Shale gas exploration operator Cuadrilla is set to apply for a change to one of its planning conditions at Preston New Road, to allow drilling and hydraulic fracturing to continue into 2020.
The company, based in Preston, will write to Lancashire County Council within the next month to seek a scoping opinion as part of the environmental impact assessment for the site.
Chief executive Francis Egan said: “The condition requires all drilling and hydraulic fracturing operations to be completed within a period of 30 months from the date of commencement of the drilling of the first well. This would in effect require drilling and hydraulic fracturing to conclude by the end of November 2019.
“By the end of November 2019 we are in fact likely to have spent no more than 21 months in total drilling or fracturing on site since the commencement of drilling Well PNR1.
“Our proposed variation would seek to allow additional time for drilling and hydraulic fracturing operations but not to change either the existing approved work scope to drill and hydraulically fracture up to four wells at Preston New Road or the requirement for the site to be decommissioned and restored by April 2023.”
Cuadrilla recently remobilised equipment and confirmed that it will return to hydraulic fracturing and flow testing of natural gas in the third quarter of 2019.
The upcoming work programme will be Cuadrilla’s latest step in arguing for “the huge commercial opportunity of UK shale”, including the potential for natural gas from shale to act as a domestic feedstock for hydrogen production.