Cuadrilla expects to start hydraulically fracturing the shale rock around the first of its two horizontal shale gas exploration wells at its Preston New Road site in Lancashire in the next week.
The hydraulic fracturing process at Preston New Road will take approximately three months to complete for both exploration wells. The fracturing of the shale rock, over 2km deep in the earth, will release the natural gas in the shale to flow up the wellbore to the surface. The flow rate of the natural gas will be tested over approximately six months with initial results expected in the first quarter of next year.
Francis Egan, CEO of Cuadrilla, said:
“The start of hydraulic fracturing is the final milestone in the journey to assessing the flow rates of natural gas from our Lancashire shale exploration wells. On completion of hydraulic fracturing and commencement of gas flow, we expect to have, in the first quarter of next year, an initial assessment of how much natural gas is likely to be recoverable from these first Lancashire shale wells. This will allow us to make an assessment of the commercial viability and future of this exploration site. Lancashire has benefited to date from over £11 million of investment generated by our exploration operations. This investment will grow very significantly if we move from exploration into commercial production.
We are confident the flow rates will demonstrate Lancashire can play a major and leading role in safely providing a new source of natural gas for the UK. This cannot come a moment too soon as we currently rely on imports for over 50% of the gas that we all need to heat our homes and offices and generate electricity. Producing natural gas from shale will generate investment and new jobs andprovide an environmentally preferable alternative to importing gas over long distances by ship or pipeline or to burning coal to generate electricity.