Lancashire

Fracking firm Cuadrilla plans new well at St Annes site

A company carrying out shale gas extraction has announced plans to drill a second well at a site in Lancashire.

Cuadrilla is submitting a planning application for a horizontal well for "information purposes" in addition to its vertical one at Anna's Road, St Annes.

Cuadrilla's Mark Miller said it would be "invaluable" for finding out more about natural gas in the area.

Anti-fracking protesters want it to stop until risks are fully assessed.

The company said the second well was "purely for analysing the shale rock and will not be used for extracting gas".

Chief executive Francis Egan said the new well would help assess if it was viable to recover the natural gas beneath the Bowland.

He said: "By advancing the exploration programme with this horizontal well we will move closer to unlocking what is potentially a very important energy resource for Lancashire and for the UK."

If approved by Lancashire County Council the well will be 8.5in (22cm) in diameter and extend approximately 1km from the current vertical well, more than a mile beneath the surface.

Friends of the Earth's Helen Rimmer said: "Cuadrilla is pushing ahead despite the huge uncertainty over the impacts of fracking on the environment and health.

"There is growing evidence linking fracking to water contamination, air pollution and climate change.

'Highly probable'

"We have abundant clean, renewable energy sources and don't need more dirty gas."

Cuadrilla suspended shale gas test drilling in June 2011, following two small earthquakes near Blackpool.

One tremor of magnitude 2.3 hit the Fylde coast on 1 April while the second of magnitude 1.4 happened on 27 May.

A report commissioned by Cuadrilla last year found it was "highly probable" fracking caused the tremors.

The first stage of drilling the 13,000ft vertical well at the Anna's Road site is now under way which the company anticipates should take two to three months.

Fracking uses high-pressure liquid pumped deep underground to fracture shale rock and release gas.

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