Once Cuadrilla feels confident that natural gas from shale can be extracted at a commercial rate, it will re-start the licence and planning process undertaken during the exploration phase.
As these will be permanent planning applications, Cuadrilla will fully consult the community surrounding the proposed sites. Before an application is submitted, the community will have the opportunity to have a say on what Cuadrilla is proposing.
Taking the Central Case scenario featured in the Economic Impact of Shale Gas report, we expect the drilling phase to last around nine years.
Depending on production rates, each well could generate 10 MW of electricity during the wells’ 50 year lifespan. This would make significant contribution to the UK’s energy mix.
Some critics have suggested the production landscape would be characterised by dense, single well developments. Even if this was allowed, it would not be commercially viable.
Instead, our plans would see the lowest possible impact on the landscape and countryside. Alongside well maintained, low profile sites with plenty of screening, there are two important operational approaches we will take to achieve this:
Clustering wells – grouping wells together on a single pad, means we don’t have to have multiple sites and can reduce other impacts, for example vehicle movements. The pads would be less than the size of a football pitch and would be no closer than two miles apart, meaning that the impact on the landscape is extremely limited.
Horizontal drilling – carried out during the production phase, this would mean a single well can access significantly more gas reserves, meaning fewer wells need to be drilled.
A study published in September 2011 concluded that Cuadrilla’s production operations could create 5,600 jobs in the UK, with around 1,700 of these jobs being created in Lancashire.
As an untapped energy resource, natural gas from shale has the potential to boost the UK’s gas production, reduce the UK’s dependency on expensive foreign energy sources and to lower gas prices. In the last 10 years, the price of natural gas in the US has dropped to just a third of its original price, due in part to the increase in the extraction of natural gas from shale. It should also act as a transitional fuel allowing time for Government and industry to develop renewable sources more effectively.
Click here for more information about the potential benefits of natural gas production.