Regulation

Cuadrilla won’t publish daily reports about fracking site – but regulator releases details of methane emissions

PNR 181114 Eddie Thornton

Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site, 14 November 2018. Photo: Eddie Thornton

The fracking company, Cuadrilla, has said it won’t publish the daily report of operations at its shale gas site near Blackpool, despite a recommendation by the industry trade organisation.

But details of operations at the site, including low-levels methane emissions and a small leak of fracking fluid, have been released by the regulators.

Operators are required to send a daily report while they are fracking to the Oil & Gas Authority, Environment Agency, Health and Safety Executive and energy department. It includes details of fracking stages, volume of chemicals, seismicity and well integrity.

In guidance, the industry body, UK Onshore Oil and Gas (UKOOG), said the daily report should also be “made available on the operator’s website”.

18114 OGA document

But Cuadrilla told researcher, Russell Scott, today:

“Cuadrilla will not be publishing copies of the daily reports on its website.”

It added:

“The UKOOG document is intended as a guide to operators when public announcements are required and it is not compulsory.”

Third Energy, which had planned to frack at Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire, said in its hydraulic fracture plan that it would put the report on its website.

Reports on methane emissions, leak and waste

There’s been huge public interest in fracking operations at the Preston New Road site, which began on 15 October 2018, particularly following a series of small earth tremors.

Cuadrilla told DrillOrDrop last week:

“We are not giving a stage by stage update on each frac”.

But details have emerged in a newsletter from the regulators and from formal reports of site visits by the Environment Agency.

181114 pnr regulators newsletter

Extract from regulators’ newsletter on Preston New Road fracking operation, 14 November 2018.

The most recent newsletter revealed that Cuadrilla’s procedures for managing fugitive methane emissions at Preston New Road were being reviewed. Preston New Road Community Update 4 – 14 November 2018

It said methane was identified during a site visit last month. The newsletter said:

“The levels (concentration of 11.74 parts per million) were very low, significantly below anything that would have an impact on human health, and lasted for a short period of time – 5 minutes.”

It said levels higher than this had been recorded during background monitoring before fracking started. The levels were not harmful to site staff or local people. But it added:

“We have assessed compliance with the sites permit and are currently working with the company to review their procedures for managing fugitive emissions from the process.”

The newsletter said a formal report would be published in early December.

Following an inspection on 17 October, the Environment Agency gave details of small leak of hydraulic fracturing fluid from a surface pipe.

The EA reported:

“During the main frac, shortly after the start of pumping of the hydraulic fracturing fluid, the pressure was reduced as a small (pinhole) leak of hydraulic fracturing fluid in the surface pipework had been detected.”

The EA said this did not involve the high pressure pipework used to inject fracturing fluid into the well. The leak was fixed and the main fracturing stage  continued. The EA also pointed out:

“The surface pipework is all contained within a temporary bunded area, in addition to the main well pad liner.”

The newsletter also gave details of air quality monitoring at the site. It confirmed:

“Pollution levels are relatively low and considerably below levels that would indicate breaches in air quality objectives.”

The EA is monitoring for oxides of nitrogen (NOX, NO, NO2), particulates (PM10 and PM2.5), methane, benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and m&p-xylene, a chemical in the BTEX group.

There were no breaches identified last week in compliance with hydraulic fracture plan, the EA said.

But it said there had been an administrative error on some waste transfer notes.

“Waste was transported and disposed of correctly in all cases. However, the notes incorrectly listed the trading name, instead of the registered waste carrier’s name. Advice and guidance has been provided to Cuadrilla.”

pnr 181113 Eddie Thornton

Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road shale gas site, 13 November 2018. Photo: Eddie Thornton

Fracking diary

DrillOrDrop  understands that there has been no fracking at Preston New Road since 2 November 2018.

We are compiling information from the EA’s site inspection reports and adding them to the Tremor tracker. Here’s the first instalment:

17 October 2018 Link

15:20-15:25
Mini frac using 21.4m3 of fracturing fluid without proppant

16:05-17:40
Main frack using 296.7m3 of slickwater with proppant. Flow back volume of 24.9m3 stored for reuse. Microseismic events plotted from the mini and main frac stage showed events plotting below the lateral section of the well to a depth of 96.8m and laterally to a length of 191.5m. No induced seismicity noted and no breach of sub-surface permit boundary.

16 October 2018 Link

11:48-11:56
Mini frac of stage 1 of 12.8m3 fresh water without additives or proppant.

14:25-15:04
Main frack of 149.9m3 containing slickwater without proppant.

15 October 2018 Link

13:00
Mini-frac at Stage 1 of PNR1z well. Lasted for five minutes. No proppant was used during this mini-frack. 1.87m3 was pumped into the formation. Purpose was to measure the pressure in the shale formation when injected with hydraulic fracturing fluid. A further 15m3 mini-frac was not conducted. No microseismic events detected beyond the permit boundary.

36 replies »

  1. Unsurprising to see Cuadrilla trying to bend the rules again by not following recommendations from our ‘gold-standard’ regulators. If the regulators had any power at all, surely they should insist a daily report is released?

      • Just ignore them Ellie. You are right to indicate ‘gold standards’. Guidelines are not for ignoring. And we are looking at fracking which becoming increasingly like a self regulating industry.

        • Vewright
          Ellie makes the point that if regulators had any power at all, they should insist that the daily report is released ( to the public ).

          But if they had that power in that instance, it would not be guidance, it would be regulation.

          This issue is not frack specific, being applicable to all guidance issued by regulatory bodies.

          Guidance is just that, and to fail to understand why a regulator cannot require by law a company ( or individual ) to follow something that is not a regulatory issue looks interesting.

          The answer is to make it the law, which would clarify the issue at hand.

          Plus, there is no view on the totality of the guidance ignored. If 100% compliance with guidance is expected, then fair to say so, but in the case noted there is a % compliance, not total non compliance ( or following ).

          Points made as absolutes are not helpful to Informed discussion neither here nor it seems when talking about Brexit Agreements.

  2. “A daily report should be submitted via email to BEIS …”
    “The daily report should be made available on the Operator’s website”

    “Cuadrilla will not be publishing copies,of the daily reports on its website”
    “The UKOOG document is intended as a guide to operators….and is not compulsory”

    In the absence of an “If” clause,
    “should” looks like an instruction to a pedant like me, an instruction with which Cuadrilla is complying in the submission of a daily report. It is not complying with the second instruction.

    Cuadrilla is choosing those regulations/guidance/instructions which suit it, and rejecting the others. Who is making the rules? Cuadrilla? How convenient! Please note, Claire Perry, Natascha Engel, Kevin Hollinrake, Greg Clark et al. Is this what you had in mind when you vaunted our gold standard, world class protective regulations?

    • What’s the point of having recommendations instead of requirements if you’re the regulator? This just gives the industry carte blanche to do whatever they like and report things when they feel it is in their interests to do so. This is not regulation, it’s collusion.

      • Ellie Gold
        Because how often you put data on a website for the general public to read is not a legal requirement. Reporting it to the regulator is.

        The industry have statutory requirements to fulfill re reporting, so they do not have carte Blanche to do whatever they like and report things when they feel it is in their interests to do so.

        They have reported the data to the regulator ( thanks Cuadrilla ) but have not put it on a public website on a daily basis.

        That is regulation ….. reporting it to the regulator. Putting it on the a website daily is communication.

        Recommendation …..eat you greens, only drink so much, exercise, insulate your house.
        Regulation…speed limits, alcohol limits when driving, paying tax etc etc

    • Iaith1720
      Recommendation is not a requirement.

      Cuadrilla are not choosing which regulations to follow. Unless you have a list of regulations enacted since they started that they have since decided whether to follow or not. How about COSHH? PUWER? Wells Design and Construction? Working at Heights, Manual Handling? BSOR? Et al.

      Remember not to get carried away with the rhetoric, or share with us the regulatory requirements they have decided to reject ( not the recommendations ).

      I think they should follow the recommendation,

      • hewes62. I suggest you read the first two lines of my contribution again.
        A daily report should be submitted via email to BEIS …”
        “The daily report should be made available on the Operator’s website”
        “Should be” in both cases. Your distinction between the two statements, recommendation v. requirement, is specious. If one is a recommendation, both are, and the language is misleading. Or, the language is not misleading and both are requirements.
        If both are requirements, then Cuadrilla is contravening regulation. If both are recommendations, then Cuadrilla are choosing which recommendation to accept, and which not. My point, I feel, stands. Don’t tie yourself in knots!

        • laith, the “should” is coming from an industry group. So what? I’m not sure why you would conflate that with a regulatory requirement. You aren’t making much sense.

        • Iaith1720

          I disagree in your interpretation of the requirements.

          Firstly,

          the document is guidance as noted in it and does not replace what is said in the operators communication plans and frack plan ( which they then have to follow) though it provides guidance for it. See ‘about this guidance’ paragraph 2.

          Hence the ‘should’ is bounded by it being guidance, and does not make it a statutory requirement, no matter how much we would wish it to be so.

          Secondly

          The use of the term ‘should’, in the context of it being guidance or if a legal requirement does not mean ‘shall’.

          Hence you interpretation that should imply a binding requirement is incorrect ( the term should flows through from it being guidance ).

          See link below for a taster of this subject tho I will,dig out more on this particularly important distinction in uk law. Regulations, ACOPS and company processes and procedures.

          http://asq.org/standards-shall-should

          Hence I still disagree with your initial assertion that Cuadrilla can pick and choose which regulations they want to comply with.

          I would prefer that they put out the information on a daily basis, but that they do not does not mean they have broken the law.

  3. If a company has nothing to hide and they are proud of their environmental credentials, then perhaps they should publish the reports as recommended. if not we can only surmise what the motive might be in keeping it away from public view.
    If the cap fits …..

  4. Hmm articles are becoming a bit boring now. Safe to say the start of fraccing hasn’t caused the furore the antis anticipated? I’m only tuning in now once a day.
    Maybe when more sites go online we’ll see a few more camoflauge and hi-viz shots like before.

  5. Ruth, your headline is rather like the Blackpool Echo that had a front page that pictured cracks in a road on a railway bridge (built of materials with different thermal expansion co-efficients – hence the cracks) with asking whether the 2011 seismic event caused it , only to admit at the end of the long article that locals said the cracks had been there for years. This is poor journalism – sensationalising something that is insignificant. So why would Cuadrilla draw the media’s attention to fugitive emissions of methane, when the EA judge them to be “The levels (concentration of 11.74 parts per million) were very low, significantly below anything that would have an impact on human health, and lasted for a short period of time – 5 minutes.” Were there any cows with flatulance upwind, or sheep burping? Unless the isotopic signature of the methane is known the source is not known. In the end it did not matter anyway.

    • Valid points, Dr. Nick. If Ruth wants to run an anti-fossil fuel site, more power to her. That’s a completely valid choice and she has every right to do so. What makes DoD so sleazy is that she tries to dress the site up in a cloak of “independent journalism.” This is underhanded, and of course it is inaccurate. The site is funded by a number of anti-fracking organizations and individuals – so to represent that it is independent undermine’s the credibility of the site. The truth is that Ruth does some great work, but the fiction behind the way that the site is presented takes away from her accomplishments as a journalist and an investigator. She and Paul need to find a more honest way to communicate with the public about the site.

      As to the comment about fugitive emissions – the fact that they were below the level taken in some background measurements says it all, right? Honestly, if the guy taking the measurement had some baked beans for lunch it would cause a higher reading. This was worthy of a headline only because there were no unfelt tremors to write about I suppose.

      • Hi Bob

        First, you continue to confuse independent with being having a point of view. Having said that, we try to present both sides of the argument and encourage comments from both sides of the argument, even when they are critical of the site which is hosting them.

        Second, the site is not funded by anti-fracking organisations. We do receive donations from individuals, but, as discussed before, we generally don’t know (and don’t ask) which side of the argument they are. Donations are used to fund travel to various parts of the UK to cover onshore oil and gas issues – today Ruth has been in Beverley covering the planning meeting for West Newton A – they do not affect what is covered, nor the tone of the coverage.

  6. Hi Nick, What a surprise! I came back to the UK after many years working abroad and see you have a limited company registered at Company House, since 1 July 2013 – CARBONIFEROUS LIMITED (08591604). And the nature of your business is registered at Company House using Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes as:
    06100 – Extraction of crude petroleum
    06200 – Extraction of natural gas.
    Keep up the excellent work. Robin Grayson MSc, Liberal Democrat Geologist

  7. Robin, well Company House does not have a classification for decarbonising fossil fuels. As usual data collection by box ticking (and opinion polling) reflects the limitation of those who control the scheme to classify the world in their own image, rather than what it is.

  8. You’re right, Bob and hewes62. Point conceded: UKOOG is not a regulator. My error.
    Do you not agree, however, that by choosing to accept one piece of advice intended to strengthen regulation, whilst rejecting another, Cuadrilla lays itself open to criticism? Would you not expect medical professionals to follow the advice of NICE, or at least say why they will not do so?

    • Iaith 1720
      Thanks … Noted.
      I agree that by not following the guidance in full they lay themselves open to criticism, tho in this case they may consider that, as nothing they do would prevent criticism, this is just one thing less to do, the failure to do so for one day ( say ) would attract further criticism. But just a guess.

    • Robin, thanks for this. I was very amused with “Water divining and other scientific prospecting activities”. Now I know what to do with old wire clothes hangers that I would have recycled.

  9. Keep up the good work Nick. Any idea what a “Liberal Democrat Geologist” is? I thought a geologist was a geologist. Perhaps a LDG specialises in Paleontology i.e. looks for previous signs of existence of Liberal Democrats in fossil remains?

    With regads to Cuadrilla releasing daily drilling reports to the public, why should they? All that will happen is a lot antis who have little knowledge or understanding of what they are looking at will start making lots of irrelevant noise about the day to day operations.

    If Cuadrilla release the DDRs will this stop the harrassment and protesting? No, I thought not.

    The EA / HSE / OGA are already releasing an unprecedented amount of information to the Public – probably to cut down the obscene numbers of FOIs being submitted by vested interests and obsessive antis.

    • Paul, I enjoyed your comment. BTW, a Lib Dem Geologist is one who specifically looks for formations that can’t quite decide what they want to be. Best, Bob

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