Cuadrilla demobolises fracking equipment

Fracking equipment at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site near Blackpool is being “demobolised”, the company has announced.

And it says no further fracking will take place before its current planning permission for the site runs out at the end of November.

The energy exploration company’s operations on the site have been suspended since August after a series of tremors – including one that measured 2.9 in magnitude.

Any tremor measuring 0.5 or above means fracking must be temporarily stopped while tests are carried out.

Cuadrilla has confirmed it is continuing to assist the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) on a series of technical studies arising out of the August incident.

In a statement it said: “A timeframe has not been agreed with the OGA for this work to be completed and further hydraulic fracturing will not take place at Preston New Road before current planning permission for fracturing expires at the end of November.”

However, Cuadrilla has also announced it is to begin flow testing its second horizontal shale gas well at what it describes as “the UK’s flagship hydraulic fracturing site.”

Chief executive officer Francis Egan explained: “Our second horizontal shale well was partially fractured in August and I am pleased that we are moving to flow test it in the next few weeks.

“We believe that this will further demonstrate the huge commercial opportunity here. Given the lower carbon footprint of UK shale gas compared to that of gas imported by ship from overseas, it clearly makes sense to look to develop this local resource rather than increasing reliance on imports.

“In addition UK shale gas has the potential to act as a domestic feedstock for hydrogen production which can help the UK reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.”

In February, Cuadrilla announced results from flow-testing of the UK’s first ever horizontal shale gas exploration well, which it said confirmed a high quality natural gas resource in the Lower Bowland Shale, capable of flowing to surface.

The company said the initial exploration programme also confirmed that the Bowland Shale formation “fractures in a way that is typical of an excellent shale gas reservoir”.

Francis said: “We are committed to exploring for shale gas with the aim to establish a domestic energy supply that the UK really needs.

“The Bowland Shale as a whole could be a very important resource for Lancashire and the UK and we plan to continue with our work to prove this.”