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UK Shale Horizontal Drilling Under Way, Fracturing to Follow

Journal of Petroleum Technology

Cuadrilla Resources has started drilling the UK’s first horizontal shale well at its exploration site at Preston New Road, Lancashire, and hopes to begin hydraulic fracturing of two wells in the second quarter.

No wells have been fractured in the UK since 2011, when a Cuadrilla well triggered small earthquakes in Lancashire.

Advancement of the drilling program comes as the operator recovered data suggesting “excellent rock quality for hydraulic fracturing and a high natural gas content in several zones” of the Bowland shale. Cuadrilla drilled a vertical pilot well to 2.7 km through the Upper and Lower Bowland shale rock intervals, taking 375 ft of core samples from three separate intervals. Wireline logs retrieved data across the entire Bowland shale section.

Cuadrilla is combining the data, which it considers “the most comprehensive dataset recovered to date from any shale well drilled in the UK,” with data from its three other Lancashire shale wells. The initial vertical sections of both horizontal wells have been drilled. The operator has permission to drill up to four exploratory horizontal wells at Preston New Road.

The operator said its findings are in line with a UK government study published in 2013 that provided a mid-level estimate of the gas-in-place in the Bowland shales of 1,329 Tcf. The data also appear to contradict a study published last year by scientists at Heriot-Watt University that suggests UK’s geology, including in the Bowland shale, might not be fracturing friendly given its complexity.

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