Letter from firm’s chief executive urges review of seismic limits on fracking operations
'Shale gas company Cuadrilla is reportedly ready to commence fracking at a second well at its Preston New Road site in Lancashire, despite recently saying safety regulations had “severely constrained” the amount of gas it can extract.
The company is under mounting pressure as its permit to frack at the site expires in November, and Cuadrilla’s attempt to gain planning permission at another site in the area was rejected earlier this year.
So far the firm, which is the only company to frack in Britain, has partially managed to frack one well at Preston New Road but has been unable to extract as much gas as it hoped, due to earth tremors caused by the process.
The government’s “traffic light” system means operations must be halted when seismic activity registers over 0.5 on the Richter scale.
Despite earlier saying it would be able to operate within this framework, Cuadrilla demanded an “urgent review” of the system in February, saying it was too conservative, and let the company operate at just 14 per cent of its capabilities when injecting water, sand and chemicals into the shale rock.
In February the company urged the Oil and Gas Authority to “urgently review” the traffic light system to enable the Preston New Road wells to be “properly tested and produced effectively, without compromising safety or environmental protection”.
The company said: “An intentionally conservative micro-seismic operating limit during hydraulic fracturing, set at just 0.5 on the Richter scale, had … severely constrained the volume of sand that could be injected into the shale rock.”
Now, a Freedom of Information request by the Financial Times has revealed that in December 2018, Cuadrilla chief executive Francis Egan wrote to the Oil and Gas Authority highlighting the time pressure facing the company.'
Read more: Cuadrilla ‘ready to frack’ at second well in Lancashire as pressure on embattled industry builds