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A protester stands outside Cuadrilla's Preston Road fracking site near Blackpool, Britain, October 22, 2018. (image: REUTERS/Hannah McKay)
A protester stands outside Cuadrilla's Preston Road fracking site near Blackpool, Britain, October 22, 2018. (image: REUTERS/Hannah McKay)

Newly Restarted UK Fracking in Lancashire Stopped Due to Earthquakes

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A protester stands outside Cuadrilla's Preston Road fracking site near Blackpool, Britain, October 22, 2018. (image: REUTERS/Hannah McKay)

Fracking restarted in the United Kingdom, only to be halted days later following several earthquakes.

The operation in Lancashire was granted approval on 15 October, though it faced substantial opposition.

Earth Tremors Stop Fracking

Fracking recently returned to the United Kingdom after it stopped the shale gas drilling process several years ago. The operation at Little Plumpton began earlier this month after having received the go-ahead from authorities on 15 October in the face of considerable opposition.

The fracking operation belongs to Cuadrilla, an energy firm. Since the operations began, there have been several small tremors in the immediate area. The company said the seismic event that occurred on Tuesday was extremely small, measuring only 0.4 on the Richter Scale. Quakes that small are not detectable on the surface.

Taking Precautionary Measures

As a precaution, the company chose to halt its fracking operations. That said, it has since resumed.

This is not the first time a tremor has occurred in the region of fracking operations. On the Fylde coast, there was a 2.3 magnitude tremor seven years ago. A study pointed to nearby shale gas test drilling as the cause of the earthquake.

Earlier in October, Cuadrilla stated that the company would use a minimum of three months to for two horizontal fracking wells, followed by tests to ensure that there was commercial viability for the gas flow.

Anti-Fracking Campaigns

Anti-fracking campaigns have been widespread and grew quickly when Cuadrilla was granted approval to go ahead.

Test drilling was not uneventful. It experienced precautionary suspensions in response to tremors that occurred when it was underway. In April 2011, there was a 2.3 magnitude earthquake and in May of the same year, there was a 1.5 magnitude quake.

A government appointed panel did stated that it’s possible for more tremors to continue occurring as a result of the new operations in the country. That said, they expressed their certainty that those earthquakes would remain too small to be detectable on the surface. Their recommendation was for enhanced monitoring. Moreover, they stated that fracking operators should employ a “traffic light” strategy in which tremors with a magnitude greater than 0.5 represent a “red light” causing operations to halt right away.

Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of Alvexo on the matter.