The energy minister has confirmed that a small-scale form of fracking, planned for a site in Lincolnshire, is not covered by the moratorium on hydraulic fracturing.
In a written parliamentary answer, Anne-Marie Trevelyan said the moratorium, imposed in England on 2 November 2019, applied to fracking that met a definition based on how much fluid it used.
She was asked by the MP for Rother Valley, Alexander Stafford, whether it covered the process known as proppant squeeze.
This injects fluid and proppant into a rock formation to improve the flow of hydrocarbons. The Environment Agency (EA) regards it as a form of low-volume fracking because the injection pressure is high enough to fracture rocks.
The process is expected to be used by Egdon Resources to improve oil flows at its site at Wressle near Scunthorpe.
The minister said the moratorium applied to operations defined as associated hydraulic fracturing that required Hydraulic Fracturing Consent from the secretary of state for business, energy and industrial Strategy.
The definition, originally used by the European Union, was included in the 2015 Infrastructure Act and inserted in the Petroleum Act 1998. It comprises operations that use 1,000m3 of fluid per fracturing stage or 10,000m3 of fluid during the whole fracking process.
The minister said:
“Activities outside of this definition are not included in the moratorium.”
Alexander Stafford told DrillOrDrop he hoped the definition of associated hydraulic fracturing would be “tightened up even further”.
Proposals for the Wressle proppant squeeze indicate it will not meet the definition of associated hydraulic fracturing and will not need Hydraulic Fracturing Consent.
The environmental permit for the site said the operation would use 150m3 of gelled liquid and ceramic beads.
The Wressle proppant squeeze will, however, need an approved Hydraulic Fracturing Plan, which states how the fracking process will be controlled and monitored.
DrillOrDrop understands this is being considered by the Environment Agency (EA) and Oil & Gas Authority. According to the EA the Wressle proppant squeeze will be the first time a proppant squeeze has been used in England on a deviated well under a town.