Thursday, 22 November, 2018

Fracking stops as Lancashire tremors rip through safety limits

Rich Loizou Simon Blevins and Richard Roberts Image Rich Loizou Simon Blevins and Richard Roberts
Theresa Hayes | 29 October, 2018, 17:16

The only firm drilling for shale gas in Britain has temporarily suspended fracking after a mild natural disaster.

The quake, which took place 2km underground, was classed as a red event under the UK's fracking regulation traffic-light scheme and is the largest tremor at the Preston New Road, Little Plumpton, site since fracking began this month.

The energy firm said a seismic event close to 0.8 on the Richter magnitude scale was detected just after 11.30am on Friday - making it the biggest tremor since courts cleared the way for drilling to continue.

Fracking has been paused at British shale gas company Cuadrilla's Lancashire site after a fourth "micro seismic" event in four days.

The company said: "Cuadrilla can confirm following hydraulic fracturing this morning (27 October) a micro seismic event of 0.8ML, which can't be felt at surface, was recorded through the detailed seismic monitoring Cuadrilla and the British Geological Survey (BGS) are carrying out".

A spokesman for the the Oil and Gas Authority said: "While the operations at the Preston New Road site have been created to minimise any disturbance, minor events like these were expected".

A Cuadrilla spokesman added: "All the relevant regulators were informed without delay and we have verified that the well integrity is intact".

Earlier this week, more than 300,000 people have signed a petition opposing the government's proposal to accelerate new fracking developments. They are tiny movements that occur below ground.

A spokeswoman for Cuadrilla said: "This is not a "red" incident under the traffic light system operated by the Oil and Gas Authority as we were not pumping fracturing liquid as part of our hydraulic fracturing operations at the time".

The company said the activity did not reach the "red" level on the Oil and Gas Authority's warning system.

A previous earth tremor earlier this week registered 0.4 magnitude and temporarily halted Cuadrilla's operations for 24 hours.

"As per the hydraulic fracture plan in place at Preston New Road, work will now pause for at least 18 hours and is expected to recommence on Saturday morning". It was the second tremor in two months.