Fracking firm installs seismic monitors

Photo Ian Robinson'The Cuadrilla Resourses site at Grange Hill, Singleton
Photo Ian Robinson'The Cuadrilla Resourses site at Grange Hill, Singleton
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MONITORING equipment is being installed at fracking sites across the Fylde coast.

Cuadrilla Resource wants to explore for natural gas in shale rock beneath the Fylde coast, but is presently barred from the activity following a series of tremors which an investigation linked back to the gas extraction practice.

Cuadrilla has started installing equipment to undertake comprehensive seismic monitoring at its sites, including those at Elswick, Weeton, Singleton and Westby.

Is says it will adopt a number of early detection systems to prevent a level of seismic activity that could give cause for any concern.

The monitoring technology was recommended in an independent scientific report into the minor tremors last year and by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) in their expert’s own review.

Based on the “traffic light” system used in the Netherlands and Germany, Cuadrilla will use a seismometer network around every one of its well sites.

The passive technology uses sound sources deep underground to map the rock, feeding back information in real time. This stream of data means that the hydraulic fracturing process can be closely controlled and managed to prevent noticeable seismic activity.

Opponents to the controversial process – which sees water and chemicals fired under pressure at rock to release trapped natural gas – say the process should simply not be allowed in the UK.

In addition to the recommended systems, Cuadrilla is installing an additional monitoring system at its sites, which it hopes will demonstrate that fracturing does not lead to water contamination.

Mark Miller, who has recently taken up a new Lancashire-focused role as Cuadrilla’s Director of Bowland Operations, said: “With this system in place at the Banks site, we can demonstrate that fractures are thousands of feet away from the aquifer – and that they stay there long after the fracturing process has been carried out.

“Should hydraulic fracturing be allowed to resume, we think that this will be an effective way of demonstrating to the public that the process is indeed safe.”

The additional monitoring system being installed around the Banks site goes beyond recommendations made by the DECC. The equipment will be fitted in 104 specially prepared holes to the north and south of the river estuary, in Fylde and West Lancashire.

Preparing the small holes takes between 2 to 4 days per hole, using small mobile drilling equipment, the same kind used to drill water wells.

There should be no surface impact from this buried technology.

As part of Cuadrilla’s commitment to transparency, the company will make the results of its fracture monitoring available to the public on its website.

Cuadrilla continues to operate its long-established community contact points, including the freephone information line, operated on weekdays between 9am and 5.30pm, on 0800 170 1115.