Regulation

Regulator approves frack plan for second Lancashire shale gas well

pnr 190726 Maxine Gill2

Cuadrilla’s shale gas site at Preston New Road preparing for fracking, 26 July 2019. Photo: Maxine Gill

The Environment Agency (EA) confirmed today that it had approved Cuadrilla’s hydraulic fracturing plan for the second shale gas well at its Preston New Road site near Blackpool.

The plan is intended to set out measures to ensure that fractures stay within an agreed area, well integrity is maintained and groundwater protected. It must also be approved by the Oil & Gas Authority before fracking can begin on the PNR-2 well.

Cuadrilla told the BBC it intends to start fracking again at the site by the end of August.

In a formal statement published today, the EA said it was satisfied with the company’s proposals for PNR-2 on microseismic monitoring, mitigation and reporting.

The EA said:

“We consider that the proposals for microseismic monitoring are proportionate to the planned operations and adequate measures are in place for the protection of groundwater.

“We have checked that the operator will have the appropriate monitoring equipment in place and the procedures for installing and checking their accuracy. We will undertake an onsite audit of the monitoring array once installed to confirm this.”

Cuadrilla has said it will use a modified fracking fluid on PNR-2. The EA said an assessment of different fracture fluids showed there was a “very low risk” of fractures extending beyond the agreed area. It said:

“The operator commits to adjusting or stopping the pumping of fracturing fluid if monitoring data indicates possible fracture growth approaching the permitted boundary.

“We will also be notified of any significant adjustments in the injection programme. If fractures breach the permit boundary, Cuadrilla will report immediately to EA and provide a mitigation plan to prevent future occurrences.”

According to the statement, Cuadrilla will inform the Environment Agency without delay if there are:

  • Any issues of well integrity,
  • Any indication of fracture growth outside the permitted boundary
  • If pumping is changed due to possible fracture growth approaching the permit boundary
  • If there are significant seismic events which trigger the Traffic Light System

Audits and inspections would take place before, during and after fracking to verify data and decision-making, the EA said.

Cuadrilla has also agreed to report on the location accuracy, installation and testing of the microseismic monitoring array.

Fracking on the first well, PNR-1z, took place from October-December 2018.

That operation caused more than 50 small earth tremors. Cuadrilla said it had to stop pumping prematurely five times because the operation exceeded the threshold for induced seismicity in the traffic light system regulations. The company said the well was not fully fracked or tested.

14 replies »

  1. We are now in the hands of the appointed Gold Standard Monitors and Mother Nature.

    My family have always said that unfortunately only a reasonably large disaster, probably an earthquake swarm that can actually cause damage above ground or preferably a change of government away from the heartless money and power obsessed Tories will stop the fracking industry in the UK.

    Logic based on the recent and ongoing harm being done to Communities in existing fracking zones thousands of miles away was never going to be enough.

    • You do realise it was the Labour Party who issued the Shale exploratory drilling licences in the first place???

      I initially thought Jeremy Corbyn’s visit to the PNR site was just to check progress on what the Labour Party started…

      Corbyn has proved not to be a politician of principle, decades an EU sceptic then an overnight change to Remain???

      Corbyn’s principles are just one big plastic facade, just like the front of his house…

      • The Labour Party may have issued the first shale exploratory licences, but that was at least a decade ago. Far more information has since come to light about the dangers of fracking and the fact that we must now change our ways and develop renewable sources of energy and energy conservation if every living thing, not just man, is to have any chance at all of surviving the climate emergency that is already with us.
        The Labour Party’s green policies are the way forward and they are intelligent and big enough to admit a change of policy. The Tory party, on the other hand, are so indebted to and wedded to the fossil fuel companies that, although they may pay lip service to declaring a Climate Emergency, they have no intention of letting that get in the way of appeasing their industry friends.

  2. Wondering if and when Cuadrilla will revisit well one or were the problems they encountered/caused caused abandonment? Like at Preese Hall?

    My response to Sir James ‘…. it’s all about the Climate, Stupid’ Bevan has already been sent by the way.

    • Peter – but you still haven’t come up with a coherent argument as to how stopping fracking in the UK will reduce the amount of GHG emissions. You’re posts seem a total waste of time until you provide such an argument. Just saying climate change doesn’t win arguments [Comment edited by moderator].

      • Maybe this is the intention Judith!
        Lots of things cause climate change, but peters arguments all seem to revolve around fracking?!? [Edited by moderator]

  3. No mention yet by the antis, about fracking granite for geothermal in Cornwall. No traffic light system for that then? That’s what I fail to understand about the anti-frackers. No consistency.

    • Nick, the antis probably don’t even realise that their idiotic actions could put at risk many of the low carbon solutions that we’ve been working on for many years. If one applies the same rules across the energy sector we will have no geothermal, little energy storage, no CCS and even hydroelectric projects would be at risk.

  4. Judith, Indeed. Of course, to be consistent with the current TLS, the London Underground network should be subject to the traffic light system & thus shut down. Especially the Jubilee Line, which shakes Portcullis House every few minutes. As I pointed out, in real time, to the All Party Committee in that building whilst I was presenting (invited) evidence to them.

  5. Great news. I hope that the new more viscous fluid will allow full fracking in what appears to be a great resource. Hopefully this daft seismic limit will be upped, to be in line with other industries and countries, to allow these insignificant and virtually undetectable events to be ignored.

    Great to see proper scientists posting rather than the ill informed anti lobby, who do not seem to have a clue what is happening. Odd that after 10s of millions of frack jobs in the US and elsewhere, that no damage or water pollution has ever taken place. (There have been a couple of presumably seismically stressed areas where fracking did cause significant tremors, but fracking was banned in these areas)

  6. Predictable. The only hope our leftie lambs have anymore is Corbyn. He is a basket case politician that gave a minority far too loud a voice (albeit mainly hidden behind fake profile photos on social media). His time is nearly up.
    Unfortunately the Labour Party is now infiltrated by a bunch [[edited by moderator] who appear to enjoy contradicting themselves every 5 seconds. It would seem likely we’ll get another poor quality Labour leader who’ll spout nonsense to get the votes at the bottom of the barrel.
    GE is looming, I foresee a BP and Conservative partnership which I don’t want but the left will force it.

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