Digest Index

More Figure Fun from Refracktion.

25th August 2015

Refracktion has just published here a new report on Cuadrilla's ambition for PEDL165 production. Excellent analysis as always from Refracktion.

The conclusion is, in a nutshell, that drilling 4,000 wells in PEDL165 would not and could not make a significant contribution to the country's gas supply. Refracktion questions whether Cuadrilla could drill 40 wells from a wellpad, and whether Europe has rig capacity to meet the drilling schedule required.

Refracktion says the figures are based on a generous figure of EUR per well (from the Institute of Directors report paid for by Cuadrilla) - 3.1 billion cubic feet of gas over a well's lifetime. I suspect the lifetime may be shorter than Refracktion suggests, I am seeing expected life of wells coming down to maybe twenty years. However any revision of EUR only adds to the difficulty of seeing how 4,000 wells can be justified. The IoD picked on better-performing US shale plays to come up with their figures. Whereas it may be true that technical advances or competence are increasing EUR predictions, It should be made clear that an EUR - Estimated Ultimate Recovery- figure is just that. In a world where optimism of commercial success and financial outcome are necessary to promote investor confidence, it is not surprising that the industry itself tends to boost its estimates upwards.

If we look at figures from bodies outside the industry it is very clear that Cuadrilla's figures are optimistic. They have said the want to turn the Fylde into Pennsylvania, so it is fair to look at some Pennsylvania figures.

The recently-published (August 2015) CNA report The Potential Environmental Impact from Fracking in the Delaware River Basin uses modelling to predict environmental impacts in the DRB - which spans Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, and New York. Data used is from the Marcellus Interior play. Although we must bear in mind that the area under consideration is a little greater (16,668 square miles) than the Bowland area (c 12,000 sq m), the estimate of recoverable gas (113.9 trillion cubic feet according to the US Energy Information Administration) is comparable with the ambition for the Bowland Shale.

The US EIA quoted in its 2012 figures an average of 1.6 bcf EUR for the Marcellus Interior. This is only just above half the IoD figure. Refracktion's calculations of recoverable gas from 4,000 wells would be seriously reduced. Either that or the number of wells has to nearly double. The CNA figures for the Marcellus Interior play require a total of over 71,000 wells to produce the EIA technically recoverable estimate. If Cuadrilla expects to extract 10% of the gas in the Bowland Shale area it would take over 80,000 wells.

Moving on, the CNA report looked at how many wellpads might be needed for the 63,000 new wells they calculated to be required. They came up with two scenarios, one based on FOUR wells per pad, another on EIGHT wells per pad.
They said -
"These scenarios and estimates are in line with trends in the industry. Currently, Marcellus Shale well pads average a bit less than three wells, though the trend in this region is toward more wells per pad, and there have been pads here with up to 19 wells drilled."

In other words, if Cuadrilla were to drill 40 wells from a single pad this would be unprecedented. Given their history of incompetent drilling operations, is this really feasible, for them to drill 40 horizontals from a single wellpad? It is SCIENCE FICTION.

If Cuadrilla could only manage 19 wells per pad, they would require not 100 pads in their licence area, but 200. At 8 wells per pad they would require 500 pads!

Every time we look at the figures the whole ambition seems more and more implausible. I really wonder if ANYBODY believes the fracking myth. And they want to experiment with the Fylde in pursuit of something that can never happen?