Fracking equipment leaves Blackpool site - but it will be back
Shale gas exploration company Cuadrilla has demobilised some equipment from its Lancashire site before Christmas.
But the fracking firm is already looking forward to bringing it back in 2019.
The team, which is based in Bamber Bridge, near Preston and operates the UK’s first horizontal shale gas exploration wells in Preston New Road, near Blackpool, said 2018 had been a landmark year.
Chief Executive Officer Francis Egan provided an update as equipment prepared to demobilise from Preston New Road today..
He revealed that gas had been flowing back to the surface.
He said: “It has been an amazing year. We drilled the first two horizontal wells into UK shale, both safely and successfully completed, secured the country’s first ever hydraulic fracture consent and agreed the associated operation plans and then hydraulically fractured our first well.
“In recent weeks we have repeatedly seen natural gas flowing back to surface along with the water injected during the fracturing process and this flow of gas is in fact earlier than expected.
"Whilst there have been undoubted challenges and restrictions in operating within what is acknowledged to be a very conservative micro-seismic traffic red light threshold (set at just 0.5 on the Richter Scale) this early gas flow is a hugely encouraging signal of the potential locked up in this natural gas resource to heat our homes and businesses for many years to come.
“All of the above was achieved with a relentless focus on safety and environmental performance. I was more than pleased to see this recognised by the recent Lancashire County Council vote which recognised that Preston New Road is the most closely monitored site in Europe.
“We believe that we are beginning 2019 in a place where our local community, our Regulators and national and local government can be assured by the evident professionalism and highly skilled approach of Cuadrilla. #
“We are on the cusp of unlocking a huge economic opportunity which can benefit Lancashire and the UK for decades to come and reduce our ever growing reliance on imports of natural gas from all corners of the globe.”
Cuadrilla said that it anticipated that equipment would be back on site in 2019 to continue operations within its current planning permission which includes the hydraulic fracture of the two existing wells at Preston New Road and completion of up to four wells in total for exploration purposes.
Protesters had hoped that the sight of equipment leaving could be a sign that fracking - seen as causing earth tremors and water pollution - could be coming to an end.
A spokesman for Frack Free Lancashire said:“We welcome the news that Cuadrilla are retreating from the site over Christmas to lick their wounds.
"2018 has indeed been an amazing year for Cuadrilla, but not in a good way. They have suffered serious delays, breached their permissions on at least 9 occasions, and provoked 57 earthquakes."
Tony Bosworth, fossil-free campaigner at Friends of the Earth said: “Stopping fracking should be for life, not just for Christmas.
"Let’s make 2019 the year that fracking is stopped once and for all.”