Since it relocated its headquarters to Lancashire and started work at its Preston New Road shale gas exploration site, Cuadrilla’s local operations have resulted in £12.2m of direct spend and £1.3m of indirect spend via contractors in the county.
The company also reports that, by the end of 2018, its activities had been responsible for 78 jobs split between it and its contractors.
Commenting on the latest results, Lee Petts of 52M Consulting, who also chairs the pro-fracking business group Lancashire For Shale, said: “It’s really pleasing to see Cuadrilla buying locally wherever it can, helping to bring a welcome boost to small and medium-sized businesses across the county. This really is just a taste of things to come if shale is allowed to reach its full potential.”
But nearly 50 leading UK geoscientists have expressed doubts about whether the UK’s shale gas industry will be able to fulfil this potential whilst operating under the present earthquake rules. In a letter to The Times newspaper, they argue that the science behind the 0.5 magnitude threshold is “debatable” and call on the Government to hold an urgent review.
The letter from the members of the geoscience community with relevant expertise was coordinated by Professor Quentin Fisher of Leeds University and Professor Ernest Rutter of the University of Manchester.
They outline how the Traffic Light System is set very conservatively to be triggered by extremely small seismic events of just 0.5 local magnitude and above. This is
very far below the levels set in other countries, or for other comparable industries in the UK (such as
quarrying, mining and deep geothermal energy). It is widely believed by industry, and amongst informed academics, they say, to be so low that it threatens the potential development of a shale gas industry in Lancashire and the UK.
“In setting limits and thresholds like this, it is important to ensure that they are based on sound science in order to reassure the watching public whilst at the same time ensuring that the agreed regulatory regime is effective but not unnecessarily restrictive,” said Professor Fisher.
“When the Traffic Light System was first developed, there was limited UK data available upon which to base it. That has now changed, and there is a wealth of new data available that is specific to our geology and to a wider range of shale basins elsewhere” explained Professor Rutter.
“It is important that newly acquired knowledge on how the subsurface responds to hydraulic fracturing operations is now taken into account, and used to determine whether the current thresholds should remain unchanged or can be safely revised upwards. That is what we hope the Government will now do.”
Lee Petts said: “This is a welcome intervention from a large number of leading, independent experts in the UK geoscience community.
“It is pleasing to see them pressing the case for a technical review of the Traffic Light System, in-line with the Government’s original intentions.
“We want to see shale continue delivering jobs, opportunities and business investment in Lancashire, and that means ensuring it has a regulatory system that addresses genuine local concerns but that doesn’t impose disproportionate restrictions that hamper its development.”