Spirit sticks with Cuadrilla in Lancashire

Spirit Energy, which had planned to withdraw its stake in shale exploration in Lancashire, has changed its mind.

Cuadrilla’s suspended Preston New Road shale gas site, 26 February 2022. Photo: Maxine Gill

The company has withdrawn its notice, issued in July 2020, to exit the Bowland licences operated by Cuadrilla.

In a statement issued early this morning, Cuadrilla’s owner, the Australian mining group, AJ Lucas said Spirit would retain its 25% participating interest in the Bowland exploration and a 22.75% interest in PEDL165 and EXL269.

AJ Lucas would continue to hold the remaining participating interest in the licences, which would continue to be operated by Cuadrilla, the statement said.

In February 2022, Cuadrilla had been ordered to plug and abandon the wells at its Preston New Road shale gas site near Blackpool, and the neighbouring Elswick site.

But weeks later,  NSTA withdrew the order. It gave Cuadrilla until 30 June 2023 to “evaluate options for the Preston New Road and Elswick sites”. The NSTA said:

“If no credible re-use plans are in place by then, the North Sea Transition Authority expects to reimpose decommissioning requirements. “

The Preston New Road site has largely suspended since fracking in August 2019 caused a 2.9ML earthquake that was felt across the Fylde region.

Today’s statement said Spirit, a subsidiary of Centrica, would have the option to exit the licences before the end of June 2023, or a later date agreed by the NSTA to suspend the wells.

AJ Lucas chairman, Andrew Purcell, said:

“We are very pleased that Spirit Energy has decided to remain as a Joint Venture partner on the exciting Bowland shale gas discoveries and exploration licenses. Spirit’s technical, financial, and industry-wide expertise will prove invaluable as we continue to work with the UK Government and its regulators so that the UK may benefit from a secure, low-cost domestic supply of natural gas.”

10 replies »

  1. “… so that the UK may benefit from a secure, low-cost domestic supply of natural gas.” is such a terrible deliberate lie! Who even believes that? Hopefully no-one in government!

    • Sir,

      With respect, would you be able to clarify which part of the above statement you believe is not true? The capital costs for onshore gas production are significantly lower than offshore. And with regard to security the regulations in the UK are one of the strictest in the world so drilling and stimilating these wells is indeed secure.

  2. Yes, and there is also a need to consider energy security, as the German government has discovered, even the German Green Party now they are part of the governing coalition, in other words actually responsible for ensuring heat, food and transport are available. MSN reports……
    “On Sunday Robert Hauberk, Germany’s economic minister, said: “To reduce gas consumption, less gas must be used to generate electricity. Coal-first power plants will have to be used more instead. The minister, a member of the Greens party, added that bringing back coal-first power plants was “painful, but it is a sheer necessity”.”

    • This afternoon we are exporting almost 3GW electricity output to France (failing nukes and gas shortfall). We are also producing 0.5GW output from coal. It is very sunny and reasonably windy yet we still need coal? More gas required ASAP.

      • Or more wind & solar farms maybe? it isn’t enough that “it’s sunny & windy” – we actually have to harvest that energy.

        • Today is another day, not very windy and not as sunny. So having more of the “sunny & windy” stuff doesn’t really help. Only 2GW to France today which is presumably all we can spare? Good job it is summer and demand is low….

  3. Alex, having more of something that is unreliable just means that you have more unreliability!

    A sad truth, that seems so logical but takes £billions wasted for those supposed to be more intelligent to eventually recognise. Shame is they have not wasted their £billions but the tax payers-mine included.

    • What’s so reliable about onshore oil exploration? We hear lots of promises but they actually deliver very little – and sometimes nothing. The business model is based on selling shares, not fuel.

  4. Well, alex, what is reliable is within your own text. The companies fund the oil exploration, either via shareholders or other means. If they are successful they then have the joy of being handed a windfall tax, that is supposed to be directed to helping household energy bills. If not they try again or fold. Compare that to the land owner who was handed a guaranteed net profit of over £100k per year per wind turbine to bribe them to have them on their land, with the tax payer funding that if the electricity was not even required!

    The alternative? Oh yes. Green levies on my energy bill, soon to be added to for my portion of £160B-yes, £ BILLION- to fund new nuclear that is required to prop up your unreliable wind and sun. Here’s an idea. You want it, you pay. Otherwise you appear like the guest in the restaurant that scoffs the lobster, swigs the champagne and gets someone else to foot the bill.

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