Regulation

Cuadrilla seeks go-ahead to generate electricity at Lancs gas site

A public consultation began today into plans by Cuadrilla to generate electricity from gas extracted at its Elswick site in the Fylde region of Lancashire.

Eswick-1 wellhead. Photo: Cuadrilla Resources

The company has applied for a bespoke environmental permit that would allow gas to be piped from a single well to a new gas engine at the site between the villages of Elswick and Roseacre.

The well, known as Elswick-1, would not require fracking, Cuadrilla said.

The application to the Environment Agency said the well was drilled in 1990 by a British Gas subsidiary to a depth of 5,300ft into the Collyhurst Sandstone reservoir.

Production began in 1993. Cuadrilla said gas from the well had been used to generate electricity for several years.

The well has been shut-in since 2014 because the generator needed a major upgrade, the company said.

A modern generator has now been installed to produce electricity for the local grid, Cuadrilla said. It estimated that the Elswick-1 well had two-three years of gas production left.

Lancashire County Council granted planning permission in 2020 for another five years at Elswick.

The industry regulator, the North Sea Transition Authority, has given Cuadrilla until June 2023 to evaluate options for Elswick and the fracked wells at the Preston New Road shale gas site.

Waste

Today’s permit application listed waste materials that would be produced alongside the gas. They included produced, or formation, water which contains salts, minerals and naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM). Gas extraction also produces waste scale and water-based muds.

The application said the produced water would be separated at the surface and stored in a tank for removal by road to a disposal site.

Cuadrilla said it intended to apply for a radioactive substances regulation permit to allow for accumulation and disposal of NORM.

The company’s non-technical summary concluded there was no need for air quality monitoring at Elswick:

“There are no significant impacts arising from the process activity on human health or the environment air quality. Furthermore, the extractive waste generated will not have a detrimental impact on air quality.”

The site condition report, also included in the application, recorded:

“the groundwater within the Sherwood Sandstone Group at this location is highly saline and unsuitable for water supply.”

The application also reported there were no sites of special scientific interest, local nature reserves, areas of outstanding natural beauty or ancient woodland within 1km of the site.

Consultation details

The public consultation continues until 13 January 2023. The application documents can be viewed online.

People can contribute online, by email at pscpublicresponse@environment-agency.gov.uk or by phone at 03708 506 506.

Venting versus flaring

The application included a cost benefit analysis comparing burning any gas in a flare with allowing it to be released, or vented, into the atmosphere.

Cuadrilla estimated that a flare would cost £61,358 per year, based on rental and running costs.

Venting would cost just £48 a year, the company estimated. This assumed one vent of 0.00678 tonnes per year, at a cost of £252 per tonne of gas.

Flaring is normally preferred by the Environment Agency because it converts methane to the less potent greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide (CO2).

Cuadrilla assumed in its calculations that methane has a global warming potential (GWP) of 28 over 100 years.

GWP is the amount of heat absorbed by any greenhouse gas in the atmosphere compared with CO2. A tonne of methane, with a GWP of 28, is 28 times more powerful than CO2 over 100 years.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change considers methane to have a GWP of 84-87, more than 80 times more powerful than CO2, over 20 years.

DrillOrDrop asked Cuadrilla to explain why it had used the 100-year GWP, rather than the higher 20-year GWP and whether this would make any difference to the cost benefit analysis. The company did not respond to our questions.

20 replies »

    • But the wind always blows somewhere……..just joking!

      Massive wind contribution today – currently running at 7% of our electricity generation. Still it is slightly better than yesterday.

      Solar / PV a steady 3% – but it is winter.

      Gas 55%

      Coal 3%

      Install 800% more wind turbines and we can do away with gas (today).

      https://gridwatch.co.uk/

      • Putting wind and solar generation into context. Last years daily generating average output. (Full years figures)

        Wind 5.639 GW.

        This is the power from Wind Farms and does not include unmetered wind turbines. The output from this fluctuates with the wind. There are currently over 6500 wind turbines in wind farms.

        Solar 1.168 GW

        compared with Combined Cycle Gas Turbines

        12.158 GW

        Install nearly twice as much wind and solar and use small amounts of UK produced North sea gas as the back up (permanent solution)

        https://gridwatch.co.uk/

        • Today you need 8x more wind JP.

          Your plan will result in blackouts for many days of the year.

          Daily averages are meaningless. What were the daily averages today / yesterday / the day before?

          Wind needs storage on a huge scale, something we don’t have.

          • ‘Daily averages are meaningless’ ……..but individual daily outputs are important.

            In that case,

            During the three months of July, August and September, renewables generated an estimated total of 29.5 terawatt hours (TWh), compared with just 29.1TWh from fossil fuels, the analysis shows

            ‘Install 800% more wind turbines and we can do away with gas (today).’

            Install 100% more renewables and we can do away with gas, oil,and coal (3 months in 2019)

            https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-uk-renewables-generate-more-electricity-than-fossil-fuels-for-first-time/

            Like it or not the UK will be increasing renewable capacity which will reduce the amount of fossil fuels burnt but do keep posting daily figures. Hourly if you think it will help your narrative.

            • I wander about in shorts in the summer, doesn’t mean that I can in the winter, John!

              Goodness, how many years does someone need to live in the UK to know, not suspect, that high pressure (little wind) and the sun (low in the sky if not shrouded in mist or cloud) is pretty routine, and energy supply needs to recognize that.

              Yes, increase renewable capacity-like nuclear. Because without that, the rest are stranded assets for critical parts of the year in UK. Then, the cost of doing that has to be taken into account and the “cheap” renewables are no longer looking cheap. What is left? Oh yes, ignore the reality. Cunning plan, John, but the reality is Britain has imported around 11B (bcm) of gas from USA in the first 11 months of 2022, up from 4B (bcm) in 2021. Good job that somewhere in the world there are those willing to step in and help out those foolish enough to need that assistance.

              • With the added bonus of access to the electricity grid I am surprised AJ Lucas shareholders didn’t push for a wind turbine and or solar panels on the site instead of buying a new gas generator and running it for a limited time. Wind may intermittent but won’t be running out in the next 2 to 3 years. Foolish investors. Maybe with the right planning experts to help Cuadrilla could have finally started making money from renewables. Maybe the thousands who stopped fracking could get behind a new company…..Cuadnewables.

                • Maybe the shareholders wish to maintain the bird population, John?

                  Wind across Europe is actually forecast to drop in the coming years, John!

                  The sun is shining here John, but I look out and see my car windscreen is still covered with ice and my computer tells me it is still freezing! At, 11.40am. The sun is low in the sky, and will not start creeping back up for another week or so. I can’t observe any wind movement in the trees at all.

                  Lovely, winters day-but, not for renewables.

                  For those in other parts of the world where the sun is a lot higher and/or they are enjoying low pressure and high winds, enjoy your renewables-except, you probably have little need of them!

    • Mikekelly I do not think the renewable sector has failed. It is doing what it was expected to do, which is not to contribute much when the wind does not blow and the sun does not shine. Net Zero is having a dose of reality – which was well flagged both here in DOD and elsewhere.

  1. You cannot put a price on a sustainable planet. If Cuadrilla want to do this then they should only be permitted to do so with the least damage to the climate. Far more important than Francis Egan’s profit. The gas/electricity will be sold at market price and will represent a tiny amount in terms of U.K. consumption but the damage to the climate is long term.

    [Typo corrected at poster’s request]

  2. For those using gas and electricity currently, and paying through the nose due to the abject failure of the “brave new world”, going back to such basics, and locally, is a welcome move.
    The represent a tiny amount nonsense is just that. No need for any householder to install a heat pump. then?

  3. If this goes ahead, why doesn’t cuadrilla convert the methane into electricity instead of flaring it off?
    Venting only produces more pollution.

    • Russ It seems that they have been generating electricity from gas, and they want to continue doing so by fitting a new generator.

      • Yes, I understand about the new generator, but the article also refers to the venting and flaring options for methane.

        • Russ

          Thanks . Their cost benefit analysis seems to be for 6.78Kg of gas per year (0.00678 Tonnes). I not looked closely at all the planning docs to see where this small amount of gas comes from. But it equates to 10% of a cow if the figures presented in the report are correct. Hence their case that it is not worth installing a flare (let alone the environmental cost of delivery, installation, maintenance and testing).

  4. Well, Russ, why don’t farmers convert the methane produced from their cows into electricity? Some do-if they have enough cows to make it viable. Perhaps the answer to your question lies therein? 0.00678t/year.

    Swamps only produce more pollution, from methane, Russ.

    Enjoy your spouts this Christmas, Russ!

  5. Perhaps you are unaware, AT, but no tube required. Even the “we’s” do it, those who also embrace a vegetarian diet do so a bit more. A fully fledged ruminant does it much more.
    Those who like rice just move the production, to the site of production. How about selecting all those billions and asking them to desist?

    0.00678t/year! It really is a pathetically small amount. Wonder how much is being deliberately added by re-swamping parts of the UK?

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