Fracking is extremely costly and can only hope to break even where done on a large scale with hundreds or thousands of wells drilled at high densities across large areas. This project is Cuadrilla’s attempt to acquire the data it would need to seek further investment (billions) to try to push forward fracking in this country. In doing so they are trying to strike a delicate balancing act, where they get enough information from a sufficiently realistic test, while at the same time not exposing people to the full impacts of production fracking.
The 2 planned test sites would each have 4 horizontal wells, hydraulically fractured in 30-45 stages along their 1.25 mile length. Production sites would likely have 8 or more wells per site, with 60-100 frac stages per well, and would be drilled and fractured at a much faster rate, but Cuadrilla is significantly slowing down these test, in order to mask the worst impacts on local people. For this project to succeed Cuadrilla, which is burning through £15 million per year before even breaking ground, would need to gain not just the geological data to convince potential investors but also the “social data” to show that the economic risks associated with community resistance to fracking is not significant. This is where the anti-fracking movement comes in.
Cuadrilla is already talking about potentially floating on the stock market after this appraisal project, but for a company which eats money and seems set to continue to do so, only the promise of a massive payout is likely to tempt investors. The fracking industry lives off hype, and it is up to the movement to take action to expose and oppose the reality of fracking. Where you live it is likely that the tentacles of this project reach into your region in some way, and you will have numerous opportunities to take action.
Each site would generate around 20,000 vehicle movements spread spreading far beyond Lancashire, with fracking trucks traversing the country to/from various ancillary sites, with the likely hood of traffic and road accidents around numerous choke points. Major components of this project include:
Liquid Radioactive Waste (approx 13.3 million gallons per site – 1,700 road tankers) Flow back and produced fluid from hydraulic fracturing operations contains a variety of toxic and radioactive materials (e.g. Radium) which would require off-site disposal. Liquid waste is likely to one or more of a small number of sites allowed to dump this radioactive waste: Knostrop Treatment Works (FCC Environment – Leeds), Bran Sands Treatment Works (Northumbrian Water – Middlesbrough) and Valley Works (Castle Environmental – Stoke-on-Trent).
Frac Sand (approx 7,500 tonnes per site – 250 trucks) Silica sand which is sorted for a specific small grain size and shape is needed for hydraulic fracturing. Inhalation causes lung disease (silicosis) and lung cancer, and sand mining areas in US have seen an explosion of hundreds of mines tearing up the landscape. Sibelco UK, which supplied frac sand for Cuadrilla’s first fracking site, and is the largest through its US subsidiary Unimin, is most likely supplier from quarries in Cheshire and/or Norfolk: Dingle Bank Quarry (Chelford near Macclesfield), Bent Farm Quarry (Brownlow near Congleton) and Leziate Quarry (Middleton near King’s Lynn).
Contractors & Equipment Suppliers (dangerous equipment & materials – 1,000s trucks) Fracking sites require a wide variety of equipment and consumables to operate, which change over the different stages of the process. The contract for the site construction has been awarded to civil engineering firm A E Yates Ltd, based in Bolton. Equipment and materials would be supplied by a large number of contractors across the country, as well as overseas, and particularly the North Sea hubs of Aberdeen and Great Yarmouth. The primary drilling contractor would be PR Marriott Drilling based in Danesmoor near Chesterfield.