“If you support fracking, you’re complicit in earthquakes” – Lancs businessman; Cuadrilla says “sorry for any concern”

pnr 190831 Refracktion 7

Businessman Mark Mills speaking outside Cuadrilla’s fracking site at Preston New Road near Blackpool. Photo: Refracktion

A rally outside Cuadrilla’s shale gas site this afternoon called for a stop on fracking in Lancashire following the record-breaking bank holiday earth tremor.

The gathering at Preston New Road, near Blackpool, coincided with a statement from the company, which apologised for the 2.9ML tremor and promised to pay for damage caused. Cuadrilla also said fracking would not restart at the site until “the risk of a repeat occurrence has been properly mitigated”.

Between 300 and 400 people reportedly joined the rally in protest at the 124 tremors induced by fracking in 14 days this month.

Businessman Mark Mills, who lives on Preston New Road, said fracking had to stop. He urged people to ask their MPs and councillors:

“If you support fracking or your party does, then you’re complicit in earthquakes, which is against what the people of Lancashire want.

“They need to hear our voice that we do not want to have any further fracking. We do not want earthquakes.”

Mr Mills said Cuadrilla had shown it was unable to frack safely since 2011, when stimulation of the Preese Hall well induced a tremor measuring 2.3ML and changed the shape of the well casing. The first phase of fracking at Preston New Road, in October-December 2018, also caused earth tremors.

Mr Mills said of the 2.9ML earth tremor:

“This time we were lucky. We were lucky in that only buildings were damaged. In the event of a major earthquake people could be put in harm’s way. It cannot continue.”

Within hours of the tremor on 26 August 2019, the industry regulator suspended fracking at Preston New Road. It later said the investigation into the cause of the tremors was “open-ended”.

Mr Mills said residents needed a total ban, not just a suspension:

“We’re going to keep up the pressure. Any way you can help, please do. Anything we can do to get it banned, get rid of the earthquakes and not suffer pollution please help.”

The Blackpool South MP, Labour’s Gordon Marsden, joined the rally. He tweeted afterwards:

“Just been down #PNR with @UKLabour members to give my continued opposition to #fracking. I have written to Tory Govt demanding full independent inquiry into earth tremors and called for a complete ban on #fracking.”

Chris Webb, Labour’s prospective election candidate in Blackpool North, who was also there, tweeted:

“No ifs, no buts, as your MP I will vote to ban fracking.”

“We will repair any damage caused by seismic events”

This afternoon, Cuadrilla issued an update on activity at Preston New Road since the 2.9ML tremor.

The company said the event lasted for 2-3 seconds and was felt by many people. The ground motion was 5-8mm/second, it said, compared with 6-15mm/second typically allowed in the construction industry.

The statement said:

“We are sorry for any concern this has caused. We are in the process of visiting local people who have raised concerns about minor damage to their property and will repair any damage that is assessed to have been caused by the seismic events.”

The company has previously said any micro seismic evens felt by fracking would not be felt or cause damage.

It added that fracking remained suspended at the site and there was no date when it would restart:

“our technical team continues to work with the regulator to address a number of questions raised following the recent seismic events.

“We don’t have a date for operations to restart but it won’t be until both the regulator and ourselves are confident that the technical questions have been satisfactorily answered and the risk of a repeat occurrence has been properly mitigated.

“We continue to monitor the wells each and every day and there is no change to well integrity.”

Cuadrilla repeated its reason that it was fracking for shale gas to establish “a domestic energy supply”

“To reach net zero by 2050 the Committee on Climate Change is clear that the UK will need about 70 per cent of the natural gas that we are using today, in conjunction with carbon capture and storage for electricity and as a feedstock for the manufacture of hydrogen.

“Natural gas is recognised by the experts to be an important part of the solution. We intend to be a part of that solution in providing lower emission UK shale gas to replace higher emission imported gas whilst also generating local jobs and economic benefit.”

  • Lawyers wrote on behalf of Lancashire residents to Lancashire County Council yesterday seeking answers to questions about emergency planning over the Preston New Road site. DrillOrDrop report

10 replies »

  1. Well well? At last we see a “real” apology from Cuadrilla and an admission of culpability and a commitment to repair the damage to private property caused by Cuadrillas fracking activities.

    But notice that Cuadrilla are only sorry for the “concern” caused not the damage or the implications of a deep earthquake event relative to substructure integrity, which Cuadrilla are now attempting to repeat that it is “minor” which an interesting play on words that isn’t it?

    Minor relative to what?

    A bag of flour dropping on the floor?

    A train, or a tram hitting the wall?

    Or a subsurface earthquake centred 2.0 km below the surface due to fracking operations?

    What construction industry carries out their operations 2.0 km below the surface?

    Interesting isn’t it?

    I see that Cuadrilla are also attempting to repeat that it was only the surface event and not the 2.9ML TLS Richter scale event.

    The implications of that are quite far reaching aren’t they?

    [Typo corrected at poster’s request]

  2. Is it a real apology? I’m not so sure, not when they justify it with comparison to the construction industry and then add the bit in about climate change. They are still trying to downplay this event and promote fracking as part of the apology! If ever there was a time for a straightforward genuine apology this was it. Yes, they have now admitted it was widely felt and offered to pay for damage but it has taken a considerable amount of time in the scheme of things and just prior to this 2.9 tremor they were claiming earlier tremors were nothing more than dropping a bag of shopping. The approach to downplay impacts, infer people were exaggerating and damage did not occur at such levels has understandably angered the community.
    The recent reports about a lack of transparency, claims of cherry picking experts and repeated seismic events has not only damaged property but damaged what little support Cuadrilla had. Irrespective of what they find the cause of this 2.9 event to be, I doubt they will ever get the Lancashire communities to accept fracking now. This event was larger than at Preese Hall and people were assured that this would not happen. Cuadrilla originally stated they could frack the first well at PNR within the TLS but failed. They stated this time they would not exceed 1.5 (the 3.1 I understand was considered to be highly unlikely) so none of this instils confidence. We have also learned from Professor Peter Styles that Cuadrilla stating they were not fracking at the time these seismic events occurred is irrelevant and some consider this was being used to try and distance the fracking itself from the later seismicity. Not only that but Cuadrilla fail to mention that U.K. shale has higher emissions than European gas imported by pipeline, so shale is not the best gas option either, in terms of emissions.

    With political support dwindling and public opposition in the NERC study at 56%, together with the possibility of only five years worth of gas being available and after this debacle the future of fracking has never looked worse.

  3. What an utter rubbish apology! Somethings wrong here that they hope to justify their actions comparing it to the construction industry. I can’t for one moment imagine any construction industry work causing such widespread Earth tremors! I’d like them to cite some examples of this.

  4. My step son works in the insurance industry, mitigating and fraud detection. It will be interesting to hear what damage is claimed for, as this will give us all a clearer understanding of what actual damage was caused. At this point in time I hear lots of people claiming they had damage, ( easy to do on SM. Without the risk of a custodial sentence if proved wrong) not so easy to do if the long arm of the law ( and insurance companies will want to prosecute shop lifters as a warning to other shop lifters, as it were) is there as a back stop.
    Let’s see the actual damage. This will be interesting, as a 2.9 M does not usually create any significant damage……perhaps an induced 2.9 is more damaging than a natural 2.9? This is after all an experimental rather than a production well I understand.

  5. Good morning ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, it is only the third Sunday since fracking was reintroduced by Cuadrilla at Preston New Road, and now it would appear to be the last Sunday in which fracking operations will take place anywhere in the UK.

    I found this from Dr Hocking very interesting, since the implications are that many of the oft repeated claims of the fracking fraternity are entirely wrong and we have not been told the truth, yet again.

    “But a different cause has been suggested by Dr Hocking, who has written scientific papers and worked with Haliburton on hydraulic fracturing innovative field trials and co-owns related patents.

    He said there was evidence that Cuadrilla’s hydraulic fracturing operations at Preston New Road had opened near-horizontal, highly sensitive, slicken-sided bedding planes. These are smooth, highly polished surfaces, often with parallel grooves. They form at fault planes when rocks on either side slide past each other.

    Dr Hocking said:

    “Rather than hydraulic fracture the shale formation, Cuadrilla have opened near horizontal bedding planes creating a heightened risk of induced seismicity, as the frack fluids have migrated about 750m updip on these hyper-stress sensitive slicken-sided bedding planes”.

    He said the presence of these slicken-sided bedding planes would limit the vertical growth of hydraulic fractures, raising the bottom hole pressure and allowing frack fluids to migrate significant distances from the well.

    “This heightened risk of induced seismicity can be avoided by placing limits on bottom hole pressures during injection”, he warned the regulators this month but none responded. He said:

    “We were being proactive in warning Cuadrilla and the regulators of the induced seismicity risks associated with excessive bottom hole pressures and the consequences of opening the slicken-sided bedding planes.”

    This indicates that fluids are indeed migrating along these sliken sided bedding planes,

    “as the frack fluids have migrated about 750m updip on these hyper-stress sensitive slicken-sided bedding planes”


    “This indicates that fluids are indeed migrating along these slicken sided bedding planes”

    We were told in many posts, that these contaminated fracking fluids could never migrate from the wells, however this information, and the subsequent earthquakes at PNR that have stopped fracking dead in its fracks, indicate that these slickensided bedding planes can indeed enable contaminated fluids to migrate from the well itself to a considerable distance and cause quakes remote from the origin point of the well.

    The second claim was that fracking does not contaminate water. Actually the term used is that the writer “has seen no evidence of fracking contaminating water supplies” but we know that political avoidance too often now dont we, it merely means that the writer claims not to have read such evidence, not that the evidence does not exist.

    This can be easily dismissed however, the simple fact that at least 30 million litres of clean water is exhausted per frack, and that resulting fluid is poisoned with slick chemicals and additives, and what little is extracted or recycled and reinjected does indeed contaminate clean water if it only be the 30 million litres of clean water per frack. And now we see that theses slicken sided bedding channels allow those contaminated frack fluids to migrate a considerable distance from the well head and no one knows where that will migrate to and contaminate natural water aquifers and water supplies.

    It is clear that any such “apology” from Cuadrilla, claimed or not, is as nothing compared to the results of fracking being allowed to go ahead anywhere in the UK, because who knows what similar conditions and faults lie elsewhere in the proposed locations of other fracking intentions that will lead to exactly the same results, or worse results, as we have seen at Preston New Road this week?

    Have a good Sunday with family and friends and consider that there is still noting of any significance being actually done to divert from climate disaster on this planet and all governments and multi national organisations actually seem to be doing entirely the opposite, just empty words and even emptier promises.

    • This is John Doyle on the Climate reality check for UN humanitarian agencies, the sound is poor, but if you concentrate on what is said and the information displayed, perhaps you will begin to see just how far down the slippery slide to extinction we have gone. what we each will actually do about that, is as always up to ourselves, however it is a truism to say that divided we fall, united we stand.

      “John Doyle is a long time staff member of the EU in Brussels with over 2 decades of responsibility in the environmental area. He is about as frustrated and disillusioned with what he has experienced as one can get, after all that time and effort he’s spent trying to strengthen environmental laws and practices in the EU and among its trading partners, only to see the weak, lack of, and/or counter-productive responses.

      Stuart Scott was asked to make a ‘reality check’ presentation in May 2019 in Geneva Switzerland, to UN agencies with responsibility for humanitarian impacts of climate change. With a new cancer diagnosis, Stuart was unable to travel and John provided a highly qualified alternative speaker. In thanks for his effort, and the strong presentation he made, we are offering it here.

      The presentation was said to have shaken up UN HQ in New York when screened there for senior staff. Diplomacy is the art and science of posturing, distortions and fabrications about underlying false mental positions about reality. We are operating under a global political network of self-delusional agencies and individuals who seem to believe that if they just keep repeating a false narrative about reality it will become true and real.

      Parties to the climate talks need to stop talking so much and start acting. But for this to happen, the world’s citizens need to take them to account. The Student Strikes and other civil disobedience are what’s needed, but much more of it. One day a week of student striking is an inadequate response for a future being stolen for a full seven-days a week forever.”

      This information is officially in the hands of the UN and every government and multinational NGO, and corporation on the planet, and yet still we see nothing of any actual substance whatsoever other than fine words and empty assurances that even remotely addresses the problems of global extinction that face us today.

    • Swedish climate justice activist Greta Thunberg arrived on the shores of Lower Manhattan Wednesday afternoon after a 15-day voyage across the Atlantic Ocean on board the emissions-free yacht Malizia II.

      As Greta Thunberg’s on the racing yacht Malizia II sailed over the horizon and past the Statue of Liberty, youth climate activists chanted “The sea levels are rising, and so are we!” and “We are unstoppable! Another world is possible!” The 16-year-old climate activist is starting a months-long tour of the Americas. She will be joining New York students climate-striking outside the U.N. Friday morning.

      Greta will then take to the streets for a massive climate march in New York City on September 20, followed by two U.N. climate summits in New York. In December, she will attend the COP25 climate summit in Santiago, Chile.

      Greta’s first interview upon arriving in New York City with her father Svante, as well as New York youth climate activists Alexandria Villaseñor and Xiye Bastida, to talked about “Biggest Crisis Humanity Has Ever Faced”



  6. “If you support electric vehicles you are complicit in young children handling cobalt in DRC and getting cancer.”

    “if you require nuclear to back up intermittent alternatives, you are complicit in Chernobyl.”

    Complicated this complicity.

  7. It certainly is Martin, but I’m not sure phil c’s argument here a Swedish school girl and fracking? I believe he is on the wrong thread!

  8. Not a school girl anymore, EG. A young person who has given up on education but feels obliged to “educate” the rest of the world.

    Absolutely millions of them around the world. (Suspect most families have at least one.) A great number at pop concerts during the holidays who trash the countryside with plastic, and then during the week campaign against plastic-especially if it gets them off school.

    But, fortunately, science is seen as a good subject for other young persons to study and hopefully a few will find out how carbon fibre is manufactured, and maybe one will even work out how not to add bodily wastes to the oceans.

    Interesting little aside. Had a problem with my communications stuff last week and had the young guy from Openreach round. Did a great job and we were chatting about things as he worked. Only a teenager himself, but he made the point that without plastic in his sector then the youngsters will be off line, off ‘phone and back to slide rules!

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