LONDON (Reuters) - British shale gas explorer Cuadrilla said on Monday it would start flow testing at its second horizontal shale gas well at its site in northwest England in a few weeks, which will enable it to asses how much gas could be available.
In February, Cuadrilla said results from flow testing at its first horizontal shale gas exploration well at its Preston New Road site in Lancashire showed a high quality natural gas resource, capable of flowing to surface.
Cuadrilla is 47.4% owned by Australia’s AJ Lucas (AJL.AX), while a fund managed by Riverstone holds a 45.2% stake.
Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, involves extracting gas from rocks by breaking them up with water and chemicals at high pressure.
In late August, three earth tremors occurred at the Preston New Road site in Lancashire, where activities only resumed on Aug. 15 after Cuadrilla secured all required permits following stoppages last year due to of minor seismic events.
A tremor on Aug. 26 had a 2.9 magnitude, the largest tremor ever caused by fracking operations in Britain.
The regulator, the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), said fracking at the site must be suspended while it carries out analysis following the tremor.
Cuadrilla said it continues to assist the OGA in this work.
“A timeframe has not been agreed with the OGA for this work to be completed and further hydraulic fracturing will not take place at Preston New Road before current planning permission for fracturing expires at the end of November,” the company said.
The government has signalled support for the shale gas industry and is keen to cut the country’s reliance on imports of natural gas, used to heat around 80% of Britain’s homes.
However, fracking is fiercely opposed by environmentalists who say extracting more fossil fuel is at odds with Britain’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“We are committed to exploring for shale gas with the aim to establish a domestic energy supply that the UK really needs. The Bowland Shale as a whole could be a very important resource for Lancashire and the UK and we plan to continue with our work to prove this,” Cuadrilla Chief Executive Francis Egan said.
Reporting by Nina Chestney and Susanna Twidale; editing by David Evans