The UK system of regulation of fracking imposes a range of strict geological controls on operators – including seismic surveys, safe distances, seismic monitoring, a traffic light system, and barriers to fugitive migration.
Experience and professional advice suggest however that each of these controls is flawed i.e.
- Seismic surveys are invariably incomplete and incapable of detecting small fault lines and minor vertical displacement which could lead to earthquakes.
- The EA formula for calculating a safe distance between fracking propagation and fault lines is unduly optimistic and should be replaced by a minimum distance of at least 850 metres horizontally.
- The sequence of events at both the Preese Hall and PNR sites implies inherent instability in the stress planes of the fault lines in the Bowland Field.
- Fracture growth monitoring is inadequate to indicate the precise real time effect fracking is having on the propagated area.
- The combined effect of these factors is to automatically trigger the temporary suspension of drilling under the current traffic light system, an outcome which is incompatible with commercial considerations.
- The current traffic light system also fails to accommodate measures to deal with large seismic events, swarms of seismic events, or trailing events.
- Increasing the current red-light limit from 0.5 to 2.0 ML threatens well integrity and fluid migration into unprotected formations.
- The higher red-light figure is equivalent to the energy release of 1 metric ton of TNT explosive, the size of a late WW2 bomb.
- The regulatory controls will not detect the fugitive migration of released but unrecovered gas/fluids through pathways and conduits, and
- The claimed barriers to prevent sideways and upward migration of gas/fluids and the potential pollution of groundwater resources are ineffective.
Joanne Hawkins (Bristol -> Leeds University) Fracking – minding the gaps March 2015 [Supports general theme]
Professor David Smythe (Glasgow University) Objection to PNR and Roseacre planning applications September 2014 Submission to Scottish Government May 2017 [Supports points 1, 2, 9 & 10]
Professor Peter Styles (Keele University) Fracking and historic coal mining April 2018 [Supports points 1 & 2]
Professor Fred Worral & Miles Wilson (Durham University) Professor Richard Davies & Sam Almond (Newcastle University) Fracking – how far from faults? August 2018 [Supports points 2 & 4]
Shawn Maxwell (ex Keele University) What Does Microseismic Tell Us About Hydraulic Fracture Deformation? Oct 2011 [Supports point 4]
National Institute of Disaster Management, New Delhi Earthquake measurements paper to East Asia Summit [Supports point 8]