Cuadrilla’s Australian investor has suggested that the shale gas company will be looking at new exploration sites next year.
In a statement to shareholders, the mining group, AJ Lucas, said:
“During calendar year 2020, Cuadrilla will conduct an examination of various acreages ahead of an anticipated resumption of exploration activities.” AJ Lucas operational update
Cuadrilla is currently doing a 3-6 month pressure build up test of the shale reservoir at its Preston New Road site near Blackpool in Lancashire. (See also Methane venting and Revised monitoring sections below)
Hydraulic fracturing at the site was suspended by regulators on 26 August 2019 after Cuadrilla caused the UK’s strongest fracking-induced earth tremor. Several thousand people told the British Geological Survey they felt the 2.9ML tremor and several hundred reported damage to their properties.
Just over two months later, the government announced a moratorium on fracking across England. This was based on the conclusion of studies into tremors induced by an earlier phase of fracking at Preston New Road in 2018.
The Oil & Gas Authority concluded it was “not possible with current technology to accurately predict the probability of tremors associated with fracking”.
The energy secretary, Andrea Leadsom, said:
“After reviewing the OGA’s report into recent seismic activity at Preston New Road, it is clear that we cannot rule out future unacceptable impacts on the local community.”
Today’s statement from AJ Lucas said Cuadrilla would “continue to assist the relevant authorities in recommending a lifting of the moratorium on hydraulic fracturing”.
“While the current timing of a lifting of the moratorium remains unclear, the results of the recent UK election provide the industry with comfort that the long-awaited period of stability will return to the UK and will allow the government to address priorities facing the United Kingdom post Brexit such as the domestic energy opportunities.”
DrillOrDrop invited Cuadrilla to comment on the statement. This post will be updated with any response.
Cuadrilla’s operations have so far focussed on the Fylde area of Lancashire in licences PEDL165 and EXL269.
But Cuadrilla operates eight PEDLs secured in the most recent licence round in 2015/2016. These are across East, West and North Yorkshire. So far, there has been no public information about any potential exploration sites in these licences.
The company also holds a 56% stake in the Balcombe licence in West Sussex, operated by Angus Energy.
The Environment Agency (EA) announced today that Cuadrilla had vented a total of 155kg of methane during recent nitrogen lifting at Preston New Road.
In its latest site update, the EA said:
“This was compliant with the environmental permit, with minimal environmental impact and at levels that did not represent a risk of harm to people.” Preston New Road Community Update 12 – 19 December 2019
The update also said Cuadrilla breached a condition of its permit on methane monitoring. The company did not follow the deployment protocol in the Environmental Management and Monitoring Plan.
The EA said:
“Cuadrilla did not inform the EA of deployment of a methane monitor and the data was not reviewed for abnormal results within 48 hours of the end of the monitoring period. The data has since been reviewed to confirm that there were no abnormal results.”
The EA also announced a revised programme of monitoring by Cuadrilla of groundwater, surface water and air quality at Preston New Road
It said the new procedures would begin on 6 January 2020. This followed the removal of all waste from the site, it said.
The EA said it would continue its own ambient air monitoring and surface water monitoring “for the foreseeable future”.
The update also said the Oil & Gas Authority continued to review micro-seismic data from August’s fracking operations and the Health & Safety Executive accepted there were no well integrity issues and was content with the plan to suspend PNR2
- A group of campaigners against operations at Preston New Road is seeking to raise money to test the water quality in ponds near the site.