Exploratory drilling in Lancashire

Current exploratory activities for shale gas. Updated 25 June 2013

Exploratory drilling was completed at the Preese Hall, Grange Road and at Becconsall sites in Lancashire.

Hydraulic fracturing was carried out three times at Preese Hall between April and May 2011. Cuadrilla suspended operations to investigate a possible link between seismic activity and the hydraulic fracturing process. As a result, the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) commissioned an independent review into seismicity.

In December 2012 the Government announced the introduction of new regulatory requirements to ensure that seismic risks are effectively mitigated. Subject to these new requirements DECC lifted the suspension on the hydraulic fracturing process.

Permit applications for sites in Lancashire

We have been considering applications from Cuadrilla Bowland Ltd for permits at three sites in Lancashire. We will make a final decision on whether to grant permits to manage waste safely at the sites in Lancashire once we have reviewed the company’s application, and the Environmental Statements it will prepare for Lancashire County Council as part of its planning applications for shale gas exploration.

We have been working closely with the local authorities and other regulators and have listened to concerns raised during the consultation so far. We appreciate that people are looking to us all to provide confidence that local communities and the environment will be protected during exploration for shale gas. Our assessment to date leads us to believe that Cuadrilla can effectively manage waste during their operations while protecting the environment. We have a duty to local people and we will review the findings of the Environmental Statement to ensure that all relevant information is considered before we consult on a final decision.

How we’re monitoring exploratory work in Lancashire

We’re working with Cuadrilla to improve our understanding of the potential impacts on the environment of exploring for shale gas.

We carry out independent assessments, sampling and make frequent site visits. Between March 2011 and June 2013 we made 16 visits to the Preese Hall site; seven were arranged last-minute to sample flowback fluids. We made six visits to Becconsall, six to Grange Road, five to Anna's Road and one visit to Elswick.

Our analysis of the fluids returned to the surface after hydraulic fracturing found they contained high levels of minerals dissolved from the rocks, such as chloride, sodium, iron and dissolved metals. They also contained very low levels of naturally radioactive minerals. All of the chemicals found are those which we would expect to find in shale rock.