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    Cuadrilla Expects UK Frack in 2H 2017


Cuadrilla is preparing to drill and frack in 2H2017 at its Preston New Road site, northwest England, but finding protesters are still trying to block it.

by: Mark Smedley

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Natural Gas & LNG News, Europe, Corporate, Exploration & Production, Shale Gas , News By Country, United Kingdom

Cuadrilla Expects UK Frack in 2H 2017

Six years after a moratorium was imposed in 2011 on all UK shale gas activity, lifted in late 2012 – and three years since the government said that UK shale gas reserves potential could be 150bn m³ – Cuadrilla is engaged in preparations to drill and frack in 2H 2017 at its Preston New Road site in Lancashire, northwest England, but finding protesters are still trying to block its way.

Other shale gas explorers are progressing: IGas expects to drill – but not frack – its shale acreage in north Nottinghamshire, while Third Energy plans to frack an existing well in North Yorkshire, but Ineos, the largest UK shale acreage operator is still at an early stage.

Cuadrilla’s Preston New Rd site is to get 24-hour policing, Lancashire Constabulary told the BBC July 11, after daily protests since early 2017. The company was given planning consent by the government last year; an attempt to overturn that consent was quashed in April 2017.

On July 19, five women from Leeds from activist group Reclaim The Power blocked the entrance to Cuadrilla's site to protest the impact of climate change and recycling of fracking waste water. The group had said its protest there a day earlier, July 18, was "to support an Italian community resisting a gas pipeline in southern Italy" – a reference to the final TAP leg of the 3,500 km Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) pipe projects to take Azeri gas to Europe. But the less gas the UK produces, the more it will need to import, with the inevitable risk of environmental damage that long-distance gas pipelines or LNG entail.

A Cuadrilla spokesperson told NGW July 19: “We moved to the drilling prep stage as expected in 2Q and are undertaking the conductor installation work for the wells. Main drilling of the wells will start over the summer and we expect to start fracking those wells towards the end of 2017.” She acknowledged the July 19 protest but said it “inconvenienced locals and wasted a lot of police time.”

The government has itself ordered shale gas explorers to recycle waste water from fracking, following treatment, rather than – as happens in some US operations – to reinject it deep underground, which experts believe caused many tremors in the US.

Unless events change, Cuadrilla is likely to be the first firm to drill and frack an English shale licence since 2011, when the government told it to halt both activities following minor tremors at a nearby Lancashire site. Scotland and Northern Ireland all retain legal moratoriums on such activities, while the government in Wales has declared its political opposition to fracking.

A spokesperson for Third Energy said it has not started fracking yet: “The company has just submitted its Hydraulic Fracture Plan which must be approved first,” initially by upstream regulator OGA and then by Business and Energy Secretary of State Greg Clark.

Third Energy was cleared by North Yorkshire county council to proceed in May 2016; an attempt to overturn that consent was quashed in December.      

UK shale gas reserve potential could be as large as 150bn m3 (5.3 trillion ft3), by analogy with similar producing shale gas plays in North America, said a 2014 report from the UK government. Much of that 150bn m3 potential is in the Bowland Shale, extending below much of northern England and the English east Midlands. The report stressed that all the UK’s shale potential remains untested. Previous 'gas initially in place' estimates were higher still.

Ineos and IGas also have shale acreage, with Total a partner in some of their acreage.

Ineos is still only at the stage of conducting 3D seismic of shale gas blocks that it operates, while IGas has approvals from Nottinghamshire county council to drill for shale gas at two sites where it is operator  – but will not frack either, and must reapply if it wishes to frack at a later stage.


Mark Smedley