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UK company Cuadrilla said on Wednesday that initial flow tests at its fracking site in northwest England showed a rich reservoir with high-quality recoverable natural gas, while it also called for the rules on tremor limits to be eased so proper appraisals could be made.
Cuadrilla started fracking at an exploration site in Lancashire in October 2018, resuming hydraulic fracturing in the UK for the first time in seven years. Natural gas started to flow to the surface from Cuadrilla’s shale exploration well at the Preston New Road site in early November. The company, however, has had to stop operations multiple times, due to micro seismic events measuring above the threshold requiring a halt.
According to UK regulations, in case of micro seismic events of 0.50 on the Richter scale or higher, fracking must temporarily be halted and pressure in the well reduced.
In today’s announcement, Cuadrilla said that “An intentionally conservative micro-seismic operating limit during hydraulic fracturing, set at just 0.5 on the Richter Scale, had however severely constrained the volume of sand that could be injected into the shale rock.”
The company confirmed that it had asked the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) of the UK to urgently review the so-called traffic light system (TLS) for measuring seismic events, in order to enable proper and safe testing, exploration, and production at the Preston New Road site.
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“Subject to the outcome of such a review Cuadrilla plans to complete hydraulic fracturing of the PNR1 well, fracture the PNR2 well and carry out flow testing of both wells later this year,” the company said.
Earlier this week, oil, gas, and chemicals group Ineos called on the UK government to either lift the seismicity limit on fracking from a currently “unworkable” and too-low ceiling, or end shale altogether without using political backdoors to shut it down.
Cuadrilla remains committed to the opportunity, CEO Francis Egan said in today’s statement, adding “All we ask now is that we are treated fairly, with comparable seismic and ground vibration levels to similar industries in Lancashire and elsewhere in the UK who are able to work safely but more effectively with significantly higher thresholds for seismicity and ground vibration.”
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.