Update on Cuadrilla’s testing and restoration plans for Becconsall

15th May 2015

Photo: Cuadrilla’s temporary exploration site at Becconsall, near Banks.

Cuadrilla would like to point out a number of inaccuracies in a recent OTS News story about their exploration site at Becconsall, near Banks.

Cuadrilla has been given planning permission by Lancashire County Council to carry out measurement of the pressure of the gas in the shale rock at the Becconsall well. The well will not be hydraulically fractured. Following the pressure measurement programme it is planned that the well will be sealed and the site returned to its former condition by the end of October 2016.

To clarify we have no intention ‘to perform two more years of mini-fracking and test flow operations’ at this site as was claimed in the article. No works other than those associated with the pressure monitoring testing and plugging and abandonment of the borehole and for the restoration of the site shall be carried out on the site. There will no fluid injected in the well or fracturing on the site as part of this work.

If the installation of the pressure monitoring testing equipment commences, then a perforation tool – used commonly throughout the oil and gas industry both onshore and offshore – would be used. The purpose of this tool is to create small openings (perforations) in the well casing separating the well bore from the adjacent rock. This is done by a series of small charges deep beneath the surface.  Each small charge (weighing on average 20 grams) would create a perforation  measuring some half an inch in diameter connecting the well to the adjacent rock.  For work of this nature  typically the well casing would be perforated in 4-6 locations over several metres to allow access into the zone to be tested.  The work at Becconsall would be carried out 8,000 – 9,000ft below the surface. The shot to create each perforation would be entirely undetectable by anyone at the surface in terms of noise or vibration. Once the perforations have been made the tool is withdrawn from the well.

Temporary planning permission was first granted for the Becconsall site, near Banks in October 2010. Drilling began at the site in August 2011 and lasted for just over three months, reaching a target depth of 10,500 feet. Following the completion of the well, the drilling rig was removed and the site secured. Since this time the site has seen a very low level of activity.

Permission was sought in March last year for the retention of the site to allow time to carry out pressure monitoring of the Bowland shale reservoir, followed by the restoration of the site. This was confirmed by Lancashire County Council earlier this month.

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