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 Frackers Plan Next U.K. Wells After Quake

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Join date : 2011-11-14

PostSubject: Frackers Plan Next U.K. Wells After Quake   Fri Dec 02, 2011 12:30 pm

The sound that woke Caroline Murphy after midnight on April 1 was so loud she thought a car had crashed into her house. She doesn’t feel any better knowing it was the U.K.’s first recorded earthquake caused by natural-gas exploration.

“It sounded like something had hit the house and literally jolted us out of bed,” Murphy, said at her home in Singleton, a village of about 900 in Lancashire, northwest England. “It was like a car or crashing metal. It was such a loud sound.”

Murphy’s home is within three miles of a drill site belonging to Cuadrilla Resources Ltd., an explorer that says it’s found more natural gas trapped in the local shale rock than Iraq has in its entire reserves. The magnitude 2.3 tremor that shook Murphy, and a second weaker quake on May 27, forced Cuadrilla to suspend hydraulic fracturing, the process of blasting sand, water and chemicals into shale that’s made the U.S. the world’s largest natural-gas producer.

The company plans to start fracturing again next year as debate intensifies on shale’s potential in the U.K. The earthquakes are another argument for campaigners who say fracking, as the technique has become known, blights the landscape and risks polluting water supplies -- an issue in this part of England, where farms grow cabbages, zucchini and radishes using water from underground aquifers.

“They say they’ve been fracking for years and years and it hasn’t caused any problems,” Murphy, an artist and designer, said in an interview. “I say: ‘You caused an earthquake. To me, that’s a big issue.’”
Economic Rewards

Supporters of shale gas say the U.K. can’t afford to overlook the potential. The North Sea fields discovered in the 1970s that made the U.K. self-sufficient are running dry and the country will import more than half its gas supplies this year. The prospect of plentiful, cheap gas -- prices have fallen about 75 percent since shale drilling took off in the U.S. -- could help the economy, said Tim Yeo, who chairs parliament’s energy and climate change committee.

“It is likely the U.K. has quite substantial shale gas reserves and there may be sufficient resources to replace a significant amount of reserves,” Yeo, a member of the governing Conservative Party, said in a telephone interview. “Shale is good from a security point of view, it gives us some degree of protection from international gas prices.”

Eric Vaughan fractured his first well in Ohio more than 20 years ago. Now Cuadrilla’s chief operating officer, Vaughan said the earthquakes were a freak event, caused when the process disturbed a fault line.
‘Ready to Go’

The fault “has to be stressed just right, brittle and ready to go already, and we drilled that well into a spot,” Vaughan said as he toured one of Cuadrilla’s three drilling sites. The amount of water and energy used was “nowhere near enough to actually create an earthquake. You couldn’t pull anything about the shale from that.”

Nonetheless, there have been other earthquakes associated with shale gas production. The Oklahoma Geological Survey said a study of time and geology showed a possibility that fracking a well near Elmore City on Jan. 17 had caused a series of 43 minor tremors over a period of 24 hours.
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PostSubject: Re: Frackers Plan Next U.K. Wells After Quake   Sun Dec 04, 2011 5:11 am

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