What’s going on?
Shale gas exploration company Cuadrilla is now drilling into deep lying rocks known as the Bowland Shale to test if natural gas trapped there can be commercially recovered as an energy source.
What’s the latest?
The company has made a donation of £100,000 to an independent Community Benefit Fund, managed by the Community Foundation for Lancashire, to share some of the profits, and benefit the area around the drill site. Residents will soon receive a survey carried out by Membership Engagement Services, an independent research company. Residents will be asked their views on which types of local community issues or projects should be aided.
What’s the issue?
Cuadrilla plans to drill four test wells and frack for gas. That means water, chemicals and sands will be injected into the shale under pressure to release the gas. Environmentalists fear pollution and harm to the countryside, and there are protesters near the site.
And the drilling?
Cuadrilla will drill a pilot well around 3,500 metres deep. Samples will be taken at various levels within the shale to decide where best to drill horizontal wells. Then the first two horizontals will be drilled at depths of between 2,000m and 3,500m and should be finished by the end of the year. Test fracking could start early next year.
What do critics say?
Prof John Underhill, chief scientist at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, suggested this week the UK is “55 million years too late” for the gas extraction technique to work. The geo-scientist claimed reservoirs of shale gas had been damaged by seismic activity 55 million years ago and that fracking may not be a success here.