Fears over ‘failures’ in fracking wells

Tony Bosworth, Friends of the Earth's energy campaigner
Tony Bosworth, Friends of the Earth's energy campaigner
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Almost one in 10 fracking wells will “fail” and possibly affect water supply, a new study has claimed.

The research, commissioned by environmental group Friends of the Earth, concentrated on analysing data from hundreds of thousands of wells across North America, where the process of hydraulic fracturing is already well


However, the claims in the report that between five and nine per cent of wells experience a failure in the integrity of their walls have today been questioned by a body representing the onshore oil and gas industry.

Tony Bosworth, Friends of the Earth’s energy campaigner, said: “This new review shows oil and gas wells fail consistently, and that fracking wells are more likely to fail.

“No amount of regulation can remove this risk to our

water system.”

Fracking is the process of injecting water and chemicals into the ground at high pressure to release the gas inside rock.

Anti-fracking campaigners say there is a danger wells compromised through fracking could lead to water pollution.

Energy company Cuadrilla hopes to find out whether it would be feasible to carry out the process at sites in Roseacre and Little Plumpton.

The firm is set to submit planning applications to Lancashire County Council very soon in a bid to carry out exploratory drilling.

The UK Onshore Operators Group (UKOOG), the representative body for the UK onshore oil and gas industry, has however pointed to another report by ReFINE, a research body at Durham University, which found only one instance of recorded well integrity failure out of 143 oil wells active in the UK since 2000.

Ken Cronin, chief executive of UKOOG, said: “ReFINE’s extensive study into the onshore oil and gas activity around the world should give great reassurance about the quality of operations and regulation in the UK onshore oil and gas industry.

“It is important to note that ReFINE’s research focuses on historical records and studies.

“The industry and its practices are constantly improving with experience and technology as required by regulation.

“It is this continuous goal setting rather than a prescriptive approach that makes regulation in this country so admired by others around the world.”

Cuadrilla did not wish to comment further.