Companies join research on reusing shale gas boreholes

Shale gas companies are working with two British universities to investigate whether UK boreholes could be turned into deep science laboratories.

Cuadrilla’s shale gas site at Preston New Road, near Blackpool, 29 December 2019. Photo: Maxine Gill

The project, led by Newcastle and Stirling Universities, is in partnership with Cuadrilla, IGas and Third Energy.

A statement from Newcastle University said the companies would share technical data on their existing deep wells onshore in the UK.

Since 2010, Cuadrilla has drilled for shale gas at five sites near Blackpool in Lancashire. The most recent drilling was at Preston New Road, where fracking in 2018 and 2019 caused small earthquakes and prompted a moratorium on the process in England.

IGas drilled recent shale gas wells in Nottinghamshire: one at Tinker Lane in 2018 and one at Misson Springs in 2019. The Tinker Lane well has been abandoned and the site restored. IGas has also drilled into the Bowland shale at Ellesmere Port, in Cheshire, and Irlam, in Salford.

Third Energy had planned to frack its Kirby Misperton well, KM8, in North Yorkshire in 2017 but did not receive government consent. The company is now piloting new plugging and abandonment techniques in other wells in the area.

Announcing funding for the work, Newcastle University said the project would report on the technical feasibility, costs and challenges for repurposing deep wells. It would consider whether they could be used for research on carbon capture and storage, geothermal energy and hydrogen storage.

It said researchers would carry out a systematic review of:

  • construction and status of existing shale gas wells
  • geology at the well sites
  • potential candidates for repurposing

The researchers would also establish strategies for local community engagement. The statement added:

“Vitally, this project will engage with stakeholders and communities and collate their views on using existing oil and gas infrastructure for science and technology advancement in the delivery of low carbon energy.”

10 replies »

  1. Could former shale wells be reused for storing nuclear waste, as Sheffield University has explored with the development of storage cylinders which could fit down fracked wells?

  2. why don’t we drill boreholes in the gardens of the people wanting to re purpose existing boreholes that had no public licence , oh yeah they won’t want them in their gardens, we dont need geothermal research its already proven technology , 1 borehole with a cage carrying the pipework looping up and down produces constant heat source for energy generation and thermal heating , stop the fossil fuel mentality once and for all, im not a fan of nuclear especially after Chernobyl and Fukushima but small fuel cells is one way ahead as tech still cant store generated energy and ide rather live with no electricity than continue with fossil fuels as its not about us we are just custodians of future generations planet..

  3. I suspect they could be turned into selenium mines, (not to be confused with jam butty mines) David, as there was a lot of speculation that PNR might have been sitting on a rich deposit! Which it wasn’t, but then, that’s what you get with speculation.

    However, being a little more serious, you are aware of the diameter of these wells? A lot of trouble for not much storage. Now, if you were looking for real storage volume then perhaps exclude salt from your diet, because the mining of that already provides very large capacity underground in the UK. Pump out the coal mines? What I am suggesting, is that if that was seriously considered, then I would expect such fracking wells would be very low down the list of possibilities.

    • Mother Nature stopped fracking in the UK by sending swarms of Hydrofrac Earthquakes across the Fylde. Some strong enough to cause property damage despite the promises by Government and the fracking industry that this couldn’t possibly happen.
      Activists simply ensured that the world and his dog knew what was going on unlike back in 2011 when although the industry was stopped for a few years industry and Cuadrilla’s denials allowed them to escape responsibility for subsequent repairs.

  4. Deep isolation – I thought recent activity in AF groups was about COP26 indoctrination but it turns out state agenys/actors are doing undercurrent work again.

    Next we’ll have FFU doing the bidding for the nuclear industry. Be very careful what you sign up for, otherwise you end up indirectly giving away your consent.

  5. Why use abandoned oil wells for disposal of radioactive waste when there’s hundreds of miles of coal mine tunneling available?
    Obviously there’s very good reasons why neither is acceptable to a responsible person including myself!
    The nuclear industry simply forgot to mention the fact that there was no safe disposal method available when they started out and have failed to discover one since!
    [Typo corrected at poster’s request]

    • Ermm. Shame nuclear is needed then to back up the unreliable alternatives.

      Perhaps someone could find an alternative? Oh, they were looking at that, but some “responsible” persons wanted that stopped as well.

      Not to worry. I’m sure houses in the Fylde contaminated from a leak from nuclear storage, will sell like hot cakes compared to same houses with a need for some hairline crack filling. Enjoy the (potential) consequences.

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