Earthquake ‘no barrier’ to jobs

Cuadrilla press conference at the Imperial Hotel, North Shore, Blackpool. Mark Miller

Cuadrilla press conference at the Imperial Hotel, North Shore, Blackpool. Mark Miller

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FEARS over an earthquake which rocked the Fylde coast will not stop a predicted shale gas jobs rush.

That was according to bosses at Cuadrilla Resources who are adamant it will be able to continue fracking when the investigation into May’s 1.5 magnitude earthquake is concluded.

The company has revealed it expects controversial shale gas drilling to bring hundreds of jobs and millions of pounds to the area’s economy – and CEO Mark Miller is confident the on-going investigation would not have an impact.

Mr Miller said: “We assembled a team of specialists to look into the earthquake and they’ve spent most of the summer looking at all data available and assessing it.

“We expect that report to be in a form ready to submit to Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) by early October and, as soon as they’ve had a chance to look at it, it will be made public.

“We’re confident in the outcome of the report but it will be for everybody else to have that same confidence level before we proceed.”

The company had only been fracking – sending water and chemicals thousands of feet underground to break rock and release gas – a month when the earthquake struck Poulton and the process had to be suspended.

But after revealing there is 200 trillion cubic feet of gas under Lancashire, the company hopes to have 10 drill rigs carrying out the process from 2013, subject to DECC consent and planning permission.

The move would create around 1,700 jobs over nine years – possibly rising as high as 2,500 over a 16-year period if the process is successful.

And as well as bringing specialist, highly paid jobs to the area – the average Cuadrilla employee earns £55,000 – the company also hope to target entry-level workers from the local community.

Darren Wisher, (inset), of Regeneris Consulting, who have worked with Cuadrilla to asses the economic impact of their plans, said: “It will generate opportunities for entry-level positions – there’s a genuine possibility this will be accessible from some of the more deprived areas of Blackpool and Lancashire.

“At the same time there’s a major focus here on highly skilled occupations, geologists, engineers.

“The average salary is about £55,000 – it’s not only a large volume of jobs, it’s a large volume of well-paid jobs.

“It’s potentially the biggest force of jobs creation in the next decade in Lancashire and the benefits will be felt throughout the county.

“It will be useful for getting the more deprived areas of Blackpool into employment.”

Cuadrilla has already advertised for entry level well-service technicians and received 130 applications, with Blackpool contributing the largest proportion of applicants.

Mr Miller added: “We’re quite encouraged by the calibre of people who came through. We’re going to hire between five and seven but there’s a large group we want to keep on file as a pool ready to go as we continue to grow.”