Cuadrilla returns equipment to fracking site

Onshore shale gas exploration operator Cuadrilla today delivered hydraulic fracturing equipment to its flagship Lancashire site in Preston New Road.

It follows the company’s announcement of work to hydraulically fracture a second well on the site near Blackpool.

The company opted for an early morning convoy delivery in line with existing planning permission, which it said was “designed to minimise disruption” in the area.

Laura Hughes, projects and operations director at Cuadrilla, said: “A range of specialist equipment has now been safely and effectively mobilised onto site.

“This was intensely managed by the operational team at Cuadrilla to ensure safety – not only for our own team but also other users of Preston New Road. I’m pleased to say the remobilisation was carried out without incident or inconvenience to our neighbours.”

Cuadrilla confirmed earlier this month that it plans to return to hydraulic fracturing and flow testing of natural gas at Preston New Road in the third quarter of 2019.

Subject to all required regulatory approvals, it aims to complete the work programme by the end of November.

The company describes the upcoming work programme at Preston New Road as the latest step in demonstrating the huge commercial opportunity of natural gas from UK shale.

The remobilisation was carried out without incident or inconvenience to our neighbours.

And that includes the potential for natural gas from shale to act as a domestic feedstock for hydrogen production.

It says that it will not be releasing the exact date of operations in advance to “ensure the programme is facilitated in a safe and managed environment”.

The new hydraulic fracture plan will operate in line with the existing ‘traffic light system’ but Cuadrilla says one of the key differences will be a more viscous fracturing fluid which is expected to improve operational performance.

In February, Cuadrilla announced results from flow-testing of the UK’s first ever horizontal shale gas exploration well which confirmed a reservoir of recoverable ‘high-quality’ natural gas estimated at around 1.3tcf by the British Geological Survey.

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

Reacting to news that Cuadrilla is active again at the Preston New Road site, Jamie Peters, Friends of the Earth campaigner, said: “Cuadrilla are going to try and start fracking again, showing complete disregard for a community that has resoundingly rejected them time and time again.

He added: “The writing is on the wall for this polluting industry as the world responds to the urgency of climate breakdown. It’s time Cuadrilla packed up their bags, cleaned up the site and moved on, for the sake of the community and the planet.”