Uncovering riches under the ground

Cuadrilla is conducting a survey to establish where drills pads could be placed.

Cuadrilla is conducting a survey to establish where drills pads could be placed.

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A SHALE gas drilling company has unveiled plans to carry out a massive land survey as it bids to find out the scale of riches below ground.

ibrations and shot sounds could be heard across large swathes of the Fylde as Cuadrilla Resources’ carries out a geo-physical survey in a bid to establish the best places to carry out their controversial fracking operations.

The company’s chief executive Mark Miller has promised to bring millions of pounds and hundreds of jobs to the local economy if Cuadrilla presses ahead with plans to drill commercially on the Fylde, and this survey is key to helping them make that decision.

A spokesman for Cuadrilla, which currently has exploratory drill sites in Weeton, Singleton and Westby, said: “We are carrying out this geophysical survey to gain a better understanding of the area’s subsurface geology – that is the varied layers of rock beneath the surface.

“This survey work will mean any move to the production process can be better targeted, with fewer well pads draining more gas.

“The process is similar to using sonar to build up a picture underwater – here we are using controlled energy signals to allow us to develop a picture through thousands of feet of rock.”

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A network of geophones – similar to sensitive microphones – will be laid out by Cuadrilla’s survey team to record energy signals, which will be generated by using four tractor-like vehicles mounted with “vibrating plates”, which travel both on and off road.

Where the ground is softer, small charges will be lowered into specially prepared holes and detonated to generate energy signals – making a shot sound which may be heard by residents.

Originally, the company had planned to announce this summer whether it will drill commercially on the Fylde, with drilling due to start in 2013. But all fracking has been suspended while the Department for Energy and Climate Change conduct an investigation following earthquakes caused by fracking in Weeton – data which is also needed before a decision can be made.

Coun Maxine Chew, who represents Singleton, said councillors remained cautious about fracking.

She said: “I’ve no concerns if they are doing exactly what happened before.

“Everybody is very apprehensive because Cuadrilla is an unknown quantity, but I hope they will be responsible enough to eliminate every danger they can.”

The two month project is due to start at the end of March.

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