Cuadrilla is currently exploring the Bowland shale rock in Lancashire for natural gas. The gas trapped within this rock is no different to the natural gas which we all use every day in our homes, businesses and communities.
Hydraulic fracturing – or fracking as it is sometimes called – is the long established process of creating fractures in rock formations to release the natural gas trapped inside. It has taken place for decades in the UK, with the first treatment thought to have taken place in the mid-1970s. Our site in Elswick was fractured in 1993 and generated around 1MW of electricity seven days a week in its early life. Hydraulic fracturing is common in the North Sea, where it has been performed thousands of times.
The hydraulic fracturing operations carried out by Cuadrilla in the Bowland Basin in Lancashire takes place at depths generally greater than 6,000 feet – that is almost 13 times the height of Blackpool tower!
In advance of performing Hydraulic Fracturing, our engineers and geologists analyse all available technical data, including rock properties and wellbore mechanics, to ensure that the process is undertaken safely.
Fracturing fluid – 99.95% water and sand – is released at high pressure into the rock formation to create millimetre-sized cracks. These cracks are held open by sand grains contained within the fluid, allowing the gas to flow into the wellbore and be collected at the surface.
Watch our “What’s Fracturing” video here.
The shale gas industry, through its representative body UK Onshore Oil & Gas (UKOOG) has agreed with Government to pay £100,000 to the community local to each exploration site where it has been granted full planning and regulatory permissions to hydraulically fracture an exploration well. Cuadrilla currently has planning consent to drill, hydraulically fracture and test the flow rate of natural gas from up to four exploration wells our Preston New Road site. As there will be up to four exploration wells at this site we have made clear that this would mean a payment of up to £400,000 for the local community (£100,000 per exploration well that is hydraulically fractured). Payments would be made in instalments of £100,000, paid as the drilling of each exploration well commences.
Of the total amount, a quarter (up to £100,000) will be administered by the Community Foundation for Lancashire, a charitable body with considerable expertise and experience in working with local communities. The Community Foundation will consult with the local community and will manage the distribution of the money donated by Cuadrilla to community projects of the communities’ choosing.
We will also consult with the community local to the Preston New Road exploration well site on how the remaining three quarters of the money (up to £300,000) will be spent. We propose to appoint a third party to run this consultation in order to best ensure that any final decisions are representative of the wishes of local residents.