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. Raising the seismicity traffic lights threshold for stopping fracking would, by definition, compromise the so-called ‘world class environmental and safety measures’, guys. That what happens when you weaken regulations that you agreed to years ago.

      • But 4 is where it is 50 km from the nearest town. This site is nearly under our feet. [edited by moderator]. My house will not stand up to a 4.

        [Figure corrected at poster’s request]

          • “Alberta’s regulator wrote its earthquake rules in February after the first 4.4 quake of the year outside Fox Creek. Those new regulations instituted a code for companies to use when they communicate with the regulator about the severity of earthquakes. The code is based on traffic-light colours: Green is given to any quake near a fracking operation that is less than magnitude 2.0 and requires no response; yellow is for quakes between 2.0 and 4.0, for which a response plan is needed; red is for quakes above 4.0 and invokes a stop order.”

            [Edited by moderator] 50km – also incorrect, plenty of Fracking in Canada taking place closer than 50km to towns.

    • What do you mean by “the IPCC Report” Paula. There are many on their website. I assume you mean SR15? Have you read it Paula – how many pages is it?

      I don’t expect even Sherwulfe or Refracktion or Phil C or even Ruth have read it.

      If you have you deserve a medal.

      Here you go:

      It is 792 pages long. Enjoy…..

    • Paula – I’ve not read it – several of the authors give me the low down on it. I’m not sure what it’s got to do with fracking.

  2. A tanker of Russian LNG from the Artic Circle is due to dock in the UK. LNG has double the production emissions of UK shale gas and imported gas pays no corporation tax. We need to develop UK shale gas or we will end up offshoring our environmental responsibilities, tax and jobs.

      • The antis go very quiet when faced with this situation. They shout about climate change but will not accept that if the U.K took responsibility and produced the Natural Gas it consumes it would lower CO2 emissions than continuing to import…

        • Kisheny – indeed they do go quiet – but not too surprising given their total lack of knowledge of this industry.

          • JG; if you read back through the articles you will see that it has already been pointed out by myself and others that LNG imports are the governments preferred option. They have been developing the landings and infrastructure to sell from Qatar et al to Europe, middle man get’s a cut. Do keep up.

        • Actually Kisheny we are tired of explaining to you that emissions are a global not just a national issue, and that comparing production emissions and not post combustion emissions is really such an obvious attempt at sleight of hand that it is not really worthy of a response.

    • That’s ok Kish they can add it to the current over supply. But what is more likely is that it will be used to offset exported U.K. production. Tell me about energy security again.

      • Crembulle- I was about to ask why you keep harping in about over supply and exports. But of course it’s obvious, it’s a nice little narrative that the gullible will interpret that the UK doesn’t need to import gas. But as you know, that’s not the situation is it?

        • Harping on? Mentioned once in response to Kishney post about how the U.K. was receiving an LNG shipment. I am surprised he didn’t play the reds under the beds card too.

          No mention of the US shipment due in at Dragon or the Qatari shipment due in at Milford Haven.

          What you anti antis like to gloss over is that the U.K. has looked to position itself as a LNG trading hub and the wondereous shale gas industry will not significantly reduce LNG shipments into the country but it may lead to more reloads as LNG is re-shipped.


          [Typo corrected at poster’s request]

            • From a purely CO2 based discussion U.K Shale Gas is by a Country mile far better than LNG imports. In most cases U.K Shale Gas won’t even need piping a Country mile to enter the Gas grid.
              From an economic viewpoint LNG is twice the cost of piping Gas in from Norway, which is on the decline by the way.
              The whole point is to displace LNG from our energy mix and these tanker loads can be used in Germany to stop them burning brown coal or China. So not only bringing down CO2 Emissions in the U.K but globally…



            • If those shipments to Germany are still being made to and trans-shipped from the UK we have reduced no CO2 from shipping. We have simply moved where that fuel is used and added another source of Fossil fuel production to the worlds existing supplies. Whilst at the same time reducing the impetus to reduce gas usage, implement CCS /CCUS and make any serious attempts to establish larger scale clean technologies.

              I also seriously doubt the UKs future energy policy will be a factor on how China’s energy markets develop. China will not all of a sudden seek to change its energy policy because the U.K. imports less LNG. If that was a route they wanted to take they simply would do it. They might however take more note of the UKs ability to engineer new cleaner energy sources, after all forward thinking engineering solutions are what the UK is supposedly to be great at.

              I think it’s fair to say we all want to get to a point of carbon neutrality but some of us clearly want to get there sooner than others, perhaps this is because we do not have vested interests we are seeking to protect

          • You do realise you are advocating, happy to import LNG???????

            Incredible, your whole argument is to reduce CO2 emissions???

            The NIMBY argument is more in line with your rhetoric…

            Do you want lower CO2 emissions?

            • I am asking you how you think this will occur when UK shale is forecast to be more expensive than imported LNG, which is already traded on an mature market with established infrastructure.

              Your simplistic argument appears to be that if U.K. Shale is established the C02 emissions generated by this mature competitor with an established trading network will just disappear.

      • In 2016 total imports were 48.5 Billion cubic meters (Bcm) which fell by 1.6% to 47.7 Bcm in 2017.

In 2016 exports were 10.3 Bcm and rose by 10.8% to 11.4 Bcm in 2017.

Therefore, the UK’s net imports (imports minus exports) were 38.2 Bcm and 36.3 Bcm in 2016 and 
2017 respectively.

The total gas consumption in the UK (excluding exports, producers own consumption, and losses) were 76.9Bcm in 2016 and 74.5Bcm in 2017.

        UK gas production is maintained at a set rate all year round, export of gas usually occurs during summer months only when our domestic demand is at its lowest.

          • Crembulle – why would one focus on today’s position and not take into account the history? Have you ever run a business? Do you know anything about profit and loss accounts? If so you might understand that one spreads incomes and expenditure over a certain period so one gets a true reflection of the trajectory of the business.

            • No surprise you miss the point Waltina. i’ll put it into simpletons terms so you can keep track of the discussion – U.K. shale will not significantly reduce shipments of LNG into the country, it’s a poor argument and even more poorly made.

            • LOL – not only does Judith know everything there is to know about fracking but she’s a business guru too! Is there no end to this woman’s talents? How surprising that she doesn’t exist in Google when you consider all her high level connections and breadth of achievements!

            • Ahh. The words of wisdom from reaction, who wants to hold onto his diesel as no one will pay him to move to something more environmentally acceptable! Is there no end to his?? LOL

            • Crembrule – have you ever heard of something called material balance? It’s not the amount of shipments into the country that is important if they are just going into our pipe network for export. It’s better to look simply at the proportion of gas that is consumed in the UK compared to how much is produced ourselves.

            • Refracktion does she remind you of someone else with seemingly endless anecdotes and associates they like to bring up ad infinitum?

            • “whereas you seem to just snipe.” say the queen of the snipers LOL

              Come on then “Judith” – are you going to tell us who you really are or are we supposed to take your repetitive claims of academic superiority to the rest of the world on blind trust?

            • Refracktion do you need to see qualifications to judge the quality of the argument? Anyhow, many of my friends call me Green Judith because of my veganism and general support of green issues. Feels funny to be on the opposite side of an argument to people who think that they’re quite green

            • I didn’t suggest you showed us your qualifications Judith – I just wondered if you had the courage of your convictions or if you are really just a new, more extreme version of our old friend Peeny?

              You are sure they don’t call you Green Judith because you are so childish about the way you interact with people?

          • Apart from the Liquefied natural gas shipment having 3.6 times higher CO₂ emissions than pipeline natural gas, there’s not a lot I can tell you.

            • How about a point of view on the UKs desire to act as a trading and reshipping hub for LNG shipments? How do you think that will play out against the case that uK shale would prevent LNG shipments coming into the UK?

  3. We should not even be debating this. The era of fossil fuels is over! No more Fracking anywhere. Honour the Paris Agreement and our Children’s future. Subsidies should be taken from fossil-fuels and put into renewable clean energy; water, wind and solar. Anyone considering arguing with me should know that I won’t be moved from my stance and that I think they are advocaters of crimes against humanity.

  4. Interesting how these debates always end up back at UK shale gas forecast to be more expensive!!

    In which case, there will be NO UK shale gas crembrule, so you have absolutely nothing to protest about. Just let the tests run and your forecast will do all the work for you! (Not sure that implying the current protests are a waste of time will gain a lot of support from some quarters.)

    However, it seems by the excitement amongst other antis they are far from convinced of your forecasts (speculation). The old mixed messages. After all these years, one would at least expect some consistency.

    • “In which case, there will be NO UK shale gas crembrule, so you have absolutely nothing to protest about. Just let the tests run and your forecast will do all the work for you!”

      Martin your point would appear to be that it OK for certain communities to go through the rigmarole of being fracking guinea pigs on the basis that if it’s uneconomical it will just stop. The simple counter is this industry is not needed in the first place so why waste time, money and effort that could be better spent elsewhere trying to find long term solutions rather than sticking plasters.

      It should also be noted that you don’t live in a potential fracking sacrifice zone so it’s a very easy statement for you to make.

  5. No. But I know enough about history that revolutions take a while to get going-just like the N.Sea. Price pressure has a habit of contributing to revolutions. Slowly, but finally. Maybe 11p/litre premium for diesel might encourage a bit of reactionolution, as well!

  6. “Thought, not”.

    Very appropriate. But we knew that already.

    Long term solutions normally need investment to produce, crembrule. That is why they are not here and now. DOH.

    Norway doing very nicely developing long term solutions. Wonder how that is being funded? Hmm. But there is the anti solution, of complaining not enough is being done with someone else’s money, and then they want to prevent someone else’s money being generated in the first place and are happy for most others money being supplied to poor old Norway to help them out! On top of which some then want to ignore their own contributions, because someone else will not fund it!!!

    Good job the UK is used to farce.

      • So, alternatives don’t have anything to do with money! Why are we all paying money then for them, then, and making little progress?

        “Norway doing very nicely developing long term solutions”. Was that not clear enough?

        Yep, just ignore the facts and retreat back into Wonderland.

        • “Alternatively” you might want to consider not too long ago where land owners were being paid £150k/annum per wind turbine whether they produced anything or not. Nothing there to do with money, money, money?

      • Check out the accounts of Community Windpower Ltd and Banks…..then look at SSE / Dong and all the others…..

        • And what? Shock horror businesses want to generate profit, some do it with strong environmental and ethical policies, others could not care less about their impact (Caudrilla fits in the later group).

          But spare us the hug a husky crap if the industry you are supporting is part of the problem and not the solution, own up to your avarice. No one except those with fingers in the pie are buying the green wash.

Add a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s