Cuadrilla delays UK Bowland shale work for environmental impact assessment

Cuadrilla Resources Ltd. plans to delay plans to start hydraulic fracturing in a Bowland basin shale project in Lancashire, UK, until 2014 to give the company time to get an environmental impact assessment (EIA) for some exploration wells, Cuadrilla Chief Executive Francis Egan said.

At yearend 2012, the UK government lifted a moratorium on fracturing as part of the government’s effort to stimulate energy investments and reduce dependence on gas imports (OGJ Online, Dec. 24, 2012).

The fracing mortarium was imposed while the UK government looked into events around a Cuadrilla shale-gas well near Poulton-le-Fylde (OGJ Online, Nov. 3, 2011).

On Mar. 14, Egan said technical analysis indicates the 1,200 sq km license area holds at least 200 tcf of natural gas resources.

“As we continue our exploration program, Cuadrilla proposes to broaden and deepen the scope of both community consultation and environment risk assessment by completing a full [EIA] for each exploration well site where we seek planning consent for drilling, hydraulic fracturing, and flow testing,” he said.

Egan acknowledged that “within the complex UK regulatory framework governing planning this process can prove lengthy.” But he said Cuadrilla wanted to “spare no effort in meeting our exploration targets in an environmentally and socially sustainable manner.”

The company plans to modify a drilling application for an exploration well site at Anna’s Road, which has been under consideration by Lancashire County Council. The modification will include the EIA.

“Subject to all necessary approvals, we intend returning to the site and completing work in 2014,” Egan said.

“In addition, given the scale of the natural gas resource we have discovered and the potential it has to produce, Cuadrilla proposes to strengthen its exploration program by adding a number of additional temporary exploration sites during 2013 and 2014 to assess gas flow rates.”

Cuadrilla will discuss each proposal with local communities and other stakeholders, he said.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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