A frackquake at a newly opened UK fracking site halts operations

A frackquake at a newly opened UK fracking site halts operations

October 25, 2018 0 By Amanda Giasson

Controversial Lanacshire hydraulic fracturing site experiences small earth tremor.

A frackquake – a seismic event resulting from hydraulic fracturing – measuring 0.4, has been reported by Cuadrilla. It has been just slightly over a week since the UK-based oil and gas exploration company was given the green light to begin its fracking operations at Little Plumpton in Lancashire, and the first earth tremor has already occurred.

Cuadrilla halted the fracking process after the event occurred as a precaution.

According to Cuadrilla, the frackquake was very low level and couldn’t even be detected on the surface. Still, the company chose to halt its shale gas mining process as a precaution. However, much to the chagrin of its opposition, operations have since resumed.

This new fracking project is the first to take place in the UK in seven years. Previously, fracking operations had been indefinitely halted after a study found that a 2.3 magnitude tremor that occurred in April 2011 on the Flyde coast, was likely caused by shale gas test drilling.

More frackquakes could be experienced in the future.

As Hydrogen Fuel News recently reported, in spite of anti-fracking campaigners doing all they could to prevent the return of fracking in the UK, Cuadrilla was given approval to start its drilling explorations in Lancahsire.

The company intends to spend a minimum of three months fracking two horizontal wells and then test to determine if the gas flow was commercially viable.

More tremors may result from these operations, but according to a government-appointed panel, these seismic events would be too small to cause any structural damage above ground. However, the panel did recommend for operators to adhere to greater monitoring standards, which includes observing a “traffic light” rule in regard to tremors. If a tremor is 0.5 or higher, this triggers a “red light” and should be followed by an immediate halt of operations.

“Seismicity will, as always, continue to be monitored closely around the clock by ourselves and others,” Cuadrilla stated when the company made the decision to pause fracking, reported the Independent.

“Local residents should be reassured that the monitoring systems in place are working as they should. These are tiny Frackquake - Cracks in Groundseismic events that are being detected by our monitors as we fracture the shale rock, and are not capable of being felt, much less cause damage or harm.”

Only time will tell if potential future frackquakes will be as harmless as the company says.