FRACKING Fracking in Cheshire

Recent information session at Mickle Trafford

Interesting that such a senior, knowledgeable and authoritative group of people from the Environment Agency, Health and Safety executive, Public Health England and the Oil and Gas Authority were at this information session. The political and financial climate is moving in favour of fracking again. Keep a watch on the frackfree guilden sutton facebook page for information.

The government has just announced updates to the various on shore gas and oil exploration licenses this month.  While 3 have not been renewed, many have been extended by 2 years including PEDL189 which includes Guilden Sutton and Mickle Trafford. This means exploratory drilling and fracking can continue in this area until 2018. PEDL stands for Petroleum Exploration and Development Licence.

Further information here


The survey has finished and following an official count in the Village Church Hall  76% of Guilden Sutton residents responding to the survey said NO to fracking.

The licence for any unconventional energy extraction in Guilden Sutton is held by iGas. Another company, INEOS, holds the licences for other nearby areas. INEOS recently held an information meeting for town and parish councils in Frodsham to which Guilden Sutton was invited although the parish is not in an INEOS area. A summary of that presentation appears here.

Fracking in the UK

The Bowland Shale (map below) is the only significant area of shale gas in the UK containing an estimated 1329 trillion cubic feet of gas. Only a small proportion of this is commercially extractable. To provide reliable estimates of where extractable reserve gas lies, wells are drilled, maps are consulted and seismic surveys are performed. Such seismic surveys have been carried out in the areas of Ince, Stoke, Thornton-Le-Moors, Little Stanney, Elton and Frodsham Marsh and extending southwards towards Tarvin.

The surveys have now been completed in the areas around Guilden Sutton and Mickle Trafford. Those academically or geologically interested in the outcome of what lies beneath will probably have to wait until the results appear in possible planning applications for exploratory drilling in the area. Meanwhile below is a map showing Site 1 in Mickle Trafford acquired by Star Energy Ltd (owned by iGas) and site 2 in which they have purchased an option.

 The 1,329 trillion cubic feet of shale gas held in the rocks is over 500 years of natural gas supply for the UK. However this is the TOTAL estimated amount of gas and not the amount which can be commercially and economically extracted – this is known as the Reserve. 10% of the Bowland shale resource would meet current UK natural gas demand (based on 2013 figures) for roughly 40 years.

The question is, can commercially viable quantities be extracted? In time, the drilling fracturing and testing of shale gas wells will demonstrate if viable production can be achieved. These combined with other non-geological factors such as engineering design, operating costs and the scale of development agreed by the local planning system will allow estimates of the area’s shale gas reserves to be made. Hence the need for the geological seismic and drilling surveys taking place.

Shortage of data makes it difficult to establish an accurate reserve figure but even if the 10% figure could be met this would require a large industry to develop the shale gas. The shale gas industry has considerable government backing and recently gave a commitment to hasten shale gas exploration through the planning system. Maybe this is what is meant by the ‘Northern Powerhouse’.

For an explanation of what fracking is and what it entails, see these two videos on Youtube

Hydraulic fracturing  Video here    What happens at the surface  Video here

British Geological survey site. All about fracking and shale gas resources in the UK.

British Geological Survey Bowland Shale Gas study Click here

Europe Unconventional gas organisation Yet more info and animations

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Who will regulate the fracking industry? The United Nations Environment Programme has said that fracking may result in “unavoidable environmental impacts” even if done properly.

The Royal  Society, in their report, said the likelihood of a well failing is very small - and that's completely correct. In one well there is a very small chance of failure. However, if you multiply that by 3,000 wells, which is what is conceived for drilling in the next 10 years, all of a sudden you're looking at 6% - 7% of all those wells failing, causing pollution. And that's just the water pollution.

There is considerable concern about who regulates the process and at the moment no one identifiable body has ultimate responsibility. The bodies potentially responsible are all experiencing cuts in resources.

See this letter to the Chester Standard indicating some of the recent concerns here.

There is a lot of information in the 2012 Royal Society report into fracking which can be found here

Additional info

For more information visit the Fracking in Guilden Sutton facebook page by clicking here

Stay in touch via Twitter by clicking here


Why fracking could be dangerous in the UK - written submission to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Select Committee by David K. Smythe BSc, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Geophysics, University of Glasgow. Click here

UK government fracking info website Click here

Friends of the Earth summary of the main arguments Click here

INEOS presentation to councils in the Mersey basin area Click here

New CBM Prospectivity Report - this report with detailed analysis of geological surveys and compiled by iGas concludes that CBM (Coal based methane) extraction in the North West and East Midlands is "currently not commercially viable in these licences based on technical analysis, sub economic flow rates from CBM wells tested to date, development constraints, capital costs, expected timeline and forecast gas prices"

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