The owner of the fracking firm Cuadrilla predicted today that England’s moratorium on hydraulic fracturing would be lifted – but not before 2021.
Fracking at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site near Blackpool was suspended on 26 August 2019 after causing the UK’s strongest fracking-induced earth tremor. The 2.9ML event was felt across the region and prompted almost 200 reports of damage to buildings.
The government issued a moratorium on fracking in England on 2 November 2019 following advice from the regulator, the Oil & Gas Authority, about the risk of seismic activity.
A statementfrom Cuadrilla’s Australian owners, AJ Lucas, issued early this morning UK time, said:
“Lucas expects the moratorium to be lifted and exploration to resume once appropriate measures are agreed and put in place to manage and mitigate risks from induced seismicity.
“However, we would not expect that decision to occur before 2021.”
AJ Lucas, which owns 93% of Cuadrilla, was responding to comments by the UK energy minister, Kwasi Kwarteng on 18 June 2020. He said “fracking is over”, “the debate’s moved on. It’s not something that we’re looking to do”.
The company suspended trading yesterday in advance of this morning’s statement. It added:
“During the moratorium AJ Lucas and other UK shale gas companies continue to work constructively together and with independent scientific experts with the objective of gathering and presenting appropriate scientific evidence to demonstrate that future shale gas appraisal and commercialization operations can be safely conducted.
“The UK Regulator, the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), is also co-ordinating a number of separate studies led by technical experts using the extensive data set acquired by Cuadrilla.”
AJ Lucas said gas would continue to play “an important role in providing energy to the UK” for many decades. “Natural gas from shale remains a potentially hugely valuable UK resource”, it added.
A company statement last month said Cuadrilla was looking at conventional oil and gas opportunities in the UK and predicted there would be no fracking in 2020.