Cuadrilla’s major investor, A J Lucas, has said up to 72 lateral wells could be drilled from a shale gas site like Preston New Road, near Blackpool.
The Australian mining group is seeking to raise $46.3m in a share offer. The money will be used to fund its contribution to future operations at Preston New Road and to repay a loan from Kerogen.
It also warned:
“It is not certain that Cuadrilla will be able to recover hydrocarbons in its concession areas in the quantities or at a cost that makes production commercially feasible.”
And it said it should not be assumed that the government would lift the moratorium on fracking, imposed after record-breaking fracking-induced seismicity at the Preston New Road site in August 2019.
“Low hanging opportunity”
But A J Lucas described the Bowland shale as “a low-hanging opportunity” to overcome what it describes as the UK’s energy challenges.
The company said the formation “lends itself to “a stacked lateral well configuration”, targeting six already-identified production zones.
J-shaped wells could be drilled at vertical intervals of 200m, on a 2km pad, A J Lucas said. In each horizontal zone, up to 12 lateral wells could be drilled, each up to 2.5km long.
“Under this scenario, up to 72 lateral wells could be drilled over time from a single well pad, i.e. 12 lateral wells in each of 6 production zones.”
“The use of multi-well production pads would significantly reduce surface infrastructure requirements and make production management more efficient – this is attractive both economically and environmentally.”
A J Lucas, which holds 47% of Cuadrilla, said there had been “very encouraging” early data from the second well at Preston New Road, PNR2. This is despite only six stages being fracked as planned before the operation was suspended by regulators.
The content of gas from PNR2 was approximately 89% methane, 6% ethane and 2% propane, A J Lucas said.
“Once separated at surface from accompanying water the gas could with limited treatment flow directly into the local gas network.”
The company revealed that it needed funds for its share of outstanding costs for the PNR-2 fracturing and flow-testing programme and for ongoing costs in 2020.
Because of the fracking moratorium, A J Lucas said next year’s work programme at Preston New Road would be “significantly reduced”. But it said:
“Cuadrilla will continue to review and assess the prospectivity of other sites on its extensive acreage.”
The presentation included a detailed list of risks to investment in the Bowland shale. These included increased regulation of shale gas operations or a complete ban on fracking.
A J Lucas said the data from the site was:
“insufficient at this stage to conclusively evaluate the likelihood of commercial recovery of unconventional hydrocarbons.
“There is a risk that that unconventional hydrocarbon extraction and recovery may not be feasible at all in Cuadrilla’s concessions with existing technology”.
The company cited technical complications and faults that may be prone to tremors as a result of fracking, reservoir pressure, fracture complexity and conductivity.
There was a risk, the presentation warned, that the Bowland licence:
“may not be commercially viable due to the costs of the technology, drilling, equipment and other resources needed to extract the hydrocarbons from the reservoirs”
A J Lucas also warned about the prospect of future damage from fracking-induced tremors:
“If, following future hydraulic fracturing, further seismic events were to be felt at ground level, it is possible that Cuadrilla may see further claims sought for damages (whether real or spurious).
“This may result in additional resources taken to clear such claims, and if any real damages were validated, compensation may be made.
“While Cuadrilla has third party insurance in place under which it can seek relief to valid claims, it is possible that a claim or claims could exceed limits under these policies.”
If the Preston New Road site proved to be commercial, there was no guarantee about whether Cuadrilla would get approval for production, A J Lucas added.
The presentation also revealed that Centrica, which invested £60m in the Lancashire bowland licence, has an option to sell back its equity interest to Cuadrilla and A J Lucas. If Centrica opted to do this, it would forfeit another £46.7m investment which was to be paid after Cuadrilla met certain operational milestones.
Cuadrilla declined to comment on the presentation.