possible to transmit out to a remote receiver from what I remember. Good job Cuadrilla wriggled out of that one with a variation, they’d have been even slower….

  7. Still staying with the speculation and fabrication, Richard? Bit old hat now, but habits are hard to break.

    Just finished my coffee watching the red kites enjoying their time in my neighbourhood-the ones that have found their way down the A34 “corridor” since the Newbury bypass was completed-that was supposed to produce ecological disaster.

    Interesting to see how DoD has become a penance for some. Those who pollute with diesel, those who cook their tea on gas and those who are hooked on smoking. Quite a “religion” for some. Maybe better to not do the “evil” first rather than do the penance? But, that would put some out of a job, including the climate change scientists. Funny old world.

    Off to change a light bulb. Could take all weekend as the ecological optimum choice requires such extensive research. £7 each seems the green answer! (I suspect I will find my own answer to that.)

    Have fun.

    • It certainly is a penance, having to read your comments Martin.

      I’d stick to drinking coffee but unfortunately the machine’s gone wrong. My mistake, trying to froth my milk thru a blocked nozzle. But clearly a Cuadrilla design as there was no safety pressure relief valve to stop the pressure build up inside the machine.

      Still speculating and fabricating that everyone against fracking is a ‘greeny’ Martin?

      Personally, if it was a nuclear power station on PNR, I would have no objection. And I’ve nothing against coal fired power stations, a close friend works on them and they can now filter out just about all the harmful emissions. So just CO2, so plant some more trees. Oh and I’m a climate change sceptic, not saying it’s not happening, just sceptical. Historically thru the geological ice ages a build up of CO2 was marked before an ice age. But to quote a term used by our illustrious local MP Mark Menzies, I believe fracking due to all the risks is ‘bonkers’.

      Keep on speculating and fabricating on the identities of the antis, Martin…

      • Q.How many mice does it take to screw in a light bulb?


        The question remaining is how they got there in the first place.

  8. The true identity of posters doesn’t bother me at all, Richard. Those of us who have posted on here a while know there are many who are not what they make themselves out to be. But they have great difficulty, over time, of maintaining their internet identity and/or their knowledge of the subject, which is a fun diversion.

    Climate change skeptic? No, I am not one of those as it is obviously changing, as it has done for living history. The bit I am skeptical about is the headless chicken approach to adjust it. Even the part of it that might be adjustable will not benefit from vested interests each pushing their agendas, most of which are expensive pie in the sky “solutions”.

    My local MP makes similar comments to MM. And then when elected, votes a different way. Not sure they are the best examples of integrity, or knowledge. But, all hands to the pumps in a sinking ship.

    Well, my lightbulb search identified 3 for £4. Job done. Probably not so green, and possible did not incorporate the consultants (plus junior who was to put it on his tab that senior would sign off) Crazy Horse expenses* whilst he was in Paris, but £4 v £21 and I might soon be able to afford a fancy coffee machine.

    * Yep, seen it done a few times, not done it myself.

    • Flipping heck Martin this has to be the worst Collyerwibble yet.

      Can someone please translate this into intelligible English, even Pidgin would be an improvement.

      • No idea. I think I get what Collyerwibble is but does that maintain my internet identity? Guess I’ll just have to get back to fabricating a few more geological faults for Cuadrilla to find with a bit more of their speculative fracking…

        Only about £40 for an espresso machine, Martin.

    • Perhaps there was lots of gas released, just followed all the frack fluid off down the faults to seep upwards and be trapped by the Manchester Marl. Maybe that’s the strategy. Frack away for a few years and then get it out with conventional abstraction from the Millstone Grit where it should collect. Yep, clearly infectious is Collyerwibble.

    • ‘But they have great difficulty, over time, of maintaining their internet identity and/or their knowledge of the subject, which is a fun diversion.’ – you should not dis your own side MC; tut, tut

      • ‘pushing their agendas, most of which are expensive pie in the sky “solutions”’ – yes I agree, shale is a waste of money; see ‘ David Burley, BSc (Hons) and ex-member of the Tufty Club’ 🙂

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