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Back at it after shaking things up

England-based unconventional gas company Cuadrilla has resumed operations in Lancashire seven years after causing two earthquakes in the county…

England-based unconventional gas company Caudrilla has resumed operations in Lancashire seven years after causing two earthquakes in the county. The company is confident that it has addressed the risk of seismicity. The next big unknown is the volume of gas the well will produce and the volume of produced water that will accompany it. From Cuadrilla’s waste management plan to the government:

“The injected hydraulic fracturing fluid will mix with any produced water released from the formation by the fracturing process. If the well turns out to be predominantly water producing rather than gas (which is not expected at this site but remains a possibility), the combined volume of injected fracturing fluid and produced water flowing back to the surface could exceed the initial volumes of fluid injected.”

The two horizontal wells Cuadrilla has drilled in Preese Hall and in Preston New Road, are test cases for the industry in England. The first well was finished in April and the second was just completed in July, and they are preparing for the frac in September. They will operate both of them as test wells to establish both gas flow and quality.

Cuadrilla is expecting very little produced water, 10 m3/day was the estimate given in their permit request, and hopes to reuse all of the flowback water. Let’s hope they can pull off that water balancing act. Many in the opposing camp are watching closely. The future of onshore gas production in England could, to some extent, hang in that balance.

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