The founding father of the UK’s first hydraulic fracturing firm has warned that UK hydraulic fracturing operations are inconceivable on any significant scale and won’t assist the vitality worth disaster.
Chris Cornelius, the geologist who based Quadrilla Assets, which has drilled the UK’s first trendy hydraulic fracturing properly in Lancashire, informed the Guardian he believed the federal government’s assist for it was only a “political gesture”.
“I do not suppose there’s any likelihood 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 danger embarking on huge tasks right here, he mentioned. “It is a very tough geology, in comparison with North America [where fracking is a major industry]. “
Not like gas-bearing shale deposits in the US, the UK shale useful resource is “severely flawed and fragmented”, making it very tough 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 can 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’ choice to provide the inexperienced gentle to fracking “could have no influence” on UK vitality provides. “She makes good soundtracks however I can not see something occurring,” he mentioned.
In the long run, he mentioned it was doable to have a number of native operations, however they might 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 rules that impede commonplace 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 website in Lancashire in 2011 and persevering with by means of 2018. Shale rock, which comprises small pockets of methane, They’re blasted with a combination of sand, water, and chemical compounds to create cracks by means of which fuel can escape, to be sucked onto the floor.
Nonetheless, Cuadrilla quickly bumped into issues, together with failing to report injury to an exploratory properly, and as public consciousness of fracking grew, protests started at potential websites and areas. In 2018, a 1.5 magnitude earthquake at its location close to Blackpool brought on 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 “tons of of thousands and thousands of kilos,” in accordance with its chief government, Francis Egan, in its efforts to begin fracking. Nonetheless, 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 should 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 inconceivable to create a commercially viable fracking enterprise right here.
Cornelius mentioned selling Truss for hydraulic fracturing was “a political choice within the first place – they need to be seen as doing one thing”. “It makes no financial sense. I do not suppose sane individuals put cash into this.”
He added, “It is a unhappy state of affairs. It’s a disappointment. 10 years in the past there was a chance to look into this [fracking] Logically, however this chance is now missed. It was price again then, but it surely’s not sensible now.”
Cornelius and Linder, writing within the Guardian at the moment, known 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 begin fracking beneath the Irish Sea with a challenge referred to as Nebula, which by no means bought began, is concerned in a geothermal consortium known as Triassic Energy, which is evaluating the potential for utilizing underground sizzling water in a few of the kingdom’s geological formations. United as an vitality supply. He has no industrial curiosity in tidal energy.