Myth 11 – Fracking has been done in the UK for decades
Peter Lilley made great play in an interview with Radio 5 of the “fact” that 200 wells have been fracked in the UK without anybody noticing. He pretended to be amazed that anyone would think there was any difference between those wells and what we would face in the UK in future.
As you can see here we tried, unsuccessfully to get Prof Styles of Keel University to provide some clarifications. He’s the delightful academic who told Telegraph that “It is not a new technology, we have had 200 wells fracked in England and no one has even noticed. You cannot get a nicer place than under Corfe Castle in Poole Bay but no one is phoning up the Government to complain.”
He directed us to the Royal Society report which said that “over the last 30 years more than 2,000 well have been drilled onshore in the UK, approximately 200 (10%) of which have been hydraulically fractured to enhance recovery”
We contacted the Royal Society who told us it was nothing to do with them guv – they were just repeating what they had been told by the DECC, so we contacted them
Toni Harvey of DECC responded:
DECC has records of some kind of the drilling of 2159 onshore wells (which we add to when a new one is spud, see “basic onshore well data” on https://www.gov.uk/oil-and-gas-onshore-exploration-and-production
We do not however have records of how many of these were fracked, because until recently fracking was regarded as a fairly routine oilfield operation and not subject to specific consent. From enquiries to the operators, we believe that at least 200 did have hydraulic fracturing treatments of some kind, but we would emphasise that these non-shale fracs are not comparable, in the volumes of fluid employed, to Cuadrilla’s operations at Preese Hall in 2011 – the non-shale fracs are much smaller.
I hope that help.
So let’s just look at that statement in detail
“We do not however have records of how many of these were fracked” – so nobody, not even an eminent Tory grandee from the Thatcher era, can realistically claim to know how many wells have been fracked in the UK because there are no records
“we would emphasise that these non-shale fracs are not comparable in the volumes of fluid employed, to Cuadrilla’s operations at Preese Hall in 2011 – the non-shale fracs are much smaller” – so these fracks were not into shale and in the words of a senior geoscientist at DECC are “not comparable” to even the limited operations at Preese Hall – a single vertical well. I don’t think we need to ask how they might compare to 100 x 40 wells pad do we?
We replied to Ms Harvey
So you would agree that any attempt by politicians and the media to reassure the general public by referring to these fracked wells would be highly misleading?
which she neatly swerved by replying
Sorry, that’s not a question for a technical person like me.
If you want an answer I’d be happy to refer you to one of the policy people.
We have asked her to do so, and will report back on what they come back with.
In the meantime if anyone tells you about those 200 wells you can now refute them with evidence from the DECC (which is what they think they are quoting)