Anti-frackers were declaring a victory this week as Cuadrilla removed key equipment from its Preston New Road (PNR) site in Lancashire.
Five fracking pumps, alongside other key fracking equipment was seen leaving the site near Blackpool on Tuesday of this week.
Frack Free Lancashire called on the company to “remove the rest of their equipment and leave once and for all”.
Although the company has promised to be back in 2019, it rounds off a year of problems for Cuadrilla. PNR was supposed to be the site of the first high volume frack in Britain since fracking caused earthquakes in 2011.
But the area has been plagued by earth tremors since fracking began on 15 October—causing operations to be halted repeatedly.
The largest measured 1.5ML (local magnitude)—the same strength as one of the earthquakes that stopped fracking in Preece Hall seven years ago, also carried out by Cuadrilla.
Fracking works by injecting millions of litres of water, sand and chemicals into geological formations deep underground.
The pressure of the water mixture then releases oil or gas “trapped” in the rock.
Despite the company boasting of an “amazing year”, its share price has tumbled, and campaigners say financial difficulties may be the reason behind withdrawing equipment.
Frack Free Lancashire said that it believes “this removal of equipment may be indicative of potential resourcing issues as investors turn their backs on the fracking industry in general, following a series of bad news stories over the last few weeks”.
investors turn their backs on the fracking industry in general, following a series of bad news storiesFrack free Lancashire
There have been 57 earth tremors since Cuadrilla started fracking two months ago, and the seismic events have been increasing in size and frequency.
Rules that Cuadrilla helped develop in the wake of the Preece Hall earthquakes say that fracking should be suspended for 18 hours if a 0.5ML tremor is detected while fracking is taking place.
In order to comply with these regulations, it has had to suspend operations on five occasions, for up to two weeks at a time.
Despite the delays, Cuadrilla say gas has started to flow to the surface at PNR. Chief executive Francis Egan said, "We are on the cusp of unlocking a huge economic opportunity which can benefit Lancashire and the UK for decades to come and reduce our ever-growing reliance on imports of natural gas from all corners of the globe.”
Tories and fracking bosses talk about creating extra gas supply in Britain—but it would take huge infrastructure to provide even a fraction of what is needed.
Research released this year by the Cardiff Business School suggests that England would need 6,100 wells to replace just 50 percent of gas imports.
The North West of England has been targeted by the fracking industry because of the Bowland shale—a rock formation they want to extract gas from.
But in other bad news for the fracking industry this week, Igas announced that it was unable to find Bowland shale during an exploratory frack.
Despite the problems they have encountered, the frackers will continue in 2019 to push for an industry that will pollute our planet while they trouser the profits.
Mass resistance will be needed to stop them.