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. A change to the regulations does not mean weakening, per se.

    Seems the Chair has formed an opinion ahead of evidence.

    • A relaxation of the TLS limit regulations from a red light level of 0.5 ML, to which it must be stated, that the operators all agreed to years ago without a qualm, to an exponential decrease in level of 4.0 or 4.5 ML (0.5^-9) remembering that each increment is an exponential decrease below the last level, one for those infamous crowing anti anti mathematicians out there, does indeed represent a massive reduction of the supposedly gold standard regulations and effectively invalidates the claim.

      Who is perse?

      • I would stick with the vegetable oil/red diesel mirage. Your maths seem to be even worse. 4 or 4.5 ML was the reference to what was operated elsewhere. Absolutely no other connection-as yet.

        So, does not “indeed” represent anything, other than a higher limit operating elsewhere successfully.

        Percy? He is the protector against porkies.

        • Oops! Oh dear! Oh dear!

          Bad Fail Martian, time to go back to Maths class, the children will be out on strike though, your score is 0/10 probably couldn’t do better.

          See Maths Teacher.

          4.5 ML is what is suggested in the text above, or didn’t you bother to read that either? Selective reading problems still?

          A little maths lesson for your information.

          Any reduction in each numerical increment is an exponential reduction from the previous increment. Simple maths….M. A. T…..oh well, never mind…

          The limit standards reduce exponentially by each incremental number.

          The projection is decreasing by exponential factors by each increment regardless of the final figure. Apparently maths is your weak point except for the fail in reductive logic that is.

          Ha! Ha! Red diesel dead weasel Fred Queezle, what dumb ass nonsense you do spout.

          What does Philae’s Fogg mean?

          “The end of Fogg”

          What does Passpartout mean?

          “Goes anywhere, or Master Key”

          But they are Fictitious characters in Jules Verne’s novel, however in this fracking context they irrelevant empty meaningless rhetoric for someone with a with a fog fixation it seems.

          Can’t even try and insult people without making a fool of itself can it.

          A failure to carry out even basic research perhaps, probably a result of a giggle gaggle fixation, god knows what the investments are like.

          Sad Martian, failed again, next time try Martian Bore Machines with more than three legs.



          • “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.’

            Cuad et demostrandam.

            • They pointed to the limit in the USA. No call for that to be mirrored in UK. Quite different. Even the children will understand that and realise that is why Ruth wrote it in the way she did.

              Obviously, some then see an opportunity to play with Ruth’s text to further their own ends. Phileas Sea Fogg classic, but still incorrect.

              • You keep trying Martian but still you get no cigar.

                Simply twisting the text to your own agenda will not work, my statement still stands, any attempt to “relax” the TLS will create an exponential change at every incremental reduction in level regardless of the intended target and the so called gold standard regulations are exponentially reduced in the opposite direction as a result.

                Do the maths, a halving of the TLS limit, from 0.5 ML to 1.0 ML is not twice but a 100% increase in the limit and a 100% reduction in the regulations and so on and so on.

                Each exponential increase in the Richter Scale by incremental degree only serves to make a nonsense of the illusive and apparently fatally flawed non existent gold standard regulations.

                Sorry old bean, 0/10 again.

                • Suddenly Ruth is your saviour, but didnt you say you do not see eye to eye with Ruth and Drill or Drop only recently? Funny how you clutch at all those plastic straws that you have already thrown into the ocean isnt it? Desperation makes strange sea bed fellows it seems?

                  Ha! Ha! I thought you would like that. Philae’s Fogg is a fictitious character in a novel by Jules Verne Martian, and means “the end of fog”, and is totally irrelevant to the subject in hand except to those with a worrying fog fixation of course, poor silly boy.

                  And considering your attempts to obscure everything in childish name calling, that is just typical of all your posts to date, but you must continue chundering on to save face i suppose, i am sure the reader will make up their own minds as to what to think about such worryingly childish attempts at character assassination, perhaps it would be timely to remind you that is something that your colleagues seem to have fallen foul of too.


                  Philae’s Fogg says it will take 81 days to navigate the world due to excessive Martian fog from Fawley to Wytch Farm, but the end of fog will cure that, and i’ll do it in 79 if not earlier, i’ll take a cheque when i arrive, be ready to roll out the red carpet, or blue carpet, or brown carpet if Sir Hugh Janus is paying for it.

                  Have a nice, if foggy day, i have the cure for that.

                  Such fun!

                  Always a pleasure!

                • Ahh, no one noticed now it is any attempt to “relax” and the reference to the US has gone!! So, not so certain they should be connected anymore?

                  Oh yes they did notice. You failed to get away with the extrapolation, so modify completely.

                  Twisting of text? No need to feel guilty. I only read your posts occasionally as that has long been the form. Still the same methodology.

                • Still trying to save face Martian? Never mind, soon be over.

                  “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.”

                  That text is still there above, what are you talking about? It was Ineos and Cuadrilla’s attempt to make the USA reference to the Richter Scale limits there, no one else wants it. The USA is still on the earth isnt it? Are they subject to different physics? Is the Richter Scale somehow different if you live in down town Austin Texas?

                  No, of course not, did anyone notice you that is just more bizarre attempts to obscure the issue.

                  Do try not to be so desperate to preserve your illusions by attacking others, it does not work, wake up and smell the red pill roses, those blue variety roses were always sterile hybrids and revert to red after the few years we yet still have the climate to support them.

                  Oh yes they did notice. You failed to get away with the extrapolation, so modify completely.

                  “Twisting of text? No need to feel guilty. I only read your posts occasionally as that has long been the form. Still the same methodology.”

                  Ahh, poor Martian, forced to fall back to your “Nah! Nah! Nah! Nah” total black out blinkers “I cant hear you” strategy? So sad, you still reading? Lets see in the next post shall we?

                  Have a nice day!

                • Some Mercs. drive at 200mph in Germany and some may refer to that as an example of how they could be driven. Does not mean they would be suggesting that was the target for the UK.

                  Some road safety “engineers” may try and extrapolate, but the two issues remain two issues.

                  Fog cleared, off to finish my bean trench. Must prepare for the great Brexit shortages!

                • Oh dear, he’s gone off to Germany now? Still reading me then Martian?

                  Unfortunately such irrelevant hyperbolae doesnt convince anyone at all.

                  I shall consider that to be a tacit agreement.

                • I’m sure you will!

                  However, a number will not, so everyone happy.

                  Now for the compost into my bean trench to encourage the worms and then await the moles. I am working on a maximum of 0.5 MoLeS at the moment in UK but understand in US they sometimes find 4 MoLeS okay. But, of course, thankfully,one does not necessarily follow the other!

  2. Earthquake activity at Preese Hall damaged well integrity causing fracking to be halted, what more needs to be investigated?

    • Peter: Please show evidence for your obviously shoddy investigative knowledge in drilling and testing the integrity of a well. BP reports about a failed BOP on Macondo and the whole world becomes specialists on BOP’s!!

  3. Didn’t we have this kind of Committee that advised the former minister Ed Davey and as a result it produced the ministerial statement that the TLS will be reviewed up ward if there’s more experience and data.
    Are we going in circle again?? Or Mr Rowley want some political attention and profile?

    • Making any decision to raise the TLS red level does seem a bit premature if that decision is to be based on “more experience and data” obtained from fracking 5% of one well at PNR when even that pathetic attempt caused 57 seismic events.

      • Pauline – they didn’t only frack 5% of the well – they fracked far more and only got 5% of the proppant that they expected to into the well. I’d also be extremely surprised if they only caused 57 microseismic events – it will be far more than that

          • Refraction – I’m not particularly sure what point you’re trying to make. The amount of proppant that was expected go injected into two fracks, which you’re correct is 4.9% of the volume expected – 0.1% less than the 5% that was expected; nothing like being pedantic is there?. However, other stages were fracked but proppant was not injected, which is exactly the point I was making

            • Judih – I’m not particularly sure what point you’re trying to make. First of all you claim “they didn’t only frack 5% of the well” then you admit they only fracked 2 out of the 41 planned stages which is 4.9% of it. Are you seriously expecting anybody to believe Cuadrilla only expected, when they started fracking last October, to put in the amount of proppant they did? You are priceless!

              The quote above BTW is from Cuadrilla themselves. You are welcome

  4. It looks like a good idea to me

    But one presumes that the information they seek is in relation to seismic events and subsequent issues relating to fracking, not those who have experience of the ‘impacts of fracking’ ( third paragraph above ).

    That seems rather a broad church.

    • TW – it seems like a pretty reasonable plan. I’d probably have the limit at 1.5 Ml but more importantly it’s probably worth including ground velocities and looking at the frequency vs. magnitude data as that provides an early warning as to whether a larger event is likely to occur.

      • Judith. Thanks for the reply.
        Sorry. I am not a seismic scientist or expert so I cant qualify what you say but from a layman but with professional training in other technical field it seems to me the request for review the TLS to increase the threshold level is reasonable on its merits.
        Our political establishment is running around in circle with political posturing for votes that can only hurt the national interests. Very sad to see as in the case of Brexit.

      • 1.5 ML is the sort of figure I was expecting Judith. Not based upon much other than what is unlikely to cause excitement upon easily excited surface dwellers.

        However, the current system, whatever the level, does not reflect location at all. I would have thought any sensible system will have to evolve to incorporate that.

        At the end of the day, the current system is very much the red flag equivalent to the motor car. The equine supporters say it is required to prevent us all being killed, but, it will prove to be an initial fix that can be safely modified. But, we will still have speed limits, unlike some other countries, as our roads are somewhat different.

  5. My view is that onshore natural gas represents a significant opportunity for the U.K. to decrease it’s reliance on imported gas, and to plug the hole in our energy needs left by the removal of coal and the non-replacement of our ageing nuclear stations in a way which is not weather dependent.

    Regarding climate change, it’s interesting to think about the future and consider the effect on the planet of rising prosperity in China & India – that’s 2 billion people. Rising prosperity will bring new demands for energy (for example only 18% of the world’s population have ever been on a plane – the rest might want to one day). We face the duel challenge of increasing energy production whilst reducing CO2 emissions.

    Perhaps even more urgent we need to reduce pollution especially in the heavily populated cities in the Far East. China has chosen to do that by a massive replacement of coal by gas from production onshore and a similarly massive increase in imported gas. Basically they are repeating the the solutions we found in the 1960’s and 70’s but for North Sea Gas read imported fracked LNG.

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