Fracking firm boss in new call for safe limits to be raised

Cuadrilla and its local contractors have contributed £15m into the Lancashire economy since 2016.

By David Nowell
Tuesday, 28th May 2019, 7:16 pm
Updated Tuesday, 28th May 2019, 8:16 pm
Francis Egan of Cuadrilla
Francis Egan of Cuadrilla

But the shale gas exploration firm’s CEO has warned that the benefits a shale revolution could bring to the county are being held back by unreasonable regulations.

The latest Putting Lancashire First tracker results show that in the first three months of 2019 Cuadrilla directly invested over £1.4m into the local supply chain, with contracts ranging from cleaning services through to geoconsulting and specialist plant hire.

Cuadrilla contractors also spent a further £80,000 in the county, while local community sponsorships increased by more than £40,000 in the same period.

Francis Egan, Chief Executive Officer at leading onshore shale gas operator Cuadrilla, said the latest figures demonstrated the industry’s huge potential for the county given the spend from just the first two exploratory wells at the flagship Preston New Road site.

He said: “We’re committed to working with as many local suppliers in the county as we can to unlock a huge resource of natural gas in Lancashire that could heat homes across the UK for the next 50 years.”

But he added that the opportunity to establish a domestic gas supply that would create significant economic prosperity including jobs and tax revenues is being held back by a micro-seismic Traffic Light System, set with an upper limit of just 0.5 on the Richter scale, with no credible scientific basis.

Francis said: “We have been very transparent about our request for the Government to review the uniquely conservative micro-seismic regulations to assist the onshore shale gas industry in becoming commercially viable.

“This is especially so as the potential for Lancashire and the UK has been clearly demonstrated by the fracturing and flow-testing already carried out at Preston New Road.

“Across Lancashire, construction and quarrying projects create ground vibration on a daily basis far higher than anything we have ever created or are likely to create by hydraulic fracturing.

“We have gathered the data and shown that the impact of any induced seismicity is far below anything that would cause damage or harm. It is time now to allow the system to be reviewed by qualified experts and for the shale business to be treated like other industry and be allowed to operate in a safe and sensible way, unlocking a huge opportunity for the UK.”

Cuadrilla is going ahead with fracking at its site in Preston New Road, Little Plumpton.

Fracking is controversial – with opponents claiming it can cause earth tremors, water pollution and traffic problems near sites.

Protestors and the Government have said they are against a relaxing of the “traffic light” monitoring scheme.

Campaigners claim it is not yet known what the long-term implications will be of shale gas exploration.

Others urge the Government to support “green” sources of energy.