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Government has ‘double standards’ for allowing drilling in Cornwall

May 9, 2019

By Paul Homewood


Double standards? Surely not!


The Government has been accused of "blatant double standards" for allowing drilling in Cornwall that is able to cause stronger tremors than fracking.

The United Downs Deep Geothermal Project, in Redruth, Cornwall, is the UK’s first geothermal extraction site which opened in December 2018. It consists of two deep wells at least 2,500m in depth being drilled into the ground to extract renewable energy.

However, unlike fracking, tremors caused by geothermal drilling are not formally regulated by a national government body. This is despite the “seismic hazard” of the process which can cause earthquakes “magnitude four and above” that could be felt by up to 4000 Cornish homes, an assessment of the Redruth site stated.

Dr Ben Edwards, from the University of Liverpool’s school of environmental studies, said the current regulations for geothermal drilling are “ad hoc”, adding: “You would assume, given the similarity of the processes, that there would be a similar regulatory oversight for both.”

Dr Edwards said the geothermal drilling process requires more liquid than fracking, which could result in stronger earthquakes. “In terms of the earthquakes, we know that one of the most obvious links between injected fluids and earthquakes is the amount of fluid injected. Geothermal tends to inject a lot more [than fracking] and deeper down,” he said.

“It seems to me unusual that there is not a regulatory body in place,” he added.  Francis Egan, chief executive officer of Cuadrilla, said that the double regulatory standards being applied to shale gas extraction and geothermal are unacceptable, adding:

“I am shocked and disappointed by the blatant double standards being applied to the shale gas industry with no scientific basis or credible research. “UK geothermal projects, supported by Government funds, using almost identical drilling and fracking procedures”.

  1. May 9, 2019 10:23 am

    It’s okay to trigger city destroying earthquakes if you are after “green” energy though.

    • Hereburgher permalink
      May 9, 2019 4:00 pm

      If you’ve ever been to Redruth you’ll understand the lack of caution…

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      May 9, 2019 7:27 pm

      Or in future is you are burying CO2 by the hundreds of millions of tonnes…

  2. Charles Wardrop permalink
    May 9, 2019 10:27 am

    Green thoughts must have taken over: a road to perdition and poverty so their Stop Climate Change absurdity cannot be afforded, but that is true anyway!

  3. May 9, 2019 10:44 am

    “Double Standards”! From our government? Never. Everything is based on peer-reviewed science – the best that is available from the Greenblob.

  4. Harry Passfield permalink
    May 9, 2019 10:45 am

    If I were to put the blame (AKA: conspiracy theory) on any organisation for the prohibition of Fracking it would be NWO. Let’s face it, the Greens and XR are a natural constituency for it.

    • Pancho Plail permalink
      May 9, 2019 11:30 am

      Don’t understand how wrestling could be so damaging (I would do a smiley face if I knew how to).

  5. Pancho Plail permalink
    May 9, 2019 11:35 am

    Easy solution – presumably the output from fracking comes up hot, so extract the heat and call it green energy, and accept as serendipity that the waste product from this process has some value, so using it could be considered recycling of waste.

  6. Charles Wardrop permalink
    May 9, 2019 11:36 am

    How do they get away with it?

  7. Mike Higton permalink
    May 9, 2019 12:00 pm

    And there’s history…..a geothermal project in Switzerland was closed down after it provoked tremors above 4 on the scale (it’s not Richter any more but I don’t know the new terminology!).

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      May 9, 2019 7:34 pm

      To do this we used the UK magnitude scale, which is defined as
      Ml = log(A) + 0.95log(R) + 0.00183R – 1.76,
      where A is the amplitude of the signal at the station, and R is the distance between earthquake and seismometer.
      The most common magnitude scale is known as “local magnitude”, or ML. This is basically the good ol’fashioned Richter scale, and is fairly simple to compute. You simply measure the maximum amplitude of the seismic trace, you take the distance from source to receiver, and you put it into a local magnitude equation as I outlined above.

      An alternative magnitude scale is the “Moment magnitude”, or Mw. This directly relates to the moment (read ‘force’ or ‘energy’ in layman’s terms) released by the earthquake, and in turn to both the size of the fault and the amount that the fault slipped. Mw is slightly harder to compute – you have to look at the frequency content of the earthquake signals – but probably a better representation of the physical process occurring in an earthquake (as opposed to an empirical approximation, as provided by ML).

  8. Joe Public permalink
    May 9, 2019 12:31 pm

    The current UK shale-fracking Traffic Light System means that drilling had to stop if a micro-seismic event of 0.5ML was detected.

    Yet fracking for geothermal permits induced seismicity events up to 4.0ML.

    That’s 3,162 times bigger, and 177,827 times stronger!

  9. Brian J BAKER permalink
    May 9, 2019 4:37 pm

    Yes Paul but who owns the land in Cornwall. It wouldn’t be HRH Charles would it, who is already set to benefit from the extraction of Lithium found as a waste product from the mining of Tin. Given that Tin prices are rising it would appear that our astute Prince is on to a double wammy. Also Cornwall Council, whilst giving the project £1.4 Million, (Whats a green programme without a bung) state in their approval.

    “The development and operation of the deep geothermal system will require the injection of water under moderate pressure. This process will cause some natural fractures to move slightly,by perhaps a few millimetres, causing what are referred to as ‘microseismic events’. This is inevitable and expected.
    These events can be detected and located with highly sensitive instruments and their distribution can be used to help understand the extent of the reservoir.
    The vast majority of these events will be far too small to be felt at the surface but it is possible that some will be, with some minor vibrations perhaps comparable to the mining blasts that were felt when the tin mines were in operation.”

    So for 100 years it was OK for our forefathers to use dynamite to provide jobs for Tin miners, but not .a tickling of the feet for todays effete generation.

    And we cannot say that it was not known. Here is the Guardian from 9 years ago discussing the Basel project. To which the council replied that n Cornwall the geology is different. How different the Council refused to answer. But they use the same pressures into granite at less depth 2.5kM instead of 4kM. Cornwall council = scum of the earth.

  10. Dave Etchell permalink
    May 9, 2019 7:16 pm

    The anti fracking movement is populated with irrational, atavistic, numptys, you can never get them to quantify any of the ill effects they claim. i.e. the chemicals used are carcinogenic –so what quantity of these chemicals is used, which carcinogens do they contain and in what concentrations. Very large scale mechanical fracturing i.e. Fracking occured all over the UK in the 20th Century in the form of COAL MINING, with no dire effects to the environment apart from a bit of subsidence, and huge economic benefits to the country.

  11. Edward Cook permalink
    May 10, 2019 2:15 pm

    I’ve drilled geothermal wells in Indonesia and Italy, never had a problem, tremors were barely felt even on the rig sites. There is simply not enough energy being put into the ground to cause anything other than very localised short duration tremors.

    Drilling geothermal wells employ exactly the same technology as drilling for hydrocarbons, sensors have to be rated to typically 175 Celsius, H2S can be an issue and loss of returns is more likely and opening the formation up is exactly the same process as for hydrocarbons.

  12. Auralay permalink
    May 10, 2019 2:22 pm

    Sounds like the crackers should start drilling for geothermal energy. Any gas recovered would be an accidental byproduct. Of course they would then have to sell it to be burnt, otherwise the methane might warm the planet.

  13. Auralay permalink
    May 10, 2019 2:23 pm

    Woops. Frackers!

  14. Chris Davie permalink
    May 10, 2019 3:20 pm

    The circumstances are somewhat different in that hydraulic fracturing for hydrocarbons s generally carried out these days in essentially horizontal holes over long distances and relatively shallow depths which may give rise to relatively significant seismic events. The geothermal well at Carnon Downs is essentially vertical and over 5 km in depth in very hard rock – unlikely to generate significant seismic events but they do monitor.

    For what its worth I live within sight of that drill rig and am very comfortable with what is being done there.

    From a broader viewpoint, the extraction of resources that support our civilisation is never without risk. If you want a risk free environment, go live in a tree. Oh sorry, you might fall out of it.

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