Francis Egan, CEO of Cuadrilla Resources, said:
“Cuadrilla has spent several months putting plans and contracts in place in order to plug and abandon our two Lancashire shale gas wells. This follows a notice given to us by the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) that both wells must be plugged with cement by the end June. As it takes between two and three months to complete the work we must start on site imminently.
“On Wednesday morning, I read in the newspapers that the Prime Minister had decided that concreting up Britain’s only two shale gas wells, in the midst of an energy crisis and given his own assessment that Europe is “addicted” to Russian gas, would be a terrible idea. Later on Wednesday, in the House of Commons, the Business Secretary said that “it did not necessarily make any sense to concrete over the wells” at the Preston New Road site in Lancashire. Unfortunately the Government is failing to match its rhetoric with action.
“Since Wednesday BEIS and the OGA have been repeatedly contacted by and on behalf of Cuadrilla to discuss how to give practical effect to the Prime Minister and Secretary of State’s statements. The only clear and unambiguous response from these verbal and written contacts has been verbal confirmation from the OGA that the 30th June remains the legal deadline to plug both wells with cement. It is clear that OGA will be in no position to reverse that until it receives a clear instruction from the Business Department.
“If the Prime Minister and Secretary of State’s words are to count, then officials must be instructed to stop dragging their heels and frustrating the Government’s wishes.
“In the absence of any action to back up the rhetoric we have had to press ahead with preparing and moving a rig to our PNR site to plug these wells.
“If the words from Downing Street and the House of Commons are to have any practical meaning I urgently request the Business Department and the OGA to formally withdraw their instruction to plug the wells. They should also put sensible protections in place to ensure that companies like Cuadrilla and others aren’t forced to suffer the risk and financial cost of operating in a position where a Government can keep changing its mind and require wells to be cemented whilst they are eminently useful.
“If we are serious about energy security, as a very basic, first step we must not concrete up these wells, and then we need urgently to lift the shale gas moratorium and use these and additional wells to produce domestic shale gas.”