Drilling at Preston New Road site in Lancashire has triggered 37 minor quakes in three weeks
'A senior executive at the fracking company Cuadrilla privately said this summer it did not expect to cause earthquakes that would be serious enough to force it to halt operations.
But despite that confidence, the company has triggered 37 minor quakessince it started fracking for gas at its Preston New Road site in Lancashire three weeks ago.
Two of those have been powerful enough to exceed a regulatory threshold that requires fracking to stop, and on a third occasion the company voluntarily ceased operations when it neared the limit.
Cuadrilla has said such tremors are to be expected from fracking, which involves pumping water, sand and chemicals 2km underground at high pressure. Under government regulations, fracking must stop if a 0.5-magnitude earthquake is registered.
But during a tour of the site in June, Matthew Lambert, the government and public affairs director at Cuadrilla, said: “Because we are managing that risk I don’t really accept that we are likely to cause seismicity above that level [an apparent reference to 0.5-magnitude] and we will not be causing seismicity which will damage property.”
He described the system of monitoring seismicity as “highly regulated” and said the company had to “manage that risk” of causing tremors, a recording of the discussions shows.
The Green party said the comments, made months before earthquakes that breached the regulatory limit, showed Cuadrilla was “obviously in way over their heads”.'
Read more: Fracking firm boss says it didn't expect to cause such serious quakes