Fracking Lancashire: First Few Stages Of First Well Cause 5 Earthquakes
Since Cuadrilla Resources began hydraulic fracturing the first of 2 wells at its flagship Preston New Road site in Lancashire it has caused 5 earthquakes (in 3 days), with a general trend of increasing size over time. While the earthquakes are 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 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 5 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 in the range 1 to 3 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 possiblity that cummulative 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, 2:21pm Fri, was 10 times larger than smallest, 11:55pm Thurs).
|Date||Time (BST)||Latitude||Longitude||Depth (km)||Magnitide||Relative Size|
|Sat 20th Oct 2018||4:44am||53.786||-2.978||3||0.0||1.0|
|Fri 19th Oct 2018||2:21pm||53.783||-2.976||3||0.3||2.0|
|Fri 19th Oct 2018||12:45am||53.786||-2.978||2||-0.3||0.5|
|Thurs 18th Oct 2018||11:55pm||53.783||-2.975||3||-0.8||0.2|
|Thurs 18th Oct 2018||3:49pm||53.785||-2.975||3||-0.2||0.6|
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.