The leading fracking company in the UK is looking to overturn the government’s fracking moratorium.
Cuadrilla claims it will provide evidence showing that fracking is safe, despite its operations having already caused earthquakes.
The company hopes to address the concerns of communities near fracking sites by providing new data to the oil and gas regulator to demonstrate the safety of the processes involved.
Last week the government took a U-turn on their stance towards fracking, halting projects in England and putting the entire industry at risk of closure. The decision was made due to the detection of earthquakes that were above safe limits near fracking sites.
Cuadrilla said it would persist in putting forward the case for fracking, despite its own fracking project having caused several tremors near its Preston New Road site in Lancashire. One such tremor back in August was of a 2.9-magnitude.
The company was forced to halt operations just weeks away from the expiry of its licence. The company will also not be permitted to extend its licence when it expires at the end of the month.
Due to a report claiming that the severity of earthquakes caused by fracking were impossible to predict accurately, the government announced that new fracking permits would not be approved.
Andrea Leadsom, business and energy secretary, said the temporary ban was based on current scientific information and would not be overturned “until compelling new evidence is provided” showing that the practice is safe.
Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour party, has a more sceptical view about the moratorium, describing the move as an election stunt: “I think it sounds like fracking would come back on 13 December if they were elected back into office.”
Cuadrilla has announced that they will work with the Oil and Gas Authority to appraise and develop its Bowland Shale reserves.
The company has tried to lead a shale gas revolution in the UK in recent times, spending around £200m trying to rival the industry of the US. However, the projects have not produced any commercial gas to date.
Cuadrilla currently has the backing of British Gas owner Centrica, which has invested £60m into the business over the last few years. A Centrica spokesperson said:
“It was logical to examine the UK’s indigenous gas resource to understand the potential before decisions about what should be done with that resource. However, we respect the decision and recognise that how onshore exploration is regulated is very important.”
Phill Arnall, chairman of Cuadrilla owner AJ Lucas, said it would continue to support Cuadrilla in the face of ‘disappointing’ decisions by the government.
He said that “domestically produced shale gas has a far lower carbon footprint compared to imported gas” which would provide “benefits to the economy and the environment”.