Fracking Lancashire: 11 Earthquakes So Far And Intensity Increasing
Since Cuadrilla Resources began hydraulic fracturing the first of 2 wells at its flagship Preston New Road site in Lancashire it has caused 11 earthquakes (in a week), with a general trend of increasing size over time. While the earthquakes are relatively small (so far), they are almost always powerlaw distributed, so for every few small ones you will one 10 times larger (and for every few of those you will get one 10 times larger than that). How many earthquakes will be caused by completely fracking both wells? How large will the largest be? More importantly how many earthquakes would fracking a thousand wells a year cause?
Cuadrilla is trying to careful gather the data it needs, while not exposing the full reality of fracking. It is probably doing 1 frac stage a day or less, on wells that are a quarter of the length of what is becoming common in the US. In production a fracking crew would be expected to blast through 5 or more frac stages a day, with 100 frac stages per well become very common, and multiple (often 8) wells per pad. Even then this highly rushed fracking, with costs cut to the bone, the industry in the US has lost over $280 billion in last decade and a half. If Cuadrilla’s carefully planned, cost no object, slow and steady, test project is producing many small earthquakes from the first few stages on one well, then production in the UK can be expected to be littered with Preese Hall style well destroy earthquakes.
Cuadrilla are planning to frac the wells at PNR in up to 41 stages along their lengths, starting at the far end and working backwards towards the pad. Each stage uses 200,000 gallons of fracking fluid containing 75 tons of sand. The 11 earthquakes are clustered around the end of PNR 1z the first well, with the furthest less than 250m from the wellbore (and at the same depth 3km). Cuadrilla have probably only pumped a handful frac stages so far, and have up to 40 more to go on this first well (and then the same again on the other well). A lot more earthquakes are be expected, with the distinct possibility that cumulative build up of pressure might cause a jump to a higher level of earthquake activity.
Summary Of Earthquakes At PNR So Far
Note that earthquake magnitudes are logarithmic, so a magnitude 2.0 is 10 times larger than a magnitude 1.0 (also negative magnitudes are possible, so a magnitude 0.0 is 10 times smaller than a magnitude 1.0 and a -1.0 is 10 times smaller than that). The relative size column shows how they compare to each other (so the largest, 2:02pm Weds 24th, was 16 times larger than smallest, 11:55pm Thurs 18th).
|Date||Time (BST)||Latitude||Longitude||Depth (km)||Magnitide||Relative Size|
|Thurs 18th Oct 2018||3:49pm||53.785||-2.975||3||-0.2||0.6|
|Thurs 18th Oct 2018||11:55pm||53.783||-2.975||3||-0.8||0.2|
|Fri 19th Oct 2018||12:45am||53.786||-2.978||2||-0.3||0.5|
|Fri 19th Oct 2018||2:21pm||53.783||-2.976||3||0.3||2.0|
|Sat 20th Oct 2018||4:44am||53.786||-2.978||3||0.0||1.0|
|Tues 23rd Oct 2018||3:45pm||53.787||-2.977||3||0.4||2.5|
|Weds 24th Oct 2018||2:02pm||53.785||-2.971||3||0.5||3.2|
|Weds 24th Oct 2018||2:26pm||53.784||-2.970||3||0.4||2.5|
|Weds 24th Oct 2018||2:51pm||53.784||-2.970||2||-0.1||0.8|
|Weds 24th Oct 2018||3:38pm||53.785||-2.967||3||0.1||1.3|
|Thurs 25th Oct 2018||12:56am||53.783||-2.968||3||0.0||1.0|
Previous Fracking Earthquakes
In the US and Canada large numbers of earthquakes have been caused by fracking, both directly and indirectly. In the US most quakes have been caused by re-injection of the vast quantities of fracking waste produced by this toxic process. In the most extreme case Oklamhoma has become the most earthquake prone state in the US due to facking waste injection wells, with significant damage as a result. In Canada however a large number of earthquakes have been caused by the hydraulic fracturing process itself, particularly in the Montney Shale in British Columbia.
In both cases not all the earthquakes have been small. The largest fracking quakes in Oklahoma have been a magnitude 5.6 main near Pawnee in 2016 and a magnitude 5.6 near Prague, Oklahoma in 2011, where two people suffered minor injuries, 14 homes had various levels of damage, and part of a university building collapsed. The largest earthquake ever triggered by hydraulic fracturing in British Columbia occurred during a fracking-triggered swarm of 676 earthquakes between 2014 and 2015, and was triggered by the fracking activities of Progress Energy, registering 4.6 magnitude.
The Preston New Road site is Cuadrilla’s flagship fracking test project, where they have planning permission (from central government) to drill and hydraulically fracture 4 shale gas wells. This would involve more than 20,000 vehicle movements in and out of the PNR site, as fracking trucks bring equipment and materials and dispose of waste, to and from support sites across the country. Take a look at our factsheet and find out what support sites could be near you.
Cuadrilla’s speculative business model means that they need good results from these test to get more investment, but that includes not just what they find under ground but the level of resistance they encounter. That is where communities across the country come in – by making Cuadrilla’s fracking plans as difficult, slow and expensive as possible!
Check out our factsheet about Cuadrilla’s plans, your community may be threatened with impacts (e.g. fracking waste being dumped or transported through your community) even if you live hundreds of miles from Lancashire.