Updated at 1.30pm on 11 December 2018
The largest earth tremor so far at Cuadrilla’s fracking site near Blackpool was recorded this morning, measuring 1.5ML. The company said it would stop operations for at least 18 hours.
The British Geological Survey reported the 1.5ML (local magnitude) seismic event at 11.21am. This followed a series of nine smaller tremors at the Preston New Road site earlier this morning
Residents and observers near the Preston New Road site reported hearing the fracking pumps running.
1.5ML is the same level as one of a series of tremors recorded after fracking by Cuadrilla at Preese Hall in 2011. After those tremors, the government imposed a one-year moratorium on fracking.
In a statement today, Cuadrilla said:
“A series of micro seismic events in Blackpool have been recorded on the British Geological Survey website this morning following hydraulic fracturing at our shale gas exploration site in Preston New Road, Lancashire.
“The largest recorded was 1.5ML (local magnitude) at about 11.20am. This occurred after hydraulic fracturing had finished for the day. According to recent research by the University of Liverpool the impact would be like dropping a melon. A series of smaller micro seismic events occurred during hydraulic fracturing, beginning at about 9.40am.
“Cuadrilla will pause and continue to monitor micro seismicity for at least the next 18 hours, in line with the traffic light system regulations. Well integrity has been checked and verified.”
Today’s seismic activity was in almost the same place as another tremor yesterday, measuring -0.3.
Yesterday’s seismic activity was the first since 4 November 2018. (DrillOrDrop tremor tracker)
Extract from British Geological Survey record of seismic activity in the UK, 11 December 2018
Cuadrilla confirmed yesterday that fracking had resumed at Preston New Road. There had been no previous company statements that fracking was underway for several weeks. DrillOrDrop understands that fracking paused on 2 November 2018.
There have now been a total of 47 seismic events around the Preston New Road site since fracking began on 15 October 2018.
Almost all the events were too small to feel at the surface – but today’s 1.5ML event was felt, as was an earlier 1.1ML event.
Operators are required to pause fracking for 18 hours under the traffic light regulations if operations trigger a tremor of 0.5ML or above. Cuadrilla has confirmed that it has paused fracking on three occasions since 15 October 2018.
Opponents of Cuadrilla’s activities have voiced concerns about the impact of earth movements on the integrity of the well. The company has said there have been no well integrity issues at Preston New Road.
Tony Bosworth, Friends of the Earth campaigner, said:
“Within a day of Cuadrilla re-starting fracking in Lancashire, there has already been another earthquake which means they’ve had to down tools.
“It appears that they cannot frack without triggering tremors. And instead of acknowledging that fracking needs to end, Cuadrilla are instead urging for regulations around earthquakes to be relaxed.
“We’ve always said that fracking poses risks for our climate and environment. After today’s quake, and with the effects of climate breakdown already happening around us, isn’t it time to put a stop to fracking once and for all?”
A spokesperson for Lancashire for Shale said:
“Microseismic activity like this goes hand-in-hand with minerals and energy extraction, and is to be expected. Fortunately, it is typically too small to notice, and the only reason we know about it at Preston New Road is because of the dense network of surface sensors that Cuadrilla and the British Geological Survey are using to monitor then transparently report on fracking-related seismicity.
“In this particular instance, the British Geological Survey says that some people report having felt the tremor, but researchers at the University of Liverpool say a 1.5 ML microseismic event occurring at a depth of two kilometres, where the fracking is taking place, would only produce surface vibration equivalent to dropping a honeydew melon on the floor.
“Cuadrilla will now pause, intensify its monitoring and check the integrity of its well in accordance with the Traffic Light System of controls agreed with the Oil and Gas Authority.”