Shale drilling linked to tremors

Protesters from the campaigning group ‘Frack off’ have scaled a drilling rig at Cuadrilla resource’s Bank site to protest at the shale gas exploration in the area.

The protect has come ahead of the publication of a report due to be released today into the possibility that exploratory drilling for shale gas by Cuadrilla resources played a part in causing minor earthquakes, which were centred on Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire in April and May.

The report, “The Geo-mechanical Study of Bowland Shale Seismicity”, commissioned by Cuadrilla, states that it is ‘highly probable that the hydraulic fracturing of Cuadrilla’s Preese Hall-1 well did trigger a number of minor seismic events.’

The report stated that ‘The seismic events were due to an unusual combination of geology at the well site coupled with the pressure exerted by water injection as part of operations.’

But this combination of geological factors was very rare and was unlikely to occur again, furthermore, Cuadrilla has proposed a number measures to mitigate such an event occurring again, including an early detection system.

The protests centre on more than earthquakes though, the process used to extract gas, known as ‘fracking’ has been causing controversy across the globe as more countries have started exploring for shale gas reserves.

Currently, there is no global consensus on the relative dangers and pitfalls of the process but with the demand for natural gas increasing, there are fears that environmental concerns may take a back seat to commercial pressures and the need for energy security.

Cuadrilla has suspended all drilling activities since the tremors back in June; however, early estimates show that there might be as much as 200 trillion ft3 of shale gas in the Bowland Basin in Lancashire, UK. Which would give the UK energy market a much needed shot in the arm.

Published on 02/11/2011

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