UK fracking firm produces first shale gas

November 2, 2018
Cuadrilla's Preston New Road drilling site near the village of Little Plumpton in northwestern England last month

UK energy company Cuadrilla said Friday it has extracted a small but "encouraging" amount of shale gas for the first time since resuming fracking in Britain less than three weeks ago.

The 11-year-old private firm has borne the brunt of protests for trying to test whether fracking—a process in which water and chemicals are used to blast apart rock formations—can unlock natural gas deposits in the UK.

The method has transformed the global energy market but is only developing slowly in Europe.

Cuadrilla released a 12-second clip showing a bright yellow flame light up inside one of the chimney-like structures that stand over a web of pipes drilled deep into the ground.

The gas flare was Cuadrilla's evidence that fracking at the site was possible. The company said the question now was whether the entire process was commercially viable.

"The volumes of gas returning to surface at this stage are small," Cuadrilla chief executive Francis Egan said in a statement.

"However it provides early encouragement that the Bowland Shale can provide a significant source of natural gas to heat Lancashire and UK homes and offices and reduce our ever growing reliance on expensive foreign imports."

Cuadrilla produced small amounts of at the same site in 2011.

It was then forced to halt operations because two small earthquakes were soon registered in the northwestern part of England where its operations are based.

It resumed work on October 15 after adopting more stringent safety and regulatory measures that environmentalists said were still insufficient.

The company has since been forced to briefly halt drilling on three occasions because minor tremors began being detected deep underground.

Cuadrilla stressed at the time that none of them could either be felt or cause physical damage on the surface.

"This Preston New Road site is being monitored to an unprecedented level," Egan said in Friday's statement.

"If we are able to fully test these wells, without compromising on safety, we have the potential to make a major difference to UK energy supply, security and economic prosperity."

The said on its website that its tests from 2011 suggest that it can produce 6.5 billion cubic feet (185 million cubic metres) of gas from the Bowland Shale well over 30 years.

Explore further: UK fracking firm Cuadrilla pauses drilling after tremor

Related Stories

Fracking to begin in Britain after court ruling

October 12, 2018

Energy company Cuadrilla will begin fracking Britain's first horizontal shale-gas well on Saturday after the High Court in London dismissed a last-minute request for an injunction by environmentalists.

English tremors blamed on shale 'fracking'

November 2, 2011

(AP) -- The only company in Britain using hydraulic fracturing to release natural gas from shale rock said Wednesday that the controversial technique probably did trigger earth tremors in April and May.

Report to UK government backs fracking

April 17, 2012

(AP) -- Exploratory work to extract gas by hydraulic fracturing in England should be allowed to resume even though the technique has caused earth tremors, a report commissioned by the government said Tuesday.

UK 'likely' to have 102 trln cubic feet of shale gas

June 3, 2013

British exploration company IGas Energy on Monday said it believed it was sitting on a far bigger amount of shale gas than thought, ahead of controversial drilling work to begin this year in northwest England.

Recommended for you

The powerful meteor that no one saw (except satellites)

March 19, 2019

At precisely 11:48 am on December 18, 2018, a large space rock heading straight for Earth at a speed of 19 miles per second exploded into a vast ball of fire as it entered the atmosphere, 15.9 miles above the Bering Sea.

Revealing the rules behind virus scaffold construction

March 19, 2019

A team of researchers including Northwestern Engineering faculty has expanded the understanding of how virus shells self-assemble, an important step toward developing techniques that use viruses as vehicles to deliver targeted ...

Nanoscale Lamb wave-driven motors in nonliquid environments

March 19, 2019

Light driven movement is challenging in nonliquid environments as micro-sized objects can experience strong dry adhesion to contact surfaces and resist movement. In a recent study, Jinsheng Lu and co-workers at the College ...

Levitating objects with light

March 19, 2019

Researchers at Caltech have designed a way to levitate and propel objects using only light, by creating specific nanoscale patterning on the objects' surfaces.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.