“Cuadrilla should not be allowed to frack again after 2.9ML tremor”, say campaigners

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Campaigners outside Cuadrilla’s shale gas site at Preston New Road near Blackpool, 26 August 2019. Photo: Used with the owner’s consent

Opponents of fracking in Lancashire are calling for a permanent ban on fracking following this morning’s 2.9ML earth tremor caused by Cuadrilla’s shale gas site.

The Oil & Gas Authority ordered a suspension of hydraulic fracturing at Preston New Road near Blackpool within hours of the tremor which was felt across the Fylde region. DrillOrDrop report

About 400 campaigners aged between six and 80 gathered outside the site this afternoon. Some were people who had never previously opposed fracking.


Campaigners outside Cuadrilla’s shale gas site at Preston New Road near Blackpool, 26 August 2019. Photo: Used with the owner’s consent

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Campaigners outside Cuadrilla’s shale gas site at Preston New Road near Blackpool, 26 August 2019. Photo: Used with the owner’s consent

A spokesperson for Frack Free Lancashire told DrillOrDrop:

“We are now calling for a fracking ban to be passed by the UK government.

“Following this morning’s 2.9ML earthquake that was fracking-induced, dozens of reports of structural damage have been received from residents across Blackpool and the Fylde.

“Considering this is almost a deja vu of the 2011 earthquakes, it is most worrying. Lessons have not been learnt by either the government or industry. Our geology is wholly unsuitable for fracking.

“With the Oil and Gas Authority suspending fracking at Preston New Road, they now need to go further and implement a ban.

“It is intolerable to think that Cuadrilla will be able to start fracking again in the future and we are currently considering all legal options.”

A spokesperson for the Preston New Road Action Group said:

“It is good news that the OGA have decided to suspend fracking. We trust that a full and proper investigation of what has gone on here will take place.

“We find it hard to imagine that some damage to the well has not been caused after this morning’s quake.

“Fracking should not be allowed to resume again if there is further risk of damage to our environment and property.”

Earlier today, Cuadrilla’s chief executive, Francis Egan said he “sincerely hoped” fracking would not be halted by the 2.9ML tremor. He said the 2.9ML tremor was within the limits of seismic activity that could be induced by fracking at Preston New Road.

He also said the company now measured surface ground motion vibration which allowed it to put any seismic activity into context.

But a resident living close to the site told DrillOrDrop:

“It is easy for Francis Egan to be so dismissive of what is going on here when he lives a distance away. Our daily lives are being impacted by what takes place at Cuadrilla’s site.

“There is now a constant worry of when the next quake will happen, we have no warning, just an unexpected loud bang and vibration.

“We know that local residents have experienced damage to their property but we are also concerned about what damage is being caused below the ground. It is just not acceptable to force this industry on a community.

“A tremor of 2.9 ml is very close to the maximum limit of 3.1 ml that Cuadrilla have previously said would be very unlikely.”

The region’s Green Party MEP, Gina Dowding, also urged ministers to reject fracking:

“How long before government listens to scientists on the climate emergency, takes heed of tremors, shows some respect to the concerns of the local community & bans fracking completely?”

59 replies »

  1. Quite rightly the OGA have suspended operations at PNR to investigate and determine if the risk is manageable. Whilst the opponents to shale gas may be jumping for joy it is worth noting seismic activity is not unique to shale gas exploration.

    People should be aware that the Woodsmith Potash mine being constructed under the North York Moors National Park will also cause seismic events. Tunnelling, construction and excavation work all cause human induced seismic events.

    Wind turbine construction also causes seismic events. That’s the nature of construction.

    If the opponents to shale gas were genuinely concerned they would be protesting at every building site, hydro dam, geothermal programme, lorry route and train track in the country.

    When seismic monitors were used at the side of a train track we had a Local Magnitude 3 event, eight times a day, every time the York to Scarborough train passed by…..

      • Because they don’t have sensitive monitors next to them. There are an estimated 900000 recorded at this level every year

        • The BGS monitors pick up anything above 2 Ml.

          According to the BGS there have been 3 quakes > 3 ML in the entire UK in the past 12 months

          2018-09-15, 18:39:09.0, 54.568, -1.639, 23.7, 3.1, 46, 0.3, , NEWTON AYCLIFFE,DURHAM
          2019-02-27, 03:42:21.3, 51.164, -0.246, 2.3, 3.1, 12, 0.1, 5 , NEWDIGATE,SURREY
          2019-08-05, 19:55:02.3, 61.291, 4.261, 23.8, 3.0, 8, 0.2, , NORWEGIAN SEA

          • Refraction I know its not your field but at what level is the switch from micro siesmic to siesmic?

            I see the big C still referring to the most recent larger events as micro siesmic. Is that just a misuse of the term in an attempt to downplay the impact?

            • According to Cuadrilla before they started popping the big ones they themselves regarded events below 2Ml as microseismic and anything above that as earthquakes. Oddly they are now describing an event 8 times greater in magnitude than a 2Ml as microseismic,

              Desperate PR I think.

    • Kevin haughton What distance away from the train track were these events reported to have been heard and felt by residents? People as far away as Preston have reported today’s quake.

    • I am totally against fracking the damage they are doing and seem to get away with it it will come back to bite them i hope supporters like me take them to court and ban fracking alltogether i will not be buying any gas from them ever

      • Carol – what damage have they done? Zero. It was a small tremor with a ground motion that is far less than many other industries create daily.

          • Refraction I am amazed at the profrack teams social media influencing skills. I saw a Momentum post regarding an earlier induced siesmic event where Team Profrack staged a pile on in an attempt to educate the good people. The results were comical, they started of belligerent my betraying posters, soon descended to mocking them for not having experience in Geology or O&G and then basically ended up just being down right insulting. Cc kearly they have received CPD in “How to win over the sceptical”! Very much like occurs on here

  2. Since when did a trains seismic impact on CO2, Methane emissions, damage housing, threaten well-integrity, increase road traffic, use millions of gallons of water etc. Seismic activity is just the tip of the iceburg with fracking, but it’s indicative of the incompetence of the UK industry, which even failed to heed the warnings of a US fracking expert. Anyone trying to defend Cuadrilla after they with-held info from DECC for 6 months, in 2011, is either being paid by them or a complete imbecile, or more likely both.

  3. Vibration at the surface is not the same as earthquakes/seismic events from deep underground. A train passing isn’t causing faults to slide/shift deep underground. Add to that the unknown, increased risk of further seismic events in both greater frequency and magnitude, as has occurred, in the US and Canada and it soon becomes evident that this is a problem. Not to mention the industry and government has been warned by U.K. experts not to frack within 850 metres of a fault or in former mining areas, which must limit the industry’s potential considerably – unless of course they ignore the warnings, which seems their usual modus operandi. And call me a sceptic but if the industry was capable of “managing” these events surely they would have and thus avoided having work suspended? The experts in the US and Canada openly admit they do not fully understand fracking related seismicity and are still learning, so one can reasonably assume the industry in the U.K. doesn’t have all the answers either. But one thing is for sure, residents will not accept their homes shaking, windows rattling, books falling from shelves and so on. The fracking industry operates on a large scale and close to where people live, especially so in a small, densely populated country like the U.K. I am not aware of complaints about homes shaking as a result of the potash mine, The potash mine, that you mention, is one very large construction site but is largely taking place under sparsely occupied moorland. I am not advocating development of the potash mine one way or the other, merely challenging your comparison. I am also unaware of complaints about wind turbines causing earthquakes like the widespread earthquake problems that fracking has caused in the US and Canada. Or as a result of wind turbines children are having to be taught earthquake drills at school as they are now in Oklahoma due to fracking. Opponents of fracking have no need to jump up and down as you claim because this industry is now demonstrating all by itself the numerous, negative impacts it causes and brings with it. Hopefully reality is slowly dawning.

    • Kat T. I agree with you. A potash mine may not be welcomed but it’s a one off, away from most of the population. Fracking, if it was to be carried out on a commercial,scale, requires hundreds of pads and many thousands of wells, in places with far higher population density than the US. It was estimated by a Cardiff Business School study that over 6000 wells would be needed to,provide half the gas we import with medium gas yield. That would equate to drilling one well per day for the next 16 years. Each of those would then be fracked numerous times and any of those fracks would possibly have the potential to cause an earthquake as Cuadrilla’s have. All this risk to the environment and stress for communities for a fossil fuel which it has been admitted will be sold on the open market to the highest bidder by companies with accounts in the Cayman Islands.

      • You really should check some facts before you post, Pauline. Your geography regarding Sirius Minerals is nonsense, and your comment about it not being welcomed is also nonsense. Added to which, this is a product that will be largely exported to increase agricultural yields in areas of the world that are in desperate need-including Brazil. Perhaps you would prefer the farmers to burn more of the Amazon to get more farming land, rather than increase their yields from existing land? Never mind, Mr. Macron will reforest that huge area of land called France to compensate-if he can get French farmers to agree!

        • Having just reread my post, I realise it gives the impression that the potash mine referred to is in the US. That was not my intention. I’m quite aware it’s not. I am aware that there was a good deal of opposition to it though, hence my comment on it not being welcomed. My reference to the US was to point out the fact that our small, densely populated country with highly faulted geology is completely different to the US and totally incompatible with commercial scale fracking. Having been at the roadside at PNR yesterday, together with the police’s estimate of 400 other people, mostly locals who had experienced their homes shaking, I know I’m not alone in believing fracking should be banned.

          • Sorry Pauline, I was referring to UK geography, not US. You still were incorrect. Opposition? Certainly much less than “a good deal”, and far outweighed by those who supported it. Many of those who supported were locals who were to gain financially, but more significantly, wanted all year round employment for their children in an area where winter saw the summer jobs disappear so their children decided their futures lay elsewhere.

            I have followed both Sirius and PNR. Key difference is that due to the nature of the developments, Sirius were able to demonstrate the financial benefits even during the Planning Process, Cuadrilla can not. You may find that most projects take on a different hue when benefits can be demonstrated to locals. Suddenly undecided become decided and supportive. May or may not be the case regarding fracking in UK, but ignore it at your peril. Which might have something to do with the various bits of attempted UK fracking economic speculation by the antis but reality is usually sought.

            Yes, of course the UK would need to apply different technology and practice to USA-but so do they in different situations within USA. That’s why UK has applied a testing process rather than just invite in a group of US operators and said “fill your boots”.

            I’m not sure 400 people, or the 200 that the TV channels suggested, will change policy. Time will tell. But you should be happier now, having been able to see a further apology from Mr. Egan.

            • Martin. Regarding any apology which Francis Egan may or may not have made, I gave up believing in the sincerity of anything that gentleman said long ago.

  4. What a fiasco – from the start in 2011, right through to what is hopefully now the finish in 2019.

    (it’s hard to see how so many Fylde homeowners are going to keep standing back and allowing this to go on much longer?
    ….with an Englishmans home being his castle and all that)

  5. Were this to be the Stop moment of fracking………I do not expect it to be, but I sense the swell in concern, understandably, since this was “ felt”.
    Has everyone who have invested their lives into this ( on both sides) got a next stage in the debate planned?
    I hope that all those on the side who accept that CC is a real and present danger ( from both sides of the fracking debate) might come together in pushing the word for action on CC.
    [Edited by moderator]

    • Mr Hobson you are a contrary fellow, one minute you are badmouthing anti frackers and in fact anyone who disagrees with the practice on other social media outlets and the next you are attempting to offer an olive branch saying we must all come together over CC.

      Fracking offers nothing in combating climate change and it can be argued it prolongs the use of fossil fuels therefore adds to cc overall.

      In terms of renewables we clearly have quite a way to go yet and should build more wind farms (on and off shore) particularly high wind areas such as North Wales and in particular around Denbyshire. Coupled with other renewables , grid storage, smart grids etc as well as new nuclear the fossil fuel age will be consigned to history like the stone and the bronze age.

      • Except that when it comes to many of the alternatives you suggest, and they are examined in detail, there are flaws within not just the detail, but much of the overall concept.

        Just to take the major one you propose-nuclear. Well, that is really looking strong for the UK!! Other countries banning that, but UK should ban fracking and fund something other countries find unsafe and overly expensive. Thought that was one of the antis arguments that because others had banned fracking, so should the UK? Nuclear has to go a long way in UK to get to new nuclear. We have to deal with the replacement nuclear first.

        800 billion boe recoverable from shale around the world. 94% yet to be produced in USA alone. So, whatever UK does regarding fracking, will make no difference. Carol will buy no gas from Cuadrilla, but probably just end up with it from USA. Then, when Carol wants service from the NHS she may find they are a little short of money as unlike the USA where since 2008 over half of the business investment has been in and around the shale industry, creating over 2 million jobs, and a heck of a lot of taxation, UK business investment has decided to migrate.

        • Bwahahahaha “there are flaws within not just the detail, but much of the overall concept”!!!!!! Martian you have just summed up fracking to a tee there my friend 🤣😂🤣🤣🤣🤪😌😜🤪

          • Except others will read my text and see it was quite clearly directed in a certain direction, Pavlova! No predictive text nonsense, just clarity that English can provide, and no need for symbols of “I haven’t anything to contribute, but I still exist”. And then confirmed by avoiding the points raised.

            Well done to you. That must be the correct way to win over the skeptical!

            Another anti who has difficulty practising what they preach.

              • [Edited by moderator]

                Part 2 of the shale revolution (shale’s transformation of the US economy) quite interesting today. Looking forward to part 3 tomorrow. Perhaps, they will change all the facts and conclude just a Ponzi scheme!

                Interesting that in the Permian there are around 4000 wells drilled, capped and awaiting fracking. Wasn’t aware they have such a process where different teams do different specialist tasks and then a site can be left some while before the next stage is conducted. Wouldn’t work for the UK. The antis are not a very patient bunch. There-not really connected but I thought I should add a bit more fact and reality. Someone has to.

      • Crembule. With reference to your comment that the fossil fuel age will be consigned to history like the Stone and the Bronze Age. There’s a very appropriate saying, “The Stone Age didn’t end because we ran out of stone.” We just found a better way. Likewise, we don’t have to squeeze every last drop of fossil fuel from our rapidly depleted planet.

        • You are correct Pauline, but until we develop acceptable and economic alternatives we will continue to use. Just ask some of your local friends, still utilising diesel for their vehicles.

          Think you will find some would like millions of tonnes of granite (stone) blasted (with associated seismic implications) from Cornwall to build a lagoon in Swansea-even though the locals have said no.

          Looks a bit like the antis would like to return to the Stone Age, but just when it suits their purpose.

  6. Amazing NIMBY attitude to this. You all use energy and never seem to show much concern of kids dying mining cobalt in the Congo to provide the raw materials for your renewables. The tremor today caused no damage. We use energy and buy material possessions that have much more impact and on peoples lives that a ground motion equivalent to a bus going past your house.

  7. Perhaps this latest abject failure by Cuadrilla to frack safely will suggest to the government that it’s high time (or even way after the appropriate time) to put genuine political will and funding into renewables and battery technology in the same way they have for fracking. Hell hath no fury like a Tory voter’s house value dropping in line with A.J. Lucas’ share price.

  8. Perhaps it is time for commerce to provide the funding for renewables, Mike. You know-just like fracking.

    I wonder why commerce is so reluctant? (Well, no, I do not as there are obviously commercial problems with many renewable schemes and their advocates therefore have to resort to “government funding” ie. the tax payer having their money spent for them without their approval.)

    I did watch some of the interviews outside PNR over the holiday, in between the cricket. Interesting few comments from a Councillor dressed as Indiana Jones, telling the reporter that tidal was the answer and people should do away with fossil fuels. Could just make out what he was saying over the noise of the passing traffic! Strange that there was no discussion about the seismic activity in Cornwall that the construction of the Swansea Lagoon would create or whether local democracy would be allowed to flourish. Neither was it discussed as to why such a great scheme could not attract private funding.

    In answer to your question Charles, I suspect the next stage in this saga will be after the next General Election. So, I expect the review to be drawn out through September and October. Only IMHO of course.

    Meanwhile, a 3 part series of articles started yesterday in the Times around fracking in USA. Quite interesting how the numerous facts detailed are quite different to most of the anti posts regarding USA fracking. Those who regularly post about that part of the subject will simply state they have not seen the data, therefore it doesn’t exist, but today and tomorrow should see part 2 and part 3, so I’m off to the newsagent to acquire part 2.

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