Cuadrilla Halts UK Fracking after Record Tremor
Shale gas explorer Cuadrilla Resources has halted hydraulic fracturing work at its Preston New Road site after detecting a “microseismic event.”
The tremor, detected at 20:46 on August 21, registered 1.55ML on the Richter scale, the company said in a statement the following morning, surpassing the government’s 0.5ML limit on seismic activity. It was greater than the site's previous record-setting quake since hydraulic fracturing was resumed in October last year of 1.5ML, which was detected in December.
Cuadrilla likened the tremor to “a large bag of shopping dropping on the floor,” however, noting the movement was well below the level that could cause damage to structures.
“Well integrity has been verified and we will now pause operations and continue monitoring for the next 18 hours,” it said.
Cuadrilla was given permission to launch hydraulic fracturing at its second well at the Lancashire site earlier this month. The probe is targeting the Bowland shale, estimated by the British Geological Survey to hold 1,300 trillion ft3 of gas. Cuadrilla published results from its first well in February, which it said confirmed the presence of an excellent shale gas reservoir.
Cuadrilla has complained that rules on seismic activity are stifling development, although the government has recently indicated it may loosen restrictions, owing to the strategic role domestic shale gas could play in the UK’s transition to a net-zero carbon future.