Letter reveals Cuadrilla is running out of time to frack Blackpool wells

pnr 190417 drone footage uwoc4

Drone footage of Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road fracking site, 17 April 2019. Photo used with owner’s consent

Cuadrilla looks likely to miss the planning deadline to frack its second shale gas well at Preston New Road, in Lancashire, correspondence has revealed.

In a letter to the regulator, the Oil & Gas Authority, the company called for a review and revision of the rules on fracking-induced seismicity by the end of March 2019.

Meeting this deadline would allow “further exploration wells to be safely and effectively hydraulically fractured and tested within the 2019 planning approval window”, Francis Egan, Cuadrilla’s chief executive said.

The letter, sent to the OGA chief executive, Andy Samuel, in December 2018, was seen by the Financial Times and released in response to Freedom of Information request.

A condition of Cuadrilla’s planning permission requires drilling and fracking four wells at  Preston New Road to be completed by the end of November 2019.

So far, the company has drilled two wells and fully fracked just 5% of the first well, PNR-1z.

According to the letter, the company urged the Oil & Gas Authority to carry out a review of the traffic light system, which requires fracking to pause if it induces earth tremors measuring 0.5ML (local magnitude) or more.

Fracking PNR-1z induced 56 small earth tremors, most of which were not felt. The tremors included three “red events” where seismicity during fracking measured more than 0.5ML. There were also four “trailing events” where the 0.5ML level was passed when fracking was not taking place.

Cuadrilla said it had paused fracking at least five times during the operation between October and December 2018. In October, Mr Egan told the FT the UK shale gas industry could be “strangled before birth” because of the traffic light system.

Earlier this month, he called at an industry seminar for a new approach to seismicity rules. He said a new system should include measurement of ground vibration.

The OGA is analysing data collected by Cuadrilla at Preston New Road but it confirmed that no review was underway.

Last week, Cuadrilla told DrillOrDrop it was demobilising specialist equipment from Preston New Road. It said:

“We’re looking forward now to the next phase of hydraulic fracturing and unlocking a huge economic opportunity for the county and country for decades to come.”

The company told the FT it had “recently completed a work programme designed to ensure that our wells remain ready for further hydraulic fracturing”.

Lancashire County Council has told DrillOrDrop and residents that if Cuadrilla needed to extend the duration of the planning permission for drilling and fracking it would need to submit a full application. This would be advertised locally and if any objections were received, the application would be decided by the county council’s development control committee.

20/4/19  Dates of Cuadrilla fracking corrected to 2018.

35 replies »

  1. Oh, by the way. Tesla just investigating why one of their “alternatives” burst into flames in China! How much CO2 does a burning Tesla produce?

    Bit more to saving the planet than some would suggest.

  2. Fossil energy is the best…

    “Solar panels create 300 times more toxic waste per unit of electricity generated than nuclear power plants, according to a Thursday report from the pro-nuclear group Environmental Progress (EP).

    The report found that solar panels use heavy metals, including lead, chromium and cadmium, which can harm the environment. The hazards of nuclear waste are well known and can be planned for, but very little has been done to mitigate solar waste issues.”

    • Really?
      There still isn’t a safe plan in place to make nuclear byproduct and waste safe for heaven’s sake!
      Just dump it down a deep hole and leave it for generations not yet born to sort out in the only plan the public are aware of!
      As for liquid byproduct of the fracking process, tanker it away to undisclosed destinations then dump it out of sight, like the Manchester Ship Canal stretch owned by Peel Holdings?
      Get real Fren!
      Fossil fuels in all their guises are thankfully exposed as Climate Destroyers, their time has gone!

  3. Yes, fren, we can replace it all with things like the underwater cable from Scottish wind farms down to England. Just failed again! And that means the consumers in England and Wales are likely to pick up the bill of £36m in compensation to Scottish wind farms!

    And, you can add that to the £500m per year extra cost of one off shore wind farm.

    Alternatives are thankfully exposed as routinely being badly thought out and executed. Perhaps one day someone might realise transition needs to be piece by piece and precautionary, otherwise consumers will get peed off with silly gestures to placate who lobby the noisiest that end up costing a fortune and producing very little.

    Now, if someone actually thinks about it, why are we not moving much faster to hydrogen trains replacing diesel? Technology already available, would reduce pollution within urban areas especially, and would mean that electrification could be left to the main, fast speed, routes. Once geared up regarding hydrogen production could then look at on line shopping deliveries and have hydrogen powered vans, which in turn would drive the infrastructure for hydrogen powered cars.

  4. Hydrogen fuel has been around for many years. It is an ideal fuel to replace fossil fuel. But its popularity and practicality at scale remain a hurdle due to its highly explosive nature and leaky nature in long term storage and energy intensive to keep it in liquid state.
    New technology advance may look at these issues but I am not sure if they have been solved.

  5. Well, TW, Germany seems to have solved the issue regarding trains and cars are already available eg. Hyundai-plus, some EU countries are forging ahead with the infrastructure in regards to distribution.

    I suspect it will be a much better bet than the huge increase required within the electricity grid to charge electric vehicles.

    “Calor” gas and petrol can both be volatile if handled/stored incorrectly.

    Meanwhile, Donald steps up sanctions on Iran and world oil prices immediately rise to their highest level so far this year. And Sterling against the $ not too secure. I think Peter will very quickly see the time of fossil fuels is not gone within his cost of living. (My nice new car was delivered this am carried upon a diesel truck. He was then picking up his next one from the docks to transport to a customer 500 miles away! Reality versus speculation.)

    • Germany producing nearly 3 times the amount of electricity than gas in 2018

      Mention coal by all means but remember 3 times more than gas.

      UK putting up blocks against cheap onshore wind power on our very windy island. Pathetic.

      Meanwhile, Donald steps up sanctions on Iran and world oil prices immediately rise to their highest level so far this year.

      Spot the obvious problem. He is selling expensive energy to his own country. How bright.

      He will soon be begging again for lower prices.

      • JP. I thought by doing making oil expensive Trump is actually doing you guys with vested interest in the North Sea and the anti fossil fuel a favorite.
        Expensive oil price make North Sea oil more viable and it discourages increased uses of it which is good for the environment. I thought that’s what you want, isn’t it?

  6. Martin. That is a good sign but at scale hydrogen is still untested. Another old problem with hydrogen gas (and natural gas) combustion engines is they produce CO2 and Water. These residues mixed stogether over times will form acid and cause significant corrosion to engine parts. This is why expensive cars dont recommend using ethanol added petrol. Because the corrosion do costly damage to the engines within 5 years.
    In regard to the explosion hazards comparison between petrol and Hydrogen gas the ignition threshold for hydrogen is much much lower than petrol or natural gas.

  7. Yes, TW, but those are problems that are easily solved. There are now hydrogen trains in use, indeed the UK is scheduled to have some-eventually. There are hydrogen powered buses and the UK already has some of those. I think you will find the cars now coming off the design stage, like Hyundai, are quite a big step up.

    All we have to do is find a good source for the hydrogen! Oh, I think that may be there as well.

    • Yes, salt water being developed by the US navy and the RF ignition process was discovered by John Kanzius after investigating the effects of RF frequencies on cancer. It only produces hydrogen at the point of demand, nor storage of highly volatile hydrogen is necessary or desired.

      Hydrogen can also be generated by bacteria and cracked using sunlight, storage is still a problem that is why hydrogen produced only at the point of demand which is provided by the Kanzius effect is much safer and carrying salt water around is certainly less volatile.

      [Typo corrected at poster’s request]

      • Phil C. I am sure this technology will have its place in the future. But if I understand it correctly the process produces CO2 and hydrogen gas from seawater which contains 140 times more CO2 than air. Release of these CO2 from seawater would defeat the purpose of the aim of cutting CO2 emission, wouldnt it?

        • From the process described the CO2 in H2O is not released by the Kanzius effect, only hydrogen and oxygen, similar to the Browns Gas technology that is produced from electrolysis which is well known.

          As you probably know the oceans are a natural CO2 sink, much like vegetation is, in that as CO2 increases in the atmosphere, the oceans absorb the imbalance created by anthropogenic sources and act as a natural absorption. That CO2 is then in a natural convection cycle that “breathes” CO2 in and out depending upon temperature and oceanic currents. So you could say that CO2 in the oceans is a man made problem, but also of course from sea life respiration, oceanic plants and algae.

          There was an experiment in to assess how much CO2 was in seawater as opposed to the air above here:

          The processes of hydrosaline and the solubility pump and buried methane in ancient and recent estuary sediment deposits which trap methane and CO2 and we destabilise that with increasing temperatures at our own peril, all those are detailed here:

          “The first surprise was that I was under the impression that there was some kind of close relationship between the atmospheric CO2, and the CO2 in the surface seawater. I expected their values to be within maybe 5 ppmv of each other. But in fact, many parts of the ocean are 50 ppmv lower than the CO2 concentration of the overlying air, and many other parts of the ocean have 50 ppmv or more of CO2 than the CO2 in the air above.”

          “The second surprise was the change in not only the size but even in the sign of the trendline connecting temperature and CO2 (red line in Figure 1). Compared to the CO2 level in the air, below about 17°C the seawater CO2 decreases with increasing temperature, at a rate of about -2 ppmv per °C.”

          Perhaps you could report the link here from which you derived this level of 140 times the level CO2 in seawater as opposed to air? Because this experiment above appears to contradict that claim, in fact it appears to show that entirely the reverse is true, and as always the oceans are a dynamic hydrostatic and electrochemical phenomenon and is vastly variable dependent upon many factors, not the least of which, of course, is our activities.


            Yes i see where you got the 140 times CO2 in seawater than air, however i see that the fuel released from the navy process produces a hydrocarbon fuel, hydrogen and carbon from CO2, much like natural gas or oil, so the process is to combine the chlorine from salt with the hydrogen and CO2 to produce the hydrocarbon fuel. The important element of that of course is that no subsurface onshore extraction is required, and one would presume that the natural CO2 carbon cycle of the oceans will simply reabsorb the CO2 and continue the natural oceanic recycling convection systems.

  8. Sea grasses and kelt store 35 more CO2 than tropical rainforest. So they are important CO2 storage. So perhaps protection of these is a good idea.

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