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Stuck On Repeat – Cuadrilla’s Useless Clueless Information Line

It’s time for the Cuadrilla “Spot The Difference” competition.

Readers who follow this blog may recall the trouble we had getting any answers from Cuadrilla’s “Community Information Line” (which is in fact run by their PR company Lexington Communications)

We were trying to get the answer to three  fairly simple questions but they seemed reluctant and/or unable to provide any answers.

The three questions were:

1.  What was the planned surface area of the site at Preston New Road.

2.  What is the number of jobs (FTE equivalents)  that Cuadrilla genuinely expect will result from work at the site.

3. What exactly are Cuadrilla planning to drill this year?

As they declined to answer them for me I asked several friends to ask them on my behalf.

Here is how one correspondent phrased the questions in more detail:

I am a little confused by some of the things reported to have been said by your Mr Egan in his interview with the Guardian (Jan 5th 2017). Please can you give me definitive answers to the following questions.

Firstly,  what is the planned area of the site on Preston New Road?  The article says “about the size of a rugby pitch” but I would like to know the area in hectares.

Second, Mr Egan is quoted as saying that “the work would involve dozens of people”.  Could you tell me precisely how many full time equivalent jobs Cuadrilla  expects to result from work at the Preston New Road site?

Finally, the article says that Cuadrilla “will concentrate on drilling a pilot well 3,500 metres deep this year and two horizontal wells”.  I was under the impression that Cuadrilla only had permission to drill one horizontal well from each vertical well. Please could you clarify what drilling you actually intend to carry out this year, please?

A number of other people sent in similar requests. Perhaps realising what a PR gaffe it would be if their information line refused to talk to anybody at all they sent back the same cut and paste responses to all of those who wrote in.

These were as follows

Please find below answers to your queries.

Preston New Road site area

The Exploration Site and access, extends to approximately 2.65 hectares (ha) and are located within a parcel of agricultural land of around 7.2 ha, of which 1.55ha is a compacted crushed stone surfaced well pad from which the drilling, hydraulic fracturing and flow testing activities will be undertaken. The remainder of the application site will consist of surface water collection ditches, landscaped bunds (from topsoil and subsoil excavated during construction of the well pad) and fencing and the land required for the extended flow test pipeline and connection. It is the 1.55 ha well pad which we say is approximately the size of a rugby pitch to help people visualise the size.

Jobs created at the Preston New Road site

In the Environment Statement independent planning consultant Arup estimated that approximately 19 on-site jobs will be created by Cuadrilla’s operations at the Preston New Road site. However we expect a greater number of supply chain jobs will be created in Lancashire as a result of the shale gas industry in the UK.  Overall dozens of on-site jobs and personnel will be required to complete the site-build and exploratory operations at the Preston New Road site.  These will include construction jobs, drilling jobs, well service jobs among others.  When we launched our Putting Lancashire First initiative last December we published a tracker of which direct and indirect jobs are included.  We will keep publishing these figures quarterly this year.

Type of drilling

Initially a vertical pilot well is drilled – rock samples are taken from this to understand more about the geology and where best to drill the horizontal wells. Then the horizontal wells are drilled at various depths (up to a depth between 2,000m and 3,500m).  One of the horizontal wells will come off the pilot well. We have planning permission for four vertical wells to be drilled, however we do not envisage drilling all four this year.

If you’ve been following this fiasco you will know that those answers are hardly satisfactory

We asked some of our correspondents to follow these answers up making the points you can read below under “Supplementary Questions”.

Of course Cuadrilla, who wish to ensure that public is as fully informed about their operations as is possible provided suitably detailed responses to these follow up questions as follows:

Please find below answers to your queries.

Preston New Road site area

The Exploration Site and access, extends to approximately 2.65 hectares (ha) and are located within a parcel of agricultural land of around 7.2 ha, of which 1.55ha is a compacted crushed stone surfaced well pad from which the drilling, hydraulic fracturing and flow testing activities will be undertaken. The remainder of the application site will consist of surface water collection ditches, landscaped bunds (from topsoil and subsoil excavated during construction of the well pad) and fencing and the land required for the extended flow test pipeline and connection. It is the 1.55 ha well pad which we say is approximately the size of a rugby pitch to help people visualise the size.

Jobs created at the Preston New Road site

In the Environment Statement independent planning consultant Arup estimated that approximately 19 on-site jobs will be created by Cuadrilla’s operations at the Preston New Road site. However we expect a greater number of supply chain jobs will be created in Lancashire as a result of the shale gas industry in the UK. Overall dozens of on-site jobs and personnel will be required to complete the site-build and exploratory operations at the Preston New Road site. These will include construction jobs, drilling jobs, well service jobs among others. When we launched our Putting Lancashire First initiative last December we published a tracker of which direct and indirect jobs are included. We will keep publishing these figures quarterly this year.

Type of drilling

Initially a vertical pilot well is drilled – rock samples are taken from this to understand more about the geology and where best to drill the horizontal wells. Then the horizontal wells are drilled at various depths (up to a depth between 2,000m and 3,500m). One of the horizontal wells will come off the pilot well. We have planning permission for four vertical wells to be drilled, however we do not envisage drilling all four this year.

Yes folks – they couldn’t be bothered to answer the further questions so they just copied and pasted their original answers. I know at least two people who got the same off-hand and insulting treatment.

So when you hear Francis Egan telling you how much he values community involvement, maybe remind him of the fact that his tame PR company is making him his company look completely uncaring and totally unprofessional.

 


Supplementary questions

  1. Preston New Road Site Area 

    Lexington Communications responded “It is the 1.55 ha well pad which we say is approximately the size of a rugby pitch to help people visualise the size.” but a rugby pitch is only 1 hectare in size so even 1.55 hectares  is misleading by a third! So they are “approximately” telling the truth then?in fact the Environmental Statement shows the pad looking like this (P66)

    The three layers of high fencing surround not just the pad but the bunds etc as well, and that area is about 2.2 hectares  so if they are pretending to be describing the visual / spatial impact they are being very disingenuous by saying it is just the pad area and then comparing that to a 1 hectare rugby pitch!

    2.Jobs created at the Preston New Road site

    Lexington really need  to check ask that 19 figure as it looks more like 8 on site employees in the ES they refer to after “leakage” is taken into account. (Leakage being defined as the proportion of the benefit felt elsewhere).

    The 11 is made up of 8 net direct FTEs + 4 additional (indirect / induced) from associated monitoring – (presumably rounding or mathematical error accounts for it not being 12)

    The calculations show in Table 9.5 attempt to quantify employment relating to on-Site activities, the indirect supply chain effects and the induced effects associated with increased spending by workers (the latter two areas being what the composite multiplier accounts for) at the Lancashire level. The net FTE estimation is estimated to be 11 FTE positions.

    So the total direct and supply chain employment is only 11!

    To this we can maybe add 4

    These calculations do not include the employment generated by the installation of the arrays, which could be for an additional team of up to four people working on each of the 80 sites for up to three days.

    This would give a total of 15

    So to say “Overall dozens of on-site jobs and personnel will be required to complete the site-build and exploratory operations at the Preston New Road site. These will include construction jobs, drilling jobs, well service jobs among others.” would seem to be a very misleading exaggeration, wouldn’t it? It’s more like “a dozen” at Preston new Road isn’t it? 8 direct + 4 monitoring according to their own Environmental Statement

    3. Type of Drilling 

    So exactly what did Francis Egan mean then when he said Cuadrilla “will concentrate on drilling a pilot well 3,500 metres deep this year and two horizontal wells”

    Does this mean they will drill two verticals with one horizontal each or one vertical with two horizontals off it

    It’s an important question as as far as we know their planning permission only allows them one horizontal per vertical

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