Cuadrilla calls for new approach to fracking earthquake rules


Part of DECC infographic on Traffic Light system (2014). Source: OGA

Cuadrilla called today for changes to the regulations on seismicity induced by fracking to take account of ground vibration.

The company has said current regulation, called the traffic light system, makes shale gas commercially unviable. It is based on the magnitude of tremors and requires fracking to pause if it induces seismicity measuring 0.5ML or above.

Cuadrilla’s fracking operation at Preston New Road, near Blackpool induced more than 50 small tremors in autumn 2018. The company paused operations at least five times.

190404 WEETF Francis Egan (2)

Francis Egan (right) with seminar chair, Lord Truscott, 4 April 2019. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Speaking at a seminar in London this morning, Cuadrilla’s chief executive, Francis Egan, said:

 “We are not calling for a number, as in should it be 1, 1.5 or 0.75.

“In fact, we think that is too crude a system.

“As far as somebody standing on the surface is concerned, 0.5 does not mean anything.

“What matters to them is ‘is the ground vibrating? Can I feel it? Is it doing any damage?’.

“At the very least a TLS [traffic light system] should include a measurement of ground vibration, which is, in fact how other industries that cause vibration, including construction and mining are regulated.”

Cuadrilla and Ineos have both called for a review of the traffic light system. The government has said this is the responsibility of the Oil & Gas Authority.

The OGA confirmed again today that no review was underway. It is, however, analysing data collected during fracking in Lancashire.

In February, Cuadrilla said there was “more than ample evidence to justify a technical review of the regulations”. It added that subject to the outcome of the review, the company would complete fracking of the first well and frack the second at Preston New Road.

Mr Egan defended the company today against suggestions that it had not complained about the traffic light system until the earth tremors last year.

The energy minister, Claire Perry, said in a letter to Cuadrilla, in November 2018:

“I note that your Hydraulic Fracture Plan was developed and reviewed over several months with reference to existing regulations, including the traffic light system and at no point did you communication that it would not be possible to proceed without a change in regulations”.

Mr Egan told the seminar:

“Proceeding of itself is not the issue. The issue is producing commercial hydrocarbons.

“We have been very clear as Cuadrilla that we believe it is not possible and we were very clear before that letter.”

He declined to say what level of seismicity would allow commercial production of shale gas.

  • Mr Egan were speaking at the Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum keynote seminar on Unconventional oil and gas market in the UK – planning changes, environmental regulation and tackling the scale-up challenges

Reporting from this event was made possible by individual donations from DrillOrDrop readers


48 replies »

  1. The August Bank Holiday Monday 2.9 Hydrofrac Earthquake was felt and reported by over two thousand Fylde Coast residents of whom some two hundred, including myself, reported resulting property damage.

    It followed on from a 2.3 Earthquake on August Bank Holiday Saturday evening and was one of several hundred Hydrofrac Earthquakes recorded by the BGS since Cuadrilla twice resumed fracking in the Autumn of 2018 and Summer, 2019.

    The Traffic Light Monitoring System has been totally unable to predict or stop earthquakes, what a waste of time and money! It’s just propaganda from the fracking industry and the Government.

    • Peter K R

      The TLS was designed to limit induced seismic activity, not stop it or to predict it.

      Predictions of likely activity were presented in supporting documentation along with assumptions as to the anticipated affects when the system was followed.

      So the system itself is not propaganda, tho there is plenty of it available in state and anti fracking published material.

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