No more UK fracking in 2019 as Cuadrilla runs out of time after record-breaking tremor

pnr 190828 Ros Wills

Fracking equipment at Cuadrilla’s shale gas site at Preston New Road, 28 August 2019. Photo: Ros Wills

Cuadrilla has confirmed no more fracking will take place at its shale gas site in Lancashire before a planning deadline at the end of November.

Hydraulic fracturing equipment will be taken off the site, the company said in a statement today.

Opponents of Cuadrilla’s operations have welcomed the news.

The company’s statement confirms there will be no more fracking in the UK this year.

UK’s largest fracking-induced tremor

Fracking was suspended at the UK’s only active shale gas site at Preston New Road site on August bank holiday (26 August 2019) after a record-breaking tremor.

Cuadrilla carried out just seven main fracks in August, causing more than 130 tremors, the most recent two days ago. The tremors included the UK’s largest fracking-induced seismic event, measuring 2.9ML.

A total of 12 tremors measured more than 0.5ML. This is the threshold in Cuadrilla’s hydraulic fracturing plan which required the company to pause fracking and check well integrity.

The British Geological Survey said it received about 3,000 reports about the 2.9ML tremor. Around 100 people are reported to have complained to Cuadrilla about damage to their homes.

Cuadrilla said today it was continuing to help the Oil & Gas Authority (OGA) with a series of studies following the 2.9ML tremor:

“A timeframe has not been agreed with the OGA for this work to be completed and further hydraulic fracturing will not take place at Preston New Road before current planning permission for fracturing expires at the end of November.”

Cuadrilla said last month that it would seek to extend the planning permission for drilling and fracking by 18 months (DrillOrDrop report). This would require a new planning application to Lancashire County Council. The council has said the application would be considered by its planning committee and there would be a public consultation.

No application has yet been published by the council and a decision is unlikely to be made in less than three months.

The only other company with permission to frack in the UK, Third Energy, has said it is focusing on conventional gas (DrillOrDrop report).

Seven stages fracked

According to Cuadrilla’s daily logs for August, the company fracked just seven of the expected 45 stages of the well, known as PNR-2. Despite this, Cuadrilla said today it would now test the flow of shale gas.

Cuadrilla’s chief executive, Francis Egan, said:

“Our second horizontal shale well was partially fractured in August and I am pleased that we are moving to flow test it in the next few weeks.”

Cuadrilla was also unable to fully frack the first well, PNR-1, in autumn 2018.

Logs for that operation showed two-thirds of the stages of that well were not fracked (DrillOrDrop report). There were just 15 main fracks of PNR-1 between mid-October and mid-December. Whole sections of the well were not fracked at all. The company had to use nitrogen to remove frack and formation fluids that were stopping free flow of gas.

Despite this, Cuadrilla said the flow test of PNR-1 confirmed a “high quality of gas capable of flowing to the surface”.

“Great news”

A spokesperson for the Preston New Road Action Group, which campaigns against the site, said today:

“It is great news that Cuadrilla are once again going to be demobilising their fracking equipment from PNR.

“We will watch with interest as they flow test. Last time they had an inadequate flow of gas to flare so used nitrogen lift which resulted in cold venting of methane. They do not yet have permission for nitrogen lift so cold venting will be a breach of permit.

“Given that they have only managed to frack 7 stages of the well it is hard to imagine that they are going to be getting very much gas out.

“The earth tremors from their failed attempt to frack still continue 5 weeks later. We truly hope that this is the end of Cuadrilla’s operations at PNR and that our community can return to a normal life once again”.

“Trying to maintain investor confidence”

Another local campaign group said:

“Frack Free Lancashire are delighted to learn that 35 days after they caused a 2.9ML earthquake which shook the Fylde and the confidence of their investors, Cuadrilla are finally demobilising the Preston New Road site.

“We are not surprised to hear this as, if their claims are to be believed, it has been costing them £94,000 a day to do very little while they waited in vain for the green light to carry on rocking our local community.

“The seismic activity which they provoked has not stopped though, with the 133rd event being recorded on Saturday, five weeks after they last fracked.

“We await the results of their flow test with interest as we have seen no evidence of any gas being flared from this well so far and we know that they have only fracked seven stages of the planned 47 (15%) and they have only managed to inject 289 tonnes of proppant of the 3,525 tonnes that they were permitted to use (8%).

“This flow test looks as though it has more to do with trying to maintain investor confidence rather than being a meaningful data gathering exercise and we hope that it won’t be too much longer before local people are able to stand by the gates at Preston New Road and point towards yet another failed fracking site.”

“Final attempt at positive spin”

Friends of the Earth’s fracking campaigner, Jamie Peters, said:

“Today’s flow testing announcement is just the latest, and hopefully final, desperate attempt to put a positive spin on the fracking fiasco at Preston New Road.

“With no more fracking taking place before planning permission expires, and Cuadrilla yet to apply for an extension, work at this site could soon be at an end.

“We are in the grip of an environmental emergency. It’s time the government pulled the plug on this unpopular and unnecessary climate-wrecking industry – and focussed on building the clean energy future we so urgently need.”

“Excellent shale gas reservoir”

Cuadrilla said the fractures in the Bowland Shale formation were typical of “an excellent shale gas reservoir”.

The company remained committed to exploring for shale gas, Mr Egan said.

But a critic of Cuadrilla’s operation has questioned whether the company actually fracked the formation.

An American fracking expert, Dr Grant Hocking, told a scientific meeting last week, that he thought Cuadrilla had opened slickensided bedding planes, creating seismic activity a long way from the well. He said a consortium including universities and the gas services company, Halliburton, concluded that the Bowland shale could not be hydraulically fractured because of the slickensided bedding planes.

The same meeting heard from one of the UK’s leading seismologists, Dr Brian Baptie. He said the Bowland shale appeared to behave different from some equivalent formations in the US, with what he described as “quite high seismicity rates”.

Dr Baptie said his research had shown that the pattern of tremors caused by fracking PNR-2 was different from that on PNR-1. The second well saw many more trailing events, tremors that happened after fracking.

  • Yesterday, Cuadrilla said it was removing rainwater from the Preston New Road site by tanker. The vehicle movements were outside normal delivery hours but were allowed under the transport management plan, the company said.

DrillOrDrop 2019 tremor tracker for Preston New Road

Updated 1/10/2019 to add link to article about Cuadrilla’s intention to apply to extend planning permission for drilling and fracking.

20 replies »

  1. Do you really mean no Fracking over the UK Cos isn’t it just Lancashire where Cuadrilla said no more?


    Sent from my iPhone


      • “Cuadrilla said the fractures in the Bowland Shale formation were typical of “an excellent shale gas reservoir”.

        That’s not what the report into Preese Hall states,

        “Magnitudes of the induced earthquakes during hydraulic fracture stimulation in hydrocarbon fields such as the Barnett Shale (Maxwell et al., 2006) and the Cotton Valley (Holland, 2011) are typically less than 1 ML”

        Since when did “an excellent shale gas reservoir” produce a 2.9 magnitude earthquake to extract no gas?

    • Hi Helen

      We think no more fracking in the UK in 2019.
      Third Energy have a fracking plan approved for Kirby Misperton, but the company says it now has no plans to frack. Aurora are developing Altcar Moss near Formby, but the application is currently in the planning system and unlikely to be resolved before Christmas. No-one else has a well ready to go for fracking (as far as we know).

  2. Pity that those climate-change-denying investors cannot think of somewhere less damaging to place their unwanted cash.When will they wise up to Cuadrilla and the government’s spin? Heaven knows, we are going to need this cash to avoid the climate catastrophe Egan and his like are fueling.

  3. “We are going to need this cash”!!! Investors cash??

    Think you will find investors make their own decisions.

    Don’t be greedy. Tesla are still getting $ BILLIONS without making a profit.

    • Iaith1720

      Not to worry, investors are piling into offshore wind, and it needs billions, not millions.

      While some have been complaining about the lack of ( subsidised ) onshore wind, offshore wind has been doing quite well.

      Lots of money being invested, and at the same time as a couple of wells have been fracked ( billions vs millions )

      However, it takes up a lot of room. The area covered or planned to be covered by offshore wind would cover all the UK national parks with wind turbines. Hornsea phase 3 and 4 alone will cover over 1200 sq KM.

      So, those two wind farms alone will cover 3 times the area of the Fylde.

      Thank goodness for that, and the decision not to support onshore wind ( which struggles with the required scale and has planning permission issues ).

      Tho the issue of base load management when the wind is not there remains.

      • Time to get real on the enormous benefits of cheap Onshore wind power which has the majority support of the country.

        There is now 189 GW of installed wind power capacity in Europe: 170 GW onshore and 19 GW offshore

        Click to access WindEurope-Annual-Statistics-2018.pdf

        “Onshore wind is now the cheapest source of new power for UK billpayers, and it is supported by more than three-quarters of the British public. We have ready-to-go onshore wind that can help close the gap between the low carbon power we need and the amount Government policy is actually delivering, and this week’s announcement on nuclear power has made this mammoth task even harder.

        The Secretary of State has rightly recognised that renewables can now be delivered with little or no subsidies, and that they have earned their place at the heart of a modern energy system. But Government has stacked the odds against onshore wind being built at the scale needed to meet our carbon budgets and excluded these projects from competing for government-backed power contracts.”

        • John Powney

          Yes. 4.46GW of onshore wind ‘shovel ready’ compared to 21.4 GW of offshore wind ‘sand spade ready’.

          I am sure onshore wind will get its day again to fill a gap in the market, and maybe those who protested against the turbines last time will have changed their minds.

  4. Do you think things are crazy in Parliament and everything which is not being discussed other than endless interminable brexit.

    To judges defining Common Law without publicly accountable judge and jury in a Common Law court with due process.

    To the corporate attacks on civil rights and Human Rights.To fossil fuels and fracking the police. To government, corporations banking, the media, social media, you name it. To sending troops to the middle east to protect the UK and Saudi and USA energy security.

    This WILL effect for the foreseeable future, everything about the sovereignty of our own UK Military Forces to able to defend this country from invasion and internal subversion.

    Because our own Prime minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, has made an irreversible Defence Union of all our UK military forces with the EU beginning from the 1st November 2019. After then it will be too late to do anything about it.

    This might explain all the present political turmoil and in fighting, but have any of them told you about this? At the conservative party conference perhaps? No? Why not? Aren’t you entitled to know that your armed forces will no longer be loyal to you, but the EU?

    UK Column News – 30th September 2019

    Simon Bean MBE. Please watch and share.

    We all of us have until October 31st, All Hallows Eve, which is appropriate, to stop this monstrous and demonstrably treasonous insanity.

    Do you feel safe now? And all thanks to your own Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson and his, not your, government.

    You will no longer be in the UK, let alone Kansas, its that fundamental.

    • If losing your sovereignty and the protection of your own tax paid for armed forces to the EU doesnt rock your boat?

      Heres something else you probably haven’t heard about, and that is something that has been called “Hypatia fuel” here is a rather over the top advert, but in spite of that there is perhaps something interesting in the suggestion that there is a ready available source of energy that will supersede anything we have yet exploited?

      This website is all over confident superlatives of course, just as are all adverts about something to sell.

      However the actual ore that was discovered in Egypt is a stable form of Helium 3 which is an isotope of Helium. Apparently the ore that was found in Egypt is such an ore and there is a field supposed to be 2.159 miles in diameter, 3 times the state of Texas, and that is just what is found in Egypt. It rather throws oil and gas and all the doubts about renewable resources out of the window doesnt it? not that we still might find those useful if this resource becomes so expensive that we have no other choice, just as fossil fuels have been exploited financially all this time.

      I heard many years ago, going back to the eighties that Helium 3 had been discovered on the Moon, and there were plans to go there in force to mine it. Which would probably explain why all the sudden interest in going back to the Moon, including Elon Musk of Tesla fame? Perhaps that explains the source of his funding to travel in space and his car factories and battery farms, maybe not so sinister after all, and then of course, China, Japan, USA presumably Russia, and just about everyone else so anxious to invest or take part.

      Of course just getting there, let alone bringing the stuff back, is not only crazily difficult, its also very expensive. So at present Egypt and perhaps elsewhere is the most likely source.

      Now, it may all be humbug and hogwash, and that favourite word of the fossil fuel fools, “pseudo-science”? I dont deny that at all, and the claims in the adverts may be nothing but empty hype and lies?

      But, just suppose there is indeed a very cheap source of material, be it in the gaseous or the ore form of Helium 3, that has the ability to outstrip all other forms of energy all by itself?

      Now wouldnt that be interesting?

      And of course it might be yet another explanation for the present worldwide government turmoil and insanity to fight for control of counties and resources if they are under threat of being outstripped, not just here, but everywhere?

      All those fossil fuel rice bowls under threat? What a fascinating notion? It does make you think that a lot of the hype from the fossil fuel fools is to put you off even looking at alternatives, and maybe that they have all ready sought to invest in these alternatives but dont want you to know about it. Now wouldnt that be interesting?

      So, when you hear that fossil fuels must be extracted at all costs because it is the only viable energy source we have? Then just remember that this find of helium 3 is only the first one that proves the fossil fuel claims to be wrong, and maybe, there are others to be found and exploited also?

      Like sea water for example the John Kansius effect is interesting, look it up. Practically free electromagnetic energy that pervades the very planet we stand on, or sit upon if you are a fossil fuel armchair warrior? How many others are there here on earth and out in space?

      Just to throw another box of spanners in the fossil fuel works….just for fun you understand…..But of course, i may be just pulling your leg?

      What interesting times we do live in ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls.

        • You better talk to The Martian Chronicles about that, David S, that one is more into fusion generation and “factoids” most of them entirely fictional.

          “factoids”? Sounds a bit Dr. Who cardboardy wobbly BBC scenery and rubber monsters to me, but there again, i never was much of a fan, maybe the The Martian Chronicles by word association and only talking to fictitious characters from a 19th century French novelist, is more of a wobbly cardboard BBC scenery and rubber suited “factoids” with a zip up the back fan? Much like that “connections” rubbish fracking program on BBC Radio 4.

          As i said, i was just having a bit of fun this evening to brighten or perhaps frighten up everyone’s boring old evening on such a dull and dreary end of September Autumnal day.

          And i made it very clear that it was almost certainly humbug and hogwash, but it does make a change to all this deadly serious Cuadrilla fracking drilling drivel and unsubstantiated vitriol we get on Drill or Drop from the anti antis in their most embarrassing incarnation.

          And it makes people think out of the usual dreary old polarised boring boxes we get entrenched into just for fun.

          Remember fun? No?

          Never mind, have a nice day tomorrow anyway.

  5. Oops!

    There I was thinking I had logged onto DoD where I thought the policy was to discuss around energy policy.

    Not to worry Phileas. You will have a chance shortly to vote again. The Raving Loony Party will have their candidates out in force, so everyone will be catered for. Perhaps they will join the judiciary to the people by offering a Lottery with the winner being able to pick a Supreme Court Judge? Might be preferable to the direction of travel towards the US system.

    hewes62-I am still hoping these off shore wind farms can be integrated into a fishery policy if UK gets back control of its waters. Seems that they could easily be sited to provide protection for fish nurseries and/or sea grass. Could also help change the level of fish consumption in UK so that some meat was voluntarily replaced by increased fish. Not sure joining up such areas is within the competence of Parliament, but we can but hope.

    I note some serious attention towards fusion, at last.

    • Aww, poor Martian, just cant be right at all today can you? Never mind, better luck next time, maybe when you are all better?

      I am sure your Monster raving Loony Party membership will have you back if you you tell them once more that you only talk to fictitious fantasy characters from a 19th Century French novelist fevered imagination? Not real people?

      After all, it may be that such a normally embarrassing handicap might be compulsory for such an organisation, real or imaginary? Its probably a compulsory obligation for the fossil fuel fools club as well?

      Even the Sun, the star up there that is, not the newspaper, cant produce fusion without having a mass of about 1.3 million Earths equivilent to fill up the Sun. and then at a surface temperature of around 5,600 Celsius.

      That is what you would need locally to produce a fusion generation, imagine the amount of natural gas you would need to make that sort of temperature, even locally? And what would you contain it in? Plastic?


      The Sun makes up 99.86% of the mass of the Solar System. And it’s the giant planets like Jupiter and Saturn which make the most of that remaining .14% of the Solar System.

      Fusion is certainly possible at that temperature with that much mass, but what sort of container would withstand that sort of temperature and how would you siphon it off, wouldn’t it vaporise anything it touched outside of the electromagnetic container? What if the electromagnetic container failed for any reason? Maybe it would only just produce enough power to contain its own fusion?

      But maybe thorium energy generation is far more feasible and is more available in most countries as an ore than uranium which is only available in a few countries, mostly in turmoil. And thorium is easier to contain and does not create fission. The reason we use uranium 235 which is only a tiny part of uranium 238, which is the refined ore. Uranium 235 does cause fission not fusion, not even cold fusion, and the uranium in the process turns to plutonium, which is of course a weapons grade fissionable product, so you see why that is wanted.


      Thorium generation would be not only cheaper than uranium generation, it produces no fissionable waste and can be contained and the by products recycled in the process or can be relatively safe when stored.

      And unlike fusion it might not burn a hole in the planet either?

      Such fun Defective Fixated!

    • Martin

      Yes, offshore pipelines are a boon for fishermen ( lobsters ) and platforms ( oil and gas or wind ) are a haven for fish, as they can hide from the nasty fishermen.

      Trouble is, how long will they last, how reliable will they be and ( as they run through a few offshore substations ) easy to turn off, rather than the distributed onshore turbines ( a few here and there ).

      But lots of investment which seems to be ignored by some.

      I was in the vale of Pickering over the weekend. Lots of room for onshore wind, but that thought did not go down well!

  6. hewes62-it seems quite a simple matter with off shore wind where an area is firmly designated by the fixed turbines, to have that designated area to incorporate fishery controls for all the year, or parts of the year. Very easy to then patrol, compared to open sea.

    The Helford river estuary has an area limited regarding bass fishing and is kept as a nursery. There are firm geographic features there that enable that to be managed easily. Off shore wind turbines could present the same opportunities.

    Could be interesting to see if it happens.

  7. Major concern now for residents local to the Preston New Road fracking site is how much gaseous fracking byproducts will be vented over them and their children resulting from Cuadrilla’s intended flow testing?
    Late 2018 massive amounts of contaminated gaseous fracking emissions were released over nearby schools and homes contrary to planning regulations. The outcome of the enquiry and action against Cuadrilla has not yet been finalised as far as I’m aware!

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