“No plans to review fracking tremor rules” – regulator

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Equipment leaving Cuadrilla’s shale gas site, 10 January 2019. Photo: Jo Thomas

The government appears to have rejected calls by Cuadrilla for a review of the rules on earth tremors caused by fracking.

The company said in a statement at lunchtime it had requested an urgent review of the traffic light system, which requires fracking to pause for 18 hours if there are tremors measuring 0.5ML (local magnitude) or above.

But the Oil and Gas Authority, which is responsible for regulating fracking-induced seismic activity, confirmed to DrillOrDrop this afternoon:

“There are no plans to review the limit under the traffic light system.”

The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, later told The Guardian:

“The government believes shale gas could be an important new domestic energy source, enhancing our energy security and delivering economic benefits including the creation of well paid, quality jobs.

“That’s why the government has given the industry significant support to develop while ensuring that our world-leading regulations remain in place to ensure fracking happens safely and responsibly.

“We set these regulations in consultation with industry and we have no plans to review them.”

Cuadrilla announced it had fully fracked only 5% of the first horizontal well at its Preston New Road site near Blackpool.

It said the 0.5ML limit had “severely constrained the volume of sand that could be injected into the shale rock” during the fracking process. The well is now shut in and fracking equipment has been taken off the site.

Fracking at the Preston New Road well, known as PNR1, induced 57 seismic events in two months. The 0.5ML limit was reached three times during fracking and five times afterwards. The most powerful tremors measured 1.1ML and 1.5ML and were felt near the site.

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

Cuadrilla said today there was “more than ample evidence to justify an expert technical review” of the traffic light system and a revision for Preston New Road, “without compromising safety”.

The company said:

“Subject to the outcome of such a review Cuadrilla plans to complete hydraulic fracturing of the PNR1 well, fracture the PNR2 well [the second well drilled at the site] and carry out flow testing of both wells later this year.”

DrillOrDrop asked the company about the future for the Preston New Road site if there was no review of the traffic light system or TLS.

A spokesperson for the company said:

“We have asked for a review of the TLS, and will await the outcome before making any further decisions.”

Cuadrilla’s call for a review follow comments earlier this week by Ineos, the UK’s biggest shale gas licence holder. Its owner, Jim Ratcliffe, described the traffic light system was absurd and unworkable.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has not responded to the Ineos comments, nor has the energy secretary, Claire Perry. But yesterday, she told a sustainability leaders’ forum, quoted by Utility Week:

“We’ve obviously been very clear about our environmental limits, which I think are the best in the world, and if [fracking] companies can operate within them then they’ll be welcome to do so.”

Last month, Ms Perry re-stated the 0.5ML limit in her reply to a parliamentary question on the traffic light system. She said:

“These regulations ensure that the risk of seismic activity during hydraulic fracturing is assessed in advance and that operations are closely monitored to allow action to be taken by the OGA [Oil & Gas Authority] and other regulators where necessary.”

Full details on the Cuadrilla statement and reaction to it

Updated to include comment from Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Categories: Regulation

103 replies »

  1. Fracking firms moaning overtakes Brexit news as media go all out to make us worry about Energy crisis , Oh the scaremongering , well like they said about leaving the EU , you voted for the TLS limit to be 0.5 so there is no second vote.

  2. Cuadrilla estimates that, when compared to a typical North American 2.5km long producing horizontal shale gas well, PNR 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. These are amazing gangbuster flow rates which would compete with offshore related production rates, long may the UK have energy security with over 50% of cooking and heating energy coming from Gas.

    • It really doesn’t matter what Cuadrilla or Ineos say , they have to abide by the rules . What Cudrilla says has maybe a 60% decline rate too.

    • Using the decline curve in the AJ Lucas presentation from last year, an initial flow rate of 3-8 million cubic feet per day would equate to an EUR between about 2.6 and 6.9 bcf. What’s the betting that the reality is at the lower end on an average in production?

      • What’s the betting the speculation is based upon zilch? Mind you I am only speculating reaction. You have not beaten Cuadrilla to it and done a uncontrolled test in your back yard.

        Wonder if Jack could multiply 3-8 by 10-15?

        • MARTIN is giving us all a laugh again , with his fantasy numbers.

          All pure speculation with no backbone . Where is your evidence MARTIN ??????? ( LINKS please )

          Could this Just be another one of your ” off the cuff ” comments HAHA

          • They have already been posted on DoD Jack.

            I will not join in the glee that shows you are unable to even research that. It is more sad than funny.

            So, no it isn’t Jack. No pay walls, no need to visit a library, only a need to read what Ruth has posted.

    • ELI-Goth. Cuadrilla can compare their well at PNR to a typical North American 2.5km long producing horizontal shale gas well all they like. The fact is that in reality after over two years they have managed only a fraction of the fracks that were promised on one 850m long well only and those were carried out at a much lower pressure than planned and failed to inject the amount of sand they wanted. The experiment has succeeded. It’s proved that however much gas Cuadrilla claim is there they can’t get it out without earthquakes that will be unacceptable to local communities. It’s time to stop flogging the dead horse.

  3. Good to see the OGA standing firm under considerable pressure from Cuadrilla and INEOS. They drew up the rules and agreed to them so they have to live with them. And let’s not forget that they are drilling in a place they are not wanted, where the local authority rejected the planning application and local community doesn’t want them. These could be the last cries of a dead industry – let’s hope so.

  4. You can’t claim to have gold standard regulations that were agreed with industry and then just alter them as soon as the industry demands. Let us hope the government continue to stand firm.

  5. Caudrilla ask the O&G Authority for an urgent review into the TLS and as if by magic the O&G Authority have reviewed it and said NO change. You cannot ask for more urgent than that!

    With this and the light sentencing of the Stanstead 15 I am almost warming to this lot, almost but not quite!

    • He will be formulating a devastating reply involving fictional characters from the novels of french writers from the 19th Century, the current visibility conditions off the South Coast and his imaginary Friends and ex/colleagues who are part of a silent 2/3rds majority and who work in the farming/equine/ educational/ sales and marketing sectors.

  6. Let’s not get too excited, I wouldn’t trust Claire Perry as far as I could sling her

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