Cuadrilla Scales Back Drilling due to Anti-Fracking Protest

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Cuadrilla Scales Back Drilling due to Anti-Fracking Protest

UK-focused shale fracking firm Cuadrilla Resources announced Friday that it will temporarily scale back its drilling activities at its Balcombe operation in West Sussex, England, after threats of direct action against the site.

Cuadrilla began drilling at Balcombe on August 2 amid ongoing protests outside the company's site. The firm has been drilling a 3,000-foot deep, six-inch well with a 72-foot tall land rig. Although the firm is currently drilling a conventional exploration well Cuadrilla plans to use it to look at the potential for drilling a 2,500-foot horizontal hole, in which hydraulic fracturing could take place in the future.

Cuadrilla said Friday that following threats of direct action, and consultation with the Sussex Police, it will be scaling back its operations until it is safe to resume full operations. The firm added that its main concern at the moment is the safety of its staff, Balcombe's residents and the protestors following threats of direct action against the exploration site.

An anti-fracking organization called No Dash for Gas set up an "Action Camp" Friday that is scheduled to last until August 21. A statement on the No Dash for Gas Web site calls for more activists to join the protest. "Come to share your ideas. Create, imagine, resist. Join us in Balcombe, West Sussex to Reclaim the Power!" the statement said.

Cuadrilla CEO Francis Egan commented in a press statement Friday:

"Cuadrilla's exploration work at Balcombe involves drilling a conventional oil well.  External groups protesting against hydraulic fracturing at Balcombe do so without any work proposal from Cuadrilla to judge.  Any hydraulic fracturing proposal would require a detailed Environmental Impact Assessment, public consultations and multi-agency regulatory reviews, all of which would be available for scrutiny."

A former engineer, Jon is an award-winning editor who has covered the technology, engineering and energy sectors since the mid-1990s. Email Jon at jmainwaring@rigzone.com

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