Campaigners' scorn for "patio gas" footage at Lancashire fracking site

Anti-fracking campaigners have poured scorn on shale gas firm Cuadrilla after a report revealed a video of fracked gas being burned off at its drill site included added “patio” gas.

The drone video footage of flames in a flare stack was released early in November to show gas was flowing to the surface from a well drilled deep into shale rock below the Preston New Road drill site.

A still from the video taken by a Cuadrilla drone looking down into the flare stack where gas is being burned

A still from the video taken by a Cuadrilla drone looking down into the flare stack where gas is being burned

But now the Environment Agency has said the volume of methane gas rising to the surface was “low” and that “a support fuel (propane) was used to assist combustion”.

Frack Free Lancashire said the revelation showed they had been right to be sceptical of the video, which had come after a fortnight of minor earth tremors caused by the fracking process.

But Cuadrilla said it was simply part of the process and that the initial flow tests were still being analysed.

A Frack Free Lancashire spokesman said: “It would seem that Cuadrilla’s woeful PR campaign has fallen flat on its face yet again.

Cuadrilla's fracking equipment at Preston New Road

Cuadrilla's fracking equipment at Preston New Road

“In November, desperate for some good news after provoking a series of earthquakes they published a video showing the flaring of gas from their first well.

“Widely ridiculed at the time as it only lasted a few seconds before being seen to have petered out, we now learn from the Environment Agency that, far from being a ‘significant’ find, this gas flow was so weak that they had to add patio gas to it to make it burn.

"What is clear is that things have not gone to plan for Cuadrilla who were to have been flow testing two wells in early 2019. Their investors’ lack of confidence in their statements can be seen in the slide of their parent company, AJ Lucas’s share price, which was today at a 52 week low.”

But a Cuadrilla spokesman said:“Propane gas is used to ignite the flare and as such some of it is burned inevitably when natural gas is flared.

“We had natural gas flowing back from the reservoir beneath Preston New Road at the beginning of November.

“Since completing current hydraulic fracturing operations in mid-December we have been testing the flow rates of natural gas. We are not providing details of flow while we remain in testing mode.

“We will provide an update of the flow test when it has been completed and the results analysed.”

The firm has permission to drill two more wells at the site.