The founding father of the UK’s first hydraulic fracturing firm has warned that UK hydraulic fracturing operations are unimaginable on any significant scale and won’t assist the vitality value disaster.
Chris Cornelius, the geologist who based Quadrilla Sources, which has drilled the UK’s first fashionable hydraulic fracturing nicely in Lancashire, advised the Guardian he believed the federal government’s assist for it was only a “political gesture”.
“I do not assume there may be any probability of hydraulic fracturing within the UK within the close to time period.”
He mentioned that when Cuadrilla labored right here, he found that the UK’s geology was unsuitable for large-scale fracking. “There are not any sane buyers” who would threat embarking on massive tasks right here, he mentioned. “It is a very troublesome geology, in comparison with North America [where fracking is a major industry]. “
In contrast to gas-bearing shale deposits in the US, the UK shale useful resource is “severely flawed and fragmented”, making it very troublesome to use on any scale.
Prime Minister Liz Truss has made it clear that she helps fracking and can elevate the ban in place since 2019, though it’s not but clear the place and the way the websites might be licensed. She mentioned she hopes to see fuel from the fracking websites as quickly as six months from now.
However Cornelius mentioned it “will not occur.” Truss mentioned in an interview with the Guardian that Truss’ determination to offer the inexperienced mild to fracking “can have no affect” on UK vitality provides. “She makes good soundtracks however I am unable to see something happening,” he mentioned.
In the long run, he mentioned it was potential to have just a few native operations, however they’d be small and couldn’t make a significant contribution to the UK’s vitality wants. “It is by no means going to be on a big scale,” he mentioned, “as a result of capital prices are an enormous drawback.”
Cornelius and his former colleague, Mark Linder, who dealt with public affairs for Cuadrilla in his early days, mentioned within the Guardian at the moment that the UK has been over-regulated, having “specialised the vitality sector with laws that impede customary operations in agriculture and different industries”. However Cornelius mentioned this was not more likely to change and that the shredding mills wouldn’t be given the “social licence” to function.
Quadrilla, based in 2007, was the primary firm to make use of state-of-the-art hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling expertise within the UK on dense shale rock, first at a web site in Lancashire in 2011 and persevering with by way of 2018. Shale rock, which accommodates small pockets of methane, They’re blasted with a mix of sand, water, and chemical compounds to create cracks by way of which fuel can escape, to be sucked onto the floor.
Nevertheless, Cuadrilla quickly bumped into issues, together with failing to report injury to an exploratory nicely, and as public consciousness of fracking grew, protests started at potential websites and places. In 2018, a 1.5 magnitude earthquake at its location close to Blackpool triggered fracking to cease. In February this yr, the corporate mentioned its wells – the one two horizontally drilled and hydraulically fractured wells within the UK – could be “blocked and deserted”, in accordance with the regulator’s directions.
Cornelius resigned from Quadrilla in 2014, after Lord Brown, the previous head of oil firm BP, took over the corporate. Brown left in 2015. The corporate declined the chance to touch upon Cornelius’ opinions.
Quadrilla has spent “a whole bunch of thousands and thousands of kilos,” in keeping with its chief govt, Francis Egan, in its efforts to start out fracking. Nevertheless, the corporate didn’t produce any fuel on the market.
Egan welcomed the announcement this month that the freeze could be lifted, however the firm has not but mentioned whether or not it’ll open any wells.
Cornelius, a tutorial geologist, stays a staunch advocate of hydraulic fracturing — “it has been used safely everywhere in the world, everywhere in the United States, with out issues” — and of shale fuel, however he mentioned the UK’s geology and populous nature made the British countryside It’s unimaginable to create a commercially viable fracking enterprise right here.
Cornelius mentioned selling Truss for hydraulic fracturing was “primarily a political determination – they need to be seen as doing one thing”. “It makes no financial sense. I do not assume sane individuals put cash into this.”
He added, “This can be a unhappy scenario. It’s a disappointment. 10 years in the past there was a possibility to look into this [fracking] Logically, however this chance is now missed. It was price again then, nevertheless it’s not sensible now.”
Cornelius and Linder, writing within the Guardian at the moment, referred to as for funding in key applied sciences they are saying usually tend to produce vitality than fracking, together with geothermal vitality and tidal energy.
Cornelius, who in 2014 additionally tried to start out fracking beneath the Irish Sea with a mission often called Nebula, which by no means acquired began, is concerned in a geothermal consortium referred to as Triassic Energy, which is evaluating the potential for utilizing underground scorching water in among the kingdom’s geological formations. United as an vitality supply. He has no business curiosity in tidal energy.