All consents in place to frack again in Lancashire, says Cuadrilla

pnr 190728 Ros Wills

Preparation for second phase of fracking at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road shale gas site, 28 July 2019. Photo: Ros Wills

Shale gas regulators have cleared the way for the second phase of fracking at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site, near Blackpool, the company said today.

The hydraulic fracture plan for the second well, known as PNR2, was approved by the Oil & Gas Authority (OGA) this morning.

The plan, which sets out how fracking will be controlled and monitored, was approved last month by the Environment Agency (EA).

Cuadrilla said it now had all the permits it needed to begin fracking PNR2. The first well, PNR1z, was partially fracked and tested in October-December 2018. That operation induced more than 50 small earth tremors, which stopped fracking prematurely five times.

Francis Egan, Cuadrilla’s chief executive, said:

“We are pleased to have received the Oil and Gas Authority’s approval of our hydraulic fracture plan for PNR2. All consents are now in place for hydraulic fracturing at Preston New Road, which we plan to resume in the near future.

“Our upcoming work programme is the latest step in demonstrating the huge commercial opportunity of UK shale, including the potential for natural gas from shale to act as a domestic feedstock for hydrogen production.”

People living near the Preston New Road site have challenged Cuadrilla’s interpretation of the local geology in the hydraulic fracture plan for PNR2. In a lawyer’s letter to the regulators, the Preston New Road Action Group said there were “serious and fundamental errors”.

DrillOrDrop understands the group is still in discussions with the EA and OGA.

A spokesperson for the campaign group, Frack Free Lancashire, said this afternoon:

“The news that Cuadrilla have secured final permissions to frack once again at Preston New Road is no shock, considering the hand-in-hand relationship that the oil and gas industry appear to enjoy with the Conservative government.

“Cuadrilla have a continuing record of failure that is undeniable. Their last attempt at hydraulic fracturing resulted in 57 earthquakes with only a minuscule 5% of one well managing to be fracked.

“Their most recent breach resulted in an investigation by the Environment Agency for a water quality monitoring failure, with a previous episode of cold-venting of climate-killing methane.

“The local community has always been second preference to this industry – health and safety has been repeatedly ignored in favour of commercial interests.

“We will continue to actively oppose and object to having this dirty industry foisted upon Lancashire communities.”

In a newsletter about the Preston New Road site, issued today, the EA said it was satisfied that Cuadrilla would “monitor and adjust fracturing to prevent fractures outside the permitted zone and to report compliance”.

The OGA said it needed to be satisfied that Cuadrilla had “controls in place to minimise the risk of seismic events and disturbance to people living and working nearby”.

The traffic light system of regulations requires fracking to stop if it causes an earth tremor of 0.5 or more on the local magnitude scale.

pnr 190723 Ros Wills

Preparations for fracking at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road shale gas site near Blackpool, 23 July 2019. Photo: Ros Wills

Other approvals

Extended well test

The OGA also said today it had approved a three-year extended well test at Preston New Road. This includes consent for one year of flaring gas.

Fracking set-up

In the newsletter, the EA and Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said they had carried out a joint inspection of the Preston New Road site to assess the set-up for fracking.

The HSE said there were “no issues requiring enforcement action”. It said it “provided verbal advice to the operator on minor issues”.

The EA said it was satisfied that Cuadrilla’s preparation and operational plans were “in line with the conditions set in the environmental permit”.

Permit changes

In July 2019, DrillOrDrop reported that the EA had approved variations to the environmental permit for the Preston New Road site. Link to EA decision The changes include permission to:

  • Use a higher viscosity gelled fracturing fluid, designed to carry more sand into fractures
  • Use open-topped tanks for debris from well maintenance and sand returned during well circulation activities
  • Frack on more than one occasion along a horizontal well
  • Change monitoring methods for air quality
  • Carry out periodic well workovers and intervention

Five days after the approval, Cuadrilla sought a new change to the permit to allow nitrogen lifting. This involves injecting large amounts of (non-combustible) nitrogen into a well to help bring liquids from the borehole to the surface.

The gas mixture that results from this process may not burn in the flare and the gases, including climate-changing methane, would have to be vented. Earlier this year, Cuadrilla breached a permit condition that prohibits venting in all but emergencies. The EA also said it was investigating a failure by the company to report groundwater monitoring results for some chemicals.

The EA is consulting on the latest application to change the environmental permit until Tuesday 13 August 2019.

  • DrillOrDrop reported on 3 August 2019 that Cuadrilla would be seeking more time to drill and frack at Preston New Road. The company is expected to submit an application to Lancashire County Council to vary a condition of its planning permission. More details here

14 replies »

  1. REALLY?





  2. And just how can this be allowed when legal actions against fracking for various reasons are ongoing?

    Plus an Environment Agency investigation into the release on numerous occasions in Autumn 2018 of massive amounts of probably toxic gaseous fracking byproducts totally contrary to regulations is still ongoing!

    Something stinks really badly on the Fylde and will probably get much worse! Why isn’t our Member of Parliament Mark Menzies speaking out from his ivory tower?

    • Legal actions?, if there were legal actions being carried out then there would be no need for policing these site! #stophamperingprogress

    • “the release on numerous occasions in Autumn 2018 of massive amounts of probably toxic gaseous fracking byproducts”! It must have killed thousands!

  3. My parents who live on the Fylde have just had their house insurance cancelled with no explanation given, has anyone else on the Fylde had the same problem?

        • Please prove me wrong Fifi. Because you are posting on Drill or Drop and therefore implying that Cuadrilla is the reason and there is no logical reason for insurance companies to cancel policies that are current. And there are many antis on this BB who live in the PNR area and none (to my knowledge) have ever posted that their insurance has been terminated. This would be a great story for Ruth but I don’t recall seeing it. I look forward to the list of harmed (or should that be Cuadrilla related insurance policies cancelled unilaterally…).

    • Nothing has changed regarding Cuadrilla, Fifi. Hardly a case of them just appearing.

      Maybe there is another reason? Why not ask the insurance company?

      • The broker who is local is refusing to give any explanation. I have asked this question on D or D because this has only just happened and coincides with Cuadrilla’s announcement to recommence fracking at PNR

        • Fifi

          I believe that the company needs to say why it has been cancelled. It is not so unusual, but your concerns re fracking would come under change in risk, as per attached link.

          I hope they find out why soon.

          I have had insurance refused, but only on renewal ( one claim ), and tens of other companies were happy to provide it at a cheaper rate.

          Can you update us as to how their quest for insurance progresses?

  4. It’s okay, Peter.

    As part of the MAJORITY not against fracking being tested in the UK, which is legally permissible, I gave my permission.

    That is democracy.

    Mind you, many things are still legally permissible even with a majority against.

  5. They have my permission.

    But lots of things get passed all the time without your sacred hand having to mediate proceedings… Welcome to democracy under Boris!

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