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 »

      • if you have influence in other countries, go ahead!
        It makes sense to start at home, where you, and your kids, and me and mine will be living with the consequences for a very long time.

        • So Elaine how do you heat your home? ASHP, GSHP?

          Did you get a good FIT when you had your solar panels fitted?

          Did it cost much to install a grey water harvesting system?

          Do you have trouble finding charging points for your electric vehicle?

          Do you find you have enough electricity in your battery bank supplied from you ev panels and micro wind turbine?

          Please share so we can price it up and offset bills etc…

    • Dianna – you do realise your strategy would increase GHG emissions and probably lead to industry exploiting more conventional reservoirs in places such as the artic don’t you?

  1. They have probably damaged the well and want to keep it a secret, like they did at Preese Hall in 2011. Where are the gold-standard regulators when we need them?

  2. So long trying to stop fracking and now so impatient for it to be full “steam” ahead!!

    So confused. But after so much speculation and fog, hardly surprising.

    A gentle reminder. This is TESTING. Obviously very testing for some, but what do they expect TESTING to look like? Gold standard to me looks like optimising the system during TESTING so it performs to the optimum when utilised more widely.

    I can appreciate some being confused around fracking, but to have that same confusion around how existing industry operates, is rather revealing.

    • It’s funny that our sanguine approach isn’t shared by the AJ Lucas investors on Hot Copper Martin

      Here’s a post from just 3 days ago for you to mull over


      This is from the FT energy editor. Not sure if it is appraise or a back hand compliment. In other words, ‘ball of steel’ or ‘fool courage’.

      His comments were

      “Shareholders in Cuadrilla have been too tolerant over the past few years” for too long.

      Well. IMHO. Not that we have a choice. Long term holders bought a ticket on a boat of dream to the promise land of UK shale. The boat hit a rock (Preese) and become leaky. The captain and crew (management and big holders) took all the life boat available for themselves and friend. The rest stay on the leaky boat. The boat lost its engine (fracking moratorium 7years) and adrift in the current (the market and public sentiments about shale gas) while under constant attack by the pirates (anti fracker activists) and with the ocean full of sharks (creditor and loans) circling. The coast guard (the government) recieve the SOS wire and want send help and support but too scate of the pirate so all they do is just wave the flag and yell “we’re coming soon.” So for the long suffering long term holders on the leaky boat what are the option. Junp in the water with full of sharks or stay on the boat that drifted along the current with the coast guard and crew watching from the safe boat?

      So “tolerance” wasnt actually a choice.


      He sounds a lot more worried than you do doesn’t he 😉

  3. Let’s look back a bit.
    In 2012 the Government was given advice that fracking should resume in Lancashire following the moratorium imposed after the tremors caused by the small test fracks at Preese Hall. One of the team of advisers, Dr Christopher Green, was interviewed by ITV. (scroll down)

    He seems to suggest that very careful work will be done in future so that tremors would be controllable.
    That does not seem to have happened recently at Preston New Rd. As soon as Cuadrilla started fracking, the BGS picked up tremors, some beyond the 0.5 limit..

    The local residents have been forced to be guinea pigs, despite their protests. Surely they should be kept fully informed DAILY about the “testing” experiments and involved closely. After all, fracking is a Government initiative aided by our public money.
    Where’s the reports from Government funded regulators and inspectors scrutinising the fracking work at Preston New Road? In particular, after all the recent tremors, what have they found out about the borehole integrity and whether the Bowland shale can withstand any more punishment?

    Maybe the few Cuadrilla employees fancy a lengthy stay in Blackpool, drawing their wages, keeping a low profile, just “testing”, poking and prodding even more gently.
    Investors will surely soon realise there’s no prospects of commercial gas flow in such a situation.

  4. Why is this even an article? Nothing to see here at all.

    There has been a statement by Cuadrilla and they are prepared to speak to anyone, so the fact that a few ill informed are making noises means nothing. Protesters complain about everything all the time, without understanding a jot about what is going on.

    • [Edited by moderator]
      Cuadrilla SAYING they will speak to anyone but then refusing to divulge information as recommended by their own trade body UKOOG are two rather different things though aren’t they?

  5. I thought your post was serious Muriel until I read the bit about enjoying staying in Blackpool in the winter! Does any of it stay open these days?

    Annual conference for me previously was a few November days in Blackpool. My memory is scarred by the experience! Probably quite vibrant other times of the year, but certainly not in November. I think that is why the hotels were so keen to attract conferences at this time of the year as it kept the delegates within the hotels rather than escape to some cheaper entertainment.

    My own theory about the rest of your text is that Francis is well aware how the antis love to speculate, and is reluctant to spoil their entertainment. Theory number two, is that he is seeking an eco friendly solution to the moles breaking wind that is being picked up by the monitoring equipment. I could continue to speculate, but then I could turn into an anti.

  6. Ooo, Johnson. Have you something for us “uninformed”? Do tell. Thousands of us have been watching and researching for 6, 7 or 8 years. Have we not been looking in suitable places? Mark Miller the former CEO of Cuadrilla used to attend open public information meetings. He was quite helpful. , But as far as I know, Francis Egan, the current CEO, hasn’t had face to face meetings with the local people, aka “receptors”, for years.

    • Muriel, why should Egan bother to try to speak to you lot when all he gets is abuse? If the operators could be guaranteed sessions with actual local people, without running the gauntlet from shouty rentamob, I’m sure they would all be a lot easier to communicate. The basic fact is that the antis have become so abusive, insulting and downright threatening, that no sensible person would feel like speaking to anyone near them. Why the hell should they put themselves through that. You cant blame anyone else but yourselves.

      • Martin – the last time Egan interacted with any locals was (ISTR) at Freckleton some years ago. I had a perfectly pleasant conversation with him. We even discussed his home town in Tipperary, which I know, and joked about Untergang bunker memes. Big Eric and Matt Lambert were also there if recall correctly. There was no shouty rentamob in the meeting that I saw.

        Since then Cuadrilla seem to have retreated from engaging with the general public. They have held no further information events and have declined invitations to appear at public events (except those organised by supportive business groups) to put their case forward. That is their prerogative but it is a choice they have made, not something that has been forced on them.

        The fact that they have little to no credibility locally is nobody’s fault but their own.

        • Jonathan Bartley the co leader of the green party as you know was invited and had a full tour of Cuadrillas PNR site.

          Jonathan had a real opportunity to bring forward real information and help the local community understand what exactly was happening and the high safety standards in place on the site. I appreciate Jonathan is against all fossil fuel extraction but even short statements about what was in place that all parties would be happy to release into the public domain would have been extremely helpful.

          Instead Jonathan decided to stir up even more scare stories about emergency situations undermining the strict regulatory role of both the Local Council and Environment Agency. The Fylde area already has highly regulated industry in the form of British Nuclear fuels and British Aerospace to name but a few.

          Local Councillors have also visited the PNR site. It is within their powers to relay information to the public.

          The level of scrutiny and monitoring of the PNR site is beyond question if people are not finding the information they believe they should have access to I don’t think they are looking very hard…

          • What a preposterous comment.

            Perhaps you need to speak to our local councillors who sit on the CLG and whose questions are constantly batted away by Cuadrilla and the regulators with protestations about “commercial confidence”. This even includes request for information that UKOOG, Cuadrilla’s own trade body, recommend that Cuadrilla should display on a daily basis on their web site.

            I appreciate that you are pro fossil fuel extraction but your statement above is so disingenuous it is actually quite funny,

          • “Jonathon Bartley had a real opportunity to bring forward real information and help the local community understand what exactly was happening.”
            As I’ve mentioned before on this site, the day before Jonathon Bartley was due to visit Cuadrilla’s site he took questions from locals and they were written down on cards for him to ask Cuadrilla the next day. On the day of the visit he and his sound recording man were taken into the site in Cuadrilla’s security’s vehicle. The sound man wore headphones and carried a large, fluffy microphone. No hidden recording equipment. Cuadrilla were quite aware they were being recorded.
            When Mr Bartley left the site he gave us a brief description of his visit. He told us Cuadrilla had said they would reply to the questions on the cards in due course. That was several months ago and to date we have had no replies.
            He also said he would get the recording transcribed for us. However, a day or two later we were informed that Cuadrilla had contacted Mr Bartley to prevent him from revealing the transcription of his visit. Considering the fact that the whole of his visit was stage managed by Cuadrilla and they were aware they were being recorded what had Cuadrilla got to hide? The fact is it’s not Jonathon Bartley who is denying the local community real information.

  7. Exactly Martin.

    The Minister was asked to visit PNR, she has agreed to do so. What does she get, for her effort? A character assassination from a group of antis exciters-an expected “reaction”-but rather childish. And, also, self defeating. They try to propose they are well informed, have genuine concerns and represent the local community and then produce a constant stream of grievance against anyone who opposes their more intelligent view.

    A modern version of Wonderland-entertaining, but fiction.

    • I don’t think you’ve been following Mrtn – the minister appears to have made up a claim that she had been threatened and then she called locals a “mob”. And you expect decent people wouldn’t react to that? Really?

      I think people pointing out a few home truths about this self proclaimed BDW are the very least she can expect.

      • “Appears” to whom, reaction?

        Was she calling locals “mob”? Or was she looking at Court/police information and referring to others?

        Do you really think people on this site including antis are so ignorant that they can’t see through your clumsy attempts to manufacture grievance?

        You go to so much effort and simply show poor ability to even manipulate. Perhaps you would like to look at a few disgruntled comments from Tesla stock holders, or M&S, or just about any company in the world. You should see my comments about BMW and their diesels! I think they still have the support of other customers? You recognise some people enjoy having a grievance, so you attempt to manufacture one for them. But try doing it without insulting their IQ.

        • “Appears” to everyone with a brain Mrtn. Are you excluding yourself there?

          I doubt she discriminates between “locals” and “others” as she commissions “research” into flour bombing.

          Would you like me to post some more from the investors forum? It’s quite funny if you don’t have cash invested yourself!

          As to Kisheny’s reading list. LOL just LOL

          • Ahh, the old fall back-higher intelligence allows silly posts!

            “Appears”, “doubt”-opinions expressed, dressed up as fact, in order to manipulate.

            Someone with just a little intelligence can identify, reaction, that if there are investors posting on an investors forum, many are investors in that company. It is voluntary to be an investor. Some will be half glass full, some half empty, but if they stay as investors, then they obviously have some level of confidence. Equally, many investor forums will include as many posts from non investors with their own agendas.

            But, those here on DoD will largely recognise that reality. For the minority who do not, they can always rely on the alternative-doubts and appearances.

            • Well Merton there is always the outside possibility that Ms Perry will take time out from abusing her staff to present some evidence to support her claim of being threatened.

              It seems rather unlikely but until we have a response from her then it is opinion not proven fact I suppose. You seem to have a problem with people who weigh up evidence and don’t present opinion as fact without justification. Why am I not surprised?

              Thank you for pointing out to us that investing is not compulsory. What is your next statement of the bl***ing obvious going to be?

              Here is another snippet from Hot Copper for you to enjoy at your leisure.

              “Cuadrilla seems to have stalled. No news or company update of what’s going on. After 7 years of waiting UK shale seems to hit its head against the block wall of political indecision once again. Very hard to see a buy recommendation right now. IMHO. ”

              You’re welcome

          • Unfortunately the vast majority of antis only read The Guardian and watch Russia Today to bolster their narrow ideology…

            • Hey K,
              I thought we’d agreed that you’d stop putting your anti anti-fracking stuff on Drill or Drop comments if I did first?
              You really can’t be trusted can you.
              Anyway I’m actually enjoying the break letting you make an ass of yourself.
              I mean seriously how can you possibly know which newspapers, if any, my friends and I purchase?
              According to you lot we’re jobless and homeless so the last thing we’ll be buying is newspapers. Maybe collecting them to use as blankets I could understand.
              Anyway bye, bye till next Thursday.

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