Fracking to start again despite earthquakes striking underneath Lancashire site
Fracking will start again despite it triggering earthquakes in Lancashire.
Energy firm Cuadrilla started drilling for shale gas last week, for the first time in seven years that it has happened in the UK.
The company called a halt due to the tremors, but says it will start again on Thursday.
They had stopped after the latest – and biggest – tremor was detected on the grounds of their Preston New Road site, Lancashire.
The seismic event, measuring 0.48 on the Richter Scale, was described as a tiny tremor by Cuadrilla and within operating expectations.
Campaigners, who lost a High Court bid to stop fracking, have demanded the firm stop following the latest set of quakes.
A spokesman for Frack Free Lancashire said Who knows what is happening under our feet?
This is the earth giving out a warning, as predicted by geologists following the previous failures of fracking in Lancashire.
The increased risk of larger magnitude quakes is serious. Cuadrilla must stop now, for all our sakes.
In 2011, fracking was halted for seven years after experts said two Lancashire tremors – one registering 2.3 magnitude – were caused by shale gas test drilling.
The 0.4ML tremor on Tuesday was classed as an amber event as part of the traffic light system in place for monitoring seismic events during operations.
Cuadrilla said it was required to reduce the rate at which it was pumping fracturing fluid once the seismic event had been detected, but it had adopted extra caution and had stopped pumping for the day in response.
Work got under way again on Wednesday morning, however fracking had already stopped before the second tremor was detected.
Caudrilla said earlier this month it would spend at least three months fracking two horizontal wells, and then it would test to see if the gas flow was commercially viable.
Anti-fracking campaigners tried to stop the process with an attempted injunction but failed in their bid.
Drilling began on Tuesday and the first three tremors happened on Thursday, according to the British Geological Survey.
On October 18th, the seismic events were small, measuring -0.2, 0.8 and -0.3 respectively.
On Friday, the quakes went into positive territory, which is considered an Amber event under a Traffic Light System of safety monitoring.
Friday afternoon saw 0.3, followed by a 0 quake on October 20th and yesterdays at 0.4.
All are at low levels and were not felt on the surface.
Cuadrilla said they halted drilling on Tuesday after the tremor, adding: This is an extremely low level of seismicity, far below what could possibly be felt at the surface.
But it was classed as an amber event as part of the Traffic Light System (TLS) in place for monitoring operational activity.
As such we are required to reduce the rate we are pumping fracturing fluid once it has been detected.
In fact we have adopted extra caution and have stopped pumping for the day.
Seismicity will, as always, continue to be monitored closely around the clock by ourselves and others and we plan to continue hydraulic fracturing again in the morning.
Local residents should be reassured that the monitoring systems in place are working as they should.
These are tiny seismic events being detected by our monitors as we fracture the shale rock and are not capable of being felt much less cause damage or harm.
Fracking, or Hydraulic Fracturing, involves pumping vast quantities of water and chemicals into unstable rock to release combustible gas.
Drilling for shale gas is still at an exploratory phase.
However, reserves of shale gas have been identified across large swathes of the UK, particularly in northern England.
More than 100 licences have been awarded by the government, allowing firms to pursue a range of oil and gas exploration activities in certain areas.
A government-appointed panel said there could be more tremors as a result of fracking, but they would be too small to do structural damage above ground.
It recommended greater monitoring with a traffic light regime, with tremors of 0.5 or above triggering a red light and an immediate halt.
The Government has been pro-fracking despite concerns over climate change.
When Theresa May came to power, she announced householders living near shale wells would enjoy a frackpot payout of up to £10,000 each.
However the UNs Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change launched a new report only two weeks ago bringing forward the dangerous limits of climate change and calling on world leaders to take immediate action to bring global warming under control by 2040.
The extensive list of measures required includes a diverse energy mix of 85 per cent renewables and practically no coal, oil or gas.
Pro-fracking lobby group Lancashire For Shale said: A 0.4 magnitude event like this is so small it is only possible to detect it using very sensitive instruments like those deployed locally by Cuadrilla and the British Geological Survey.
The very open manner in which this event has been reported, and Cuadrillas reaction to it, demonstrates just how robust the new controls are and that the Traffic Light System is working effectively.