This is what Cuadrilla has said about the 18 day halt to fracking at its Preston New Road site
Shale gas firm Cuadrilla has moved to deny rumours that there are problems with its fracking operation at Preston New Road.
The move comes after Fylde MP Mark Menzies wrote to energy minister Claire Perry to ask for an independent probe into the site following questions from constituents and claims from anti-fracking campaigners.
They say that no fracking has been carried out at the site off the A583 near Little Plumpton, since fracking operations triggered a series of 36 small tremors, six of which were above the 0.5ML (local magnitude) limit where a halt has to be called on fracking for 18 days.
The protesters said Cuadrilla appears to have stopped fracking at the site, the only activity being staff entering and exiting the site and the odd cherry picker working near the silo tanks.
They suggested that, as well as the earthquakes, Cuadrilla is facing problems ranging from further issues with their impermeable membrane to problems with their well bore.
A Frack Free Lancashire spokesman said: “Local residents are living in an information vacuum. We can all see that this is not going to plan for Cuadrilla but they are refusing to allay our concerns by providing the community with the relevant facts. Instead, when our representatives on the Community Liaison Group question the regulators, they are fobbed off every time with excuses about “commercial sensitivity”.
“The local and national media are now coming to us looking for answers because Cuadrilla refuse to engage with them. If this is how the industry conducts itself when it is trying to present itself as a responsible operation, then what can we expect when they have all the permissions they need and start on their project of turning Lancashire into “the largest gas field in Western Europe”?”
Mark Menzies letter to Claire Perry states: "Following recent seismic activity, constituents have expressed concern over the well integrity at this site and believe that the current checks being carried out are not satisfactory.
"As you will be aware, following seismicity in 2011, activities at Cuadrilla Resources’ Preese Hall site were ceased due to damage to the internal structure of the well.
"In light of this, I would appreciate if you could clarify what plans the department have for an independent inspection of the well integrity at this site, either directly by the OGA or an appointee of that body, to reassure nearby residents that recent seismicity has not jeopardised the safety of operations."
But today, a spokesman for Cuadrilla said: “We are continuing to test the shale gas exploration well in Preston New Road, Lancashire, and the coiled tubing remains clearly and visibly attached to the coiled tubing tower on site above the well.
"We have completed a series of smaller fracks along the length of the horizontal well to gather data to assess the micro-seismic response of the shale rock 2km below the surface.
"We have said many times in recent days and weeks, to both local people and any media who have asked for an update, that we are now analysing that data as well as drawing on expert advice to determine how we can further optimise our hydraulic fracturing programme within the very rigorous operating boundaries of the micro-seismic traffic light system.
"These updates have included the reassurance that there are no issues with well integrity and there are equally no problems with the impermeable membrane underlying the site.”
And shale gas industry supporting group Lancashire For Shale criticised the opponents' speculation.
A spokesman said: "In highlighting what they perceive to be a lack of activity on site, campaigners again demonstrate how little they really understand the business of minerals and hydrocarbon exploration.
"Cuadrilla will simply be taking great care to study and interpret the vast amounts of data it will already have obtained from the early fracking of this well, before continuing to execute its plans.
"Unfounded claims and speculation about problems are just that - baseless and nothing more than an attempt to manufacture public concern given that the latest government survey shows opposition to fracking has fallen in the last year whilst support has remained broadly static."