Posts tagged ‘Shale gas’

November 4, 2011

Fracking operations in Blackpool lined to recent earthquakes – the report finds

by Jasmina Nikoloska

Controversial ‘fracking’ technique linked to resent earthquakes near Blackpool, where UK Company Cuadrilla Resources is working on shale gas extraction.

To access shale gas, drilling must be downwards into the gas-bearing rock, ten thousand feet below the surface, and then horizontally for thousands of feet more when a mixture of water, chemicals and sand is plumed to fracture the rock, under high pressure.

The water opens up cracks in the rock, and the sand grains lodge in them and keep them open which creates space for the gas to travel up and be collected at the surface.

According to the report, commissioned by Cuadrilla, it is “highly probable” that shale gas test drilling triggered earthquakes, one of magnitude 2.3 hit the Fylde coast on 1 April, followed by a second of magnitude 1.4 on 27 May.

Following protests against shale gas drilling Cuadrilla suspended  its operations in June and commissioned a report.

But the report, also said the quakes were due to an “unusual combination of geology at the well site” and conditions which caused the minor earthquakes were “unlikely to occur again”.

Cuadrilla’s chief executive officer Mark Millerchief said for BBC news: “There are procedures we can put in place to practise earthquake prevention”.

Some environmentalists are not conversed in the safety of fracking and they suspect that potentially carcinogenic chemicals could escape during the process and contaminate drinking water sources. Therefore they are they are calling for a moratorium on fracking.

Cuadrilla said groundwater in Lancashire was protected by layers of rock between the aquifers which are up to 300m deep.

In the Statement Charles Hendry, Energy Minister said: “We are committed to the highest standards of safety and environmental protection in all UK oil and gas activities, and we will look at Cuadrilla’s report carefully with the assistance of our independent experts and regulators, before deciding whether hydraulic fracturing operations should resume. This is a potentially important addition to our energy resources, but its development must be done in a way that carries public confidence.”

The Government believes that the potential for unconventional gas is worth exploring as additional energy security and economic benefits; although it’s commercial viability at this stage is still unknown.

In September Cuadrilla announced this week that its tests showed there could be as much as 5.6 trillion cubic metres (200tn cubic ft) of gas in the Bowland shale under  Lancashire .

But according to Doug Parr, chief scientist at Greenpeace fracking is a “distraction from the real challenges” and the real energy solutions would be found in using renewable sources, the BBC news published on 02 November.

Cuadrilla’s report can be found on the Cuadrilla website [External link]:

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