Fracking resumes at Cuadrilla's site near Blackpool

Cuadrilla's site at Preston New Road, Little Plumpton
Cuadrilla's site at Preston New Road, Little Plumpton
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Shale gas exploration firm Cuadrilla has resumed fracking at its site at Preston New Road near Blackpool.

The company announced that it would return to operations last month and has secured all the required permits and permissions to fracture up to 45 stages on its second horizontal well at the site.

The work will be completed by the end of November and followed by flow testing of the well, with gas flow results expected early in 2020.

Laura Hughes, Projects and Operations Director at Cuadrilla, said: “I am delighted to have resumed fracturing our second horizontal well and we look forward to sharing the results once flow testing is completed.

“As we have often said Preston New Road is one of the most monitored oil and gas sites anywhere in the world. We have proven it is a well-run, entirely safe and environmentally responsible operation.

"We also know there is a reservoir of recoverable high quality natural gas beneath our feet that the UK needs if we are to reach Net Zero by 2050. “The UK onshore shale exploration industry as a whole remains excited about the prospect of the Bowland Shale formation – estimated by the British Geologic Survey to contain some 1,300 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.”

Ms Hughes confirmed that hydraulic fracturing would operate in line with the seismic traffic light system regulated by the Oil and Gas Authority.

She added: “We have unique experience and expertise of hydraulic fracturing in the UK from operations on our first well at Preston New Road.

"Whilst there may well be low levels of induced seismicity, local people should be reassured that any resulting ground motion will be far below anything that could cause harm or damage and, indeed, is likely to be much less than caused daily by other industries such as quarrying or construction or even heavy goods vehicles travelling on our roads.”

The operation at Little Plumpton has attracted scores of protesters, who claim that hydraulic fracturing causes earth tremors and water pollution and noise pollution via industry traffic.

Shale gas supporters claim it could bring an economic boom to Lancashire if successful.

Jamie Peters, campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “Companies like Cuadrilla are turning a blind eye to the climate crisis and have been lobbying for earthquake safety limits to be relaxed.

"This is only after they’ve realised that fracking can’t be done without potentially dangerous effects underground.

“Fracking just isn’t part of the future if we are serious about avoiding climate breakdown. Instead of backing climate-wrecking fracking the government should ban it and support renewable energy and green jobs instead."

Cuadrilla asked for an expert technical review of the micro-seismic operating limit of 0.5ML on the Richter scale in 2018.

Any reading above that limit means that work must stop on its fracking site.

A spokesperson for the Preston New Road Action Group said: “Today is a worrying day for people living close to the PNR site.

"It seems as though all our concerns are being ignored as this industry is allowed to progress.

“We now wait for the earth tremors to start up again and wonder what damage they will be causing underground as well as at the surface.

“We fail to understand the need for damaging fossil fuel when we are fighting a climate change emergency.”