Cuadrilla seeks another rule change for fracking site

pnr 181102 Cuadrilla Resources

Gas flares at Cuadrilla’s fracking site at Preston New Road near Blackpool, 2 November 2018. Photo: Cuadrilla Resources

A consultation opened today into a new change to the environmental permit at Cuadrilla’s fracking site – just five days after the Environment Agency approved the previous variations.

The new request for the Preston New Road site is to include nitrogen lifting, an operation used to remove fracking and formation fluids that stop gas flowing freely from a well.

Cuadrilla described nitrogen lifting as “a safe and commonly practiced technique”.

It involves injecting large amounts of (non-combustible) nitrogen into a well. As a result, the gas mixture may not burn in the flare and the gases, including climate-changing methane, would be vented.

Currently, the permit allows gases to be vented only for safety reasons. Earlier this year, it emerged that Cuadrilla had breached this condition.

An estimated 2.7-6.8 tonnes of methane were sent unburned through the flare during nitrogen lifting in January 2019, the Environment Agency said.

Preston New Road Action Group, which opposes Cuadrilla’s fracking operation, commented at the time:

“Methane has been released into the air we breathe and will also be exacerbating our climate change emergency.

“Approved procedures have not been correctly followed and the permit has been breached. How can we be certain that other failures like this will not happen again in the future, with far more serious consequences?”

In its application, published today, Cuadrilla described nitrogen lifting as the best available technique for artificially lifting a well. It said an air quality modelling and screening assessment had concluded:

“no acceptable impacts are predicted at any nearby receptor”.

It assessed venting of gas as low risk.

Cuadrilla previously used propane to ignite the flare during nitrogen lifting. But in the latest revision of its waste management plan – now on version 10 – it said this did not work. It led to propane being vented, as well as methane, the company said.

In future, propane would not be used as a flare support fuel during nitrogen lifting. Cuadrilla said:

“At the earliest possible opportunity, as the returning gas compositions changes from being mostly nitrogen to including sufficient natural gas content to achieve combustion, our standard flaring procedures, including the use of support fuel will be activated.”

The consultation into the permit change continues until 13 August 2019.

Previous variations

The environmental permit for Preston New Road was first issued in January 2015. Since then, Cuadrilla has applied for, and been granted, at least three sets of changes.

The most recent variations, approved by the Environment Agency on 11 July 2019, allowed Cuadrilla to:

  • Hydraulically fracture more than once along a lateral well
  • Carry out periodic well workovers and well intervention
  • Use open-topped tanks where there is an insignificant risk of natural gas emissions
  • Stop using diffusion tubes and gauges to monitor for a range of air pollutants
  • Use methanol, gluteraldehyde and a higher viscosity gelled water in fracturing fluid.

Previous permit variations made changes to:

  • Seismic monitoring
  • Flaring
  • Ground and surface water monitoring
  • Air quality monitoring
  • Fracking fluid additives
  • Volume of hydraulic fracturing fluid
  • Multiple fracture stages per day

32 replies »

  1. Environment Agency, the Tory Establishment and their friends for some unknown reason bending over backwards to assist Ecocide and potential Genocide in Lancashire.

    It’s cheaper than shifting the fracking site or the population a safe distance away!

    Oh, there isn’t a safe distance when you live on a small, already overcrowded island like ours!

    Please refer to the List of the Harmed for more detailed information, over 22,000 victims of harm now identified in North America, a mature fracking destination.

    All this by the way is my opinion as a private individual local to PNR.

    • Peter – why do you keep quoting the list of the Harmed when it has no scientific validity. Are you going to apologise to all of those that you’ve scared with your nonsense arguments when fracking has gone ahead and been proven to cause non of the damage you keep claiming?

      • Judith, I’ve told you before that I find your comments on the subject of harm done by the fracking industry worldwide and more importantly close to my home any time soon, if not already from unmonitored releases of toxic gases and fluids,, patronisingt, disrespectful and biased.
        I can only deduce that you have a paymaster or an investment in the soon to be extinct fossil fuel industry.

        • Peter – I’ve told you several times that your comments are poorly informed and lack any scientific basis. When you back up your nonsense with scientific evidence then maybe one might take you seriously. However, in the meantime you can say goodbye as many times as you like. But one thing for sure is that I will always be here to call out the crap that you write.

      • Judith. I refer you to the 6th edition of the findings of Health Professionals of New York State, released on 6th June this year. These are not theories, tests, trials of anything other than actual facts of the effects of fracking on local populations, compiled by medical doctors and scientists using historic and empirical data sets. Or are you going to claim that scientific findings have no scientific validity?

        • Jules – I’ve read through that report and just don’t accept its findings. It starts by lying about the number of peer reviewed papers on which it is based. It’s written by political activists who have very little research background. It’s also fair to say that one could find 1000,s of papers that suggest coffee is bad for you and then 1000’s more that day it isn’t. The thinks is Jules that people like you don’t understand is that all natural events are clustered. So it’s easy to identify a cluster and then link it to another phenomena. What’s more difficult is to gain proof of your theory which essentially is studying a massive number of clusters and showing that they are more significant than what one would expect from a Poisson distribution. That is something that the document you site thoroughly fails to do. It also fails to identify any realistic mechanism to cause the effects that it is claims are due to fracking. Overall, the document is just cherry picking evidence. Try watching the documentary “the great climate swindle”. To those without a strong science background it gives very convincing “evidence” that climate change isn’t man made – those of us who have a good science background see the problems with their arguments – most don’t. You have it in your mind that fracking is bad and the only things that you pay attention to are reports that agree with your ill informed opinions.

          • Do you still maintain that I don’t know what I’m talking about? That you have an expertise which trumps the research of any mere affected resident? A simple apology will suffice Judith.

    • Are you the same Peter K Roberts, ex British Aerospace worker who Welcomes BAE on the Fylde Coast selling the Worlds most technologically advanced warplanes to the highest bidder… Like Saudi Arabia???

      Today you are talking about… Potential genocide in Lancashire???

      Didn’t you also state you drink water from single use plastic bottles nowadays as you don’t trust the local water???

      Are you friends with Ian R Crane and David Icke???

      Just asking???

      I am also local to the PNR site…

  2. No surprise. Following the last attempt to burn frack gas and propane mixed with nitrogen, the EA advised Cuadrilla do a risk assessment and come up with a better plan for nitrogen lifting the well.

    And that plan has turned up.

    However, it seems they have not taken the road assumed by Ian Crane who intimated that the gas used to lift the well was propane. Phew. Close call.;_ylt=AwrGHTZ7JC5dnN0AHGT23olQ;_ylu=X3oDMTBzcTEzcHZxBHNlYwNzcgRzbGsDdmlkBHZ0aWQDBGdwb3MDMjM-?p=ian+crane+cuadrilla&vid=98141625e4a98ed3f00e948888568b05&…&c=22&h=225&w=300&l=1056&sigr=11bavaega&sigt=1147g1821&sigi=12qtesg8p&age=1541407861&fr2=p%3As%2Cv%3Av&fr=yfp-hrtab&tt=b

  3. Judith. Do you live in Lancashire? If so, how far from the site? Have you ever visited PNR and spoken to local residents and other people there who have given up so much time to watch and record developments?

    • Muriel – I visit there frequently and talk to many local residents. I tend to find that those who have given up “so much time to watch and record developments” to be pretty clueless to say the least. There are actually quite a few people in your area that aren’t so gullible as the women in white etc.

      Muriel – do you have qualifications is science or have you just watched gaslands and think you’re another expert on hydraulic fracture stimulation?

      • Judith. Yes. And I’m a born and bred Lancastrian, lifelong resident. How about your qualifications? [Edited by moderator]
        I suggest that on your “frequent” visits to Lancashire, you might find it useful to call at PNR and stop for some discussions at Maple Farm or at the roadside camp.
        You’ll find there’s sound knowledge amassed among the huge numbers of people protesting about Cuadrilla’s activities. You’ll discover there’s relevant qualifications and experience in all aspects, including loads of common sense.
        Enjoy the polite hospitality. Have a cup of tea and a friendly chat.

        • Muriel, I came to the area very regularly because it’s where my grandmother lived all her life and where my father was from. I still have lots of friends from there so I do come back. I’ve checked out the Facebook pages of the people who hang out at Maple farm and it’s very difficult to get across how much is despise them – to say they are ignorant is an understatement of the year. What is some toothless wonder going to teach me about fracking and the environment – I’ve got a PhD and worked on both for many many years. Indeed what’s funny is that occasionally I read people citing work I’ve done as evidence against fracking when in fact it’s quite the opposite

  4. Are Cuadrilla using data from all their other successful wells they have drilled and fracked to keep making ongoing changes? Unfortunately no pro frackers have yet offered a list of other Cuadrilla sites for comparison. After all this time and no gas I presume many investors must be worried what technical experience this start up company actually has.

    • [edited by moderator]
      Cuadrillas employees have all the industry expertise they need to do their work, Schlumberger one of the biggest names in oil services experience needs no introduction and any more need for recognition, the standards they have to adhere to are to protect environment, reputation, health, safety and make money for investors, in which they do very well or they would be out of business! Fact!

  5. peter: did you just write ecocide and genocide?
    So far from the truth, you have entirely lost the plot, [edited by moderator] surely hope you do not become a politician the lack of credibility you exhume is evident, you will be building a wall soon with or without government approval.
    Cuadrilla have OGA and government approval and legally they are doing nothing wrong, they have raised finance they are not asking the local community for money, in-fact they have invested over £15million in to the local community, they are dedicated to minimising their operations legally and with integrity, the ian, eddie and tina festival the extended anti’s, extinction ridiculous and the nanas, Cuadrilla have been ridiculed, victimised, slagged off and had dog sh!t splattered over their gates but legally they have had credibility and the upper hand and never stooped so low to a slagging match. That Peter and Muriel is why i support Cuadrillas actions, [edited by moderator] Maybe you should both do your research and see how the western oil and gas capitals are doing, the Aberdeens, the Hague, Houston, Stavanger, Anchorage & Calgary! Huge Career Prospering and Happy!
    Maybe allow Lancashire to prosper too!, it maybe too late for your age but great prospects for you kids, grandkids etc…

    • Eli-Goth,

      Weird name that, I’m deducing that you don’t want your true identity and location exposed for some reason,:

      Ecocide is the extermination of the local environment when preplanned actions are known to carry this risk.

      Genocide is similar but regarding humans.


  6. So you’re unable to back up your claims or answer a direct question Peter, seems about par for the course with antis.

  7. Maybe Cuadrilla is not confident about a reasonable commercial flow rate that they need a nitrogen lift which should be good news to the anti-frackers. Not sure why they keep whinging about good news to their agenda.

    • TW – nitrogen lift is used on very regularly on wells that prove to be make lots of money. But I take your point – antis whinge about anything they don’t understand – which is quite a lot really

      • Anyway, as I was saying,, fracking is bad for nearby residents health and the long term wellbeing of the local environment, water sorces and wildlife.

        You pro-fracking lot don’t agree because it’s your job not to agree with local anti-fracking activists.

        Perhaps anyone who hasn’t fully explored the issue would like to refer to the following 2018 report prepared by the Clean Air Task Force from Boston, USA and Earthworks from Washington, USA.

        Country Living DIRTY AIR.
        Oil & Gas Pollution In Rural America.
        July, 2018.

        Covering 19 pages with 6 Case Studies it contains up to date information on the hazards that allowing the fracking industry access to our beautiful countryside and productive farmland will bring in. Along with many links that the open-minded should find disturbing in the extreme. The report in it’s entirety contradicts the claim by the pro-fracking propaganda machine that no harm’ has ever been attributed to the fracking industry!

        Once the damage is done it may never be undone.

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