UK fracking tremor rules “absurd and unworkable”, says Ineos – campaigners accuse company of “aggressive and misinformed attack”

pnr 181225 ros wills4

Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road shale gas site, 25 December 2018. Photo: Ros Wills

The UK’s biggest shale gas licence-holder has accused the government of “shutting down shale by the backdoor” with rules on fracking-induced earth tremors.

In a press statement this morning, Jim Ratcliffe, owner of Ineos Upstream, called on the government to “make shale workable or shut it down”. It should not, the statement said, “use politically expedient, slippery back door manoeuvres to end shale”.

Opponents of the industry described it as “a suicide note from a desperate industry” and again threatened legal action if the government changed the rules on earth tremors.

“Traffic light system”


Part of OGA infographic on Traffic Light System

The regulations, known as the traffic light system, require shale gas operators to stop activity for 18 hours if fracking induces earth tremors measuring 0.5ML (local magnitude) or more.

Cuadrilla’s fracking operation at Preston New Road near Blackpool caused three of these red events in October and December 2018 (DrillOrDrop Tremor tracker).

The largest, measuring 1.1ML, was felt.

There were also five trailing events, where earth tremors measuring 0.5ML or more happened after fracking.

These were recorded by the British Geological Survey at levels between 0.5ML-1.5ML. The largest trailing event was described by one person as like a car hitting his office building at speed.

181214 bubble chart refracktion

Seismic events at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road shale gas site up to 14 December 2018. Source: Refracktion

Cuadrilla’s chief executive, Francis Egan, and Ineos executives have previously called in the media for the 0.5ML red limit to be raised.

But as recently as 14 January 2019, the energy minister, Claire Perry, stood by the 0.5ML limit in a parliamentary answer. Last year, in response to Mr Egan, Ms Perry said the current system was “fit for purpose” and there was “no intention of altering it”. In October, she told journalists:

“It would be a very foolish politician who would do things that would be considered to be relaxing regulatory standards when we are trying to reassure people about safety”.

The Ineos statement described the UK threshold as nearly 180,000 times lower than the US equivalent, “typically set at 4.0”. It said 0.5ML “has no sound basis in science and betrays a total lack of understanding of the shale extraction.”

Jim Ratcliffe said:

“The Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) seems to lack a basic understanding of the Richter Scale. It is a logarithmic scale.

“The limit within the United States is typically set at 4.0 – a level that the US Environmental Protection Agency feels is safe and will not lead to any damage to land, property or people.   To put that into perspective, magnitude 4.0 is 3,162 times higher than 0.5 and 177,827 times stronger in terms of energy release.”

He said the government was “shutting down shale by the backdoor and is betting the future of our manufacturing industry on windmills and imported gas from countries which are potentially unstable”.

He added:

“The Government’s position is unworkable and unhelpful.   They are playing politics with the future of the country.   We have a non-existent energy strategy and are heading towards an energy crisis that will do long term and irreparable damage to the economy and the Government needs to decide whether they are finally going to put the country first and develop a workable UK onshore gas industry”

The UK’s 0.5ML limit was recommended in a government-commissioned report on Cuadrilla’s earlier fracking-induced earthquakes at Preese Hall in 2011. In a letter to ministers in November 2012, Cuadrilla accepted the proposed traffic light system. The company said the rules were designed to ensure there were “no ‘felt’ seismic events at surface”.  It did not challenge the 0.5ML limit. A month later, a written ministerial statement confirmed the 0.5ML level as the red light for fracking-induced seismicity.

“Point of transition to larger seismicity”

peter styles 2Last month, one of the report’s authors, Dr Brian Baptie, of the British Geological Survey, argued that the limit could be raised safely to 1.5ML.

But another author, Emeritus Professor Peter Styles (left), told DrillOrDrop today:

“The 0.5 limit isn’t where anyone believes there will be damage or even disturbance.

“It is the point where we think we have a transition between fracking-related micro-earthquakes and the onset of stimulation of natural fractures which can move and generate seismic events which may be much larger depending on the scale of the fault and the associated geology.”

Professor Styles added:

“We recommended a very nuanced traffic light system which DECC decided to simplify to the cartoon version.”

This suggested the well should be shut down immediately for any induced tremors measuring more than 0.5ML. For seismic events during or after fracking measuring 0.5-1.5ML, the report recommended there should be flow back from for the well for at least three days. For events measuring more than 1.5ML, flow back should last at least 10 days.

Seismicity flow chart Baptie Styles and Green

Recommended traffic light system by Green, Styles and Baptie

The current guidance from the Oil and Gas Authority states that if a seismic event of 0.5ML or above happens during fracking an operator must “suspend injection, reduce pressure and monitor seismicity and ground motion for any further events before potentially resuming”.

“Desperate fossil fuel industry”

Frack Free Lancashire, which campaigns against Cuadrilla’s operations at Preston New Road, said:

“This aggressive and misinformed attack by Jim Ratcliffe on the government who have already reiterated that they have no plans to change the traffic light system on fracking, only goes to show how very desperate this fossil fuel, climate-change-exacerbating industry has become.

“Coming from a man who now lives in Monaco, and wants to frack in the UK – not for energy security – but to produce yet more plastics, is quite unbelievable.

“Previous seismic events at Preese Hall in 2011 caused damage to the wellbore and also reported damage in surrounding properties: these seismic events were greatly below the magnitude 4 that Ratcliffe is promoting.

“It would indeed be a “foolish” politician who made adjustments to these levels, as Claire Perry MP has stated recently, but it would be a risk that communities would not accept and would readily take legal action upon.

“Cuadrilla agreed to these levels, and were key to their inception. Begging the government to shift the goalposts at this point is both ludicrous and unacceptable.

“We’d like to know where the recommendations of Professors Baptie, Styles and Green disappeared to: they previously wrote that the traffic light system should shut-down at 0.5ML with a three-day delay and implement a 10-day delay if seismicity levels reached greater than 1.5ML, not the 18 hours that the regulations currently state.”

The group added that the practical significance was not in whether the tremors were felt at the surface but in potential damage to the borehole and creating gas pathways from shale towards larger faults towards aquifers and the surface.

“Suicide note from a desperate industry”

Steve Mason, of the UK campaign network Frack Free United, said:

“This is a suicide note from a desperate industry. I am surprised this has taken so long for INEOS to call for a raise in thresholds. Good to see they are taking community concerns under consideration as usual.

“We welcome the Government position that there are no plans to increase the magnitude limits. I hope they treat this with the contempt it deserves.

If INEOS and the other companies cannot frack the complex geology of the UK safely, then don’t frack at all. It’s that simple.”

“Industry will probably never work in UK”

The Conservative MP, Lee Rowley, whose constituency includes the Ineos site at Bramleymoor Lane, said:

“As residents know, I have long opposed fracking and it’s time to recognise that the industry will probably never work in the UK. And Ineos can’t have it both ways – criticising the regulations today having previously said they go ‘some way to assuring the public of the minimal risks’. Even the industry is now saying fracking is probably unworkable in the UK. I agree. So let’s not bother.”

“Understandable frustration”

Ken Cronin, chief executive of the industry body, UK Onshore Oil and Gas, said:

“I can understand the frustration of our membership. In 2012 it was recognised by the Government that the traffic light system to regulate micro-seismicity was cautious and would be reviewed as experience developed. This is backed up by guidance from the Oil and Gas Authority. These statements are the basis on which investors have invested – to date – many hundreds of millions. In the last 100 days there have been 88 seismic events recorded by the BGS in the UK, yet none of the Lancashire events featured in the top ten and only 1 in the top 25. None of these seismic events recorded caused harm to people or buildings.

“Leading geoscientists have commented that a review of the micro-seismicity rules can be accommodated safely. We now have the data and experience and hope that Government make good on their commitment to review the rules based on the evidence and science. The current rules for shale gas extraction are the strictest in the world and are much stricter than for any other industry involved in creating seismicity in the UK. From the data gathered so far we know that there is good quality gas in the Bowland Shale.

“Against a backdrop of nearly 75% of our gas being imported within the next 16 years, increasingly from countries that have both work and environmental regulations significantly below our standards, there is a moral, economic and environmental imperative to be looking at our onshore oil and gas resource.”

  • DrillOrDrop invited the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to comment. This post will be updated with any response.

Seismic limits

DrillOrDrop found evidence of two states in Canada, Alberta and British Columbia, which use the 4ML threshold. In December 2018, fracking operations in north eastern British Columbia were suspended for at least 30 days after seismic events measuring 3.4-4.5ML.

We also found evidence from US states which use thresholds above the UK’s 0.5ML but well below 4.0. The threshold in Oklahoma was lowered in February 2018 from 3.0ML to 2.5ML, with a mandatory delay of six hours. The threshold for activity to stop in Ohio is 1.0ML.

188 replies »

  1. Looks like JR does not know the difference between an electricity generating Wind Turbine and a windmill! His company also has very little experience in onshore unconventional fossil fuel extraction either, so maybe we could forgive him. By the way one wind turbine working for 20 minutes will produce oodles more energy that his company has ever put into the National Grid. Lol!

    • So, he has no business in USA Waffle??

      Oh dear. This one has really shown up the inability of the antis to be able to resist commenting on areas they have not researched.

      It had all gone a little quiet. How refreshing that misinformation is shown to be alive and well-but, not in the way headlined.

        • Of course you should Jono. You don’t seem able to contribute much else, other than an occasional gloat around people losing money.

          I know it is a nice defence mechanism when so much misinformation has been attempted by so few on a subject, to try and cover that with deflection. But, it is done so much better by the Russians in the UN, and is still rather obvious.

            • Where, reaction?

              Opinions again.

              Found out about the £110m yet? “Misinformation”?? No, lack of knowledge from someone who can’t be bothered to become informed, so suggests it must be misinformation! Lazy.

              We know it is a great deal easier to post “statements” which require little research if they are not challenged, but they will be challenged. “Nasty” according to VEW, reality according to MC.

              As I have stated before, maybe that is why the cases fail in Court, where statements will be challenged.

            • Matron we all know about the money Jimbo lavished on his Ainsley PR stunt – ironic considering the problem of plastic pollution in our oceans but irony isn’t one of your strong points is it?

              Do you reckon the sponsorship might have been tax deductible?

            • No, you didn’t know, reaction. But, you have now bothered to do a bit of research, so that should be celebrated.

              The give away is in the “we all”. And then blaming Sir Jim for others wrongly disposing of plastic, and that he may be making tax deductions!


              Belt and braces, but still exposed.

              Wonder how much tax deduction Sir Jim might obtain due to activist activities?

    • Waffle, Didn’t Ineos develop the Runcorn energy from waste plant with Viridor?

      The facility treats between 850,000 and 890,000 tonnes of refuse derived fuel each year, waste that would otherwise be sent to landfill. 

      It produces 51 MW of heat for exclusive use by the neighbouring Ineos chemical manufacturing site and up to 70MW of electricity, enough to power the site itself and around 90,000 homes. 

  2. What a lot of nasty comments from the fracking lovers! To get back to the excellent article, I agree with the Conservative MP – there’s no future in fracking our beautiful country. Stop wasting time – get on with the renewables

    • The timely return of the Monaco migrant seems to have excited the usual psycophantic suspects into a toadying frenzy as per usual?

      Honestly, boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen, what a display it is to watch these spectacles of full grown men acting like their pack leader has just bared its teeth and they all roll over to expose their throats in abject obeisance?

      I wonder if JC, Ooops! JR, feels as embarrassed to see such a display as we do?

      Never mind, what is perhaps more interesting is the timing of this, it is clear that this government is in abject disarray over the brexit debacle and so JR returns to stir up the media with this diversion, hoping we suppose to get the government to react just as psycophantically and deliver the TLS a murderous blow under the cover of all this diverted confusion over brexit?

      A good disaster is always a boon for governments to hide a multitude of sins under the cover of the noise and the smoke of confusion, and such an opportunity must never be wasted.

      All sorts of horrors can be sneaked under the radar with a bit of media connivance and smoke and mirrors?

      This timing is no accident is it, the Monaco migrant has seen an opportunity for exploitation and gone in for the killing bite.

      Does this have anything to do with energy security?

      No, of course not, its just an open undefended business opportunity ripe for the taking.

      Perhaps the gas supply pipes will suddenly spring a leak and have to be closed down again? Perhaps there is an extra berth for a yacht waiting in Monaco?

      And just perhaps this government and the media is just too dumb enough to fall for this blatant scam?

      We shall see.

    • Vewright,

      Have a look on a map at the relationship between the villages of West Newton and Withernwick in East Yorkshire.

      The recent Oil and Gas exploration planning application for West Newton received 121 objections.
      The windfarm extension planning application at Withernwick received 282 objections.

      It would seem that not everyone is in full agreement with abandoning fossil fuels for renewables.

  3. It is clearly time to review the traffic light system now that excellent monitoring & operational data/experience has been acquired at PNR. The review should be science based on the evidence. It was always in the recommendations that the TLS would be reviewed in the light of new evidence.

    • When INEOS were first issued with Petroleum Exploration and Development Locences to seek to move to fracking operations in North Derbyshire they quickly moved to hold a meeting which was mainly for local councillors held in Staveley as a means of first furthering their cause. Numbers of meetings for the public later emerged in the Barmleymoor Lane area where they now have permission to undertake initial vertical operations. Does this mean that with all its claimed expertise, when INEOS held such meetings it did not know that the limit placed on earthquake readings would prove problematic for them? So much for the understandings of Jim Ratcliffe and his specialist team of so called “experts”. At the public enquiry later held at Chesterfield which granted them rights in the Bramleymoor Lane area, they had the cheek to keep challenging those giving evidence against them on that ground of just what expertise they held on the issue. More it now seems than INEOS had. This is what they were up to at their first meeting in the area at Staveley –

      • Harry – it’s silly to expect most companies to know whether or not they can hydraulically fracture without exceeding these very low limits. The experts will be able to say what the maximum likely magnitude would be and as such show that the risk of earthquake damage is insignificant. I had a pretty good idea that Cuadrilla couldn’t fracture effectively within the 0.5 Ml limit but that is only because of what my partner had taught me based on knowledge gained while working for one of the largest producers of unconventional gas in the world.

        • Such a shame you and your partner were silent for 6 years on the subject then Judith. You could have sorted all this out before it all went pear shaped for the industry if you hadn’t couldn’t you?

        • Judith – When involved in what should be a serious discussion why, use words such as “silly” with those you are in debate with ? INEOS whom I was dealing with have huge resources, sets of claimed experts and links in the USA in particular with other experienced “experts” who are deeply into fracking operations. So why so late in the day has the 0.5 MI limit become such a serious issue for them ? Why did they not push the issue much earlier ? If you had an idea that Cuadrilla could not work within the 0.5 limit based on your source, then why did Cuadrilla itself with its own access to expertise not know the same ? Then I don’t see why someone has to be an expert or draw from a specific expert, in order to have views on fracking. People can themselves ask question and then look to see where they can find relevant information on any issue – and also seek to engage in the dialectics of debate.

          Nor do experts always agree with each other. And they advance their understandings by questioning matters and also involving themselves in the dialectics of debate. Einstein was massively inovative and some have since built upon his work and in some aspects moved beyond it. Experts should understand the complexities of the matters they pursue and understand that the conclusions they reach can often be challenged and may come generally to be transcended.

          Expertise is not very expert if it thinks its passing judgements should never be questioned and debated.

          • Harry – the reason I use the word “silly” is that your comment shows that you know very little about what is and isn’t known in the field of geomechanics and seismology. It’s used in the same way I would be saying it’s “silly” that a person thinks they can read minds. The fact of the matter is that there industry has collected many datasets on microseismic events associated with fracking and most are not in the public domain. As such, even those that are very qualified in seismicity and would be called experts can’t make this call because they haven’t seen much of the data that are available. I only know about this subject because my partner worked for one of the biggest unconventional gas producers in the USA and it’s something we discussed a great deal as I was working on related issues for environmental consultancy projects. The arguments about why and why not the 0.5 Ml limit might be exceeded are quite subtle and related to factors such as stress magnitude, stress anisotropy, the mechanical stratigraphy etc. I really don’t think that most “experts” in microseismic will know or understand them simply because they haven’t been given access to the databases or the research reports on which they are based. Anyhow, the key point is that there have been over 2 million frackjobs and this as unequivocally shown that induced-seismicity is a total red herring. The only people who discuss the subject in the context of fracking seem to do so in order to scare the general public into objecting to shale gas exploration and appraisal within their area

            • Judith : Hopefully you can recommend to me basic major articles from experts on geomechanics and on seismology which relate to fracking and its potential. In any serious scientific enquiries on such a relatively fresh development, I would expect there to be a differing range of conclusions amongst such experts even if numbers share a consensus. From even if they reach a general stance, intellectual endeavour usually produces some serious forms of debate and dispute. Otherwise a matter than should be subject to the dialectics of debate is liable to turn into a dead dogma. I have been disappointed with the avenues made available under the British Geological Survey as their web-site is not easy to search for specific details. This is unlike that provided via the Coal Authority Interactive Map. For counter-evidence to the general uncritical line taken by the Coal Authority in relation to fracking can still be drawn from the information they provide. Natural earthquakes effecting the UK are also worth studying, for although they start out at high on the levels on the Richter scale, they travel distances underground and reach lower levels but still cause ground level damage and subsidence – often in urban areas.

            • Harry, I’ll have a think about good literature. Although not peer reviewed, I think James Verdon’s blog Frackland provides a very good overview on many aspects of fracking-induced seismicity

              I’d disagree with your point about earthquakes causing subsidence. Throw on a fault can change the height of ground relative to sea level. However, that’s not what is normally thought of as subsidence. I view subsidence as being the lowering of the height of groundmass as a result of the underground removal of rock, liquid or gas. So you will be familiar with mining-related subsidence due to removal of coal. Groningen is an example of subsidence related to gas production. There are aspects of geomechanics that all experts in the subject will agree with because they come down to basic rock properties. In other aspects there are big disagreements, which often result from a lack of observational data.

              RE: Peter Styles – I think he’s totally top of his field but he has not seen nowhere near as many microseismic datasets from unconventional plays as experts within some of the service companies (e.g. Schlumberger) or the top petroleum companies (e.g. ExxonMobil).

              • Judith – i will seek to pursue the references you supply. My worries are less about what can happen in areas which were deep mined and where there sometimes was only a deep mine shaft and a deep mine exit. But then there are masses of entrances to shallow pits which are now often built over with houses, gardens, garages, paths, roads, schools, churches, shops and the like. There are cases of subsidence which already hit these in normal conditions, added to by normal (and sometimes minor) earthquake activity. Should we really risk problems, especially in built up areas ? Only a small per.cent of cases would be probematic. People tend to be shown fracking exercises operating from rural areas with fewer people and buildings. But given where the bulk of the shale gas is, it is under urban territory that problems will arise. Later, I will add access to my full blog items on fracking. There are alternative sources of energy and its conservation that we can use.

      • Harry
        At one of the INEOS meetings ( not the one on your blogspot ) the issue of the traffic light system was raised.
        The chap I spoke to thought that it looked low, but wished Cuadrilla well in working it.
        Their main aim was to drill a few wells first to examine the shale, and then decide on any frack plan.
        No doubt any information regarding the success or not of those operations would be considered in due course.

        Re an earlier point, the Misson Well is in an area mined for coal. But they are deep workings and the mine entrances are well known. I suspect this well will be the test for fracking outwith the Fylde, as the pure INEOS wells have yet to be spudded.

        • hewes62. The Coal Authority Interactive Map can be homed into for differing areas. Then the crosses for mine entries and exits can be clicked into and details (if discovered by the Coal Authority) will be given on matters such as the depth of the shafts. In some areas there are masses of such shafts next to each other. This following item extracted from Coal Authority Information reveals that some PEDL areas are splattered with former coal shafts and other problems. If the Coal Authority was not a Government controlled Agency, they would be publically expressing that these areas have serious fracking dangers –

          • Harry
            Thanks … Yes. I am au fait with both the Coal Authority and OGA interactive maps. In the past we relied on paper data and the good old 6inch to the mile geological map, which did a good job.

            I am also aware that areas of shale interest ( grey on the OGA map ), overlap with older coal and other workings, where there are multiple shafts, drifts and bell pits etc allied to stall and pillar workings, some of which were not mapped.

            My though was that present progress with a fracking well is limited to the east of the Notts Coalfield, at Misson.
            In this area, mine entries are limited to 4 deep shafts and longwall working, allied to comprehensive mine plans. ( Harworth and Rossington ).

            Hence there will be no concerns over the location of old workings and the location of shafts, the location of major faults ( in the worked areas ) and hence less risk all round.

            That would just leave concerns over frack induced seismic activity. However, as the mine workings are stable, I do not see that there would be any additional risk from fracking due to those old workings.

            This may well be different for much shallower, old and unmapped workings, well peppered with collapsed shafts and bell workings, a point that the Coal Authority may ponder, but at present, in worked areas, only one well has been drilled ( Tinkers Lane ), and no frack plans submitted, so they have time on their side.

            • hewes62 : I have looked at Misson on the Coal Authority Interactive Map. Whilst it is in Coal Mining Report area, nothing the Coal Authority is seeking seems to have been reported or discovered such as mine entrances and it being part of a development high risk area. This does not, of course, mean that it is safe for fracking as many other considerations come into play. I live in Dronfield in North Derbyshire which is pock marked with former mine entries and the like. The very last mine closed by 1947 and many trawl back over centuries, with peak production being in a period from the 1870s. It is mainly a middle class commuter town for Sheffield and many of its current residents are astonished to find that it was once a centre for coal mining, the iron industry and for a decade a major Steel Industry – until it uprooted and became the basis of the Steel Industry in Workington. It could be a fracking disaster area.

            • Harry
              Yes, I think that is the point. Misson has no mine entrances in close proximity, the nearest being Harworth and Rossington, mines which worked that area.

              Hence in my opinion fracking does not pose an additional risk due to those coal workings as noted above.

              Fracking poses risks as noted in various posts on here, but in my opinion, not any risks due to fracking below such workings as those near Misson. I have heard of concerns, such as workings collapsing and resultant subsidence, but given the type of working out there ( long wall caved ) then, as there are no workings waiting to collapse, I do not see the risk.

              This may be different for shallow pillar and stall workings which are waiting to collapse ( which they may do eventually anyway ) which means I would expect the coal authority to be a bit more circumspect in those areas, such as Dronfield, should any company decide to frack there.

              • hewes62 : Whilst Misson might be able to aviod subsidence problems which others could face from having many former mining shafts in their area, there are still a wide range of other problems which fracking could lead to. Then INEOS might just manage to aviod disruptions by engaging in its initial vertical operations near Marsh Lane (with two former mine shafts being just over 20 metres from its operations). But if it then achieves authority to operate horizontal operations from the same site (or nearbye} then this will fan out from their underground starting point and operate fracking activities under masses of former mines and their shafts splattered around its mainly urban area. Fracking firms have PEDL rights which can be applied for to go under major urban areas across Sheffield, Rotherham, Doncaster, Chesterfied and Mansfield – and for many similar urban areas. Why have such rights been granted if they can never be used ?

            • Harry
              Re PEDL rights, the gov just sells off blocks, leaving the purchaser to work out what is there and if they can extract it. As most companies have found out, getting a PEDL is just the start of their troubles.

              However, I do not think that Sheffield et al will be drilled under, there are a few hurdles to overcome and plenty of less populated areas to work in.

              • hewes62 : Fracking firms need to find a spot to engage in initial operations in rather rural territory, But some of the best spots for them to find shale gas is then under urban areas. For when coal was extracted over the centuries, rural areas that had had extractions were left with waste land. As the population expanded with the industrial revolution, these areas then became convenient areas to build houses and communal facilities on. They are now good areas for fracking firms to tunnel beneath from the areas of their initial workings. Places like Sheffield are likely to be worked under from areas of accessibility. Of course, places such as the town centre will tend to be out of reach – but there is plenty borderland built-up areas to get under. Don’t be misled by the photos of the few entry points we currently have being in rural areas. That is just a limited start to what INEOS and company are after.

                • Harry

                  Thanks. Time will tell re fracking around Sheffield. Tho I would put a £ on it not hapenning in my lifetime ( I am 64 ). In fact, if it is proposed I will join you in protest.

                  Some bona fides …. I have worked in mines around Skegby, Sutton, Pleasley etc where old mine workings and some high price real estate cramped our take ( in particular Glapwell Hill ). Plus Hardwick Hall was certainly a no go area, and all interesting coal to the West pinched out on the Brimington Anticline.

                  All thin seam stuff, mining for gentlemen was out East .( .6 foot high stuff or so )

                  Plus, as you note, since the more recent pit closures, old pit tips and sites have morphed into housing estates and retail parks, massive warehouse sites and some local business. This both to the West of Mansfield and in part to the east on the Mansfield Colliery / Clipstone Colliery Axis.

                  This development has not moved much further though, leaving the ex pit villages of Clipstone, Edwinstowe and Ollerton left out on a limb. Maybe re opening the railway will draw in new industry, but to employ 1500 as Mansfield colliery did ( say ), you need to cover a good few square miles of prime agricultural land in warehouses, which vie for space with Solar Panel farms which employ about the same number of persons per acre as factory farming.


                  Hewes62 ( or 64 )

                • hewes62 : I accept that given the difficulties fracking firms are facing at the moment they may never be able to engage in operations under major built up areas. At least not in my own lifetime as I am 82 year old. But that is where their major hopes will be fulfilled. I recently visited the former pit at Pleasley. The following is extracted from a blog item of mine. It explains my lifetime interest in coal mining. (if I have used it before, put it down to old age).

                  Although I have never worked in any aspect of coal mining, I come from solid mining stock. My father and father-in-law were miners and up to the age of 27 I was brought up in a solid mining community in County Durham at Easington Colliery. Also my six uncles all became miners and two of my aunts (obviously plus my mother) married miners. There was a pit disaster there when I was 14 years old, killing 81 miners and then two rescue workers. At the time, my father was in a different seam from where the explosion occurred. I also had numerous cousins who were miners or married to miners. At Easington I also came to work closely with the local MP Mannie Shinwell, who earlier as the Minister for Fuel and Power had nationalised the then coal industry.

                  I later taught separate Yorkshire and Derbyshire miners groups on Industrial Day Release classes run by the Sheffield University Extramural Department, annually over a period of 21 years. Also having close links with people such as Peter Heathfield who became the Secretary of the NUM. Then I became the MP for North East Derbyshire for 18 years, which for previous periods coming to a total of 68 years from 1908 onwards had had ex-miners as MPs. It was during my period as an MP that the final deep mines were closed in Derbyshire, so these matters and ex-miners’ futures were always solidly on my agenda. Then the future of the drift mine “Moorside Mining” (which still exists and is just five miles from my home) and its operations became a major item on my agenda.

                  In my time as an MP, four of my former day-release students were fellow MPs and one had previously served as an MEP. Another was a former Yorkshire Miner whom I had studied alongside when an adult student at Ruskin College in Oxford. Whilst many of my former mining students became local councillors, NUM officials, social workers and the like. Then in the Commons I had close links with my neighbouring MP Dennis Skinner, who is a former Derbyshire Miner. I was also member of a group of MPs who pursued miners and ex-miners concerns.

                  Given the massive social problems arising from the decline of local mining, I was faced with a wide-range of complex problems as an MP which would not have emerged in more settled circumstances.

                  From my own collection of books on the Mining Trade Unionism, I stress the three which are relevant to my own background. (1) W.R. Garside “The Durham Miners 1919-1960” – George Allen and Unwin 1971, (2) Frank Machin “The Yorkshire Miners” – NUM Yorkshire Area 1958, (3) J.E. Williams “The Derbyshire Miners” – George Allen and Unwin 1962. Williams impressive book is especially substantial, being 933 pages long. He taught on our Miners’ Day Release Classes before I did.

                • Harry

                  Your bona fides are fine ( respected ) and known. I read your blog. I was not sure mine were as known.

                  My late grandfather in law used to run a mining equipment company. He would phone Dennis and shout ‘ Joe here, I….( and an issue ) need help. Dennis would say, Joe.. good to hear from you ( although we thought he had no idea who it was ) would respond in a suitable manner, hence his longevity we think.

                  DOD is a strange environment. In the past we would have rocked up to the Mansfield Rescue Centre to hear someone talk about the issues facing the mining industry, whatever they were, and ask some pointed questions. Or shuffled off to the welfare to discuss issues over a pint. All in the past now.

                  I also have the same books, plus a growing collection of mining books courtesy Amazon et al. I must dig more out of the Attic ( tho Mrs H wonders why I keep them ), especially those from Sheffield University, tho
                  my favourite is Jevons (, hardback, first edition and well thumbed, but is one being read.

                  However …. readers of DOD must wonder what on Earth we are on about, as many may not fully understand the complexities and history weighing on any discussion relating to coal mining ( in its entirety ).

                  I will keep an eye on your blog and maybe we shall attend some future INEOS roll out together ( let’s keep an eye out for the next one ).

                  That does not mean we will fully agree on all issues, but that is what keeps DOD alive.


                • hewes62 : Thanks for the links. Hope we meet up sometime. The annual journal of the North East Labour History Society between 2013 and 2015 ran three articles by me covering the the development of Easington Colliery between the first efforts to sink its pit in 1899 until1935 – i.e. up to the year before I was born. Ideally I should have continued, covering up to the closure of the pit in 1993. But the main avenue for my research was the Durham County Library and I hobble and can’t drive. It involved regular trips by train, So I packed it in some 4 years ago. But I have recently visited the impressive Miners Offices in Durham and had my photo taken seated in Council Chamber in the seat that used to be used by the delegate from Easington Colliery. Easington only had two deep shafts, like places such as Shirebook. But Dronfield and Unstone cover some 300 bits and pieces.

    • But Dr Riley, surely the “new evidence” based on that “excellent monitoring & operational data/experience” has simply shown us that they can’t operate within the science based limits that were previously set by your colleagues. There is no evidence that I can see which suggests that it would be sensible or desirable (to anyone but the operators) to arbitrarily raise the existing limits. The industry agreed to the limits 6 years ago and as Mark Menzies MP memorably commented, that ship has sailed.

      Out of interest did you at any stage over the last few years tell anybody that you thought the limit was set too low?

      • Refraktion – where do you get the “science based limits” from? There was nothing science based about them. The industry agreed to regulation, which specifically stated that the limits would be reviewed.

        • Oh dear Juith. I wonder what Professor Styles would have to say to your suggestion that his recommendations were not “science based”. Are you better qualified than he is then? How?

          • Refraktion – I’m sure Peter will be making his views clear on this in the near future. He’s a pretty robust scientist with lots of knowledge on mining-induced seismicity. He hasn’t, however, seem many of the microseismic datasets that have been gathered by industry in the USA.

            • Refraktion – why do you continue to try and put words into peoples mouths? Are your arguments against fracking so weak that’s all you have left. It’s actually quite difficult to know what Peter did and didn’t recommend as he seems to argue different things to different people. The main point is that the geophysics community speaks pretty much with one voice in saying that the 0.5 Ml limit is too low. I’m sure with your great expertise you will put them right

            • Profs Styles and Baptie were largely responsible for the definition of and the inception of the TLS, but you claim there “was nothing science based about them”. Those are your own words Judth. I don’t need to put them into your mouth as you posted them just above.

              When DID you speak out about this oh so obvious issue for the first time Jdith who knows everything? Come on, tell us.

            • Refraktion – as soon as I heard the 0.5 Ml limit announced I expressed my view to colleagues that: (I) I couldn’t understand why it was so low; (ii) that I thought there was no chance that fracking at PNR road could occur within these ridiculous limits, and (iii) there was probably a better chance at keeping to these limits in areas such as Derbyshire and South Yorkshire.

            • Non no no Judit – I meant something that could actually be verified. After all we can all pretend to be wise after the event.

              I am sure you will have expressed these serious reservations publicly and not just privately.

              Can we see where you did this please?

            • Refraktion – why on earth would you think I would express views publicly? I try and keep what I say out of the public domain as it only gets taken out of context by people such as you who have don’t really mind what the science says as long as you can use it as an argument not to have fracking in your backyard

            • ” I try and keep what I say out of the public domain ”

              Yes of course Jdith – we can all see that 😂😂😂

              BTW you are sounding very grumpy just now – need a hug hun?

            • Harry – the survey on my parents house, which is in your old constituency, suggests the possibility of an old mine shaft under their garage. It’s never been an issue and I’m not sure what relevancy it has to this debate other than a mineshaft could potentially be a constant source of radon and methane emissions to the atmosphere whereas that will not be an issue for plugged gas wells as we can now do a much better job of that than was possible when No 1 Hardstoft Well, which I guess was in your neighbouring constituency, was abandoned in 1938.

              • Judith : If the Coal Authority hold a record of a mine shaft under your parents garage, then (if they have not done so already) they will investigate the site (periodically) to see if there are any problems. Also records of mine shaft position can be found via their Interactiev Map. Normally a red cross for a former mine entry and a brown cross for an exit. The Coal Authority also keep records of areas effected by surface mining subsidence and involve themselves in repairing any damages this causes. In Coal Aston they took a property over because of subsidence in a back garden. If a fracking company seeks to engage in initial vertical operations in an area, the Coal Authority are likely to object if this is due to take place within 20 metres of a former mine entrance/exit.

                If a fracking firm engages in underground fracking this could go below your parents garage. INEOS claim they can operate up to 2 metres (in differing directions) from their starting point. But firms in the USA have operated well over that distance. If the fracking were to operate under your parents home might that not present dangers which could be added to if the area also co-insided with there being a geological fault – which can be traced with the British Geological Society.

                Your parents might escape these problems, but will everyone ?

            • Judith : On your parent’s garage, if you study the Coal Authority Interactive Map and home into their area you will see that its is situated in a huge territory which is shown to be a “Development High Risk Area”. So perhaps any furher underground developments now needs to be blocked.

            • Harry, the depths at which fracking occurs are so great that it doesn’t actually matter if it hits a fault. The great thing about microseismic datasets from the states is that they actually show even when fluid is injected directly into the fault, the microseismic events and hence fluid movement, don’t propagate very far into the overburden. It is totally unheard of for them to affect parts of the subsurface that are situated over 2km above

      • Refracktion
        Maybe not arbitrarily raise the limits, but slowly raise the limits?

        Perhaps the fylde is the stressed and geological complex as described ( and underlain by rich deposits of lead ) by some and troubling Cuadrilla.

        Much better try fracking out East, where the geology is better known ( to a point … see below), there is more room and energy is a larger part of the mix ( mining, coal fired power stations, gas fired power stations, oil fields, etc ).

        Re geology, it’s better known if you have mined coal from it in terms of major faults ( or minor ones as I remember ), though what exactly is below you, in terms of shale, or Millstone Grit was of no concern.

        So … I would be happy if fracking took place out here, to the existing traffic light system, to see how it pans out. Then maybe some discussion around suitability of the existing system or maybe adopting and refining the more nuanced system would work.

        • Explain the difference between arbitrarily and slowly please – unless you can give a cogent reason WHY the limits should be raised at all.

          (Hint – because they can’t frack otherwise is not a satisfactory response)

          • Refracktion
            You have answered your own question. There is no reason to raise the limit, other than to be able to frack successfully. That you find this an unsatisfactory answer is your choice, but I can think of no other reason in the context of a request by Cuadrilla and the views of INEOS ( as reported here on DOD ).

            Re arbitrarily and slow, arbitrarily would be on the basis of random choice or personal whim.
            Slow, in the context of my earlier comment, would be my small increments ( ie to a plan ) from the existing standard.

            • Well I see you weern’t able to give a reason why they should be raised except for the fact that the company that designed them can’t swork within them. I’d say that’s a political loser fro Ms Perry who will sit on hands now whilst the Brexit car crash unfolds.

              In this case slowly would also be arbitrarily as there is no good reason to do it.

            • Refracktion

              I have not looked for a second reason as to why Cuadrilla seek a relaxation of the rules. I only consider there to be one reason for request the context of the Cuadrilla request, that being the reason you mentioned.

              Hence I have not tried to give a second reason as there is none ( and I have no incentive to make one up either ).

              It is a bit like you asking me what 2+2= and saying that 4 is not an answer you will accept.

              I see that you thing there is no good reason to do it, so maybe we will just disagree as to the one reasoning rather than constructing a second reason ?

  4. Interesting that the antis keep suggesting new evidence from pretty dubious sources should be brought into consideration, but factual evidence from initial tests in the UK should not!

    What are tests for, if that is not one of the reasons to run them?

    • Matron I think you will find that we are rather keen that the information from the initial test in the UK at Preese Hall is indeed brought into consideration. That information is factual and relevant. I mean what are tests for?

  5. Except it wasn’t horizontal, was it reaction. So “we” might like something which is not relevant, but no one else will notice. Neither was it seismic monitored to the same extent, neither was it completed.

    Oh yes they will.

    Your attempts to misrepresent on this subject are just showing through. You may feel your “audience” hasn’t the ability to see that, but you may find a lot of them have.

    • How hilarious to see you trying to wriggle out here using the argument that PH was not horizontal. We normally get it the other way round with pro-frackers like you telling us there is no difference between the minimally fracked vertical well at Elswick and HVHF fracking at PNR 😉

      Preese Hall was certainly monitored to the extent that 58 tremors were registered in just 5 frack stages. It was not completed because of “the magnitude 2.3 ML event that stopped hydraulic fracturing operations at Preese Hall in 2011” (BGS)

      No misrepresentation going on from me Matron. Nurse would you ring that mirror please?

  6. No wriggle. Just stating what all can see, even through the fog. You don’t like it, that is your choice.

    11.22-“no evidence I can see”. Ermm, no, because Cuadrilla will not be sharing that evidence with you. They are still gathering it.

    Don’t like to burst your bubble, but it will be gathered and discussed with those involved in the process, not the protest.

    Whilst that goes on you can speculate and fabricate from the sidelines, and then, if you don’t like the outcome, you can repeat.

    • But Matron of COURSE you are wriggling. The fact that neither I nor you nor Claire Perry can see any evidence to support a change does not mean that Cuadrilla have some that they are hiding (why would they?). Much of the evidence is in the public domain (BGS seismic records) or soon will be (FoIs to the EA) anyway.

      Now then can YOU tell us whether you commented publicly at any point about the TLS limit being inappropriate. Surely somebody must have and Dr Nick and Jdth clearly didn’t. Was it you Matron? Were you the voice crying in the wilderness that everybody ignored or is everyone trying to pretend that they always knew it was wrong but never said anything in public about it?

      • Pathetic.

        You may feel you sit outside the fence and know the results coming from the test. I certainly do neither.

        If that is the best you can offer, you really are in Wonderland.

        Interesting you think the public domain view of the BGS records is more import than the BGS view of them! When they made a suggestion, what was the Reaction? Oops.

        Speculate and fabricate. It will not give you the real picture, just the blue corner piece. Others will have the rest of the pieces to make the picture.

        By the way, I did say I thought the levels would need raising (check it out if you want.) But, like you, that was an uniformed opinion because I recognised I was not privy to the information. My realism over your fantasy.

        • But Matron. The results of the flow test have little bearing on this and that is the testing going on now. The fracking bit is over. We can all see the end result as published by the BGS. Cuadrilla have finally deigned to publish their 3d so we know what they know. The injection volumes and timings were paltry – we know that from observations. I wonder what else there might be to inform Ms Perry in the decision that she is making? And I doubt Mr Ratcliffe’s tantrum yesterday will have disposed her any more kindly to the frackers.

          Which extra pieces can you see Matron? Or are you just believing they must exist because without them your own jigsaw is in a bit of a mess? Speculating and fabricating indeed!

          Where did you say you thought the levels needed raising and when? Let’s have a look.

          And a uniformed opinion – very smart!

          • “The fracking bit is over.” Really?

            Based upon what? Initial fracking has completed.

            Perhaps you should have waited 24 hours. Looking pretty silly now. You could have made an informed opinion.

            Let’s have a look. Yes, looking pretty silly now as well. But then you did make a premature decision on diesel, so the pattern is well established.

            Have you looked regarding the traffic lights? You indicated you would. Apology beyond you? Or, not able to even check that?

            In terms of Sir Jim’s comments, Claire needs to be able to show a coherent energy policy before she takes on industry seeking one. Not sure she would survive a Dyson at her door.

  7. Well lads and lasses, it looks like the end is here.
    The death throes are loud, but inevitable.
    Time to let Ruth know if you want to get together to celebrate.
    Would be happy to organize the party!

    • Yep, all this frantic “Look at Me! Me! Me!” What a circus parade of painted clowns, desperate grandstanding and highly strung low wire act acrobatics from the anti anti PR hotdeskers?

      All that hollow noise from a few empty vessels?

      But of course its just the last desperate attempt to get noticed by JR and jockeying for a job at Ineos isn’t it.

      They have nothing else left anymore but bluster and pretend its all hunky dory.

      So this is their last chance to show off which is what we see here.

      Pity they are just making fools of themselves in this last flurry before the truth dawns.

      Maybe JR will pull some fat cats out of the fire, but it won’t be these here on Drill or Drop will it.

      But I doubt if JR is on the look out for any more dead weight to carry back to Monaco.

          • Phil C
            Ahh, you were not joking in your comments above about PR hotdeskets and their desperate attempt to get noticed by JR and jockeying for a job at INEOS. You really think it is true I guess.

            Not bad from this bulletin boards top hot desker for Ian R Crane. Desperately seeking a job with him or trying to get a cut of the profits from T Shirt and CD sales maybe. But he has enough dead weight to carry so no luck there eh.

            No irony there then?

    • Cuadrilla today announced results from its flow-testing of the UK’s first ever horizontal shale gas exploration well, drilled through the shale rock more than 7,500 feet beneath the Preston New Road exploration site in Lancashire.

      The company, based in nearby Bamber Bridge, said that the drilling, hydraulic fracturing and flow testing of the first horizontal well confirms that there is a rich reservoir of recoverable high quality natural gas present.

      Chief Executive Officer Francis Egan said “We have also confirmed that the Bowland shale formation fractures in a way that, from US experience, is typical of an excellent shale gas reservoir. A complex fracture network was generated in the shale and sand injected into the fractures has stayed in place during flow back. Also the natural gas flowing to surface from the shale has a very high methane content, which means it could be delivered into the local gas grid for the benefit of local consumers with minimal processing required.”

      An intentionally conservative micro-seismic operating limit during hydraulic fracturing, set at just 0.5 on the Richter Scale, had however severely constrained the volume of sand that could be injected into the shale rock. Mr Egan added: “We have only partially tested this well, with just two out of the forty one stages installed along the horizontal section fractured fully as designed, and less than 14 per cent of the sand we had planned to inject into the shale rock put in place. Nonetheless the natural gas still flowed back from the shale at a peak rate of over 200,000 standard cubic feet per day and a stable rate of some 100,000 standard cubic feet per day.

      Cuadrilla estimates that, when compared to a typical North American 2.5km long producing horizontal shale gas well, with all of its stages fractured as planned, the data indicates a potential initial flow rate range of between 3million and 8million standard cubic feet per day.

      “This is a highly encouraging result and great news for the UK which continues to import gas in ever increasing quantities by ship and long distance pipeline and has seen record demand for gas during the recent cold weather. The natural gas beneath Preston New Road could help secure our domestic gas supply and flow directly into the local grid, reducing CO2 emissions associated with importing LNG in tankers from around the world, including shale gas from the US, or piping gas to the UK over thousands of miles.”

      Cuadrilla confirmed that it has requested the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) to urgently review the TLS to enable the PNR exploration wells to be properly tested and produced effectively, without compromising safety or environmental protection. Subject to the outcome of such a review Cuadrilla plans to complete hydraulic fracturing of the PNR1 well, fracture the PNR2 well and carry out flow testing of both wells later this year.

      The company was the first to work within the micro-seismic Traffic Light System (TLS), regulated by the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), and now holds a unique and extensive data set.
      Mr Egan said: “We have acquired almost 40,000 micro-seismic data points during hydraulic fracturing operations on the PNR1-z well. We believe this to be the most comprehensive micro-seismic data set ever collected at a shale gas well anywhere in the world. The data has been shared with the OGA and the British Geological Survey (BGS) and we believe that there is more than ample evidence to justify an expert technical review of the TLS and, based on the outcome of that review, a revision at the PNR site, without compromising on safety.”

      In addition to micro-seismic data Cuadrilla recorded ground vibration levels throughout fracturing operations. The vast majority of those vibrations were less than 0.5 mm/second which the company has highlighted is up to thirty times lower than limits applied to other UK industrial operations, including quarrying and construction.

      Francis Egan said: “Cuadrilla and its investors remain committed to this opportunity. The potential for Lancashire and the UK has again been clearly demonstrated by the fracturing and flow-testing carried out at Preston New Road. We look forward to completing the job.

      “All we ask now is that we are treated fairly, with comparable seismic and ground vibration levels to similar industries in Lancashire and elsewhere in the UK who are able to work safely but more effectively with significantly higher thresholds for seismicity and ground vibration.”

      Cuadrilla has now shut in the well and will monitor build-up as it continues to assess the results.

    • I saw it too and it looks like a cry for help.

      The big C cannot work in the limits they helped establish and trumpeted as Gold Standard before commencing on site. They now want the Government to scale back Gold Standard to something more akin to Tin Plated unfortunately .Gov have already indicated they are loathed to change as it would be politically suicide.

      That said this current Government seems right up for a bit of self harming so who knows. Maybe it’s in for a penny in for a pound in terms of unelectablity with Brexit and fracking.

      • Brexit was a referendum, Pavlova ie. it is the country who decided and the Government taking that instruction. Any Brexit will not be what everyone wanted, including those who voted to leave, but there is a big majority in favour of this Government getting the thing through and no faith in anyone else doing it. Doing a difficult task as well as allowed is reflected positively by the voters. Being seen unable to do a difficult task at all, is not.

        Fracking not a problem for the majority. A majority is all a Government needs. If this one could get TWO THIRDS to support them, then they would be breaking out the bubbly! Fixed term parliaments make a lot of difference.

        By the way, they have also indicated they would look at data provided from UK experience. Two sides to a coin.

        • Thanks for explaining how a referendum works Martin I hadn’t worked that out after two years constant media reporting.

          Its pretty obvious to even the most casual current affairs watcher that the current Government has satisfied absolutely no one of any persuasion with this fudge of a deal and its constant intransigence and reneging of mandated positions will not be easily forgotten by the electorate who as you say have lost interest and the will to live in some cases, that is apart from you of course who appears to think they are doing a fine job.

          So already in a huge pickle and having lost the confidence of their core support and swathes of their back benchers, let alone any floating and undecided voters you seem to suggest they might renege on a the trumpeted Gold Standard regulation they have sold to the twin set and pearls brigade in the shires at risk of fracking for the last few years.

          Are you sure you aren’t a SPAD to Theresa Mayhem with this level of political nouse.

          • Crembrule

            The Brexit shenanigans are truly of interest.

            The mother in law thinks that someone should just say leave ( Shirebrook, pro leave as is the incumbent MP, Dennis ).

            I point out that what we are seeing is democracy in action. This would not happen in a command economy such as N.Korea, China, Venezuela ( maybe ), or some dictatorship , or maybe Zimbabwe, Sudan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Pakistan ( so on and so forth ).

            Democracy is messy, but with a leaver in charge of the Labour Party, a remainer leading the negotiations, a suitable balance may be struck. We wait for the EU to put a border in place in Ireland ( to stop the smuggling of bent bananas or usurp French tobacco farmers maybe ).

            Having lived or worked abroad ( hint in the list above ) I think what we are looking at is a fine example of democracy in action.

            Plus, it takes the heat of the Euro.

            Shirebrook is ready to march on London should the corrupt politicians in the pay of Brussels renage on the deal, or so I am told.

            • Hewes it may be democracy in action but it doesn’t mean it is being done well.

              It is hard to imagine the outcome of a closely balanced and devisive advisory referendum being any more poorly executed, regardless of your particular political leaning.

              It didn’t have to be so messy the current Government made it that way through intransigence and stubbornness all in a selfish and vain attempt to ensure party unity.

              The good of the country and the will of the people have very little to do with this mess.

    • Yes Refracktion Fun Time Frankie certainly knows when to call a spade a hand held, mobile, earth displacement device.

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