Another well failure for Cuadrilla



10 AUGUST 2019


A well failure on a fracking site in Lancashire has raised further complications for Cuadrilla

The ongoing saga of fracking in Lancashire hit yet more complications this week, as Cuadrilla disclosed that the first well to be fracked at Preston New Road on the Fylde Coast, has suffered a cement failure.

Two sleeves within the well (PNR1z) have been unable to be closed, due to a cement failure, rendering the well unable to be hydraulically fracked again unless this blunder can be corrected. Problems with the sleeves were first mentioned in November 2018, so appears this could be an ongoing/recurring problem.

PNR1z has been beset with technical problems, from Cuadrilla racking up the environmental and planning regulation breaches count (including a nighttime convoy breachto the traffic management plan and the unauthorised cold-venting of methane) to triggering 57 earth tremors, forcing Cuadrilla to work on a stop-start basis and under great scrutiny from the national media and local concern.

Additionally, in November 2018, they managed to lose some working tools – a milling tool, a crossover unit and a section of a motor drive assembly – into the well and were unable to retrieve them, so these had to be pushed to end of the wellbore where they will reside forever.

So far, Cuadrilla have only managed to frack just 5% of PNR1z, which clearly is not a commercially viable amount.

It is therefore inexplicable, how they have managed to receive final sign-off from the Environment Agency and the Oil and Gas Authority (whose paradoxical purposeis to “regulate, influence and promote the UK oil and gas industry”to proceed to frack the second well, considering the array of failures with the first well.

Alongside being told about the sleeve failure, local residents attending the Community Liaison Group this week were informed that Cuadrilla needed another 12 months’ time extension for completing the fracking operation, but the next day, Cuadrilla confirmed to the press that the time required was actually 18 months.

A member of the Preston New Road Action Group said:

“Cuadrilla still have a 100% failure rate with their wells. With two sleeves in the well stuck open and failed attempts to cement them closed it seems further fracking of PNR1z is out of the question.

“This highly-monitored, highly-regulated well is no longer fit for purpose. Having got problems with their first fracked well at PNR they now want to frack well 2.

“Let’s hope that they don’t do something that will have a more detrimental effect on people or the environment.”

Miranda Cox from Frack Free Lancashire said:

“Residents have long suspected that Cuadrilla were experiencing some issues with the well. We have little confidence in Cuadrilla’s technical abilities, and this does nothing to allay residents’ very real concerns about future operations.

“It is also troubling that the Environment Agency and the Oil and Gas Authority have only last week granted final permissions to frack well 2, despite Cuadrilla’s inability to successfully frack and seal this first well.”