NSTA withdraws decompression requirement for UK onshore wells | Rigzone
The North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA), formerly the Oil & Gas Authority, has revealed that it has agreed to withdraw an obligation to decommission three onshore wells from British firm Cuadrilla.
The development comes after Cuadrilla applied for permission to retain its two Preston New Road (PNR) wells and the Elswick well on March 28, 2022, the NSTA said, adding that it had carefully considered this application, “along with developments recent”.
Cuadrilla now has until the end of June 2023 to assess options for the Preston New Road and Elswick sites, the NSTA noted. If no credible reuse plan is in place by then, the NSTA said it plans to reimpose decommissioning requirements.
In a statement posted on its website, Cuadrilla disclosed that the two PNR wells will be temporarily capped and suspended until at least the end of June 2023. Cuadrilla noted that it proposes to use the suspension period to assess productive options for these sinks, “given the current energy price crisis in the UK and Europe and the government’s focus on domestic energy supplies”.
The two wells would be the only horizontal wells drilled and hydraulically fractured in British shale rock. According to Cuadrilla, the fracturing and flow testing of each well confirmed the presence of a very high quality natural gas resource flowing to the surface from the underlying shale. The seismicity induced during the fracturing process, above the UK regulatory limit of 0.5 on the Richter scale, meant that none of the wells could be fully fractured or flow tested, to properly assess the amount of gas that can be produced commercially, Cuadrilla pointed out.
“I am delighted that the regulator has taken the sensible decision not to abandon the UK’s only two viable shale gas wells at this time of soaring gas prices,” Cuadrilla CEO Francis Egan said. in a company statement.
“It is widely recognized that natural gas will continue to play a key role in the UK’s energy supply for many decades to come, even as the country transitions to a net zero CO2 economy. We remain convinced that the Bowland shale gas resource has the potential to be a very significant contributor to the UK’s energy supply and in particular a cost-effective source of fuel for heating UK homes and businesses,” Egan added in the statement.
In a statement posted on Cuadrilla’s website on March 14, Egan said, “If we are serious about energy security, as a very fundamental first step, we must not make these [PNR] then we urgently need to lift the moratorium on shale gas and use these wells and others to produce domestic shale gas.”
In February, Cuadrilla revealed that the OGA had ordered Britain’s only two horizontal shale wells to be capped and abandoned.
In November 2019, the UK government revealed that hydraulic fracturing would not be allowed in England “following the publication of new scientific analyses”.
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