Digest Index




Cuadrilla’s Licence Area PEDL165


Cuadrilla’s Well Services Director Eric Vaughan has again confirmed in the June 2015 issue of “In Focus” magazine Cuadrilla’s intention, if they moved ahead to full production phase, to aim for between 80 and 100 wellpads in their licence area.


The hundred well pad scenario, with forty wells per pad, has been repeatedly used to promote the supposed economic benefits of fracking, as in the Cuadrilla-sponsored report for the Institute of Directors report “Getting Shale Gas Working” (May 2013) and the UKOOG industry-commissioned Ernst and Young report “Getting Ready For Shale Gas” in April 2014. These reports are the basis for the push by the Cuadrilla and Centrica sponsored “North West Energy Task Force” to promote the idea that Lancashire and the Fylde in particular will benefit from shale development. This is clearly designed to influence the councillors who will later this month face decision on two Cuadrilla applications. Whilst the councillors may not in our view take any such hypothetical future full-scale production scenario into account in coming to a decision on a single exploratory site, it is unavoidable that the millions being spent by Cuadrilla on promotion will have some effect.


It is important therefore for the consequences of this ambition to be understood.


Please find here an illustrative map which demonstrates the potential density of wellpads across the licence area. We have excluded urban areas which we consider are not possible fracking sites. This reduces the square kilometers available for wellpad siting by around one sixth, to leave around 1000 sq km. 100 wellpads would mean each wellpad accessing about 10 sq km of the underlying shale. In other words the wellpads would have to be spaced not more than around 3km apart. The illustrative siting is based on this fact.


It is important to recognise also that Cuadrilla have repeatedly asserted that they could potentially drill up to 40 horizontal wells from each wellpad, using up to a dozen vertical wellbores from which the multiple horizontal wells, at different levels and in different directions, would originate. Cuadrilla also state in their Preston New Road application they expect a horizontal well to possibly extend up to 2 km from the wellpad.


This effectively means for this ambition to be achieved almost the entire surface of rural Fylde would be fracked under.


How much energy security would such a plan bring?


Over twenty or thirty years, the estimated total gas output of an individual well is known as an Estimated Ultimately Recovery EUR figure. In the US there are varying estimates of average EUR, industry estimates tend to be higher and inflated, government estimates lower. The US Geological Survey give an estimate of all shale wells of around 1.1 billion cubic feet of gas. Cuadrilla’s report for the Institute of Directors used selected higher industry estimates from particular gasfields, stating average EUR of over 3bcf. If however we use the official US Energy Information Administration 2013 figures from all US fields these show a raw average of 1.8bcf for EUR.

4,000 wells would therefore over twenty or thirty years produce about 7.2 trillion cubic feet of gas. Given that the current UK demand for gas is something over 3 tcf, 4,000 wells could therefore produce only about 2 years and four months of gas - about 7.5% of the UK demand for gas over thirty years. (4 wells at Preston New Road if progressed to production would supply over thirty years only about one day’s worth of the UK’s gas need.)

There is a serious question to be asked here.


Should the whole of the rural Fylde suffer fracking for such a meagre reward which would not even begin to answer the UK’s perceived energy security issues?


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President of the International Gas Union, Jerome Ferrier, World Gas Conference in Paris, June 2015 -


“The future of gas does not depend on shale gas - there is enough conventional gas [to meet demand] for more than a century".