Lancashire Tory and Labour MPs call for government action over fracking tremors

181104a tremor tracker

Recorded tremors at Preston New Road up to 16:24  on 4 November 2018. Data:BGS, Background photo: Google Earth; Graphic: DrillOrDrop

Conservative and Labour MPs in Lancashire have written to the business secretary, Greg Clark, demanding action following a series of tremors linked to Cuadrilla’s fracking operation near Blackpool.

Mark Menzies, the Conservative representing the area around the shale gas site, called for an independent assessment of the well. Gordon Marsden, the MP for the neighbouring constituency, was among six Lancashire Labour MPs who have called separately for a moratorium. The energy minister, Claire Perry, has also answered three parliamentary questions on the issue.

Well integrity concerns

Mark Menzies 3

Mark Menzies MP. Photo: Parliamentlive.tv

A spokesperson for Mr Menzies confirmed that the MP’s letter was expected to be sent today. It called for an independent investigation into well integrity at the site at Preston New Road.

The letter followed a meeting last week with local campaigners, Bob Dennett and Sue Marshall, at which they expressed concerns about the effect of a series of small earth tremors on the well

They told Mr Menzies that regulations were not meeting the gold standard that had been promised. They pointed to a report by the Royal Society in 2012 which recommended cement bond logs, as well as pressure tests, following seismic events:

“This advice is not being adhered to and they are currently relying on Cuadrilla simply pressure testing the well, so current practice is falling short of the Gold Standard regulations promised.”

They asked Mr Menzies to press for an urgent “comprehensive, transparent and independent well assessment”.

The most recent tremor near Preston New Road was recorded on 4 November 2018, with a local magnitude (ML) of 0.7. It was the closest so far to the well site and the largest since the 1.1ML event on 29 October 2018.

DrillOrDrop understands the 0.7ML event happened 48 hours after the most recent fracturing operation. It brings the total number of seismic events linked to the fracturing operation to 36. (Details on DrillorDrop Tremor tracker)

After the 1.1ML tremor, Cuadrilla said well integrity had been checked and verified.

A newsletter from regulators of the fracking site, issued this afternoon, said:

[The Health and Safety Executive] “receives regular reports from Cuadrilla on well pressure and a report detailing operations on the well each week, including integrity testing. HSE’s team of specialist well inspectors inspect these reports to ensure that they are in line with the notification supplied by Cuadrilla before hydraulic fracturing commenced.”

Regulators’ newsletter on assessing seismic activity – 6 November 2018

Regulators’ Preston New Road Community Update 3 – 6 November

Moratorium call

Labour MPs montage

Labour MPs (left to right) Rosie Cooper, Julie Cooper, Sir Mark Hendrick, Kate Hollern, Gordon Marsden, Cat Smith and shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey

In a separate letter, six Labour MPs in Lancashire and the shadow business secretary, have called on Mr Clark to impose a moratorium on fracking.

Rosie Cooper, MP for West Lancashire, wrote:

“the current government must accept in light of recent seismic activity, that at the very least it would be just and right to halt fracking at this site and place a moratorium on fracking until such point as they can be not just reassured, but fully assured that there will be no more man-made earthquakes in England or Wales as a result of fracking.”

The letter was also signed by Julie Cooper (Burnley), Sir Mark Hendrick (Preston), Kate Hollern (Blackburn), Gordon Marsden (Blackpool South), Cat Smith (Lancaster and Fleetwood), and Rebecca Long-Bailey, the shadow business secretary and MP for Salford and Eccles.

“Complete experiment”

The campaign group, Frack Free Lancashire, supported the MPs’ call for a moratorium, saying local concerns about the tremors had been dismissed.

“Cuadrilla commissioned their own report in 2011 which stated: ‘Stronger events occur when some of the fluid penetrates into faults and in rare cases, events with magnitude up to 0.8 ML have been detected.’

“So there we have it: these events are considered ‘rare’, yet Cuadrilla have been recorded across national press, urging the government to change the seismic trigger regulations further. Cuadrilla have also previously stated: ‘Very little of the fracture fluid actually ever returns to the surface. So when we inject the water in there most of it does not come back’.

“It is clear that Preston New Road is a complete experiment, and one which we are having to live with the consequences – both known and unknown. There have been 36-and-counting seismic events. In only two weeks. The valid concerns regarding the effects of seismic activity (whether felt or not) upon the well integrity and underground infrastructure, are being blatantly dismissed. Who knows what is happening under our feet? From past experience, Cuadrilla certainly don’t.

“This is unacceptable and we have called on central government to implement an immediate fracking moratorium.”

Minister quizzed

The energy minister, Claire Perry, answered parliamentary questions yesterday on the earth tremors from three Labour MPs.

Jim Cunningham (Coventry South) asked about the implications of the seismic activity on government fracking policy (link to question).Ms Perry said the Oil & Gas Authority was “continually monitoring operations around the Preston New Road site to ensure they remain in line with Cuadrilla’s hydraulic fracture plan”. She said the traffic light system for monitoring seismic activity was working “in exactly the way that it was designed to”.

Roger Godsiff (Birmingham Hall Green) asked what assessment had been made of the detection of seismic activity caused by fracking in Lancashire (link to question). Ms Perry made a similar reply, adding that seismic events with a magnitude of 2.0 were usually not felt at the surface. A magnitude 0.5 event was “far below the ground motion caused by a passing vehicle”, she said.

Ms Perry’s reply was also similar to a question from the shadow policing minister, Louise Haigh (Sheffield Heeley), who asked what steps would the government be taking before fracking resumed. Link to question

  • At the time of writing, more than 50,000 people have signed a 38 Degrees petition urging Mr Clark not to raise the threshold at which seismic activity would stop fracking.

103 replies »

    • Bob, I appreciate your post, thank you. One day, and I hope Ruth will archive all the posts on this site when eventually it will have run its course. Sociologists and historians will be able to get a grasp of the madness we are going through in the first decades of this millennium. I could say more – but the best wine is sometimes best served last.!

      • No doubt, Nick. Unfortunately the insanity can last a long, long time. As seen in America. Though these people grow more and more marginalized, many have nothing better to do than protest. As you well know, logic has no place.

        • That’s a very sweeping uninformed comment Bob. I very much doubt ANYONE has nothing better to do than protest and the vast majority have any number of better things to do than protest. Most have never protested about anything previously. Very logically, many people regard having a fully functional planet and ecosystem as being a prime motivator for themselves and their offspring. Sadly, some evidently have no concern beyond their own limited remaining lifespan and unlimited personal wealth.

          • Mike, I doubt the veracity of your claim that “most” have not protested anything previously. I don’t find it “very logical” at all to protest against a fuel source that will bring down GHG emissions and help to clean the air of pollutants such as particulate matter, mercury, Sox and Nox. Sadly, some cannot see the facts that are so clearly before them.

            • Bob, are you doubting on the basis of any evidence or just a sweeping uninformed comment based on the industry PR and Tory press? It’s certainly true around KM8, so I strongly suspect it’ll be the same at every site currently at risk of fracking. Perhaps others can confirm that.
              Gas will not bring down GHG emissions – it will just replace other sources. How can it clean the air of pollutants when the traffic generated will be huge – much of it on completely unsuitable roads and lanes. Sadly, you appear to ‘not wish to see the facts that are so clearly before you’ – unless you have evidence that gas is not another hydrocarbon or that fracking can happen commercially without drilling well after well, with the 100% guaranteed massive increase in heavy diesel traffic associated with it. That’s before even considering fugitive methane emissions that are far worse than the CO2. Cognitive dissonance anyone?

  1. Well, Sherwulfe, we are still waiting for you to introduce something factual, so please excuse us in the meanwhile if we rely upon others.

    Those of us who were involved in banning substances such as cobalt from our sectors years ago (fact), will watch with interest whilst the antis simple propose their own alternative ways to kill the planet, plus many children in DRC (fact), and then move on to mining the oceans (already started-fact) whilst they pontificate about banning plastic, (to protect the oceans!) because some will not dispose of it correctly.

    Reverting to the Cornish drilling, just hope they have the radon issue sussed. My family farmed a bit east of the site and had regular radon checks on their property (fact) as it was a hot spot. I think a lot of Cornwall is in the same category.

  2. Yesterdays AJ Lucas update on PNR

    there may well be further occasions during this process when micro-seisimic events occur that are well below the levels that could
    possibly cause harm or property damage but that do exceed the 0.5ML limit. In such instances Cuadrilla will act in accordance with UK regulatory requirements and pause operations.


    Confusing times for investors who were led to believe,

    Cuadrilla’s ES states “The hydraulic events induced by hydraulic fracturing do not typically exceed magnitude 0 ML and very rarely exceed 0.5 ML.”

    More confusion for investors reading a 67% chance of success. The report conveniently forgets to mention the 0.5m threshold.


    Come on small investors. Join the dots. It’s not hard.

  3. Except you just forget to mention gas has already been produced, John.

    But, please do direct us to ANY exploration for gas or oil that is 100% certain. Not that worthwhile for investors. The share price would already reflect that and there would be no upside. DOH! It would be like doing the lottery where everyone has the winning numbers-the payout would not cover the fee!

  4. Schlumberger state the minimum requirement for Total Organic Carbon (TOC) in shale is 2%

    The BGS state the organic content of the Bowland-Hodder shales is typically in the range 1-3%, but can reach 8%.

    The edison investment report states the average from Preese Hall TOC was 2.65% with a range of 1% to 7% in the cored intervals.

    I would have thought the report would have been a bit more specific on how many samples were higher than the minimum 2%. Maybe they just forgot.

    DOH !

    • If you can’t locate faults I doubt you can locate sweet spots.

      Sweet spots in heavily faulted shale. Now there’s a conundrum.

    • Hmmmmm. I wonder who is a better judge of well prospectivity…..random message board postter “john” or the well engineers who have evaluated the PNR core samples and have averred that there is a very high likelihood that the wells can be commercially viable? LOL

    • John – you have learnt a new term today? TOC – well done. I expect Cuadrilla will be calling on you soon to offer a contract to help them with their petrophysics and geochemistry? Sweet spots may actually be picked from core data in addition to 3D seismic? Hence drilling a vertical well before going horizontal. If you go and look at the surface outcrops in FOB AONB you can see the sandy sweet spots in the above Dunsop Bridge. Drains into the Hodder which drains into the Ribble which i believe you are trying to prptect against fracking? All that NORM flowing down from the hills…..

      • ‘I expect Cuadrilla will be calling on you soon to offer a contract’

        I doubt that however as a person who takes job security very seriously I would gracefully refuse as I would not be comfortable wondering on a daily basis if the Company was still trading. The overall failings of shale in Europe would mean little prospect of working away.
        UK shale. A very bad career choice.

    • “The edison investment report states the average from Preese Hall TOC was 2.65% with a range of 1% to 7% in the cored intervals.

      I would have thought the report would have been a bit more specific on how many samples were higher than the minimum 2%. Maybe they just forgot.”

      Clue is in the word “average” John?

      • PT / JP- I note that the Edison report does not state that the average TOC in the Preese Hall-1 well is 2.65% but cites the 2013 BGS Carboniferous Bowland Shale gas study which covers the entire Pennine Basin. Data from 161 wells and outcrop (3420 samples) were available for the study together with an additional 109 core samples (the core samples referred to by Edison) from 16 wells analysed for the report (Appendix A of the 2013 BGS report). Of these 16 wells analysed, 6 were drilled on Carboniferous platform areas where TOC is expected to be (and is) lower than in wells drilled in Carboniferous basinal areas, where TOC values at the upper end of the scale (5-7%) are reported. PH-1 and PNR-1 have been drilled in basinal areas.

  5. This is the same “john” who proposed a while ago that there was plenty of cheap oil and gas sloshing around the world, so further UK production was not required!
    Meanwhile, other activists, plus Labour, bleat about tax avoidance whilst we effectively transfer £billions overseas every year by importing oil and gas rather than produce it within UK tax jurisdiction.

    In all probability, it will take more than PNR to prove commercial viability, so there is some time yet for the speculation either way. Is that not the reason why AJL share price is so weak?

    • With the industry stating that just 1 multiwell pad would cost £333,000,000 to bring online it must be of great concern to the industry that the BGS state the organic content of the Bowland-Hodder shales is,

      typically in the range 1-3%.

      The minimum TOC for shale is 2%

      That’s a big risk for an industry that has to continually expand due to rapid gas flow depletion but is governed where it can operate because of population density and environmental restrictions.


      Well engineers indeed,

      Cuadrilla’s ES states “The hydraulic events induced by hydraulic fracturing do not typically exceed magnitude 0 ML and very rarely exceed 0.5 ML.”

      How many events so far?

  6. According to the consultancy agency Wardell Armstrong, whose staff prepared both the environmental impact assessment (EIA) and the seismic hazard assessment for the Geothermal plant at Redruth in Cornwall.

    The people living and working in the nearby 4000 residential properties and 180 commercial properties can expect to experience earthquakes of magnitude 4 and possibly above.

    That’s 25,000 times more powerful than the mag 1.1 so far experienced at Preston New Road.
    Can someone explain the lack of uproar and protesters?

    • Can someone explain why,

      Cuadrilla’s ES states “The hydraulic events induced by hydraulic fracturing do not typically exceed magnitude 0 ML and very rarely exceed 0.5 ML.”

      Yet they have already caused higher recorded events.

      Why have the well engineers got it so wrong?

    • They want jobs and heating in Cornwall. A few in the Fylde (there are actually very few antis who post on here) prefer the jobs somewhere else and heating from energy supplied from somewhere else. Sherwulfe is of course the exception, off grid, alternative life stye and not worried about his house price like most of the others. Nothing wrong with that.

      • ‘will help her raise the TLS levels?’

        Why would she. Cuadrilla have the results fro Preese Hall, have carried out extensive 3D surveys and their experts conclude’

        “The hydraulic events induced by hydraulic fracturing do not typically exceed magnitude 0 ML and very rarely exceed 0.5 ML.”

        Claire will be raising questions on this and would be wise to find out if Cuadrilla have fracked anywhere else and what were the results from those operations.

        The EA support a 0.5m threshold. So should Claire.

        The EA’s Tony Grayling said a 0.5 limit was practicable.

        “The reason why the DECC report set the seismic limit at 0.5 magnitude far lower than the 1.7 is because there is a time delay between the fracking process and larger tremors. Unless you stop them at a lower level you risk a larger tremor later.”

  7. “Wave” goodbye to any remaining credibility.

    Latest data released shows opposition to fracking continuing to drop. Even before a whiff of gas from PNR.

    Queue “reactionary” denial of the data. But, it seems the general public are not being convinced by the antis. Probably time for some more questionnaires?

  8. Ahh, not the one I expected, but the usual nonsense. Perhaps there is a script?

    Looking forward to the weekends footy. Many a club I don’t support, but still accept they are allowed to play and whilst they remain financially viable will continue to do so. Suspect there might be a few who have tribal/fantasy issues with that, but it will make no difference.

    • ahh yes, the footie analogy; used most when things are not going well and no converse statements available……

  9. Will have to be a lot of fracking in Lancashire to replace all the tourism and farming jobs lost by turning the Fylde Peninsula into the largest onshore gasfield in Europe.
    Procedure for commercial fracking obviously mostly automated and remotely controlled due to on-site workers health risks by the way.
    At PNR most of the so-called jobs are menial security guards who will also be replaced by remotely controlled cameras and sensors when production fracking commences for the same reasons.

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