We hope that it won’t be too much longer before local people are able to stand by the gates at Preston New Road and point towards yet another failed fracking site.
Fracking operator Cuadrilla is removing equipment from its Lancashire site as it nears the expiry of its planning permission in November.
In a statement, the firm said that it was still working with regulator the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) on technical studies following a succession of earthquakes in recent weeks, including one on 26 August measuring 2.9ML on the Richter scale – stronger than the 2.3ML tremor caused by fracking in 2011, which led to a moratorium on the activity.
Cuadrilla said: “A timeframe has not been agreed with the OGA for this work to be completed and further hydraulic fracturing will not take place at Preston New Road before current planning permission for fracturing expires at the end of November.”
The OGA said that it had received initial data from Cuadrilla, but that it needed “further consideration”.
Tests to continue
Despite the removal of fracking equipment from Preston New Road, Cuadrilla said that it would begin flow testing – a process that does not involve fracking – of its second horizontal shale gas well at the site.
The firm’s chief executive officer Francis Egan said that he believed the tests would “further demonstrate the huge commercial opportunity” for shale gas in the UK, and that the firm was still committed to exploring for shale gas to establish a domestic energy supply.
Campaign groups welcomed the news that Cuadrilla was demobilising fracking equipment, and dismissed the flow testing as spin.
A spokesperson for Frack Free Lancashire said: “This flow test looks as though it has more to do with trying to maintain investor confidence rather than being a meaningful data gathering exercise and we hope that it won’t be too much longer before local people are able to stand by the gates at Preston New Road and point towards yet another failed fracking site.”
Catherine Early is a freelance environmental journalist and chief reporter for the Ecologist. She can be found tweeting at @Cat_Early76.