Updated: largest earth tremor so far at Cuadrilla’s fracking site

PNR 181026 Ros Wills

Fence artwork outside Cuadrilla’s shale gas site at Preston New Road, 26 October 2018. Photo: Ros Wills

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.”

181211 bubble chart Refracktion

Relative magnitude of seismic events at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road shale gas site near Blackpool. Chart:

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)

181211 Location of earth tremors

Prof Roy Thompson FRSE, Professor Emeritus and Honorary Professorial Fellow Univ. Edinburgh.

181211 bgs earthquakes 3

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.”


Categories: Regulation

57 replies »

    • Don’t tell me the people who alleged to have felt tremors are of no fixed abode living in a plastic caravan at maple farm next to the site, just like last time…

      • Well (sic) said. They are specially tuned to tremors in the Blackpool area but insensitive to them elsewhere . I am of the opinion that they are measuring tremors in this area because there is a surfeit of sensors . If one were to install that many sensors in the rest of the UK they would probably return identical results. In any event earth tremors are not important we suffer hundreds of them every year in the UK . More than likely they are recoding ‘grumbling’ of the rocks as they split and yield to the high pressure injections. They would look and sound like tremors on a sensor .
        Anyway I have a pet theory to air on green energy. It is this, has anybody bothered to work out if there are environmental hazards created wind turbines ? The North Sea now has several thousand of them and the number is increasing, not only in the UK waters, Germany, Holland and Denmark are into wind power in a big way too. So it is not free energy the combined wind turbines are extracting billions of kilowatts of energy from the jet stream, and you never get something for nothing in terms of energy production. In other words the jet stream’s power is being diminished by the same amount of energy as is produced by the turbines. Furthermore, that many turbines will also create a back pressure on the jet stream and like all free flowing currents the jet stream will seek out the path of least resistance . So effective we may be diverting it away from the skies above the North Sea. Indeed we may already be doing so and they in itself could be the reason for the erratic weather in the Northern Hemisphere over the past few years

  1. On target for completion. Rules will be altered to suit our needs and the barmy army will be kicked down the road.

    • GBK – Good to see the pro frackers demonstrating their usual arrogant care and consideration for the community being invaded by this industry.

  2. The community who voted for an MP who had support for fracking testing within his manifesto! Obviously a minority within that community, whilst the majority followed the national stats.

  3. But, they have a role, not UDI, and that was made evident.
    By the way, did they check with every person before they made that decision on “our behalf”? Err, no. Therefore it was on someone’s behalf, but not everyone’s. Suspect it didn’t include Kisheny, for starters.

  4. But they did not make the decision on all our behalf’s, did they? Central government overrode the will of some people.

    Very easy for you to change a few key words and think they change the facts-but they do not.

    We all know that there are thousands of Appeals against councillors decisions every year and many are successful simply because those decisions are open to scrutiny and fail that scrutiny. That is true democracy. Tough when you are on the wrong side of it but doesn’t stop the antis using exactly the same mechanism-but less successfully.

    • They (central government) overrode the will of the some of the people (ie those local to the site and directly affected by this industry) to carry out a minor manifesto pledge on behalf of those so removed to the affected areas that some do not know what the historic local land marks are called.

      Have I got that right because that is nothing like what you said in your post at 6:13 above?

      And do you have that article link yet?

  5. No, as usual, you do not have it right.

    “SOME of those local to the site etc.” would be accurate. You might also adjust to “on behalf of the majority, as defined by authentic market research, some removed to the local areas, some not”. You might also add that some of those local to the site were so incensed they turned down the inconvenience payments-but that would be a step too far into Wonderland.

    Writing inaccurately to be added to the unusual meeting organisation C.V. However, it seems employment is booming, so probably acceptable somewhere. RT?

    • Ah the ever changing MC goal posts shroud your poorly thought out original point in rakes of pointless verbosity. Standard!

      Do you have the link yet?

    • Inaccuracy is you middle name Martin as you reaffirm every post you make. Please keep up the good work as your posts do more PR work for the anti cause than anything they can come up with.

      Additionally your repeated failure to post the link to the story you repeatedly like to refer back to is as good as an admission it does not exist. Post it if I am in the wrong.

  6. Ahh, you embody a cause now, in addition to your recent comments where you represented the majority! Accurate.

    Obviously my comments worry you, but you seem to be worried about anyone who calmly and factually disagree with you. You may like to examine how that is good PR work for the antis. Accurate.

    No, it simply identifies someone else knows something but not everything about the community he suggests he represents. Someone who tries to represent others are not locals so their viewpoint is not valid. Hmmm. Accurate again.

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