Shale gas exploration firm Cuadrilla today confirmed that it will return to frack a new well at its site in Preston New Road, near Blackpool.
The company, based at Bamber Bridge, near Preston, will remobilise hydraulic fracturing and testing equipment in the third quarter of 2019 and, subject to all required regulatory approvals, complete the work programme by the end of November.
Anti-fracking campaigners have vowed to continue their protests.
Francis Egan, Chief Executive Officer, (pictured) said that the Cuadrilla team and the UK onshore shale exploration industry as a whole remained excited about the prospect of the Bowland Shale formation – estimated by the British Geological Survey to contain around 1,300 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
Cuadrilla says the upcoming work programme at Preston New Road is the latest step in demonstrating the huge commercial opportunity of natural gas from UK shale.
It will also ensure that more data is provided to Government and Regulators to justify an expert technical review of what Cuadrilla says is the current "exceedingly low" limit on induced seismicity, allowing for this to be brought into line with other UK industries such as quarrying, construction and geothermal.
Mr Egan explained: “We look forward to returning to operations at Preston New Road which will further prove the flow of high quality natural gas from the Bowland Shale.
"Work to date on what is probably the most highly monitored onshore oil and gas site in the world has proved that this is an entirely safe, well run and well-regulated operation – and there is no doubt that the opportunity for the UK is huge.
“This work programme builds on Cuadrilla’s unique experience and expertise as the leading onshore shale exploration operator in the UK. We have learnt a lot during the hydraulic fracture programme for the PNR-1z horizontal in 2018 and this expertise forms the basis for the new hydraulic fracture plan for our second horizontal well, PNR2."
In February, Cuadrilla announced results from flow-testing of its first shale gas exploration well which confirmed a reservoir of recoverable high quality natural gas.
The news that Cuadrilla will return will anger protesters, who claim that fracking causes earth tremors, water pollution and other environmental problems.
But Cuadrilla and others claim it can provide Lancashire with an economic boom.
Nick Danby from Frack Free Lancashire said:“This is an unwelcome but not unexpected announcement.
"It seems extraordinary that with the government just announcing a climate emergency, we are contemplating a resumption of fracking on the Fylde.
“Let us remember that Cuadrilla have a long history of failure and that they caused 57 seismic events last time that they fracked.
“We will continue to strongly oppose fossil fuels and demand an immediate transition to renewable energy.”
A Lancashire For Shale spokesperson said: "Cuadrilla's plan to return to its Preston New Road site is welcome news.
"There is no doubt that Britain will continue to consume huge amounts of natural gas for decades more, including potentially in the production of clean-burning hydrogen to help decarbonise home and industry heating as well as HGV transport.
"With that being the case, it makes both economic and environmental sense to extract and use our own gas rather than relying on imports from all over the world."