Published: Mon, October 29, 2018
Science | By Cecil Little

Fracking stops as Lancashire tremors rip through safety limits

Fracking stops as Lancashire tremors rip through safety limits

Fracking has already been suspended in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland due to perceived risks.

Since 15 October, Little Plumpton has been the first United Kingdom shale fracking site after the process was halted in 2011 when it was linked with earthquakes.

The process restarted on Saturday morning after a 0.8 magnitude tremor on Friday, which is categorised as a "red" event by the monitoring system regulated by the Oil and Gas Authority.

The quake, which measured 0.8 on the Richter Scale, is the thirteenth recorded by the British Geological Survey, and is the biggest one recorded in the area since fracking began last Monday. However, today, at 10.55am another 0.8 tremor was recorded by seismic experts.

Cuadrilla says it has halted drilling for 18 hours after a tremor was detected at its site in Little Plumpton, northwest England.

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A spokesman for Cuadrilla said: "Operations have now paused for the next 18 hours during which seismicity levels will continue to be measured".

A spokesman for the the Oil and Gas Authority said: "While the operations at the Preston New Road site have been created to minimise any disturbance, minor events like these were expected".

"All the relevant regulators were informed without delay and we have verified that the well integrity is intact", Cuadrilla said. They are tiny movements that occur below ground.

"This is not a "red incident" under the traffic light system operated by the Oil and Gas Authority as we were not pumping fracturing fluid as part of our hydraulic fracking operations at the time".

The Guardian revealed earlier this month that the energy minister, Claire Perry, had proposed raising the regulatory threshold for tremors caused by fracking as the industry begins to mature. People on the surface can not feel them.

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"As per the hydraulic fracture plan in place at Preston New Road, work will now pause for at least 18 hours and is expected to recommence in the morning".

Cuadrilla chief executive Francis Egan said people should not be concerned.Fracking in Lancashire was stopped in 2011 after being linked with earthqaukes.

A 2.3 magnitude tremor on the Fylde coast seven years ago was probably caused by shale gas test drilling, a study found.

A spokesman for BGS said Friday's quake was recorded "right on top" of the Cuaudrilla site and was the largest of 17 tremors there this month.

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