Moving the posts before the game starts
We know how keen Cuadrilla are to use rubgy pitches as a comparison so it seems appropriate to use them as a metaphor here. The posts do seem to be moving before the referee has even allowed the game to start.
As far as we are aware the planning permission granted to Cuadrilla for Preston New Road is based on the programme of work described in their Planning Statement – Exploration Works – Planning Application available on their own website
This tells us (P24) that they will do the following:
Drill vertical section of Well 1.
The first well to be drilled will be a vertical well to a depth of approximately 3,500mbelow ground level. This well will provide data on the specific geology below the Site. From this data the target zones in the shale for horizontal wells will be identified.
Drill horizontal section of Well 1.
A horizontal well may be drilled laterally from the vertical section of Well 1 at between 1500-3500 m depth below the surface (the exact level to be determined). This could extend 2000m horizontally from the drilling cellar
it goes on to describe the hydraulic fracturing and flow testing before detailing the plan for the other wells
Drill Horizontal Wells 2, 3 and 4.
Hydraulically fracture and flow test.The next well (2) will be drilled vertically from the surface of the well pad to a level within the shale, from where drilling would be continued horizontally. This will be repeated for Horizontal Wells 3 and 4. Each of these horizontal wells will then be hydraulically fractured and flow tested (as described above for Horizontal Well 1). Likewise, if the flow of gas is sufficient the well may be subject to further Extended Flow Testing (as describe above for Horizontal Well 1), with natural gas produced being fed into the gas grid.
It is very clear from this that each well will be a vertical well with a single horizontal continuation once the vertical target depth has been reached.
We are not aware of any amendment to the planning permission granted on the basis of the documents submitted by Cuadrilla.
We were surprised therefore to read a report in the Guardian saying
Although Cuadrilla has planning permission for four wells at the site, it will concentrate on drilling a pilot well 3,500 metres deep this year and two horizontal wells. The contract for the construction is worth £1.5m and Egan said the work would involve dozens of people.
That seem to suggest that they will be drilling a single vertical well with two horizontals off it.
We are also surprised to hear Mr Egan suggesting that “the work would involve dozens of people” as the documents submitted to the planning appeal clearly show that the total FTE equivalent employment in the entire supply chain is likely to be just 11 for this site with a share of 4 more in associated monitoring work. That’s really one dozen isn’t it. Not even two dozen so “dozens” seems to be something of an exaggeration doesn’t it?
We have had a chat with their “Community Information Line” (which seems to end up at PR company Lexington Communications) but they couldn’t answer our questions immediately and promised to try to get back to us yesterday.
We will update here if they get do get back to us eventually.