2020 was a frack free year in the UK because the shale gas industry failed to persuade ministers to lift blocks on the process.
Other key projects planned for 2020 were cancelled or delayed by the Covid-19 outbreak and low oil prices.
In this review of the year, we’ve picked out key events and developments. The red links in the text will take you to the original DrillOrDrop news articles. Please let us know what we have missed.
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Anti-fracking protesters say that the return of the industry in England is in doubt after a report into the crucial issue of tremors shows they may be impossible to predict.
Studies commissioned by the Oil and Gas Authority and carried out by the British geological Survey on the Preston New Road fracking site in March 2020 were an attempt understand the subsurface and surface impacts of the induced seismicity experienced during the operations. They concluded that “it is not yet possible to accurately predict the seismic response to hydraulic fracturing” and that “Where induced seismicity has occurred, mitigation measures have shown only limited success, and there can only be low confidence in their effectiveness.”
The Government put a moratorium on fracking in November 2019 following the swarm of tremors caused by the two wells drilled and fracked at Preston New Road site near Little Plumpton, and has said this will not be lifted until “compelling scientific evidence” can be produced to show that fracking tremors can be better predicted and controlled.
One tremor, on the August bank holiday measured 2.9 on the local magnitude scale and was felt across the Fylde. Campaigners who believe fracking damages the environment and is a risk to neighbouring property, said this report by the regulator shows that no such science exists and that tremors will always be unpredictable and potentially damaging.
But Cuadrilla the firm which has drilled at several sites between Blackpool and Preston in a bid to explore and then commercially harvest natural gas trapped thousands of feet below ground in the Bowland Shale rocks, says the report offers hope in that the induced tremors were relatively weak and in line with those allowed in other industries such as quarrying or geothermal energy sites. The report also stated that fracking from the second well interacted with a previously undiscovered vertical fault line underground which sparked the largest seismic events.
A spokesperson for Frack Free Lancashire said: “It is clear from this report that the fracking industry is struggling to provide any kind of scientific evidence base to justify the resumption of fracking”. The report shows that not only are they struggling to predict seismicity, but also that they have no way of acting on those attempts at prediction in time to stop damage to property. “To make matters worse it now transpires that, in spite of the much-vaunted “detailed” 3D seismological survey undertaken by Cuadrilla, they still managed to frack into an unexpected fault at Preston New Road, triggering the 2.9Ml quake that led to the current moratorium. “This report confirms our opinion that this industry must not be allowed to put the safety and well-being of our local community at risk.”
Continue reading Earth tremor report casts doubt over future of fracking
The fracking company, Cuadrilla, has left its headquarters in Lancashire after nearly five years and moved to serviced offices near Manchester Airport.
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Four people who took part in a protest at the Horse Hill oil site in Surrey in June have said their actions have been vindicated after charges were dropped.
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