Cuadrilla will install a comprehensive suite of monitoring equipment at its Anna’s Road site so that it can undertake seismic and fracture monitoring in the area.
The company, which is exploring for natural gas in shale rock deep beneath the surface in Lancashire, completed the installation of the sensitive monitoring technology around its Banks site in West Lancashire last year, and has now confirmed that it will install the same systems at its Anna’s Road site in the Fylde. The technology will enable Cuadrilla to adopt a number of early detection systems to prevent a level of seismic activity that could give cause for any public concern and was recommended in an independent scientific report into the minor tremors. These recommendations were echoed by the Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering in their report last year, and were adopted by the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Davey, when he gave permission for hydraulic fracturing to resume.
Based on the established “traffic light” system used in the Netherlands and Germany, Cuadrilla will use a seismometer network around its well site. The passive technology uses sound sources deep underground, 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. In addition to these systems, Cuadrilla is installing a further monitoring system that will demonstrate that fractures induced in the shale rock by hydraulic fracturing do not extend to the aquifer, which lies approximately a mile above and will not cause contamination of this water.
Francis Egan, Cuadrilla’s chief executive, said: This technology has been recommended by scientific, academic and industry experts. Cuadrilla is committed to working to and establishing best-practice standards – and using these technologies to clearly demonstrate how far fractures extend in the shale rock is part of that commitment.
One of the most important features of this system will be to demonstrate that any fractures created by hydraulic fracturing stay thousands of feet below the aquifer. It will be an effective way of demonstrating that the process is indeed no threat to water supplies. The equipment will be fitted across 156 specially prepared holes around the Anna’s Road site. Preparing the small holes takes between two and four 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 and the installation process and this is not part of the survey work which was completed in June. As part of Cuadrilla’s commitment to working openly and honestly with the public, the company will make results from the monitoring process available to demonstrate that fracturing operations, if allowed to resume, are being carried out effectively and safely.
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