Cuadrilla predicts no fracking in 2020 and looks to conventional prospects

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Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road fracking site near Blackpool, 27 April 2020. Photo: Maxine Gill

The shale gas company, Cuadrilla Resources, is looking at conventional oil and gas opportunities in the UK after predicting no fracking this year.

The company’s fracking operations at Preston New Road near Blackpool were suspended on 26 August 2019 after inducing a 2.9ML earthquake, felt across the region.

The government issued a moratorium on fracking in November 2019 following advice from the regulator, the Oil & Gas Authority, about the risk of seismic activity.

A statement from Cuadrilla’s Australian owners, A J Lucas Group Limited today, said:

“The business is actively engaged with other UK shale gas operators and the relevant authorities to provide them with sufficient confidence to allow the return of shale exploration activities under sensible parameters.

“Cuadrilla estimates a return to operations will not take place this calendar year.

“Cuadrilla is also reviewing opportunities within its extensive UK onshore licence acreage for ‘conventional’ oil and gas prospects that would not require hydraulic fracturing to appraise and produce.”

A J Lucas statement 13 May 2020

Last year, an A J Lucas statement said Cuadrilla would “conduct an examination of various acreages ahead of an anticipated resumption of exploration activities.”

As well as the Lancashire licences, Cuadrilla has interests in the Balcombe oil well in West Sussex and newer licences in North, East and South Yorkshire.

Statement welcomed

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Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road fracking site near Blackpool, 27 April 2020. Photo: Maxine Gill

People living near the Preston New Road site have continued to campaign against Cuadrilla’s activities and welcomed parts of today’s statement.

The Preston New Road Action Group said this morning:

“It is good news that Cuadrilla are admitting that they are unlikely to be able to do anything further at PNR this year.

“With the moratorium still in place, unexplained earthquakes from last year and public support for fracking at an all-time low, the future must be looking rather uncertain for them.

“Surely it must be time for them to give up and restore the site. This would be a great burden lifted from our community.”

A spokesperson for Frack Free Lancashire said:

“[We] welcome AJ Lucas’s recognition that without public support the future for shale gas extraction in the UK looks extremely bleak and that a return to operations will not take place this calendar year.

“In our opinion even that expectation is hopelessly optimistic.

“We would suggest that they finally recognise that, with opposition to fracking at an all-time high, they should now stop flogging this dead horse and remove their unwanted presence entirely from Lancashire and the UK as a whole.”

Another campaigner, Barbara Richardson, said:

“If Cuadrilla’s, and other oil and gas companies, share price is anything to go by, investors have very little confidence in the sector. Time people started to invest in renewables instead; a better prospect financially and environmentally.”

Company restructuring

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Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road fracking site near Blackpool, 27 April 2020. Photo: Maxine Gill

A J Lucas took control of Cuadrilla in February 2020 when it increased its interest to 93% by acquiring the 45% stake held by Riverstone, a New York based private equity firm.

Today’s statement also announced a restructuring of A J Lucas to focus on the Australian drilling business. It said:

“This recognises that future development of the Group’s UK shale assets will need to await a lifting of the moratorium on hydraulic fracturing currently in place and a demonstration of Government support for onshore shale gas exploration activity.”

The statement said Francis Egan would continue as chief executive of Cuadrilla Resources Holdings Limited and had joined the board of AJ Lucas:

“following the integration of Cuadrilla into the Group, [this] will facilitate the direct involvement of the Board in direction setting of this business”.

A J Lucas’s Sydney office will close and all corporate office operations would relocate to the Brisbane office of Lucas Drilling, the statement added.


10 replies »

  1. Of course, in Balcombe we are not conventional, but according to the sneaky government definition of 2014 (everything in limestone and sandstone = conventional [not]) we are. So hello Angus short-term planning application soon, urged on by Cuadrilla. Enough stress already, without these bullies back in our village.

  2. Well, Kathryn, you seem to have a very short memory of the far larger number of bullies in your village, that were excited to stop a legal operation using fake news. Interesting you try and deflect from what happened in Balcombe by attempting to place a label upon Angus who have bullied no one, but have simply stated they will do their utmost to protect their shareholders interest.

    Good job there was a detailed expose of that on the radio, otherwise many would be as unaware as you would like. But, of course, even after the debunking there will be one or two who keep to the original script.

  3. Given the evidence of the intention to frack “this unconventional reservoir” in Cuadrilla’s own words, and on Cuadrilla stationery, addressed to the Department of Energy and Climate Control, dated 10 June 2011, that’s game set and match to Kathryn, with ‘nul point’ to the radio programme.

  4. Except Malcolm there was no planning in place for that during the protest, and therefore not the point of the protest!

    Made quite clear in the radio programme, known by all the journalists who covered it, some who admitted that would have not have made good headlines so they decided to go along with the crowd. Reality a poor seller, it seems.

    But, as I stated, one or two will stick to the original script.

    So, now it has been made clear by the new operator that there is no intention to frack, Kathryn will stop playing the game? Doesn’t look like your comments are supported by the evidence.

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