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Take the advice of Greg Clark, ex-Secretary of State for the Department for Communities and Local Government

Greg Clark

"Those who are prepared to organise to be more effective and more efficient should be able to reap substantially the rewards of that boldness ...

Take power now. Don’t let yourself, any longer, be ruled by someone else"

How many wells?

PNRAG Wells
Click the image from more information on Cuadrilla's plans for PEDL 165

Fracking Employment

From the Financial Times 16 October 2013

AMEC forecast just 15,900 to 24,300 nationwide - direct & indirect

Jobs would typically be short term, at between four and nine years

Only 17% of jobs so far have gone to local people

Rubbish!

Looking for misinformation, scaremongering, lies or stupidity?

It's all on this website (but only on this one post ) featuring the Reverend Mike Roberts.

(Oops - there's more! )

Here though is our favourite Reverend Roberts quote of all time - published in the Lancashire Evening Post on 5th August 2015

"If you dare oppose fracking you will get nastiness and harassment whether on social media, or face-to-face"

Yes you!

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing's going to get better. It's not." - Dr Seuss

We are not for sale!

England is not for sale!

Wrongmove

Join the ever growing number of households who have signed up to the Wrongmove campaign!

Tell Cuadrilla and the Government that your house is "Not for Shale"

Wrongmove

Be a flea

"Many fleas make big dog move"
Japanese Proverb quoted by Jessica Ernst

No to Fracking

Love Lytham Say No to Fracking

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When an activity or occurrence raises threats of serious or irreversible harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.

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Preston New Road

Schrödingers Protesters

It seems that we protesters are in fact merely unknowing participants in Cuadrilla’s thought experiment. Like the eponymous cat we appear to exist in two different states simultaneously.

Cuadrilla’s Technical Director Mark Lappin was reported at the most recent Community Liaison Group meeting as stating that protest action at Preston New Road has “not lost Cuadrilla one minute of operational time.”

However, protestors are simultaneously accused of preventing workers from going about their lawful business.

Now we know how logistics planning works, and although it would be foolish to try to claim that Cuadrilla are 6 months behind schedule after just 15 months purely as a result of what happens at the roadside, supply chain disruption does have an inevitable knock on effect on critical path activities and costs of inventory.

We are quite prepared to accept that a great deal of the delay is caused by Cuadrilla not having a full or clear  understanding of the difficulties they would face when they began the project – after all we saw that happen at Preese Hall and probably Annas Road too, so they have form there.

Their bravado here is fooling nobody though.  Nice try though.

PS: It seems Mr Lappin is not even fooling himself.

Here is what Cuadrilla technical Director is reported to have told the inquiry his afternoon:

It has been extremely rare in the drilling phase that equipment had to be delivered at a set time. During the construction phase, the company was learning how to deal with deliveries. We did get held up during the construction phase, he says, but during then and beyond we have had little down time because of protests because of the method of using the North Sea model. (Note “little”, not “none”, not “not one second”)

Mr Evans asks about the North Sea model.

Mr Lappin says drill rigs need expensive equipment and materials and the cost of the drill rig is the same whether it is working or not so the model is to make sure it is not delayed. Deliveries could be delayed so to make sure you never have expensive equipment waiting you have a different approach. We have adopted this onshore. The equivalent of weather delay in the North Sea is protests.

Cuadrilla downgrade forecast confidence

Things have not been going swimmingly for Cuadrilla (unless we imagine them splashing around on their soggy well pad perhaps).

This is perhaps reflected in the language they use to describe their level of confidence in their ability to extract gas from their operation at Preston New Road.

Back in January their CEO Francis Egan stated

We are very encouraged by our early analysis of the data and confident that there is a very sizeable quantity of natural gas in the Bowland Shale

However, by April this confidence seems to have been downgraded to optimism

From the data we have amassed so far we are optimistic that, after fracturing the shale rock, natural gas will flow into this horizontal well in commercially viable quantities

How will he describe their state of mind next?

EUR having a laugh aren’t you ?

Our old friend Ben Webster – the Times’ fracking sage – reported recently on Cuadrilla’s tests from their PNR well which were “very encouraging”. He told us:

Cuadrilla said that the results were in line with estimates in 2013 by the British Geological Survey for the Bowland Shale under northern England.

Cuadrilla expects today to start drilling Britain’s first exploratory horizontal shale well and has permission to drill up to four at the site. The company’s tests suggest that each well could extract enough gas to meet the needs of 5,000 homes for 30 years.

Hmm OK then let’s dig a little shall we (you know like journalists used to do before they just republished press releases)?

According to OFGEM the average home in the UK uses around 12,000 kWh of gas each year (using the medium assumption)

It is the amount of energy that a ‘typical’ household, with a medium level of energy consumption, uses in a year.


12,000 kWh is equivalent to about 39,369 cubic feet of natural gas

So Cuadrilla seem to be saying that from each well (presumably they mean each lateral) they expect their Estimated Ultimate Recovery (EUR) to be 39,369 x 5,000 x 30 or 5.9 billion cubic feet (bcf).

This 12,000 kWh , by the way, is a reduction on historic averages (source https://www.ovoenergy.com/guides/energy-guides/the-average-gas-bill-average-electricity-bill-compared.html)

If we used an average of about 15,000 kWh the EUR would be commensurately higher at an eye-watering (or lip-smacking if you are Cuadrilla perhaps) 7.4 bcf.

This would mean that (assuming they believe these results could be replicated across the PEDL licence area) with the 100  x 40 well pads they are on record as wanting to wanting to develop, they could extract 23 Trillion Cubic Feet (tcf) of gas, which very conveniently is about the amount (20 tcf) they have been claiming to be able to extract. (Or nearly 30 tcf if we used the 15,000 kWh average!)

If you were to take 20 tcf, divide is by 4,000 wells you would get and EUR of about 5 bcf each. If you translated this to houses worth of gas over 30 years you would then get about 5,000.  Of course Cuadrilla’s assumptions are based on core samples and not convenient arithmetic aren’t they?

Less conveniently the suggested EUR figure is almost twice the 3.2 bcf per well suggested by shale gas PR Corin Taylor in the Cuadrilla sponsored IoD report from 2013.

How does this compare to the US experience?

Well every year the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) re-estimates initial production (IP) rates and production decline curves, which determine estimated ultimate recovery (EUR) per well and total technically recoverable resources (TRR). Their publication in 2017 is based on data as of January 2015.

Looking at “Table 9.3 U.S. unproved technically recoverable tight/shale oil and gas resources by play (as of January 1, 2015)” we can see the average EURs by play within each region for natural gas.

If we sort the plays into ascending order and compare it with what Cuadrilla seem to be claiming we can see that, first of all, the vast majority of plays have EURs less than 1 bcf / well and only 1 play (Haynesville-Bossier-LA ) has an average EUR greater than 3.

If we compare the data with Cuadrilla’s claim it is evident that they must really have had some super special results for them to be claiming average EURs in the order of 6.

Now we accept that we can’t read across exactly from the US experience, but this difference is so massive that the  Booths store at Penwortham must have sold out of champagne as all of the Cuadrilla execs blew by from the office to get some celebration juice.

Bottoms up! It’s a miracle!

(And of course we know from their rugby pitch analogy just how exact they like to be when it comes to figures!)

 

Money, Money, Money …

There has been a lot of chatter today about one of Cuadrilla’s parent companies fund raising on the Australian Stock Exchange. I thought it might be useful to try to summarise the main points.

The fund raising is split into an “offer” to existing institutional and retail shareholders to invest in more shares and a “placement” with institutional investors.

The idea of the offer is pretty straightforward – you are offered a number of shares for each share you currently own and you can either buy them or not. You can also ask for a higher allocation subject to eligible
retail shareholders not taking up their full entitlement. There is a sting in the tail here though for existing shareholders who do not participate in the new equity round proportionate to their shareholding, as that shareholding percentage will now be diluted.

A “placement”, for those not familiar with financial jargon is one way of raising capital in the markets which maintains an element of control over who is allowed to buy the shares.

A company can use a placing, or placement, to sell shares directly to third party investors. In common with other means of issuing shares, the main purpose of a placing is to raise equity capital for the company. However, in contrast to the other ways of issuing shares, the company will have a significant amount of control over who purchases its shares.

Any company that wants to make a placing will appoint a broker or an investment bank (or banks) to ‘place’ its shares with selected institutional investors. … In effect, the broker or bank(s) will identify institutional investors that are likely to want to purchase shares in the company and will, at the time of the placing, invite those institutional investors to purchase a quantity of that company’s shares. – http://treasurytoday.com/2001/12/placing-as-a-means-of-raising-finance

OK, now we have got that out of the way, what is happening?

Well the “offer” is expected to raise AUD$ 31,200,000 from the sale of shares at AUD$ 0.32 each. This constitutes a new tranche of 97,500,000 shares.

The Institutional (non-retail) part of the offer is already 75% subscribed with both Kerogen Investments No.1 (UK) Limited and OCP Asia (Singapore) Pte. Limited agreeing to take up their entitlement in full.

The Offer will therefore raise between AUD$ 23.4 Million and AUD$ 31.2 Million.

The Placement to Institutional Investors has commitments for 70,500,000 shares at AUD$ 0.32 a share so will raise at least AUD$ 22.6 Million.

40,500,000 of these shares will be bought by a new investor – RodDCO Property Holdings. We have been unable to find any information at all about this company on Google, and it seems we are not alone

A few hours on, nobody has been able to answer that question.

So the Capital raising will generate a sizeable tranche of cash

How will it be used?

Well The entire proceeds of the Offer will go towards reducing existing debt.

$18,300,000 proceeds from Kerogen’s participation in the Offer will reduce Kerogen subordinated debt. It seems therefore that Kerogen won’t actually be parting with any real cash but will simply be writing off debt in exchange for shares.

$8,800,000 will go to partially pay off Senior Loan Notes (currently standing at $51.5 million)

This will reduce AJL’s annual interest payments by AUD$ 4.6 million.

This leaves the projected AUD$ 21.6 million proceeds from the Placement ( about £12.5 million) which will go on:

  • Funding work on 4 wells at PNR
  • Fund working capital in the Australian operating businesses
  • To further reduce debt as appropriate

Note 1: The £12.5 million proceeds compares to Cuadrilla’s losses in 2016 of AUD$ 11,542,000 (£6.6 million) and 2015 of AUD$ 17,671,000 (£10.2 million)

Note 2: Our calculations, based on the data provided in the presentation suggest that this Capital Raising must have costs of around AUD$ 1.36 million (£0.8 million). If this is not accurate we’ll be happy to correct this assumption if they let us know.

The remaining funding for PNR will presumably come from the Centrica carry agreements.

£40,000,000 Paid Up front
£60,000,000 Initial Carry (of which there is just £4.7 million left)
£46,700,000 Contingent Carry payable after the flow testing of gas for six months

So we can see that Cuadrilla have already taken up £95.3 million of the Centrica Farm-In cash in addition to any other funding they may also have used, have £4.7 million still to call on but probably won’t get any more from that source until they have gas flowing for 6 months.

They are most likely relying on the £12.5 million in cash expected from this to tide them over the next nine months to a year of development costs.


There are a couple of other interesting things to come out of this presentation.

Firstly, in spite of the positive PR spin Cuadrilla have been putting on their exploration (e.g http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2018/01/12/lancashire-shale-tests-reveal-excellent-fracking-conditions/) this presentation makes only a passing mention of the core samples and makes no claim at all for any positive interpretation of them. Instead we just read “extensive cores have been successfully recovered from both the Upper and Lower Bowland shales“.

As one retail investor asked on the Australian Hot Copper board

Secondly in the key risks section AJ Lucas state:

Cuadrilla’s ability to develop its concessions for unconventional hydrocarbons depends upon the presence of significant in-place hydrocarbon resources in Cuadrilla’s concession areas and the ability of Cuadrilla to recover those resources in a commercially viable manner. There can be no guarantee that Cuadrilla will be able to recover any hydrocarbons in its concession areas or that it will be able to do so at a cost that makes production commercially feasible, in which eventuality may lead to the loss of the Contingent Carry from Centrica.

Quite – we could hardly have put it better ourselves

How big would your mess of pottage have to be?

Cuadrilla proudly announced today that local residents, when surveyed, had indicated that they wanted the “community benefit” promised by Cuadrilla to go to their own pockets and not to other local causes. Maybe it’s hard to blame them – if you lose 7% (government estimate from the 2014 Shale Gas Rural Economy Impacts report ) of the value of a property worth £150,000, and most of those within 1km are worth rather more than that,  that’s £10,500 so you can probably be forgiven for thinking that any paltry amounts coming from Cuadrilla should go to you and not the local Scouts’ hut. If you live in a Park Home at Carr Bridge worth say £60,000 you would lose £4,200 at that 7% rate.

So how much are they giving out? Well, this payment is for the second well, so there is already £100,000 to be give to local community projects by the Community Foundation for Lancashire – a body which is in fact based in Merseyside  and at least until recently had Cuadrilla’s good friend Babs Murphy as it’s board member for “Philanthropy Development”. This time they are going to pay the cash directly to the households so:

29 households within 1km of the site will each get £2070

259 households between 1km and 1.5km of the site will each get £150

No doubt we will now see Cuadrilla bragging about what a wonderful windfall this is and using it to try to persuade others that fracking brings meaningful rewards for communities, but it is worth pausing for a second to consider the population density involved here. Assuming these households follow the national average there will be 2.14 people on average in each one.

The area covered by the 1km limit is 3.14 km2 and the area covered by the outer 1-1.5 km ring is 3.9 km2

This leads us to conclude that the population density within 1km of the site is about 20/km2 and in the 1km-1.5km area about 141/km2 (the difference is probably largely due to it including the Carr Bridge site).

These are both considerably lower than the average population density of Lancashire which is 483/km2.

If the “benefit” were divided in areas with average population densities then we would have seen 709 households in the 1km area and 886 in the 1-1.5km area.

If Cuadrilla were to divide the “benefit” to an area with average population density in the proportions they plan to here, with 60% going to the area closer than 1 km and 40% to the area between 1 and 1.5 km then:

709 households within 1km of the site would each get just £85 – if they were thinking of splashing out that would buy nearly 200 B&H, 4 bottles of Bombay Sapphire or a couple of Ryanair flights with no baggage to somewhere miles from any fracking.

886 households between 1km and 1.5km of the site would each get a princely £45 – enough for standard anytime return tickets for two people to Manchester from Kirkham.

Meanwhile if these households lived in houses with the average value for Lancashire  (£161,166 according to Rightmove) and if each were to lose the DECC report’s 7% they would each lose over £11,000 on their houses, with a total loss of property value within a 1.5km radius of almost £18 million.

Don’t be fooled by the shiny £ signs.  Using the government’s own figures they’d have to provide the “benefit” from 180 wells off this one pad before they made up for just the loss in house value forecast by the Rural Impacts report.

So if you are tempted to sell your birthright for a mess of pottage make sure it’s big enough to fill the hole that will be left by this industry. Of course local residents are not selling their birthright voluntarily are they? Their council said “no”. It is the government forcing this industry onto our area and then expecting us to be grateful when the real beneficiaries sweep a few crumbs off the table for “lucky” local residents/receptors to scrat about for on the floor.

 

 

Emergency measures

Cuadrilla recently submitted an application to vary their planning permission at Preston New Road.

 

As part of this they submitted a Supporting Statement

This supporting statement was approved by no less than the Chief Executive of Cuadrilla as can be seen here:

In this supporting statement they made the following highly inflammatory claim

Emergency Calls

During the month of July 2017, there was a number of occasions where ambulances responding to emergency calls were unable to get to their destination using the fastest possible route due to incidents outside of the Preston New Road site. On such occasions, the ambulance returned to the M55 and used Junction 3 to arrive at their destination.

As nobody in Frack Free Lancashire was aware of these alleged incidents, a Freedom of Information request was made to the North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust.

Within Cuadrilla Resources Ltd’s recent application (dated 13 October 2017) to adjust planning permission at their Preston New Road site in Lancashire, they have made the following statement:

“During the month of July 2017, there was a number of occasions where ambulances responding to emergency calls were unable to get to their destination using the fastest possible route due to incidents outside of the Preston New Road site. On such occasions, the ambulance returned to the M55 and used Junction 3 to arrive at their destination.”

Please could you confirm whether this statement is in fact true or not, and provide any correspondence, via email or other records, that would support this claim.

Please also provide any correspondence between yourselves and Cuadrilla Resources Ltd, that may have occurred surrounding this claim

The reply was fairly instant

Further to your enquiry below, I have made contact with the local area manager, Head of Service for Lancashire and our legal department and they are all unaware of any formal submission of this information. I also confirm that we are unable to provided statistics in relation to ambulance delays experienced whilst en-route to incidents, as our reporting system does not capture this level of information.

I hope this information is of assistance.

We would like to know what evidence Cuadrilla have for suggesting that ambulances were hindered, given that even those who manage the service appear unaware of any such issues.

We have written as shown below to the Cuadrilla Information Line and will post any response that we get here.

Dear Sir / Madam

In your recent application to vary planning permission at Preston New Road you made a claim that:

“During the month of July 2017, there was a number of occasions where ambulances responding to emergency calls were unable to get to their destination using the fastest possible route due to incidents outside of the Preston New Road site. On such occasions, the ambulance returned to the M55 and used Junction 3 to arrive at their destination.”

However, according to an FoI response, North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust appear to be unaware of any request from yourselves for information relating to this and therefore logically cannot have provided any to you. They also state that their reporting systems does not capture sufficient detail to provide statistics in relation to ambulance delays experienced whilst en-route to incidents.

Accordingly, I would like to ask what evidence you have for you claim above and what is its source.

I look forward to your response

Those of you with sharp eyes may already have had a hollow laugh at the description on of one of the consultees listed on the application details.

Water water everywhere ….

In an effort to clarify the issue of where the water we drink comes from I put in an EIR request to United Utilities.

It took them some time to come up with a response but here is a summary.

If you live in the Fylde then your water comes from a variety of sources:

*Franklaw WTW
*Hodder WTW
*Haweswater Aquaduct
*Watchgate WTW

If you live in the FY8 area then your water is sourced as follows

So we can see two things here. A large proportion of the water (34%) does in fact come from boreholes, but they are all east of the Woodsfold fault.

The question of whether contamination of the Sherwood aquifer west of the fault could result in issues in the same aquifer east of the fault is still an open one. As Professor David Smythe suggests

There are many connections and pathways for contaminated ‘flowback’ fluid (directly from the fracking process), or for ‘produced’ water (from gas production) to reach the Sherwood aquifer east of the Woodsfold Fault.”

Equally a large part of Cuadrilla’s PEDL 165 is located east of the fault, so whilst any contamination of the aquifer east of the fault from Preston New Road might take some time, contamination of the aquifer from other sites could be much more immediate.

The image below shows a rough visualisation of PEDL 165 and the approximate location of the Woodsfold fault, superimposed onto the Environment Agency’s  map of water abstraction points within it.

What is very clear here though is that when the Fracking PR machine tries to claim that we don’t get water from boreholes that could be affected by fracking in PEDL 165, and it all comes from the Lakes, they are lying to us.

Finally, United Utilities claim not to be aware of the presence of a shallow fresh water aquifer at PNR, although the BGS clearly state that it does exist. We find this surprising but perhaps if it is only used for “private drinking water supply, farms and golf course irrigation” then there is no necessary reason why it should be of any interest to United Utilities.

This does not of course mean that it is not valuable or somehow not worth protecting!

We hope that this clarifies some of the questions regarding the sources of our public and private potable and no-potable water.

Please Police Me!

POLICING COSTS FOR PRESTON NEW ROAD MAY ALREADY HAVE TOPPED £10 MILLION

MUTUAL AID COSTS ARE ESTIMATED AT OVER £1 MILLION

FRACKING IN PRODUCTION COULD EAT UP HALF OF LANCASHIRE CONSTABULARY’S BUDGET FOR 20 YEARS

For some time now those supporting fracking have tried to turn the narrative away from the issues surrounding fracking and to present this battle as protesters versus police. Really nothing could be further from the truth.

As anyone who has been down to Preston New Road will know the vast majority of those they meet are decent, hard working or retired people, who continue to pay the council tax to enable the provision of policing services in the county. Some of us, however have become concerned about issues which have surfaced with the policing of the protest.

The most obvious one is the over-policing which has been evident throughout and this has some serious implications for the people of Lancashire as we continue to be asked to pay for an unsustainable policing operation which is, in effect, providing a free service for Cuadrilla.

Lancashire Police’s own public statements suggest that the cost of the policing operation, whilst being a considerable drain on the county’s finances, is still in manageable territory – just.


The cumulative total of £2.2 million is described as “Costs attributed to the policing operation for fracking“, but it is only on closer examination that we notice that it also states “The table below shows the additional costs related to policing the fracking operation. This includes overtime, unsocial hours payments, equipment, subsistence etc. These costs do not include the cost of those officers that are assigned to policing the site on a day-to-day basis.” [Our emphasis].

So what has the real cost of policing this operation been? To work this out we need to look at the cost to Lancashire Constabulary for the provision of Mutual Aid from other forces, which began on 10th July and will finish on 29th September, and also look at at the Full Economic Costs for Lancashire’s own policing operation . Fortunately information on these costs is readily available

Mutual Aid Data

Full Economic Costing

The information is for different years and from specific forces but it is recent enough and generally applicable enough to allow us to make a reasonable stab at the total costs incurred.

Cost of Mutual Aid Policing

Mutual aid policing is provided in PSUs – Police Support Units which comprise

  • 1 Inspector
  • 3 Sergeants
  • 18 Constables
  • 3 Constable Drivers

Throughout the Mutual Aid period it has been normal to see at least 6 vans from other forces at any one time so for this exercise we are going to assume that 2 PSU units (50 officers) have been deployed on average throughout the Mutual Aid period. This would be half of the daily presence of 100 officers reported in several reputable media outlets.

[The Times reported in April  “More than 100 officers a day are being sent to Cuadrilla’s site on Preston New Road near Blackpool to ensure that lorries delivering materials can pass protesters.” and in May the Blackpool Gazette reported  “The officer in charge of policing anti-fracking protests in Fylde has defended the number of police deployed. Lancashire Police has up to 100 officers deployed at the drilling site in Preston New Road every day, prompting criticism from some quarters of the resources being given over to the operation. Supt Richard Robertshaw admits the numbers required are a drain on resources.“]

When  paying for mutual aid the amount paid by Lancashire Constabulary is not the Full Economic Cost of each officer – instead they pay only for the basic pay, unsociable hours, other allowances and national insurance. The force providing Mutual Aid has to swallow up the rest (or rather their council tax payers and the national tax payers do, which is another reason why it is legitimate to regard this as not just a local but a national issue).

Taking the employable cost hourly rates for each grade and applying these to the number of days worked we can calculate that the daily cost of a single PSU unit would be £7,031, so 2 PSU units (50 officers) would cost just over £14,000 a day.

Over the 81 days of the Mutual Aid period this might have cost Lancashire Police £1,139,077 assuming our assumptions about the number of officers deployed and the police’s own data are correct.

Cost of Lancashire Constabulary’s Policing

When looking at the cost of Lancashire’s own officers we need to use a Full Economic Costing which takes into account not only the salaries and overheads uses in the calculation of Mutual Aid rates but also elements, which are not included in the Mutual Aid cost calculations like:

  • Competence
  • Bonus Payment
  • Subsistence
  • Rent / Housing Allowances
  • Healthcare Scheme

along with direct overheads in the form of

  • Overtime Premium
  • Uniforms
  • Insurance
  • Transport
  • Training
  • Call Handling
  • Communications
  • Infrastructure

and also indirect overheads allocated from the provision of other central services.

The impact of including these is to bring the cost of a Police Constable from a nominal £32.78 an hour under Mutual Aid to a more realistic £59.64 an hour under a Full Economic Cost model.

This means that by the end of this week (Friday 29th September 2017), on the reasonable assumption that 100 officers have been deployed each day, apart from during Mutual Aid when it would have been 50,  the cost to Lancashire Constabulary for their own officers since January 6th will have been be somewhere in the region of £10 million.

This would suggest that the total cumulative costs so far of facilitating Cuadrilla’s operation to Lancashire Constabulary are in the order of £11.2 million.

This compares with a total 2017/18 budget requirement for Lancashire Constabulary of £261,647,000 or about 4% of the annual total after just 9 months. This would suggest over 5% after a year.

If you would like to look at the data behind our calculations it can be found in this spreadsheet

And now we need to take a step back and remember – this is just one pad. If this industry ever takes root here we can expect at least 100 pads to be developed. At any one time we can probably expect 10 pads to be being developed, and as we have seen when this industry invades places where there is a strong community, like in a village, resistance increases, so it would be unreasonable for the police to expect not to have to deal with a similar level of protest at each and every site that is developed here in Lancashire.

So, my questions to Chief Inspector Keith Ogle and Police Commissioner Clive Grunshaw are as follows:

  • Are the Police ready to spend something in the region of 50% of their current budget over the next 20 years on facilitating Cuadrilla’s operations?
  • Do the Police feel that they can adequately perform the rest of their necessary functions in our society whilst so many resources are being directed towards policing Cuadrilla’s fracking operations?
  • What plans have the Police put in place to get finance from central Government for this massive drain on their resources which might allow them continue to perform the job that we all need them to do?

These are questions that our senior police officers really have to be asking themselves. Given the costs that would seem to have been incurred already we need the answers to them sooner rather than later.

And in the naked light I saw …

A week or so ago I met local music teacher Andy Severyn for a beer and out of the blue came an idea for a song about fracking.

A couple of days later Andy and I (but mostly Andy) had put together some great replacement lyrics for Don McLean’s haunting song “Starry Starry Night” and we put them together with some of the images that have most affected us over the last few months.

The result seemed quite good so we published it on Facebook and we’ve been overwhelmed by the response. In a few days it has been viewed by 10,000 people – maybe more. It has also been shared 450 times at the time of writing.

We’ve now added it to Vimeo for easier sharing.

Sorry Sorry Site from No Fracking on Vimeo.

10,000 people maybe more – hmm – that give us an idea for a follow up. Stay tuned!

In the meantime here is the image we’ve used as the main picture for the video – complete with fracking well

Minitrue

In George Orwell’s 1984, the main protagonist, Winston Smith, works at the Ministry of Truth, or “Minitrue”, as an editor.

He is responsible for historical revisionism; he rewrites records and alters photographs to conform to the state’s ever-changing version of history itself.

In 2017 he might have got a job editing the new Backing Fracking website.

If he did we could probably expect output like this:

Terms like “fracture growth” and “fracture propagation” are used to describe the extent of the network of cracks that are created. The maximum vertical reach has been calculated as 350 metres from a horizontal well, but it’s important to understand that these cracks are random, won’t all form in a vertical plane, and are very narrow indeed – they are certainly not going to be “fissures.”

Fracking for shale gas in the UK will take place at very significant depths – typically more than 2,000 metres. Groundwater aquifers are encountered at about 180 metres below the surface and so you can see that even if fractures can “grow” upwards 350 metres, there will be 1,650 metres of separation between the two (that’s 5 times the height of the Shard in London, Britain’s tallest building) and virtually no chance of any connectivity occurring.

Like all good lies this content contains some truth, but it is subtly bent out of shape. This when we read “The maximum vertical reach has been calculated as 350 metres from a horizontal well” we should not take that as fact. In reality a study by the ReFine group at the University of Durham actually concluded that:

“Mathematical analysis of the datasets indicates that the likelihood of a natural hydraulic fracture extending vertically more than 350 metres is about 33 per cent. For hydraulic fractures stimulated by shale gas fracking, the likelihood of them extending more than 350 m is less than 1 per cent.”

That is not the same thing as a calculated maximum at all. Given the many thousand fracturing stages which will take place just within Cuadrilla’s licence area we can expect several hundred to exceed this height.

They are correct that Cuadrilla’s fracture plan suggests that fracking will take place at depths greater than 2,000 metres, but whoever put this together obviously doesn’t know much about the local geology. The suggestion that “Groundwater aquifers are encountered at about 180 metres below the surface and so you can see that even if fractures can “grow” upwards 350 metres, there will be 1,650 metres of separation between the two” seems to be based on the assumption that the Sherwood aquifer has no depth of its own, even if you ignore the obvious issue with forgetting about their initial 180 metres, as they do there.

In fact as the BGS tell us:

The shallow aquifer is up to 40 m thick and is designated by the Environment Agency as a Secondary B aquifer. It is used for private drinking water supply, farms and golf course irrigation. In the area of the proposed shale–gas sites, this aquifer is underlain by a thick layer (up to 350 m) of a low–permeability mudstone, the Mercia Mudstone. Water moves slowly through this mudstone and it is not classed as an aquifer. Below this is the Sherwood Sandstone, which reaches a thickness of up to 750 m. The Sherwood Sandstone is classed by the Environment Agency as a Principal aquifer.”

So in fact the Sherwood Aquifer is not 180 metres below the surface but about 400 metres below it. The sandstone making up the Sherwood  Aquifer is up to 750 metres thick, giving a depth of its lowest level at about 1150 metres not the 180 metres being suggested by our astro-turfing pals in their story above.

Assuming a fracture height of 350 metres that would, of course, still give a tolerance of 500 metres for fracking at 2000 metres. If the 350 metres quoted really were a maximum rather than just a probability this would be fine wouldn’t it? However, as the Refine paper tells us:

The maximum reported height of an upward propagating hydraulic fracture from several thousand fracturing operations in the Marcellus, Barnett, Woodford, Eagle Ford and Niobrara shale (USA) is ∼588 m

How much can we depend on this data?

Well Refine also state that:

Mathematical methods for estimating hydraulic fracturing height are simplistic (Fisher and Warpinski, 2011) and it is generally accepted that we cannot yet accurately predict fracture propagation behaviour in detail

So things wouldn’t seem to be quite so clear cut as our Backing Fracking chums would like to make out, as in fact the separation distance between the end of a fracture and the aquifer at Preston New Road might be nearer 250 metres than the 1650 metres claimed by them, and nobody is really sure if the 588 metres really is the maximum fracture height we should expect.

250 metres clearance for a fracture at 2000 metres, with an observed maximum fracture height (so far) of 588 metres, might still be a reasonable margin of course (if those mathematical prediction methods do turn out to be more reliable than ReFine suggest) , but this is rather less than 1 times the height of the Shard in London and about 7 times less than Backing Fracking’s “reassuring” maths is trying to tell us. Oops!

This begs the question why Backing Fracking are being so misleading. Is it incompetence or is it a wilful intention to exaggerate and misinform?

[And according to their own page , shouldn’t they be called “Backing Frac’ing” as they tell us the word “fracking” is “really known in the industry” as “frac’ing”. 😂]

PS – do we detect a little irascibility with Aunty in their closing “Fracking certainly isn’t the controversial technique that the BBC and others would like you to think it is.”?  And we still think it is by the way.

PPS – it seems they follow everything we write here as shortly after I published this they put this sniffy Tweet on Twitter

(The inset is my reply LOL – 2 years ago they hadn’t banned me but when I didn’t post for a while they were telling each other they had. Then I argued a point with them and got banned properly. Oddly my life was not much diminished.)

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