It is now 8 weeks since Cuadrilla unexpectedly started work at Preston New Road. I say unexpectedly because from what we were told they forgot to alert local residents and possibly the police until the day after they started, which was not a very auspicious start to any pretence at community relations.
How are they doing?
Well, Francis Egan, CEO, of Cuadrilla, is putting a brave face on in spite of protectors continually demonstrating outside the site, and the pop-up protests, which are convincing supply chain companies to re-evaluate their dealings with a company which is so unpopular locally. Only today Drill or Drop report that “Cuadrilla has told DrillOrDrop that its operation remained on schedule.”
However, if we take a look at where they expected to be we can see a yawning gap between what was planned for the first two months and what has actually been achieved. Obviously we don’t have access to their actual project plan, but they have indicated the progress they expected to make in other documents
Here is what we can see in their Environmental Statement:
Anyone who has visited the site will be aware that the access track isn’t even near finished yet. The exploration well pad is still a pile of soil, work on fencing has only just started with sound baffles having been delivered only this week by a freight company who have since asked not to be further involved with the project. The drilling cellars are pits where the boreholes will be drilled, and there is no obvious sign of these having been excavated. The conductor casing (to prevent the sides of the hole from caving into the wellbore) presumably can’t be put in before the pad itself has been constructed. Fortunately for Cuadrilla United Utilities thoughtfully supplied a new mains water pipe running just past the site only very recently. What a lucky co-incidence that was, but we have seen no evidence of any connection between it and the pad site.
At this point the next step would be to drill the first well.
It will be very interesting to see how much later than 2 months it is before the drill bit hits the ground. The arrival date of the drilling rig will give a very clear indication of the impact that protectors have had on the pad construction schedule.