LONDON (ICIS)--Cuadrilla is to seek permission to carry out hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, at two sites in northwest England, the UK-based energy company said on Tuesday.
The company is the first to seek permission to frack in the UK since the lifting of a ban on the practice in December.
Hydraulic fracturing had been suspended in the UK since mid-2011 following fears that drilling by Cuadrilla near Blackpool in northwest England had triggered a small earthquake in the area.
The company is seeking planning permission to drill, hydraulically fracture and test the flow of gas from up to four wells in each location in The Fylde, Lancashire, as part of its efforts to determine the extent of recoverable shale gas reserves in the region.
However, the company added that it would not be pursuing hydraulic fracturing permissions for its site in Grange Hill, Lancashire. Cuadrilla drilled a 10,700 foot well at Grange Hill in 2011, but now plans to use the site as the base for a monitor to complement two seismic arrays to be installed at the active locations.
Separate applications will be made to install two seismic arrays used to monitor the fracking process, and UK-headquartered professional services firm Arup will prepare an environmental impact assessment for each of the new exploration sites, Cuadrilla added.
Company CEO Franics Egan said: “We’ve been working hard to assess our site options and have undertaken extensive technical and geological analysis. As a result of this work, we have decided to focus on just two sites at this time.
“This will allow us to reduce the potential impact on the local area during exploration while still gathering the important information we need to determine how much gas could be recovered,” he added.
A scoping report outlining the company’s proposed approach to environmental assessments for the new sites is expected to be submitted to Lancashire County Council in the near future.