Geological Concerns Regarding Fracking Regulation

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.

  1. Seismic surveys are invariably incomplete and incapable of detecting small fault lines and minor vertical displacement which could lead to earthquakes.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Fracture growth monitoring is inadequate to indicate the precise real time effect fracking is having on the propagated area.
  5. 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.
  6. The current traffic light system also fails to accommodate measures to deal with large seismic events, swarms of seismic events, or trailing events.
  7. Increasing the current red-light limit from 0.5 to 2.0 ML threatens well integrity and fluid migration into unprotected formations.
  8. 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.
  9. The regulatory controls will not detect the fugitive migration of released but unrecovered gas/fluids through pathways and conduits, and
  10. 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]