It’s all quiet in the North Midlands at the moment as the would be extractors of unconventional gas turn their attention to what is about to unfold in Lancashire.
It is there, on the outskirts of Blackpool that Cuadrilla are fracking again in what to date have been ill-fated attempts to frack their shale wells at Preston New Road (PNR).
Cuadrilla’s difficulties stem from their inablity to conduct fracking operations without exceeding the current limits set on induced seismicity.
We might watch Cuadrilla’s progress during September with some trepidation of what could be in store for Bassetlaw. With more than a little concern if as expected the Government kowtow and relax the limits set by the so called Traffic Light System (TLS), the current safeguarding to mitigate fracking induced seismic events. (earthquakes to you and me) Which is exactly what the gas industry and Cuadrilla in particular is demanding.
IGas meanwhile have completed their on site investigations at their Misson Springs borehole (Springs Road) locating the Bowland Shale and evidencing a gas fizzing core sample. The core samples from Springs Road are being analysed in the UK and the States.
The early indications from IGas are that they think they are in sight of pay dirt. That there is shale gas deep down at Springs Road Misson and in what looks like commercial quantity. The one cloud on the IGas horizon, they will need a relaxation of the TLS to get at it unless Cuadrilla demonstrate a technique that does not produce the earth tremours of a magnitude associated with high volume fracking.
IGas believe their find at Misson bodes well in particular for the licences they currently hold in Bassetlaw and North Nottinghamshire/Lincolnshire. They are particularly excited by the prospect of fracking the Gainsborough Trough which is within those existing license holdings.
The Gainsborough Trough exists, yep, you guessed it, around Gainsborough but extends pretty much over the area from Misson down to South Leverton and beyond. Where there is a pumping donkey engine there is a Gainsborough Trough with shale deep below. An interesting paper, that considers the “Unconventional Petroleum Potential of the Gainsborough Trough” will serve to give the reader an idea of what the gas companies think might exist beneath us. Such reserves if realisable could only be made available by high volume fracking.
So where does this leave the residents of Bassetlaw?
Well until IGas formally announce their findings and any forward work programme for Misson Springs and the Trough we must live with the prospect that we might find ourselves in an area where the mad dash for frack gas is played out around us.
Little comfort to know that it will be the new government that will take the decision that might open up Bassetlaw in the coming months to a widespread exploration/exploitation of shale gas reserves.
Looking at Boris’ cabinet its difficult to find a figure who is not already wedded to the idea of fracking and fracking the north of England in particular.
We will be told by the Government and gas companies, that fracking is safe, is good for the country, our regions prosperity, of jobs in abundance. So might we therefore embrace the frackers and perhaps welcome them to a receptive Bassetlaw?
Not by me, I have no wish to see the frackers trample their way across Bassetlaw in a fracking frenzy that will see hundreds of wells across the region.
Why hundreds? Its the case with unconventional gas extraction that the area underground that can be drained of gas around each fracked well is limited. A typical fracked gas well based on the experience in the States is commercially viable for around 2 years at most. So they will want to drill hundreds of wells across Bassetlaw with interconnecting pipelines and infrastructure. So very unlike the conventional oil and gas wells already operating in Beckingham and Gainsborough and that are tapping into underground deposits, oil and gas fields that have lasted for 25 years or more. Unconventional gas extraction is a different process with significantly greater impact on communities and risk to the environment than what we are used to locally.
So, “BASSETLAW NOT GASSETLAW” is the rallying cry as far as I am concerned. I feel a teeshirt design coming on in readiness!