Industry

Cuadrilla’s partner reveals strategies to deal with fracking earth tremors

pnr 181121 Ros Wills5

Cuadrilla’s fracking site at Preston New Road, near Blackpool, 21 November 2018. Photo: Ros Wills

The shale gas company, Cuadrilla, is to allow more fluid to come back to the surface after fracking, in an attempt to tackle the problem of earth tremors. It will also seek to raise the threshold on the magnitude of tremors at which fracking must stop.

The news came in a statement overnight from one of the Cuadrilla’s main investors, the Australian mining company, A J Lucas. AJ Lucas statement

Cuadrilla has confirmed that the statement is accurate but has declined to comment or add anything to it.

A series of 36 small and micro tremors have been recorded since Cuadrilla began fracking at its site at Preston New Road near Blackpool on 15 October 2018. DrillOrDrop tremor tracker

On four occasions, the company stopped fracking operations at Preston New Road because the magnitude of the tremors reached the threshold in the regulations, known as the traffic light system.

The statement, from the A J Lucas chairman, Philip Arnall, said the seismic threshold of 0.5 ML (local magnitude) was regarded as “overly conservative”.

But he said Cuadrilla was “working on the assumption that this constraint will not be altered for the current hydraulic fracturing operations”. The energy minister, Claire Perry, said last month it would be “foolish” to change the threshold at the moment.

Mr Arnall said Cuadrilla had therefore devised a work-plan to “optimise fracking and well performance” that allowed it to operate within the 0.5 ML threshold. He gave the following summary:

“it will involve a greater flow-back of fracturing fluid between fracturing stages by lengthening flowback periods and increasing the sand to water ratio in the fluid composition.”

This goes further than Cuadrilla’s most recent statement to DrillOrDrop which said:

“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”.

Mr Arnall added:

“On completion of the fracturing phase a flowtest programme will take place to evaluate well 1 before embarking on the well 2 programme.”

Greater flowback could increase costs for Cuadrilla by requiring the treatment, transport or recycling of larger volumes.

The company had estimated that 22,000 cubic metres of flowback would return to the surface for one well at Preston New Road.

A hearing is underway this morning at the High Court in London on whether the Environment Agency had required Cuadrilla to deal with flowback in the best way. DrillOrDrop will be reporting on this hearing later today.

“More appropriate” limit on earth tremors

Mr Arnall said Cuadrilla would also try to raise the threshold in the traffic light system. His statement continued:

“Concurrently Cuadrilla will engage with the regulators and the industry to clearly demonstrate that a more appropriate upper limit on seismic monitoring should be set to enable optimal testing without compromising on world class environmental and safety measures.”

DrillOrDrop has reported on evidence that Cuadrilla agreed to the 0.5 ML threshold six years ago.

Critics of fracking have argued that the 0.5 ML threshold was set for safety reasons. DrillOrDrop guest post.

Tony Bosworth, energy campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said:

“Cuadrilla clearly wants fracking earthquake regulations to be relaxed, but government should resist siren calls from a company that agreed to the regulations six years ago, and is now apparently having problems working within them.

“Only two months ago Cuadrilla said they wanted to frack the second well at Preston New Road within weeks, that date is now being pushed back. Investor patience must be wearing thin.”

Mr Arnall also referred to a video statement by Cuadrilla’s chief executive, Francis Egan. This does not appear to be online and a Cuadrilla spokesperson said:

“If AJ Lucas decides to put the video on their website you can obviously view it there, but we are not proactively sending out their shareholder video.”

A J Lucas owns 47.4% of Cuadrilla. Its shares fell slightly today. The statement suggested it would seek a “direct presence” in the UK.

153 replies »

  1. these are genuine questions as I do not pretend to be any sort of expert on fracking.

    a)if cuadrilla’s work around involves allowing more fracking fluid to return to the surface, assuming of course it is dealt with properly, will this be more environmentally sound than allowing more to remain in the ground?

    b) what % of fracking fluid is it possible to recover if you tried to recover as much of it as you can?

    c) assuming the answer to a) is that it is more environmentally friendly, and assuming that current permissions allow for a process that permits less than the maximum fluid to return, why is this the case? Should the permission not be amended to allow for the least environmental impact?

    • Fencesitter,
      Your question is interesting but slightly difficult to answer because it varies from place to place but i’ll have a go.

      a) By initial reaction would be that it’s more environmentally friendly to keep as much fluid in the subsurface as possible as this minimizes the amount of energy (carbon emissions) needed to clean up the fluid. However, water can imbibe into shale reducing the overall productivity, which would mean more wells needed to be drilled to meet production targets.

      b) The amount of fluid that returns will depend on a range of factors such as the fracture complexity and the direction the fracture grows relative to the well. It’s not possible to give firm answers.

      c) see answer a) above.

  2. Well everyone, it seems that Judith, [edited by moderator], is getting her beauty sleep, so the coast is clear for some serious discussion.
    This morning’s BBC NW TV news summary mentioned how bothered Cuadrilla are with tremor limit and that they plan to try a different way of hydraulic fracturing.

    As usual the BBC introduced the story with the words “the energy company Cuadrilla”.

    I thought Cuadrilla were just an exploratory drilling company. Seems to me that they and the hauliers have consumed a lot of energy and produced none.

    Even this Drill or Drop article begins with the words “the shale gas company Cuadrilla”.
    When or where did they find shale gas?

    • Shhhh, too many slapsticks from Paunch perhaps?

      Perhaps Murial, “the energy company Cuadrilla” refers to the amount of energy they have expended, but produced none? One wonders if there will ever be a positive to account for the present negative? Energy conservancy appears to be lost on them?

      And the term “the shale gas company Cuadrilla” refers to the elusive state of that element so far?

      The term “shale gas” is always amusing as the shale itself is not composed of gas at all, it is simply a layer of mudstone that forms a gas proof layer, hence the efforts to fracture it?

      The elusive gas however is an ancient legacy of decaying vegetation and organic matter, and is not therefore “fossilised” or a “fossil fuel” at all?

      Since you cannot fossilise a gas? It could be more accurately “rotting vegetation gas?” And as i have pointed out before, there is plenty of that up here above ground, just collect it rot it down and gassify it and everyone is happy?

      I am sure that should such an operation be far more sensibly started and run without all this nonsense going on, there would be plenty of rotting vegetation collection jobs on offer if the frackers are still obsessed with the stuff? We do that every week here, if we all composted our own or central composting units, we will have all the gas we need? No radiation, no drilling rigs needed, investment would be for a totally renewable product, not some millions of years old rotted vegetation that cannot be renewed?

      In fact i am sure that the local residents and indeed the entire country and the planet would be more than happy to support such an enterprise?

      we can achieve our Paris agreement targets, reduce carbon on exploration and extraction, develop better more efficient burners and power stations to run on a totally renewable source.

      No drilling and poisoned water, methane could be collected under domes and piped away, no police state needed, no social division and screaming politicians and operators trying to maximise profits at the expense of peoples health, quiet countryside and destroyed communities?

      everybody wins and we can move towards a carbon free planet without all this needless greed and division.

      Win win win win win win…..and so on.

      Why have we not done that before?

    • Muriel, how quaint you are. Sadly no beauty sleep – I spent most of the night working on an environmental issue that actually mattered.

      Your statement about Cuadrilla being and exploration company and not producing anything – [edited by moderator] – Exploration finds petroleum but doesn’t produce it until there is a massive amount of work done to assess financial and environmental consequences- it’s a process called appraisal – you clearly don’t know anything about this subject do you?

      • Well well, there goes the intelligent debate down the drain again Muriel?
        The sock puppet Enemies Of Humanity chip in their hatred of anyone daring to have an opinion other than their own brainwashed litany, always howling desperately at the moon:

        “No one understands me?”

        No Judith it is you who has no understanding of anything that represents the necessary freedom from the oppressive hegemony that the industry and our own government reveals itself to be.

        Just repeating the same old same old tired attempt at instigating an oppressive self serving greed and avarice corrupt mantra does not impress, convince, or even illustrate one iota of sanity or credibility in any way whatsoever.

          • Do they have Any Questions on Mars Judith? I thought it was just a reflection of the sort of death ray diplomacy such as you portray here in almost every post to date?

            Don’t Martians appreciate irony?

  3. Ah, my old friend (F) IFI.

    Don’t you worry, there will soon be another contrived jolly in gay Paris and you can have lots of Martini funded by the good old British tax payer.

    Perhaps, Muriel, take a look at the partners who make up and fund Cuadrilla. There is a little clue there. When did you last see a horse in Lloyds Bank? Crazy, or otherwise.

    Did you miss the International news of the PNR shale gas flare??? Surely you are not suggesting DoD is not providing accurate reporting?

  4. Can anyone translate this from Mr Egan’s letter for me (https://hotcopper.com.au/threads/ann-cuadrilla-ceo-address-to-agm.4556625/)

    “The UK Oil and Gas Authority has already stated in guidance published on its website, that the 0.5 threshold on micro-seismic events maybe adjusted upwards with actual experience, shows that this can be done without compromising the effectiveness of controls.”

    And how does this logic work …

    “We believe that the data which we and the regulators are gathering from these initial fracturing operations should be sufficient to demonstrate that an increase in threshold can be safely made. ”

    I am struggling to see how data from the limited fracks that they had to stop because they exceeded the threshold on multiple occasions can demonstrate that they can safely increase that threshold? This sounds rather like a triumph of hope over experience to me, but I’l be interested to hear other explanations as to how it might actually make sense.

    • Perhaps Francis is trying to communicate through the inside out and upside down sock puppet Refraction? Makes about as much sense anyway?

    • John – I’m sure you’re struggling to understand how the data will be used because you don’t know anything about the subject.

      I might struggle to estimate how a diesel BMW reduces GHG emissions because I don’t like or understand cars. But you seem to justify it in your own mind.

      I’m willing to change my views if I hear a sensible argument. However, as a vegan who walks a massive amount and rarely drives, I find it difficult to see how you can take a moral high ground. [Edited by moderator]

      • Ah Green Judith – This wasn’t about a moral judgement – just trying to understand something – you clearly have nothing to offer [Edited by moderator]What a massive surprise!

        [Edited by moderator]

  5. How it makes sense old chap is if a level of 1 can be reached accidentally without any adverse effects, then perhaps a level of 1 can be reached deliberately without any adverse effects also. DOH. (1 only as an example.)

    Pretty straightforward in the real world. Think it is called testing and refining. The key would be to make sure the refining means if they aimed for 1 they would not exceed it by the same percentage as they did before.

    Glad to help.

    (Sometimes known as Gold Standard.)

    • I could understand “We have fracked at full power for months without causing any issues so can we have the limit moved” but surely if you can’t keep to the limit prescribed you shouldn’t expect to be allowed to have the goal posts moved. Your “real world” is as bizarre as I imagined it would be Merton!

      • What makes more sense is – “we have fracked at half power for a month without causing any issues so can we have the limit moved to allow us to move to full power”. Watch this space John. Adding more sand into the same volume plus additional flow back to de-pressure the fault should be something you want? i.e. less risk of seismicity / higher production rates? something we all want…..

  6. You should try portraits then Fifi. That should do it. Only do avoid the oils!

    I have met a few artists in Paris who had more free trip offers than you could shake a stick at. But the bouncers filtered most of them.

    A bit like the wrong sort of snow excuse, now the wrong sort of artist!

    Anyway, isn’t there a history of artists flocking to Paris penniless and living in a loft, to find inspiration?

            • Well that was predictable wasn’t it Fifi?

              An interesting juxtaposition of mindset isn’t it?

              It seems that beauty really is in the eye, and the mind of the beholder, the darker and more negative the beholder, the darker the image portrayed?

              That speaks volumes in so many ways doesn’t it?

              And it defines precisely what this present fracking debacle represents to us.

              The dark or the light, it seems the anti antis have just displayed their mindset and we would be insane to let them impose their hatred of anything that opposes their twisted egoic needs on us in any form whatsoever, especially that of fracking and its associated avoidances of the word. Let these people have any sort of control over us and the result will be just what the Paul mindset illustrated here.

              Lessons to be learned there isn’t there?

    • We know Francis Egan is desperately trying to change the TLS to save his bacon Paul, but i suspect there will be all hell to pay if they try that. Perhaps you should stay off the source?

      Have a nice weekend….

      • Apart from another Enemies of Industry JR attempt and a load of hot air (all hell to pay?) not much will happen and Cuadrilla will be fracking again.

        Likewise – enjoy and forget about all of this nonsense for a couple of days.

    • It’s no surprise that they finally have another go after a month kicking their heels Paul or are you claiming to have some special info about their attempts to get the limit raised??? Do tell !

  7. All the moaning about Cuadrilla shouldn’t be fracking and then same people moaning that they are not!

    Looks more like moaners than protestors.

    Suppose Mercedes just spends the time kicking their heels between test runs.

    I just wonder how some managed their lives, so far, without touching reality-well, actually I do not. It is obvious they see that as the audience to excite. Very patronising.

    • I see the hooks and barbs found their mark Refracktion?

      Interesting to see how easily The Enemies Of Humanity are so easily provoked into displaying their vulnerability over Cuadrillas fracking debacle embarrassment?

      Such fun!

      Always a pleasure!

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