Cuadrilla has received final hydraulic fracture consent from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) for its first horizontal shale gas exploration well at its Preston New Road site in Lancashire.
Cuadrilla CEO Francis Egan said: “We are very pleased to be the first operator in the UK to have been awarded final consent to hydraulically fracture an onshore horizontal shale exploration well.
“This is a testament to, and underpinned by, our strong track record of running a world class shale gas exploration site at Preston New Road, in compliance with robust health, safety, environmental and planning regulations. It is also a win for Lancashire, which has already benefited directly from over £10M of investment as a result of our exploration works at Preston New Road to date.
“We now look forward to submitting a fracture consent application to BEIS for our second exploration well and moving on to fracture the shale rock and flow the natural gas which we believe will make a major contribution to reducing the UK’s gas imports and improving our environment and economy.”
The first horizontal shale gas well was completed by Cuadrilla in April 2018 through the Lower Bowland shale rock at approximately 2,300m below surface and extends laterally for some 800m.
The second horizontal shale gas well was completed this month and has been drilled through the Upper Bowland shale at an approximate depth of 2,100m below the surface, extending laterally for some 750m through the shale.
These are the first two horizontal shale exploration wells to be drilled onshore in the UK. Following hydraulic fracturing of these first two horizontal wells Cuadrilla will run an initial flow test of the gas produced from both wells for approximately six months.
BGS director of science and technology Mike Stephenson cautiously responded to the announcement: “Britain will need a cautious approach to shale gas development if commercial amounts of gas are found.
“Overall, natural gas, potentially including shale gas, provides a lower carbon fossil fuel than coal when burnt in power stations, and provides a backup for the intermittency of renewables. But shale gas exploitation must be done to very high levels of environmental assurance.
“The science being carried out on UK shale gas resources, environmental monitoring and subsurface development by the BGS and other research institutions will provide regulators and government with the evidence they need to achieve that environmental assurance.”
Cuadrilla is now in the process of preparing to apply for consent to carry out hydraulic fracturing operations for its second horizontal shale gas exploration well at the same site.