Cuadrilla focusses on single shale well – with under 11 months left for more drilling and fracking

pnr 190107 daniel huxley-blythe3

Fracking equipment leaving Cuadrilla’s shale gas site at Preston New Road, 7 January 2019. Photo: Daniel Huckley-Blythe

The shale gas company, Cuadrilla, has less than a year to drill two wells and frack three under the terms of the planning permission at its site near Blackpool.

The countdown comes as the company told residents it was exploring only the single well fracked so far at Preston New Road and continued to remove equipment from the pad.

The company has confirmed it finished fracking the first well, known as PNR1z, before Christmas. It began moving equipment off the site in mid-December and since then observers have reported the de-mobilisation of items including sand silos, the coiled tubing unit, cherry picker and a mobile crane.

According to reports from a meeting of the site’s community liaison group this week, Cuadrilla said it was now testing the flow of PNR1z, and expected to see a steady flow of gas soon. Observers have described a shimmer above the flare stacks on the site.

The company was reportedly unable to say how long the flow test phase would last. But according to reports, Cuadrilla said it was exploring only PNR1z at this stage.

Based on the results from this well, the company said it would then decide whether to explore the other well drilled at the site, PNR2, and drill PNR3 and PNR4, the final wells for which it currently has planning permission.

Reports from the meeting said the company described this as a “more costly approach” but one that could provide better outcomes.

The formal minutes of the community liaison group have not yet been published but people who attended the meeting said Cuadrilla denied it was leaving Preston New Road and insisted that the removed equipment would return in 2019.

Members of the group reported that Cuadrilla said it was learning from PNR1z and hoped to be able to drill and frack faster on any subsequent wells.

Earlier this week, DrillOrDrop asked Cuadrilla what equipment would remain on the site. The company’s spokesperson said:

“Any equipment that Cuadrilla doesn’t own and doesn’t need for flow testing has simply been returned until it is required again. We won’t be publishing a log of this. We also won’t give day to day updates on movement of equipment on and off site to ensure security and operational continuity.”

Ticking clock on planning permission

The time limit for the work at Preston New Road is set by two conditions of the planning permission, granted in 2016 by the then local government secretary, Sajid Javid.

Condition 2 stated:

“All drilling and hydraulic fracturing operations shall be completed within a period of 30 months from the date of the commencement of the drilling of the first well.”

Condition 3 of permission required Cuadrilla to notify the county planning authority of various stages of the operation at Preston New Road, including drilling. This set the start dates for Condition 2.

The county council has confirmed:

“Cuadrilla advised the County Council by letter dated 31/5/2017 that commencement of drilling operations on well 1 commenced on 31/5/2017.”

This date marked the installation of the conductor casing, not the start of drilling with the main rig, which was 17 August 2017. But both the council and the company accept that the start date of drilling was 31 May 2017.

The council said:

“We have taken the date of commencement of the installation of the conductor casing as the start of drilling for the purposes of Condition 3.”

An officer confirmed that the end of the 30-month period for drilling and fracking was 30 November 2019.

A spokesperson for Cuadrilla agreed: “That is our understanding”.

Future permissions

Cuadrilla could seek to extend the planning permission to drill and frack the extra wells at Preston New Road by applying to Lancashire County Council. But officials confirmed last week:

“The County Council has not received any request for formal pre-application advice regarding an extension to the time periods for drilling wells 3 and 4.”

Under the council’s constitution, what are described as “controversial” planning applications must not be decided by council officials under delegated powers. This suggests that any decision for extended planning permission would be made by elected members of the development control committee. The application would also be expected to go through a public consultation process.

The Oil & Gas Authority (OGA) confirmed last week that it had not yet approved the hydraulic fracture plan for PNR2.

The OGA also said Cuadrilla had not submitted hydraulic fracture plans for the yet to be drilled PNR3 or PNR4.

115 replies »

  1. So, what is your point Pauline, other than you were caught napping? Cuadrilla and the police got the job done and removed inconvenience to the travelling public.

    Absolute Gold Standard.

    Don’t stamp your foot too hard-you may achieve a 0.5+.

    • McFly how is undertaking an action clearly in breach of planning condition without prior approval of the planning authority Gold standard? It’s not even Gold plated

      • Well Pavlova, if the antis had not produced the need then Cuadrilla, and the police, would have not made the adjustment.

        Gold standard from them, dozy from the antis. Great news for the local travellers who have no wish to be inconvenienced, either by Cuadrilla or the antis.

        • As Fracking Francis has repeatedly stated the antis have not caused any delays to operational timescales and as seen repeatedly on a daily basis Lancs Constabulary ensure vehicle access is facilitated, so in the real world not Martin world there was no need to breach a planning condition to get this equipment onto site.

          And with with regard to your point about Caudrilla not inconveniencing anyone by undertaking this particular delivery outside of agreed hours that was never in Caudrillas remit to decide without prior agreement. The whole episode just demonstrated the companies contempt for the Local Authority, the Police and locals. Not gold standard but definitely standard for this particular company.

    • No one was caught napping. My point is that it is Cuadrilla are controlling the police. The police have denied that it was their decision to have more than 30 HGVs enter the site front the wrong direction in the middle of the night. You may be happy to have private companies dictating to our police and our local authorities giving in every time Cuadrilla snap their fingers . Others are not.

  2. Of course a very few manage to concoct a sense of grievance out of a perfectly sensible action. However, the vast majority of people are happy that such sensible decisions are taken.

    If you wish to continue to paint the antis as some sort of group who will produce a grievance out of such, feel free. But remember, if/when there is a real issue that majority will ignore your comments based upon the history.

    Crying wolf gets the sheep killed. Doesn’t harm the fictional wolf.

    And yes, Pauline, someone was caught napping. So, add a wish to deceive as well as to create a sense of grievance and you have defined a group. Well done.

    • Pure contrarian cr@p as per normal Foggy. Why do you not accept that deliberate failure to comply with planning conditions is unacceptable behaviour by a company and that it is precisely this type of behaviour that leads to mistrust and opposition within the affected community? Is it because you a a pro frack mouthpiece? no rational member of the general public would hold such a irrational view.

    • How do you define protectors were caught napping? Dozens of police suddenly descending on the women on night watch at the protectors’ gate camp and completely kettling them in can hardly be said to be caught napping. I can assure you that those involved were very much awake as those on night duty have been for the last two years. However, if it makes you happy for private companies to ride roughshod over traffic plans made by the planning inspector as a condition of the planning permission that’s your choice. Just don’t claim this industry has any interest in complying with Gold Standard Regulations.

  3. Oh yes they do, Pavlova. Is it because you fail to make a coherent argument you resort to the fall back of grievance generation, where the general public see none? Check the general press coverage for this “event”. Not much sympathy there.

    Oops-sorry, forgot that is an area you tend to avoid.

    Of course, the “affected community” (or a small part of it) would be totally supportive without “this type of behaviour”!!!

    Pull the other one.

    • Nope Martin it is you that fails to accept the coherent argument, you don’t have to agree with it but you cannot disregard it.

      Planning conditions are put in place for specific reasons, if a company has a reasonable case as to why on occasion they should be allowed to breach those conditions then they should make a case and await agreement of the Local Authority/ Police, not dictate what will occur. This is not a course of action open to me, you or other members of the community (including businesses) and if we were to follow such a course of action we would be rightly sanctioned. There is no justification for a company not to seek approval before undertaking a breaching action and to do so presumes that approval would have been given or that no reprimand would be received. Hence the company holds the LA, the Police and the community in contempt if it acts in such a manner.

      Seeing as you raise the issue of local press did you ever find the link to article you seem to like to bring up?

  4. Yes thanks. Again, suggest you DYOR. Seems it is a little too demanding but who knows, you may find a whole new light shed upon the reality of the world. Knowledge can do that.

    I thought the antis were in favour of the precautionary principle? Only when it suits them, it seems, whereas the majority are in favour when it is sensible.

    • This article has became the stuff of legend McFly much like the rest of your corroborating evidence and apochryphal anecdotes as it is clearly a figment if you over active imagination.

      Suggesting people “DYOR” doesn’t cut it I am afraid Martian as the majority of posters on DoD whether pro or anti are happy to link to evidence that my supports their stand point, something you either cannot or cannot be bothered to. A ridiculous position from the sites most ridiculous poster.

  5. Personal attacks now! I must increase my fees as the result seems so difficult to some.( Joke, linked to previous comments.)

    I really have no interest what your research is. Stick with RT and Redfish if you like, I (unlike some) do not see myself as a teacher. But, when you find something I have posted that is factually incorrect, please let me know. That is different to not understanding what I have posted eg. Passepartout made the same assertion and I kindly directed him to Tokamak. But you are correct, I cannot be bothered to do it for every item, especially when I know the motivation is simply to find the source and criticise it for some obscure linkage to whatever excites, rather than to gain any understanding. I could have made it easy and made the link to the recent Mail up-date on Tokamak and we know where that would have gone-the reality would have been ignored and the dogma would have been the focus, to excite a few who may be excited by such things eg. the dangers of the absent selenium.

    I suggest filtration, Pavlova. That’s the way to deal with toxic waste. You will feel better for it, and recover some sense of proportion. I’ve given up reading my bank statements-that works along the same lines!

  6. Have you heard yourself? In Martin world an “attack dog” must be anyone who has the temerity to not put up with your bullsh!t.

  7. No, it is someone who uses abuse as an alternative to discussion and then moans that they were unaware of some information to have a discussion and therefore it didn’t exist and abuse is okay!

    A novel approach, but not one I want to follow. But, fill your boots. (Nice to see correct names have been resumed, so maybe a little sign of change.)

    • Thanks for that incisive observation Judith, but it might be more on point if you commented on the details in the thre… oooh look a squirrel 🐿

      • The thread/article isn’t really worth commenting on. If we need more time we’ll get more time. I don’t see that the government pays too much attention to NIMBYS who know very little about what they’re protesting about

        • Perhaps we should rename the pro- ‘royal we’ as ‘stands with a fist’, and all join the ‘shale gas revolution’; snigger

            • Then why bother Judith? I doubt the site would miss your razor sharp wit and pithy commentary.

              Regarding the more time part of your post that would remain to be seen, particularly as “Francis” doesn’t appear to be in Ms Perry’s good books at the moment.

            • Claire, like most other politicians, has a little bit more on her plate at the moment. When labour get hammered, due to their poor choice of leader, I have little doubt that more attention will be paid to the scientific consensus

            • Political crystal ball gazing too Judith! Is there no end to your talents?

              Are you suggesting “Claire” isn’t doing her day job as the Minister of State for Energy and Clean Growth due to Brexit? As a department without massive input into the Brexit debacle all she realistically has to do is turn up to vote.

              Her appearance on QT in November was really super though and I bet Franny is over the moon that this particular BDW is in charge of setting policy. Perhaps he should be trying to avoid upsetting her any further rather than crying about his woes in the Thunderer at weekend.

            • I’m not suggesting that she’s not doing her day job – I just think that PNR isn’t the top of her agenda right now. You might have missed it but there was a pole in which around 34 million people voted and were split around 51:49. This could result in major changes in our society- some good and some bad. I can totally see why she wouldn’t waste too much time on this minor issue at this stage. Obviously, anyone with a brain is concentrating on ABC (anything but corbyn) at the moment

            • [Edited by moderator]

              In relation to Claire Perry and doing her ministerial day job vs Brexshit, as I have previously stated she isnt doing much work around the WA or even selling it, so perhaps she is being distracted from fracking by super fun times she is having whilst opening local food banks.

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