Red-level tremor stops fracking as total seismic events top 50

181013 pnr Ros Wills 6

Cuadrilla’s shale gas site at Preston New Road, near Blackpool, 13 October 2018. Photo: Ros Wills

Cuadrilla has confirmed that it stopped fracking again today at its Preston New Road site following an earth tremor measuring 0.9ML (local magnitude).

The tremor, at 1.41pm, was classed as a red event under the regulations because it measured more than 0.5ML and happened during a fracking stage. The regulations require Cuadrilla to pause fracking for 18 hours and check the well integrity.

Today’s red-level event is the third so far since fracking operations began at the site near Blackpool two months ago. DrillOrDrop Tremor Tracker

There have also been four trailing events, where the level was 0.5ML or above but a fracking stage was not underway.

The trailing events included the largest tremor so far, measuring 1.5ML. This happened three days ago (11 December 2018) and was felt by people living and working near the site. There was also a 1.1ML trailing event on 29 October 2018, which was also felt.

The total number of seismic events now stands at 57, including 21 this week.

Today’s 0.9ML event followed seven much smaller tremors in the preceding 45 minutes. A 0.1ML event followed 10 minutes later. This and another 0.1ML tremor today could be classed as amber events under the regulations if they happened during a fracking stage.

A statement from Cuadrilla said:

“A series of micro seismic events in Blackpool have been recorded on the British Geological Survey (BGS) website today, 14 December. The largest recorded was 0.9ML (local magnitude) at about 2pm. This occurred whilst we were hydraulically fracturing at the Preston New Road exploration site.

“Detected by Cuadrilla’s sophisticated monitoring system, and verified by the BGS, it will be classed as a ‘red’ event under the traffic light system operated by the Oil and Gas Authority.

“Cuadrilla has paused and will continue to monitor micro seismicity for at least 18 hours after the event was recorded, in line with the traffic light system regulations. Well integrity has been checked and verified.”

Yesterday, the Labour group on Lancashire County Council called for a halt to fracking at Preston New Road so that an independent inquiry could be carried out.

A full meeting of the council chose not to vote on the motion, but instead approved an amendment from a member of the ruling Conservative group which expressed appreciation for monitoring by the regulators.

Local opponents of fracking accused the Conservatives of being “fool-hardy”, “disingenuous” and “extremely short-sighted” in failing to vote on the motion for an inquiry.

Categories: Regulation

45 replies »

    • At what point will those in a position of Authority recognise that, however minimal the surface level appear, we are only balancing on Earths crust.. what happens below the surface and the potential damage that may be occurring might have catastrophic effects on our water, air and land upon which we all live?

    • So I’d like to pose the question.
      When Cuadrilla triggers a red event whilst fracking, do they turn it all off at that point or do they continue and just log it? Then stop for 18 hours – which they would be doing anyway? And then carry on regardless…..

            • It is stated that the EA has to request the reports so there is no guarantee they have seen them; HSE not mentioned?

            • See page 23 in link below in the flow chart as per Hewes62

              Click to access PNR1z-HFP-v9.pdf

              No, not the residents. Are they paying for the well or officially regulating it?

              See OGA today:


              “Operations at the Preston New Road site are continuing following a series of minor seismic events, (the most recent on 14 December) which have exceeded our magnitude 0.5 limit for caution. This threshold is set at a level well below what could be felt at the surface.

              Following any event that exceeds the threshold, the operator is required to immediately pause, reduce pressure and monitor for any further events.

              During these pauses, the OGA compares the location, magnitude and ground motion of these minor seismic events to the operator’s approved Hydraulic Fracture Plan (HFP).

              To date the OGA has been satisfied that these events have been in line with the geological understanding set out in the HFP and that the risk of induced seismicity is being appropriately managed.

              OGA Director of Regulation, Tom Wheeler, said: “We are continuing to take a cautious approach and have strict controls in place so that any event over the threshold results in a pause in operations to allow us to review the event and check that the operator’s approved plan is still valid. This pause can be extended if required.”

            • As it is the residents who need assurances, Paul and the plan incorporates a seismic event past 3ml…..and what happens when they revise the ‘plan’?

  1. Whatever Cuadrilla were doing to reduce tremors for four weeks, it isnt working is it? Or maybe it would be worse still?

    Now there is a surprise?

    Even the earth objects to fracking it seems? Maybe an injunction can be taken out on “A Planet Unknown” to stop it slow quaking in front of Cuadrilla? anyone wish to represent the entire planet in a court of law?

    All of us i suspect? Or at least those who give a frack?

    Where were those Lancashire County councillors who refused the vote on the motion we wonder?

    Did the earth move for them we wonder?

    Or was that an Audi R8 hitting the building at speed?

    So, so difficult to tell isnt it?

    Cars may fly?

    • Big reductions on previous??? There was a 1.5ml trailing event this week as a result of their renewed activity following the big Cs refinement of its frack plans.

      [Edited by moderator]

    • Can you also supply information of this local democratic support. The outcome of the County Council meeting did nothing of the sort.

    • Ooops! Dear me? Such bitterness and bile from the Tiddler? Like the Riddler i guess, but not as intellectual or clever?

      What do we learn from these adults as opposed to the childish sock puppet simplistic view portrayed there?

      Lets see what the truth is rather than the somewhat crowing tabloid bottom page lining from the bottom sock puppet drawer shall we?

      Lets push it closed and lock the drawer again before they all fall out and talk some real sense about the situation now they are all safely put away shall we boys and girls?

      This is Ian and Paul, who were actually there by the way, so we should thank them for representing us and the entire country against this Igas/Angus In Junck Sham shouldnt we? i am sure the fans will appreciate yet another pre Christmas gift? Wrapped or otherwise?

      There are many others issues, but that can wait for the Drill or Drop post on the subject..

      The main one being that this injunction contravenes everyones human rights in UK and by extrapolation, everyone on the planet, since nationhood of “persons unknown” is neither established nor sought after in the injunction.

      All this has done is put the entire country and the entire planets population against Igas and Angus and will be a nightmare to enforce or act upon.

      they could not have made a worse move if they tried, and they tried didnt they?

      Like i said….

      Own goal!


    • Whopper !

      Cuadrilla induced earthquake 2011

      Amount of gas produced from that operation, tiny.

      No support from major producers, Labour, Liberal, SNP, Greens, Unite,Wales,Ireland,Scotland, Councils across the Country, National Trust, CPRE,the majority of the population, and judging by the way AJ Lucas shares have been going, the investors.

      8 years of trying. No gas. No provable gas flows.

      UK shale gas,

      Stranded, broke, Isolated, and thoroughly pummelled by well organised communities.

    • I find it so refreshing to listen to Martin Collyer (not his real name by the way. As an American in the pay of the fracking companies he likes to remain anonymous so decided to name himself after a defunct and polluting fossil-fuel vessel). [Edited by moderator] He’s [edited by moderator] simply re-writes whatever fallacies the fracking companies give him. He has the veracity and charm of Donald Trump but without the intellect. You can safely ignore anything he says, just pat him on the head and throw him a chip.

  2. Wait until they put pads every few kilometres then watch everything shift . Martin , your posts are getting to be like someone who is gloating , not a nice way to be .

  3. Shattered rocks.
    Shattered democracy.
    Shattered economy
    Shattered climate
    Shattered future for young people.
    But as they say – we are where we are.
    Everything is temporary. Let’s hope things can quickly improve.
    But sadly the rocks can’t be repaired.
    Happy New Year !

  4. Your gloat is my reality Jono. I know it is a problem that 0.9 is lower than 1.5 for some, but it is still reality. The fog generation will be attempted but it is a tried, and failed, tactic and now signals a problem rather than manages it. Pads every few kilometres? But surely, the story is it just will not be economic because someone said so in 2013? Jack will give you the reference and John will support it.

    “Not a nice way to be”? From an individual who has repeatedly gloated about investors losing money in Ponzi schemes! And then goes very quiet when share prices recover.

    As for Jules with his “listening” the reality is the posted word, but as that doesn’t fit, off into Wonderland. [Edited by moderator] But thanks for indicating my contributions are worthy of payment. I wonder what the going rate is from the wind turbine guys. I’m sure someone on here could provide the info. Hmmm.

    And as for Pavlova, who has problems with local issues and forgets some others live locally, well, bless.

    Sorry, I did indicate I was otherwise engaged for the weekend, but just dropped in at half time. Back to the footy now. Play nicely.

    • So the OGA are comparing any red event to ‘the plan’ that allows for an event over 3ml.

      And ‘the plan’ is able to be revised.

      So the only monitoring of these seismic events is by the OGA against ‘the plan’ which Cuadrilla wrote and reports can only be seen by the EA if they ask for them; hummmm

      • The “Plan” was dictated to Cuadrilla. You don’t really believe this is what they wanted?

        The EA will get involved if they feel there is a threat to the environment i.e. potable water – which there clearly isn’t so far.

        • Dictated by whom, Paul?

          Of course we all know that’s not what they wanted- they want to frack regardless of seismicity [Canadian level’s I believe have been quoted?]; but it seems they may revise ‘the pan’ to include this ‘eventuality’, perhaps?

          It seems the residents are very much shafted by these ‘plans’with no say…

          • OGA & UKOOG. Residents are not part of the process in technical aspects of this or any other industrial processes. Shafted is a good word….Residents contribute to the planning process which does not include the design and monitoring of stiulation programs.

      • The flow chart indicates that the OGA, HSE and EA are informed following events as laid out in the chart, plus they all benefit from the morning report.

        Section 6 of the frack plan is not as clear as the flow chart. However that the EA are informed ‘on request’ for some data or reports may be due to them asking for that in the plan. After all they can request a report as often as they like.

  5. It’s interesting that Cuadrilla continually report these events as ‘micro-seismic’. You could almost believe this to be a deliberate mind trick to make the tremors appear inconsequential. As micro is generally defined as a millionth or 10 to the minus six, this doesn’t tally with the reality of the level on the richter scale. When I looked for the definition, it said: ‘n seismology, a microseism is defined as a faint earth tremor caused by natural phenomena’, but this isn’t natural is it? It’s induced seismicity by Cuadrilla. Is there another genuine definition of micro seismic, or only Cuadrilla’s definition of preference?

    • Mike – from the BGS website:

      Seismic Activity at Preston New Road: FAQs
      Are the earthquakes related to hydraulic fracturing?

      Hydraulic fracturing operations started at Preston New Road, near Blackpool, on 15 October. The first event BGS detected in the area was on 18 October. This is not unexpected since hydraulic fracturing is generally accompanied by microseismicity (very small earthquakes that are too small to be felt).

      How big are the events?

      The largest event that we have detected to date had a magnitude of 1.1 ML. Earthquakes with magnitude less than 2 are not usually felt and if they are felt then by only a few people very close to the earthquake. Earthquakes with magnitudes less than 1 are hardly ever felt. The smallest earthquake felt in the UK had a magnitude of 0.5 and was felt by one person.

      The magnitude 0.8 ML event at 11:36 UTC on 26 October was around 200 times smaller than the magnitude 2.3 ML event that stopped hydraulic fracturing operations at Preese Hall in 2011. The maximum recorded ground motion was around 0.1 mm/s. This is well below the limits set for quarry operations (6 mm/s). The BGS network of sensors across the UK routinely detects many blasts from quarry operations around the UK with magnitudes of up to around 2 ML every day.

      How often do earthquakes of this size occur?

      Earthquakes have an exponential frequency-magnitude distribution, so for unit decrease in magnitude there are approximately ten times as many earthquakes. On average there are around 20-30 earthquakes with a magnitude of 2 ML or greater every year somewhere in the UK or immediate offshore area. That means we should expect several hundred earthquakes with a magnitude of 1.0 ML or above and several thousand with a magnitude of 0 ML or above. The number of earthquakes also roughly scales proportional to an area, so a small region of the UK will have fewer events.

      Why are BGS able to detect such small earthquakes?

      A dense network of temporary seismic sensors around Blackpool allows us to detect much smaller earthquakes than we are typically able to do in other parts of the UK. The BGS permanent network of sensors across the UK is usually able to detect most earthquakes with magnitudes of 2.0 ML or above anywhere in the UK, though this may vary from place to place and also at different times. All of the events detected near Preston New Road have magnitudes that are far below our normal detection threshold.

      • Thanks for the comprehensive reply Paul. Unfortunately, it suggests that BGS have accepted a definition of micro seismic that is technically wrong. I suppose the use of micro to merely mean very small is quite common, so this is not surprising. It doesn’t alter the fact that Cuadrilla are consistently using the term incorrectly to describe induced seismic events large enough to be felt on the surface, alongside the tiddly ones. ‘Induced’ is an important word here, meaning these are not naturally occurring, but created by Cuadrilla’s fracking activity. This use of micro seismic is obviously a deliberate act in an attempt to play down the importance. Likewise the continual reference to how these events are felt on the surface, with such nonsense as bags of flour and melons. The subsurface effect is far more important, with the risks to well integrity, portents to larger induced seismic events and the risk of increasing faults to create pathways for contaminated water.

        • There is very limited risk to well integrity and even if the well casing parted in the shale it is only a problem for Cuadrilla. There is no risk at surface or to potable water from a well integrity failure of this type. The issue of artificially induced pathways through existing faults / new faults to surface aquifers / surface is not possible in my opinion due to the geology and the control during fracture stimulation operations. I think they call it micro seismic because this is the only place in the UK the BGS can measure such small events due to the very sensitive equipment installed. They don’t use it anywhere else – except perhaps near Brockham?

          More damage potential from a significantly higher risk of a car hitting a building…..which clearly someone in the Fylde area has prior experience of…….

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