Cuadrilla’s Allan Campbell – How he believes shale gas from fracking could transform Britain July 09 2014
Interview by Danny Fortson (The Sunday Times 08/12/13)
Allan Campbell’s company, Cuadrilla Resources, discovered the reservoir under northwest England.
A video on Cuadrilla's Fracking Procedure:
“This is the North Sea all over again”, Campbell says. “In America they are playing with 300ft of gas-bearing rock layers, we have 6,000ft, this is a game changer!”
Campbell claims the Bowland basin, an underground formation that stretches from the Isle of Man across northwest England and down to the Midlands, could do for Britain what shale has done for America, where a critical gas shortage has transformed to more than a century of supply thanks to ‘fracking’.
Campbell continues “At the moment there is a vacuum of information that is being filled with hyperbole with no foundation in facts”. His idea is to launch a “big conversation” in the form of 40 town hall meetings across Britain, ideally in partnership with non-governmental organisations that do not share Cuadrilla’s vested interest in shale. Cuadrilla has, like other drillers, agreed to hand 1% of revenues from each well to locals – two-thirds to parishes, the rest to councils.
In 1995, Allan Campbell took over a tiny engineering company called A J Lucas, which got into the booming business of tapping coal seams for gas. Following huge success in this area, he hired two experts to scout Western Europe. They homed in on the Bowland basin after studying publicly available geological data, including details from four wells drilled by British Gas in the 1980s.
In February 2008, Cuadrilla Resources, a 100%-owned subsidiary of A J Lucas, applied for licences to explore 450 square miles of Lancashire. Cuadrilla claims that the Bowland shale holds 200 trillion cubic feet of gas, enough to supply Britain for 57 years. However, the British Geological Survey estimated the Bowland could hold six times as much.
Campbell hugely underestimated the political aspect of the project and states that he regrets not relocating to Britain from the offset, but he did manage to bring on board Lord Browne, the former BP chief executive. His private equity firm, Riverstone, bought a 45% stake in Cuadrilla which is the same stake as A J Lucas holds with the staff sharing the remaining 10%.
This summer, British Gas bought a stake in the company’s acreage and agreed to cover some of the drilling costs. Campbell himself owns 20% of A J Lucas, which has kept a quarter stake in Bowland for itself – Cuadrilla owns the rest. Between the two companies, Campbell holds just under 9% of the Lancashire bounty.
Here is a video on Cuadrilla's well design:
CSG Co would be happy to receive views on this subject for incorporation into a future article. We see the advantages of a national secure supply of gas/power whilst our complex Energy Policy is politically agreed and implemented with adequate safeguards. The quarry industry has, just like everybody else, experienced large increases in the cost of energy and fuel over the past decade. It has had a significant impact on our costs at a time of decreased demand for our products. Reduced or stabilised energy costs would be warmly welcomed. We recognise that having shale beds twenty times deeper than those being commercially exploited in America means that drilling pads in the UK can extract 20 times the volume of their American counterparts all things being geologically equal. This would offer the opportunities to do far more processing on site and to reprocess drilling fluids etc, to reduce traffic movements. Our gas mains infrastructure is also available to transport processed shale gas. Our chemical industries would welcome the availability of long-chain petrocarbons which can comprise up to 50% of the outputs by value from each well. Mothballed and abandoned quarry sites, collieries and industrial sites in the UK are abundant and are generally available for redevelopment as drilling pads and process areas.
Planning law and Environmental Oversight and Monitoring in the UK are already more stringent in their applicability to Oil and Gas than in the USA and can be developed further to impose strict conditions on Operators. Just as the Nuclear Industry is expected to design to safeguard against low probability occurrences so too can fracking licenses be subject to operational risk/hazard conditions to protect our aquifers and environment.
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