MPs to investigate fracking earthquakes

181211 bgs earthquakes 3

Extract from British Geological Survey record of seismic activity in the UK, 11 December 2018

A parliamentary group is seeking expert evidence on earthquakes caused by fracking.

The investigation follows calls by the shale gas industry for a relaxation of the regulations.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Impact of Shale Gas wants to hear from regulators, academics, geologists, engineers, industry representatives, campaign groups or members of the public who have experienced the impacts of fracking operations.

The current regulations, known as the traffic light system, require companies to pause fracking for at least 18 hours following a red event. This is where tremors of 0.5 or above on the local magnitude (ML) scale happen during fracking.

Ineos and Cuadrilla have said this threshold is too low and should be raised to make the industry commercially viable. They pointed to the limit of 4.0ML or 4.5ML used in parts of north America.

Fracking at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road near Blackpool caused 56 earth tremors from October-December 2018. The company stopped operations at least five times. Most of the seismic activity was very low level but two tremors were felt. DrillOrDrop tremor tracker

So far, the government has said there are no plans to review or relax the traffic light system.

“Dig deeper” into relaxation calls

The group’s chair, Lee Rowley, Conservative MP for North East Derbyshire, said:

“We’re holding this meeting to dig a little deeper into calls to loosen fracking regulation.”

His constituency has a site in the village of Marsh Lane earmarked by Ineos for shale gas exploration.

He said:

“One of the biggest concerns from residents in Marsh Lane and elsewhere in North East Derbyshire who are worried about fracking is that it could cause earthquakes that not only damage property but could lead to contamination.

“Any weakening of the regulation is wrong in my opinion and I have invited fracking regulators, fracking companies, campaign groups and scientists to join us next month to discuss my concerns.”

Yesterday, Mr Rowley introduced a new parliamentary bill to prevent the regulations from being changed.

Key issues

The group said it wanted to examine the processes for monitoring seismicity and well integrity and whether there should be any amendments to the traffic light system.

At present, the rules do not include seismic events measuring 0.5ML or above that happen after fracking has finished. The group want to know whether these tremors, known as trailing events, should be included in the traffic light system.

It is also investigating whether shale gas operators should be allowed to plan for red events as standard practice.

The current rules apply only to fracking for shale gas. But similar processes, involving dilute acid, can be used in limestone and sandstone areas. The group has invited opinion on whether these operations, known as acidisation or acid fracking, should be covered by the traffic light system.

Other questions to be addressed by the investigation include:

  • Is there substantial independent monitoring of seismicity at fracking sites?
  • Are regulators too reliant on data from operators to monitor seismicity and well integrity?
  • Is the monitoring process at fracking sites transparent enough?
  • How reliable are the seismic surveys and monitoring of fracking operations for detecting faults and damage to wells?
  • Is enough attention given to the underground impacts of fracking-induced seismicity?

The group’s hearing is at Westminster on Tuesday 2 April 2019. The time and venue are to be confirmed.

You can contact the committee chairman, Lee Rowley MP, via email:

46 replies »

  1. We have cries that the UK is running short of water whilst one area of UK is experiencing record rain fall!

    Population is in wrong place, and is too high, so UK needs a water transfer system if the first two are accepted. But, once again, it will all be down to climate change because that is the magnet for money.

    • No Martian, wrong again, the projection is worldwide due to climate change, remember that? And is predicted over a period of 25 years to have that effect in the UK.

      At this year’s Waterwise Conference in London, chief executive of the Environment Agency, Sir James Bevan, warned that the impact of climate change, combined with the country’s population growth, means England is to run short of water within 25 years, reported the BBC.

      “We need water wastage to be as socially unacceptable as blowing smoke in the face of a baby or throwing your plastic bags into the sea,” he said. ”

      Record rainfall is another climate change effect and flash run off causes flash floods from baked soil to to high temperatures in the summer and freezing in the winter.

      Someone said that more rain water would help to irrigate the soil, unfortunately the effects of the green house effect cause the soil to become impermeable and produce a greater amount of run off that does not reach the plant roots, in fact increased run off causes high speed water channels which strip away the topsoil and causes mud floods further down the line often into towns and cities close to the coast and can be seen in the many videos on the subject.

      Unfortunately the effect of climate change acceleration is not a gradual heating or cooling and individual situations are not a reliable indication of equivalent global climate change effects, nor does it mean simply more or less rainfall in areas that are prone to fluctuations.

      The effect is for greater and greater fluctuations, higher highs and lower lows, more or less rainfall, greater storms in areas not used to high speed winds, often consecutively and more frequently.

      These are Ted Talks on climate change that may help to explain how our climate is changing and why and what will be the short and long term consequences.

      There are several significant effects.

      Greater record breaking high and low temperature extremes often consecutive.

      Bigger and more violent storms, greater falsh rainfall that the soil cannot contain or absorb, record breaking wind speeds, flash storms and structural damage and loss of life across the world.

      Global dimming caused by moisture vapour and reflective elements such as dust and chemicals in the atmosphere, that leads to failed crops and unstable growing cycles, desertification and plant die off due to species not being able to cope with the temperature wind speed and water availability changes.

      The soil gets baked in summer and frozen in winter, that leads to the soil becoming imprevious to water and means greater and more rapid run off, flash floods and downstream devastation, soil stripping and clogging up of the estuaries and ports.

      The oceans are a natural CO2 and heat sink, they become acidified and hotter, oxygenation of the oceans are reduced leading to the vital sources of sea life die off and oceanic bio system collapse. That collapse is disastrous for all life on earth as the micro sea life is the basic food source of so many species.

      Acid rain from CO2 in the atmosphere destroys the land floras and oceanic floras ability to absorb sunlight and nutrients and trees and plants start to reduce in strength and resilience to continuing ecological stress.

      We are cutting down the forests and that is another CO2 sink and heat sink and what with the acid rain and global dimming and flash floods and high speed storms and tornadoes and hurricanes, all life is under threat.

      The atmosphere heats up due to the greenhouse effect, that means the upper and lower air steams interact to a greater degree and become more violent as a result, also air streams from hotter zones invade cooler zones and vice versa causing greater wind speeds and temperature variations, such as the only recent Mozambique hurricane Idai that killed thousands and made hundreds of thousands homeless and without food water and medical supplies, the greatest historical climate change disaster in the southern hemisphere to date, it wont be the last.

      The lists go on, perhaps do some of your own research,but do try not to rely on Trumpish over simplifications as they only serve to indicate a blinkered ignorance of the complexity of the climate change ongoing disaster.

      Ask the children, they apparently know more than some here on Drill or Drop.

        • Aww, TW how i missed your little ankle biter remarks, nice to see you back on form, form 3 isnt it, slow stream too? You better ask the children yourself in playtime TW, providing they are not on strike of course, clearly they know more than you, but are we surprised?

            • Still prevaricating diversion from the climate change subject BTW? Still in form 3 then? Gotta graduate someday though surely, the big bad world is not so scary really, but it is getting more scary by degree, degree Centigrade that is, not Fahrenheit, isnt that one of those USA peculiarities, still imperial there i hear? Another Trumpish twitter language isnt it, it explains, or rather more accurately does not explain such a lot, not without a translator anyway.

              • Ha! Ha! So that is where you are trying to go with this is it? That is very weak BTW. Getting desperate and grasping at plastic straws again? Protecting Martian too, how sweet? Still diverting and obfuscating away from the subject as well.

                No, BTW, i leave such “cults” to the fossil fuelers utter lack of glee club no cheer leaders, a pseudo religious cult sect i hear? They sacrifice the future of the human race to the fake alter gods of parasitic greed and avarice dont they?

                I belong to no group, no political persuasion, no religion, no social construct, and in particular no cult or sect, in fact it is interesting you raise the subject, as i have always said people tend to reveal their own mindset when making such comments, and reflects more of whats is in your own consciousness, not anyone elses.

                How many cults do you belong to? How many of you post under that ID?

                No BTW, unfortunately the dangers of accelerating climate change are the real world, not the fossil fuel la la land fantasy world of greed and avarice without any environmental consequences.

                Look around you with open eyes.

                Exxon and Shell predicted the dangers of sole reliance on fossil fuel resources back in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s and have been trying to fight in the courts that release of information their own scientists provided ever since. Look it up.

                It is those who refuse to acknowledge the reality of the accelerating climate change situation that you should be worried about, unless you want to believe the deniers for whatever reason of course.

                Only recently in Mozambique the hurricane Idai killed thousands flooded vast areas and made hundreds of thousands homeless and without food water and medical supplies. You think that is just normal weather?

                You dont need to listen to me or even the children or the scientists, do your own research, there is a lot of climate science out there to research, if you still feel it is too scary, then you can always go back to sleep with your colleagues, and i am sorry for having shaken your cage.

                Regardless of the present climate change situation, the human race must evolve out of unthinking exploitation of the natural worlds resources, it is the only intelligent way to go, regardless of the blatant evidence of ongoing climate change, that is just the spur and the trigger for change.

                We evolve back to a saner way of living on this planet in symbiosis with its natural cycle of bio diversity and ecological stability, or we suffer the consequences, we will not be the first species to fall foul of our own rigid inflexible suicidal habits.

  2. Strange TW-just read a letter from a scientist stating exactly what I stated regarding UK water. Water in one place, people in another and too much leakage.

    Good job UK is rapidly moving up the happiness ladder and many in UK would now like to be scientists, according to recent surveys!

    But, then there is the minority. Bless.

    • Still deny deny deny Martian? Is that letter another of those imaginary unsubstantiated claims? Or would you care to reproduce it here?

  3. Err, no. Others will probably have seen it and can make up their own minds. Educating others is not within my CV-just to quote information for those who want to follow it up, or consider it.

    Had a word with the police reference the reason for red diesel yet? Horses, water (oops) and drinking.

    • Well that was predictable wasn’t it boys and girls? It is interesting is it not to see that there is only one way to shake the immoveable object, no matter how objectionable it is, and that is to use the irresistible force of the people of the world changing everything for the better of all, not just the greedy selfish few.

      Something about silk purses and sows ears perhaps?

      Did we expect anything to be substantiated? No, of course not, just more dead weasel fixations and self justification.

      A bit sad really, but no matter, the world will move on a perhaps the children will glance back at the few left with their old illusions, a sad spectacle, but a valuable lesson in inertia.

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