Cuadrilla has confirmed it has not solved an ongoing mechanical problem with part of the fracked well at its shale gas site near Blackpool.
The company told DrillOrDrop other options would be tried before the well was fracked again.
But local opponents of the Cuadrilla’s operations at Preston new Road said the well was no longer fit for purpose and they had little confidence in the company’s technical ability.
The problem first arose in November 2018 while the well, known as PNR1z, was being fracked.
Cuadrilla used movable sleeves on the horizontal section of the well to reveal ports through which fracking fluid is pumped into the surrounding shale rock.
Two of the sleeves became stuck in the open position. Daily site records, released earlier this year, showed that Cuadrilla had tried to close the ports with cement.
As Cuadrilla prepares to frack the second well at the site, it reportedly told the Preston New Road community liaison group last week that a more recent attempt to seal the sleeves had not worked.
Rowland Wright, external affairs director at Cuadrilla, told us today that two sleeves remained open along the horizontal section of the PNR-1z well following the fracturing operation in 2018.
He said Cuadrilla attempted to seal the sleeve ports with cement in Spring 2019, but this was not successful.
“Alternative solutions to seal these sleeves are available, and will be implemented ahead of future fracturing of PNR-1z.”
Mr Wright said the sleeves were in section of the well which is “normally open and free to flow gas”. It did not, in any way, impact the integrity of the well, he said.
Cuadrilla’s hydraulic fracturing plan for the second well, PNR2, also proposes to use sleeves. The company said that with the regulators’ approval of the plan, it had all the consents it needed to frack PNR2.
News of the continuing sleeve problems at PNR1z prompted opponents of Cuadrilla’s operations to question the approval of the PNR2 frack.
A member of the Preston New Road Action Group said today:
“Cuadrilla still have a 100% failure rate with their wells. With two sleeves in the well stuck open and failed attempts to cement them closed it seems further fracking of PNR1z is out of the question.
“This highly-monitored, highly-regulated well is no longer fit for purpose. Having got problems with their first fracked well at PNR they now want to frack well 2.
“Let’s hope that they don’t do something that will have a more detrimental effect on people or the environment.”
Last year’s frack of PNR1z induced more than 50 small earth tremors, two of which were felt locally. The company said it stopped fracking prematurely five times to comply with the traffic light system regulations.
Analysis of the daily logs revealed that only a third of the planned stages of the well had a main frack. Just two stages (5%) were fully fracked. The average volume of fluid in the 17 main fracks was 218m3, when the maximum permitted per frack was 756m3. On only two dates did the company use the expected 50 tonne weight of proppant per stage.
In November 2018, the logs also reported equipment was left in the well. This was pushed to the end of the borehole.
Miranda Cox, of Frack Free Lancashire, said:
“Residents have long suspected that Cuadrilla were experiencing some issues with the well. We have little confidence in Cuadrilla’s technical abilities, and this does nothing to allay residents’ very real concerns about future operations.
“It is also troubling that the Environment Agency and the Oil & Gas Authority have only last week granted final permissions to frack well 2, despite Cuadrilla’s inability to successfully frack and seal this first well.”
- The CLG meeting was also told that Cuadrilla needed another 12 months’ time to complete the drilling and fracking operation at Preston New Road. The next day, the company told us it would be seeking an extension of 18 months.