Cuadrilla’s controversial bid to frack for shale gas in Lancashire has struck a rare gush of good luck after tests unearthed “excellent” conditions for fracking.
The fracking firm drilled a 1.6 mile deep vertical well at its protest-hit Preston New Road site, through two different types of shale, to reveal “excellent rock quality” for fracking.
The tests also suggest a high natural gas content in the core samples, Cuadrilla said.
The findings rebut a warning from a team of scientists at Heriot-Watt university last year that the UK’s most promising shale gas reservoirs had been warped by tectonic shifts millions of years ago.
The report claimed that these geological quirks meant Britain was unlikely to be able to produce economic amounts of shale gas.
Following the test results, Cuadrilla boss Francis Egan said he was “confident that there is a very sizeable quantity of natural gas in the Bowland Shale”.
“In addition we can confirm that the rock composition is very suitable to hydraulically fracture. This give us great confidence as we start drilling what will be the first horizontal well drilled into UK shale rock,” he said.
The fresh optimism in Lancashire follows another boom for Mr Egan’s plans earlier this week after West Sussex Council gave the greenlight for his firm to test the wells located near the village of Balcombe.
Both the Lancashire and Balcombe sites have played host to fierce opposition from protesters against plans the unconventional onshore work.
Critics have raised fears that blasting a mix of sand, water and chemicals into the wells to open up cracks in the rock layers could lead to groundwater contamination and earth tremors such as those recorded near the Lancashire fracking sites in 2011.
Hydraulic fracturing will not be necessary at the Balcombe site because the geological layers are mostly made of softer limestone.