Industry

Campaigners demand answers to why Cuadrilla has stopped fracking

pnr 181102 Cuadrilla Resources

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

Neighbours of Cuadrilla’s shale gas site in Lancashire are living in an “information vacuum”, campaigners said today after an apparent pause in fracking for three weeks.

Frack Free Lancashire accused the company of “refusing to engage” with the media and said local representatives who sought information about the Preston New Road site were being “fobbed off”.

Cuadrilla said it had provided updates, where asked, to local people and the media. The company also said it was analysing data and taking advice on how to “optimise” the fracking programme within what it called “the very rigorous operating boundaries” of the regulations.

Fracking began at Preston New Road on 15 October 2018 but it appears to have stopped after nearly three weeks on 2 November.

Between 18 October and 4 November, the British Geological Survey recorded 36 small earth tremors near the site. The largest was 1.1ML (local magnitude) and the most recent was 0.7ML. Six of the tremors were above 0.5ML, the red light threshold set by the traffic light system regulations at which fracking must pause for at least 18 hours. DrillOrDrop tremor tracker

pnr 181116 Eddie Thornton

Cuadrilla’s shale gas site at Preston New Road, 16 November 2018. Photo: Eddie Thornton

“No answers”

Following the apparent three-week pause in fracking, Frack Free Lancashire said residents were asking questions about the situation at Preston New Road. These included suggestions that there were problems involving the impermeable membrane and the wellbore.

The group said:

“Cuadrilla are not offering any answers. Just five weeks into the fracking process, the situation is clearly not what should be expected.”

A spokesperson said:

“Local residents are living in an information vacuum. We can all see that this is not going to plan for Cuadrilla but they are refusing to allay our concerns by providing the community with the relevant facts.

“Instead, when our representatives on the Community Liaison Group question the regulators, they are fobbed off every time with excuses about “commercial sensitivity”.

“The local and national media are now coming to us looking for answers because Cuadrilla refuse to engage with them.

“If this is how the industry conducts itself when it is trying to present itself as a responsible operation, then what can we expect when they have all the permissions they need and start on their project of turning Lancashire into ‘the largest gas field in Western Europe’?”

“Optimise hydraulic fracturing programme”

A spokesperson for Cuadrilla responded:

“We are continuing to test the shale gas exploration well in Preston New Road, Lancashire, and the coiled tubing remains clearly and visibly attached to the coiled tubing tower on site above the well.

“We have completed a series of smaller fracks along the length of the horizontal well to gather data to assess the micro-seismic response of the shale rock 2km below the surface.

“We have said many times in recent days and weeks, to both local people and any media who have asked for an update, that we are now analysing that data as well as drawing on expert advice to determine how we can further optimise our hydraulic fracturing programme within the very rigorous operating boundaries of the micro-seismic traffic light system.

“These updates have included the reassurance that there are no issues with well integrity and there are equally no problems with the impermeable membrane underlying the site.”

Last month, Cuadrilla’s chief executive, Francis Egan, complained in media interviews that the traffic light system could make shale gas developments in the UK commercially-unviable. The company had said a day’s delay would cost it £94,000. Mr Egan called for the red light threshold to be raised from 0.5ML to 2.0ML. He said a 4.0ML limit was used in parts of Canada.

But since then a meeting of the Preston New Road community liaison group was reportedly told that Cuadrilla would not lobby to raise the threshold. A spokesperson for the company would not comment on the meeting until the official minutes were published.

  • Last week, DrillOrDrop asked Cuadrilla whether there had been any problems with the well that might be considered to be damage but which did not involve well integrity. This post will be updated with the company’s response.

“Taking great care”

The pro-fracking group, Lancashire for Shale, said this afternoon:

“In highlighting what they perceive to be a lack of activity on site, campaigners again demonstrate how little they really understand the business of minerals and hydrocarbon exploration.

“Cuadrilla will simply be taking great care to study and interpret the vast amount of data it will already have obtained from the early fracking of this well, before continuing to execute its plans.

“Unfounded claims and speculation about problems are just that – baseless and nothing more than an attempt to manufacture public concern given that the latest government survey shows opposition to fracking has fallen in the last year whilst support has remained broadly static.”

70 replies »

  1. Well Martin D, it is a two way situation. It’s good to talk. There’s tea and cake at the entrance usually. If the “operators” sense a threat, then think what it must it be like for the frack targeted nearby residents. There’s been extra traffic, noise and bright lights already. But the work has scarcely started. Far worse to come if ever fracking goes commercial. Eventually the “operators” might leave, but at the very least the locals will be left with decaying cement and fractured strata, more unstable than now.

  2. Campaigners demand answers? After all the BS from the antis, lock ons, lorry surfing, delays etc why would Cuadrilla want to keep the “campaigners” informed? Perhaps “the campaigners” should help stop the external swampies from obstructing Cuadrilla’s work, let them get on with it, and they may then be receptive to keeping “campaigners” better informed? You put yourselves in this position with all the negative publicity.

    • Sorry Paul that is a right load of tosh.

      Why should Caudrilla keep campaigners informed? – they shouldn’t but they should keep the community that they have dropped themselves in the middle of informed. Like a good neighbor would do.

      “Perhaps “the campaigners” should help stop the external swampies obstructing Caudrillas work” – why should concerned local residents undertake the role of the police? if the “external swampies” as you refer to them break the law the police should carry out their duties accordingly, if these “external swampies” (sic) are not breaking the law they are fully within their rights to protest.

      So you appear to be advocating that the company do not undertake adequate community liaison on the basis that locals should be carrying out the role of the police or that locals should prevent lawful non locals from undertaking their right to protest. It’s a little bit silly isn’t it.

    • Paula – how do you think stopping fracking in the UK is going to reduce out GHG emissions? If you were serious about this you’d be attacking consumption but that’s a bit too much like hard work for you – isn’t it?

          • Well Paul

            A = UK shale
            B = Imports

            So Adding C=B to that equation = Nonsense

            As Uk Shale + Imports < Uk Shale – Imports – Consumption Reduction makes no sense at all

            Quite difficult I'd say Paul but do feel free to correct my logic

          • John – in your last comment you mentioned ‘us’ taking me seriously. For the avoidance of doubt, could you clarify who ‘us’ are? Do you mean you and the rest of Frack Free Lancashire? If so I really don’t think having credibility from ‘us’ is something that many would want to aspire to

            • Judith – you seem to be replying at random and repeatedly to the wrong posts tonight. I hope you’ve not opened the Christmas sherry early!

              For clarity the “us” I referred to are we people who read the comments you post on this site. If you don’t care about our opinion what on earth are you doing wasting your time posting those comments?

        • John – sorry for silence – not all KLM flights have WiFi. To answer your question, I think GHG emissions are likely to cause climate change. I do, however, think the statistic that is put around regarding 97% of scientists agreeing is rubbish. I’ve worked on chemical oceanography for many years so know a bit about the subject. However, I’ve not critically appraised all of the evidence. I essentially believe that GHG emissions are responsible for climate change because many of my friends who are world experts on the subject say that’s the case; I have no reason not to believe them:

          John – you know less about the subject than I do – so what are your reasons for believing GHG emissions are responsible for climate change?

          • Gosh Judith that was a long flight! Where are you now? Australia? Atlanta?

            There are many subjects – Climate change, Brexit and , of course Fracking , to name but three where we laymen have to take a position based on imperfect knowledge. To do this we have to read around the subject and apply some critical thinking to the evidence and the opinions of those better qualified. Having done that we decide what our own opinion is. It’s a process that happens every day with every one of us. Even you Judith.

            Mind you, lucky you to have so many clever friends!

            • John – not as far as Australia – I’m not Eddie.

              You claim people HAVE to have an opinion in things that they know nothing about – that’s not quite true. You don’t have to have an opinion – you can leave it to people who have spent their lives learning about such matters so that you don’t have to wear yourself out trying to understand science that will always be beyond you

            • Michael Gove, now SoS for the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said in 2016 the great unwashed have had enough of listening to experts. When it comes to your opinion Judith this might be the first time me and Mr Gove have aligning opinions.

            • No Judith I didn’t “claim people HAVE to have an opinion in things that they know nothing about”, I said we often have to take positions based on imperfect knowledge. As somebody who claims to be a scientist you should know the difference between what you know nothing about and what you don’t know everything about. Of course as you appear to believe you know everything that distinction may have passed you by.

              You concern for my well-being is very touching but I’ve never been one for treating scientists as high priests and you certainly aren’t persuading me that doing so would be a good idea. Quite the opposite in fact.

              Here you go – https://www.aaas.org/programs/communicating-science

              This might help you get your points over without coming across as [a] patronising [Edited by moderator]

            • John – I really wouldn’t waste my time trying to change you’re opinion. All surveys show us that there are 20% of the population who will be against fracking whatever information they are given. I guess you’re different in that a majority of those 20% are against vaccines, fluoride in water etc etc – whereas you’re motives seem more NIMBY

            • *your* 😂

              “All surveys show us that there are 20% of the population who will be against fracking whatever information they are given”

              Oh Judith – you really are letting yourself down now. Go on then Mrs Scientist – show us one of those surveys.

              If you want us to take you seriously here you really are going to have to learn that you can’t claim to be a serious scientist if you are just going to resort to lobbing insults and making up surveys when you start losing an argument.

            • Howard – anyone who knows anything about this subject knows that the traffic light system is an order of magnitude out in the UK. Francis has done a good job with Cuadrilla in terms of having a 100% HSE record. I’ve not seen the documents where he agreed to the current traffic light system. However, if he did he’s as wrong as the fools who agreed to it. Fracking related seismicity is not a danger – full stop – end of story – etc etc

  3. Two weeks on and three weeks off. Mmmmm…… this is not the story that Francis was telling a short while ago. Far from it. Three weeks not fracking at £94,000 per day is quite a hefty bill. Are they sinking along with their well pad?

  4. Just waiting for their early Christmas present aren’t they?
    Wait for the Christmas rush to hopefully distract the majority, just before parliament recess relax the traffic light limit from 0.5 to 2.0. Schlumberger etal will be on a nice long extended break ready to resume the mayhem next year. Don’t think it costs £94,000 to do nowt …

  5. Last month, Cuadrilla’s chief executive, Francis Egan, complained in media interviews that the traffic light system could make shale gas developments in the UK commercially-unviable.
    This is the traffic light system Egan agreed to as condition to allow fracking to continue. So by his own statement fracking is commercially-unviable he should therefore pack up and go away before the shareholding hits rock bottom

    • Howard – anyone who knows anything about this subject knows that the traffic light system is an order of magnitude out in the UK. Francis has done a good job with Cuadrilla in terms of having a 100% HSE record. I’ve not seen the documents where he agreed to the current traffic light system. However, if he did he’s as wrong as the fools who agreed to it. Fracking related seismicity is not a danger – full stop – end of story – etc etc

      • Oh Judith – you mean you don’t read all the stuff we do? How can you claim to be well informed then?

        Mr Egan not only agreed to it, in 2012 he proudly told the energy minister in a letter that Cuadrilla “developed” it ““In conjunction with industry experts and your team at DECC”

        https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/79201/080213Cuad.pdf

        Hmm – now then – whose judgement should a layman like me trust?

        Francis Egan? Hmm tough one that. I’m not inclined to do that, although even he clearly didn’t argue at any point before his woes began in October that the TLS was unnecessary or in any way flawed.

        Dr Green, Prof Styles and Dr Baptie? I think they are probably reliable as the government listened to them as did the Royal Society and The Royal Academy of Engineering.

        Judith Green who doesn’t seem to exist anywhere on the internet and appeared here only recently, since when she seems to have gone out of her way to be as rude as possible to as many people as possible, and who is dismissive of anything or anyone which threatens the fracking industry? No I think not, but thanks for trying.

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