Some argue this is a moratorium, not a ban. I’ve learned it does not matter what it’s called when gov’ts say frac’ing is not allowed, e.g. stopping or blocking frac’ing, even if it’s just to get votes (which is what politicians do).
A legislated ban can be lifted or repealed by the same gov’t or a new gov’t.
Companies in the UK were pushing for deregulation to enable their frac quakes; the UK gov’t slammed the door shut. In Canada, gov’ts and regulators give industry the deregulation they demand, no matter how bad the frac harms get, how big the frac quakes get or how many families and communities are harmed. The UK gov’t stated they will not let frac’ing resume without it being proven that it can be done safely, which is impossible – Cuadrilla proved that (refer to their 2012 statement copied below).
Snap below from Cambridge Dictionary:
Nov 2, 2019: MP Andrea Leadsom (BEIS Secretary of State) told Today programme:
“We’ve always been clear we will follow the science. We must impose this moratorium until the science changes.” [With respect, think how ridiculous Ms. Leadsom’s statement is. The science is in! It’s unlikely that more than 1,700 references (most concluding frac threats and harms) will be undone, backtracked, unpublished]
In February 2019, the OGA announced it would work with recognised and independent geologists and scientists with expertise in hydraulic fracturing, to carry out a scientific analysis of the data gathered during Cuadrilla’s operations at Preston New Road. This analysis now has been completed and the studies can be found below. In addition to the four independent studies the OGA also completed an overview of the experience of injection induced seismicity in other jurisdictions and an interim summary report.
- Impacts of ground motion from seismicity – led by Dr Ben Edwards
- Real-time forecasting to mitigate effects of seismicity – led by Nanometrics Inc.
- Induced seismicity and potential subsurface mechanisms – led by Outer Limits Geophysics
- Innovations in forecasting the distribution of seismicity – led by the British Geological Survey
- Overview of the experience of injection induced seismicity in other jurisdictions – OGA paper
- Interim summary report – OGA paper
Preston New Road – PNR-1Z well – Operations Data
Under the OGA’s licensing regulations we are committed to publishing the data six months after operations have concluded, to promote best practice and lessons learned. The data includes micro seismic event data, pumping data, produced water summary, screen shots of the hydraulic fracturing operations, a seismic event video and the final hydraulic fracture report:
Too bad Canada has no regulator with similar courage, integrity, ethics, honesty and courage as the UK Oil & Gas Authority.
The headlines as of Nov 2, 2019, even reported in Canada’s Globe and Mail and the New York Times:
LONDON — The British government announced Saturday that it will no longer allow fracking because of new scientific analysis that casts doubts on the safety of….
Britain bans fracking due to earthquake fears, says it will only resume once there’s evidence it’s safe
Boris Johnson said on Thursday he had “very considerable anxieties” about the issue of shale gas extraction after the report by the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA)….
Fracking banned in UK as government makes major U-turn, Victory for green groups follows damning scientific study and criticism from spending watchdog by Jillian Ambrose, Nov 2, 2019, The Guardian
The government has banned fracking with immediate effect in a watershed moment for environmentalists and community activists.
Ministers also warned shale gas companies it would not support future fracking projects, in a crushing blow to companies that had been hoping to capitalise on one of the new frontiers of growth in the fossil fuel industry.
The decision draws a line under years of bitter opposition to the controversial extraction process in a major victory for green groups and local communities.
The decision was taken after a new scientific study warned it was not possible to rule out “unacceptable” consequences for those living near fracking sites.
The report, undertaken by the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), also warned it was not possible to predict the magnitude of earthquakes fracking might trigger.
… The government said it would not agree to any future fracking “until compelling new evidence is provided” that proves fracking could be safe.
The UK’s only active fracking site at Preston New Road in Lancashire was brought to an immediate halt this summer after fracking triggered multiple earth tremors that breached the government’s earthquake limits.
Andrea Leadsom, the business and energy secretary, said the government has always been clear that shale gas exploration in the UK must be carried out safely.
“After reviewing the OGA’s report into recent seismic activity at Preston New Road, it is clear that we cannot rule out future unacceptable impacts on the local community. For this reason, I have concluded that we should put a moratorium on fracking in England with immediate effect,” she said.
The ban marks a major U-turn for the Conservative party and the Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who once referred to fracking as “glorious news for humanity” and urged the UK to “leave no stone unturned, or unfracked” in pursuit of shale gas.
The government ended its support for the struggling industry less than a week after a damning report from Whitehall’s spending watchdog found its plans to establish fracking across the UK was dragging years behind schedule and had cost the taxpayer at least £32m so far without producing any energy in return.
Rebecca Newsom, head of politics at Greenpeace UK, said it has “been clear for some time that the government’s big bet on fracking is bust”.
The decision has been welcomed as a “victory for common sense” by green groups and campaigners who have fought for almost a decade against the controversial fossil fuel extraction process.
Craig Bennett, the chief executive of Friends of the Earth, said: “This moratorium is a tremendous victory for communities and the climate. For nearly a decade local people across the country have fought a David and Goliath battle against this powerful industry. We are proud to have been part of that fight.”
Tom Fyans, from CPRE, said the countryside charity would “celebrate alongside the local communities, campaigners and environmentalists who have been campaigning valiantly to stop fracking for many years”.
“This is a fantastic win for local democracy and everyone who cares about protecting the countryside from climate catastrophe and mass industrialisation,” he said.
Rebecca Long Bailey MP, the shadow business and energy secretary, said the moratorium was a victory for local people and the government owed them an apology. She said:
“When the Tory government overruled local democratic decisions to halt fracking, communities did not give up. When fracking protesters went to jail, communities did not give up. And now they have forced the government to U-turn.
“The Tories owe the public an apology, and an explanation of how much public money they wasted while ignoring the science.”
Long-Bailey said the government could yet allow fracking to restart. “The next Labour government will ban fracking – whereas the Tories will only call a temporary halt to it. You can’t trust a word the prime minister says.”
The government revealed its fracking ban alongside plans for a major review of the UK’s transition to a green economy. The Treasury said it will assess how the UK can make the most of the economic green shoots which are expected to emerge while moving towards a carbon neutral economy by 2050.
Sajid Javid, the chancellor, said the review was a vital next step” in delivering the government’s 2050 climate target while “supporting growth and balancing costs” to avoid “placing unfair burdens on families or businesses”.
“We must all play a part in protecting the planet for future generations,” he added.
The Treasury’s support for a green economy comes after Downing Street shot down claims made by the former chancellor, Philip Hammond, that tackling the climate crisis would cost £1tn and require spending cuts for schools, hospitals and the police force.
In a swift rebuke, No 10 said plans to create a net zero-carbon economy would cost no more than the UK’s existing plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The interim report will be published in the spring, ahead of a final report in the autumn before the global UN climate talks, which will be hosted Glasgow.
Simon Clarke, the exchequer secretary to the Treasury, said it was “humbling to launch this unprecedented review into how we end the UK’s contribution to climate change”.
“Until recently people said that ‘Net Zero’ was impossible, but this work is a giant step towards making it happen, enabling us to set out a roadmap for an economy that is cleaner, more efficient, and works for everyone, while preserving our planet,” he said.
Immediate moratorium on fracking in England because of tremor risk by Ruth Hayhurst, Nov 2, 2019, Drillordrop.com
After seven years of promoting fracking, Conservative ministers have withdrawn their support and blocked the prospects of a shale gas industry.
The UK government has issued an immediate moratorium in England because of the risk of earth tremors. Governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have already issued measures that amount to moratoriums on fracking.
In a statement released just after midnight, the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), said new scientific advice concluded that it was not possible with current technology to predict accurately whether fracking would cause tremors and how big they would be.
Opponents of fracking described the announcement as a victory for communities and the climate but called for a full, permanent ban. IGas, the only industry representative to respond to our invitation to comment, said it was confident it could operate safely and environmentally responsibly. Full reaction
Fracking during seven days in August 2019 caused 134 seismic events, including the UK’s largest fracking-induced tremor, measuring 2.9ML. The British Geological Survey said this was felt by several thousand people, while several hundred reported damage to homes. The OGA suspended fracking within hours.
Fracking at Preston New Road also caused more than 50 tremors during autumn 2018.
The BEIS statement said:
“On the basis of the disturbance caused to residents living near Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site in Lancashire and this latest scientific analysis, the Government has announced a moratorium on fracking until compelling new evidence is provided.
“Fracking will now be paused unless and until further evidence is provided that it can be carried out safely here.”
… The business and energy secretary, Andrea Leadsom, said today:
“Whilst acknowledging the huge potential of UK shale gas to provide a bridge to a zero carbon future, I’ve also always been clear that shale gas exploration in the UK must be carried out safely. In the UK, we have been led by the best available scientific evidence, and closely regulated by the Oil & Gas Authority, one of the best regulators in the world.
“After reviewing the OGA’s report into recent seismic activity at Preston New Road, it is clear that we cannot rule out future unacceptable impacts on the local community.
“For this reason, I have concluded that we should put a moratorium on fracking in England with immediate effect.”
The director of regulation at the Oil & Gas Authority Director of Regulation Tom Wheeler said:
“Since the OGA suspended hydraulic fracturing at Preston New Road we have been considering whether the operator’s plans are still appropriate to manage the risk of induced seismicity. The OGA’s considerations have been informed both by the seismic events and by independent scientific analysis of data from the first Preston New Road well.
“Based on these, the OGA believes that further detailed geomechanical analysis would be needed before we could evaluate with confidence whether hydraulic fracturing could resume in the Fylde, or elsewhere, consistent with the Government’s policy aims.”
No fast-track for shale
The government also confirmed today that it had shelved proposed changes to the English planning system to fast track fracking. These measures included treating non-fracking shale gas sites as permitted development, bypassing the need for a planning application, and classing major shale gas production as Nationally Significant Infrastructure, which would take decisions out of local authority control.
Both proposals were very controversial and prompted a nationwide-campaign. They also attracted cross-party opposition and the government was warned it might not have the votes if it tried to push them through parliament.
A consultation ended more than a year ago and until today, there had been no news on the government’s response to public views. Today ministers said:
“These proposals … will not be implemented now.”
Questions of definition
The statement, while welcomed by campaign groups, potentially raises many questions because it does not define fracking.
The 2015 Infrastructure Act introduced a new definition, based on volume of fluid. To be classed as associated hydraulic fracturing, the operation must use 1,000m3 of fluid per frack stage or 10,000m3 per well.
If the moratorium applied only to associated hydraulic fracturing, it would not cover oil and gas operations, including the use of smaller volumes of acid to open fractures, that are also opposed by communities and environmentalists.
A definition of fracking based on fracturing rocks, rather than volume, has been proposed by local authorities in North Yorkshire and is currently being considered by a planning inspector. The shale gas industry threatened legal action if this wider definition were adopted.
Some campaigners have called for the moratorium to be extended to fracking-related operations, such as flow testing, currently underway at Preston New Road.
Moratorium not a ban
Opponents of fracking have called for a full and permanent ban. Some interpreted the announcement as an electoral tactic. Polling by the Conservative Environment Network indicated that support for fracking could cost the Conservatives marginal seats at an election. Before today, the Conservatives were the only large party to support fracking.
Today’s decision puts in doubt the future of exploration licences issued under the 14th round in 2015.
Most of the 93 licences, known as PEDLs, were issued to develop shale gas. Without the opportunity to frack, these licences are unlikely to be worth pursuing.
The value of other older shale gas licences, including Cuadrilla’s PEDLs in Lancashire, now also look uncertain.
Last year, Ineos and Reach Coal Seam Gas brought a legal action against the Scottish government over its preferred policy position against fracking.
The companies lost their case because the judge ruled that the Scottish government had not finalised its policy and it did not amount to a legally enforceable prohibition.
Shale gas companies in England could now be looking at their scope for legal action against the UK government over the cost of the licences, finding sites, and applying for planning permission.
There are also questions over the what happens to applications for fracking at Altcar Moss in Lancashire and shale gas exploration at Woodsetts in south Yorkshire which are currently in the planning system. …
Fracking Banned in U.K. After Concern About Earthquakes, Climate by Jeremy Hodges, Bloomberg News, November 1, 2019, in Financial Post
The U.K. fracking industry suffered a fatal blow as the Conservative government ended its support for the controversial practice.
The move, ahead of a general election, effectively bans new wells using hydraulic fracturing technology. It’s a blow to Cuadrilla Resources Ltd. and Ineos Group Ltd., which were hoping to exploit reserves trapped in difficult to tap shale formations deep underground.
The move underscores the unpopularity of the technique, which involves injecting water and sand into well-bores under high pressure. It also indicates a growing consensus between the main political parties about the need to zero out fossil fuel emissions by the middle of the century to rein in climate change.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s administration acted just days before campaigning for an general election starts next week. His Conservative Party is fighting to retain votes in rural areas in northern England where the shale reserves sit.
Cuadrilla had no immediate comment.
The opposition Labour Party said the Conservative government moved too slow in imposing the ban.
“It is over eight years since fracking caused earthquakes near Blackpool,” said Rebecca Long Bailey, the Labour member of Parliament who speaks on business and energy. “The Tories owe the public an apology and an explanation of how much public money they wasted while ignoring the science.”
Ministers decided to implement a ban on new permits for fracking wells after new scientific evidence from the Oil & Gas Authority.
The regulator found that it’s not possible to accurately predict the probability and magnitude of earthquakes caused by fracking.
Seismic activity around the two wells currently probing shale formations plagued the practice for years in the U.K., prompting ministers to halt work several times.
As recently as August, the government supported fracking and said it saw shale gas as a crucial domestic energy source that can cut imports and help a transition away from coal.
The turnaround is a rebuke to Cuadrilla and Ineos, which had been pushing for the government to relax regulations so they could start producing gas domestically. They argued that the limits on tremors in the U.K. are much stricter than elsewhere in the world and make it difficult to have commercially viable prospects in the U.K.
“Whilst acknowledging the huge potential of U.K. shale gas to provide a bridge to a zero carbon future, I’ve also always been clear that shale gas exploration in the U.K. must be carried out safely,” said Andrea Leadsom, the U.K. Energy Secretary.
Since then pressure from large-scale environmental protests and widespread public opinion seemed to have dampened the enthusiasm for the fossil fuel as the U.K. strives to put policies in place that will help it reach net zero emissions by 2050.
Fracking operations at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site in Lancashire north west England have been suspended since August when a 2.9 seismic event was recorded, breaching the so-called traffic-light regulations. The company began drilling two horizontal wells in 2017 and this week said the gas tested from the reserve was of a high quality.
A recent National Audit Office report estimated that at least 32.7 million pounds ($42.3 million) has been spent by public bodies since 2011.
“Opening up a new fossil fuel industry in this climate emergency was always an awful idea, and it’s only seemed worse as the industry has lurched from mishap to disaster,” said Rebecca Newsom, head of politics at Greenpeace U.K.
Britain orders immediate moratorium on fracking after report on 2.9 magnitude tremor release by Reuters, Nov 2, 2019, The Globe and Mail
Britain will impose an immediate moratorium on fracking, the government announced on Saturday, saying the industry risked causing too much disruption to local communities through earth tremors.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government had previously signaled its support for the shale gas industry as it seeks ways to cut Britain’s reliance on imports of natural gas which is used to heat around 80 per cent of Britain’s homes.
Saturday’s announcement comes as Johnson gears up for an election on Dec. 12.
“Exploratory work to determine whether shale could be a new domestic energy source in the UK … has now been paused – unless and until further evidence is provided that it can be carried out safely here,” the business and energy department said in a statement.
The decision follows a report on an incident at a site run by British energy company Cuadrilla near Blackpool, northern England where a 2.9-magnitude tremor shook houses in August.
An anti-fracking campaign by local people emerged as a flashpoint in a growing climate activist movement opposing new fossil fuel projects around the world. Hundreds of protesters have been arrested over the past few years for trying to disrupt Cuadrilla’s operations.
“The toll this has taken on our lives is immeasurable,” said Maureen Mills, from Halsall Against Fracking. “The industry is all about itself and its shareholders. Our communities are left physically and mentally drained and devastated. For what?”
Campaigners resisting a vastly larger fracking industry in the United States also cheered Britain’s decision.
“This is a major step in our global struggle against fracking,” said Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, 19, youth director of climate justice group Earth Guardians, who has been opposing the industry in his home state of Colorado for almost a decade.
Fracking in England only resumed last year after two tremors prompted a seven-year moratorium.
The Blackpool incident was examined by the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), which regulates and promotes Britain’s oil and gas industry.
Its report found it was not currently possible to predict accurately the probability or magnitude of earthquakes linked to fracking operations.
The energy department said it will not take forward proposed planning reforms for shale gas developments.
“After reviewing the OGA’s report into recent seismic activity … it is clear that we cannot rule out future unacceptable impacts on the local community,” Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom said.
Other sources of natural gas would continue to contribute to Britain’s energy mix, she added.
Cuadrilla is 47.4 per cent owned by Australia’s AJ Lucas, while a fund managed by Riverstone holds a 45.2 per cent stake. There was no immediate comment from the company.
Refer also to:
UK: “Frack Free Lancashire is delighted to learn that 35 days after they caused a 2.9ML earthquake which shook the Fylde and the confidence of their investors, Cuadrilla are finally demobilising…. The seismic activity which they provoked has not stopped though, with the 133rd event being recorded on Saturday, five weeks after they last fracked.”
Nikiforuk: New report by BC regulator admits frac quake risk is high with formations “in a near critical state, meaning only small fluid pressure increases are sufficient to cause specific sets of fractures and faults to become critically stressed.” Researchers still can’t say where or why; Public complaints surging as frac quakes escalate.
UK: “Victory for Communities & Common Sense.” PM Boris Johnson hints at frac ban; Previously had urged UK to “leave no stone unturned, or unfracked.” UK Oil and Gas Authority to report this week on links between frac’ing and earthquakes.
Lancashire UK: More frac failures plague Cuadrilla, company tries but fails to seal the well and caused 57 earthquakes. How much methane is migrating into aquifers and homes? “We have little confidence in Cuadrilla’s technical abilities….”
Statement above by Cuadrilla in 2012.
Rhode Island vs 21 Oil & Gas Companies: Judge William Smith characterized operations “leading to all kinds of displacement, death (extinctions, even), and destruction….Defendants understood the consequences of their activity decades ago…. But instead of sounding the alarm, Defendants went out of their way to becloud the emerging scientific consensus and further delay changes – however existentially necessary – that would in any way interfere with their multi-billion-dollar profits.”
“By any responsible account,” Chief Justice Castille wrote, “the exploitation of the Marcellus Shale Formation will produce a detrimental effect on the environment, on the people, their children, and the future generations, and potentially on the public purse, perhaps rivaling the environmental effects of coal extraction.”
2012: The Geological Society, The Petroleum Exploration Society of Great Britain Submission to DECC Consultation: Preece Hall Shale Gas Fracturing – Review & Recommendations for Induced Seismic Mitigation
This post is for Gemilicious. Wish you were alive to celebrate this with me. I miss you. Thank you for letting me leave you behind those weeks in 2017 when I went to Republic of Ireland to celebrate their frac ban and to present to communities on the UK frac lines. Many thanks to Wendy, Randy and Jett for taking such great care of you.
When I rescued Gem in 2014, I promised her I would never go on another frac speaking tour, that I would not leave her – she had been previously too badly abandoned. I broke that promise to present in Montreal in 2016 and to tour the UK in 2017. It’s unforgivable. I broke my promise because frac’ing is so damn harmful but it was not fair to Gem, or me.
Presenting at Balcombe Victory Hall:
Slide from Ernst presentations in UK & Republic of Ireland, 2013
(The frac quakes in BC also deformed well bore)
“Nobody came to me and said, ‘here’s the choice: light? .. or water?’ ”
“When there’re hurricanes, floods, locusts, hail .. the governments help people. When you are frac’d – there’s no aftercare.”
Below, back in Canada after a grueling few weeks, reunited with my dog Magic at midnight. He died later that year; my frac speaking tours were brutally stressful for him (and me). Also not forgivable that I left him so often to speak on the endless frac harms and gov’t and regulator betrayals and abuses.
Slide from Ernst presentations, 2012 Speaking Tour, Republic of Ireland & Northern Ireland
Magic and Gem, I beg your forgiveness.
Dear Polly Higgins and Theo Colborn, your tireless brilliant work is always remembered and cherished.