Balcombe drilling will not ‘achieve commercial production’ without fracking.

Evidence of Cuadrilla having stated that Balcombe drilling will not ‘achieve commercial production’ without fracking.

A letter by Cuadrilla now released into the Public Domain, having been used as an exhibit in recent Court proceedings, confirms that Cuadrilla contacted the DECC in 2011 admitting that in order to achieve commercial production, they would need to use hydraulic fracturing/fracking technology in the Weald Basin.

Despite two Freedom of Information Act requests* for details of the correspondence between the DECC and Cuadrilla Resources Ltd, the DECC appeared to have no knowledge of their own communications, yet the document had already been submitted as an exhibit in the Court proceedings.

The letter (see attachment) dated 10th June 2011 from Andrew Price, a Director at Bolney Resources Ltd (which became Cuadrilla Balcombe Ltd in April 2013) requested more time from the DECC to explore the Lower Stumble site at Balcombe.  Due to suspension of operations because of the seismic activity they had triggered in Lancashire in April & May 2011, Cuadrilla would not otherwise have been able to fulfil its contractual obligation to commence drilling on time.

Andrew Price wrote to the DECC stating: "[….] In order for Bolney to be successful in its Weald Basin Kimmeridge Oil Shale project (KOSP), Bolney will need to rely, to a significant degree on being able to undertake hydraulic fracture stimulation(s) of this unconventional reservoir."

[….] Until it is determined that hydraulic fracture operations can be conducted in the area covered by the PEDL [Petroleum Exploration and Development Licence] Bolney requests that the undertaking to drill or drop, that has to be given by the licensee before 20th June 2011, be extended until the end of the Initial Term.

"Bolney's exploration plan (and reason for acquiring a 75% interest in the PEDL) has always been to drill (a) well(s) (vertical and/or horizontal) targeting the Kimmeridge Shale and to hydraulically fracture stimulate several select intervals within this unconventional reservoir in order to establish commercial production rates and to develop a significant recoverable resource. Without the ability to undertake hydraulic fracture operations Bolney will not be able to attempt to achieve commercial production"

Louisa Delpy, Balcombe resident said:

"This is proof of Cuadrilla's true intention regarding Balcombe and the Weald - they always intended to frack. Whilst our County Councillors continue to ignore the cumulative effect of granting planning permission for flow testing in Balcombe the unconventional rocks will eventually require stimulation and fracturing for production in the Weald.

I am disappointed that the two detailed FOIs I submitted to DECC seem to have missed this letter, and wonder what else has been missed when I have asked for further information from our gold standard, fully transparent, regulatory agencies."



Frack Free Sussex believes this evidence gives further weight to the public’s deep suspicion of Cuadrilla and of the company’s claims about future intentions at Balcombe:

“This document raises several serious questions both for local residents and for people across the country.

As the Balcombe site was not a viable production site in the 1980s, using conventional extraction methods such as those used at Singleton near Goodwood and Storrington - how can it suddenly be viable now?

Why does the DECC not seem to be aware of their own correspondence with the operator?

Why was the document not revealed through a Freedom of Information Act request to a local resident?

The document clearly states that Cuadrilla acquired the site in order to frack it and that it will not become commercially viable without doing so.  Which rather begs the question as to why a company would continue a costly operation which is not going to be making them money.

Lord Browne said to me in person on 5th December 2013:

'Cuadrilla is not going to fracture in Balcombe.  It never has and it's said it's not going to do that'

Who is being deliberately misinformed here – the investors? Or the public?”

- Vanessa Vine, Frack Free Sussex


Lord Browne quote - Footage: @50.40

*First FOI request:
Request: I would like to request all correspondence between DECC and Bolney Resources and/or Cuadrilla Resources in June 2011 relating to the PEDL 244 license and hydraulic stimulating/fracturing.

Response: "I can confirm that the Department does not hold any information which falls within the scope of your request."

Second FOI request:
Request: "I would like to request all correspondence between Toni Harvey at DECC and Bolney Resources Limited and/or Cuadrilla Resources in June 2011 and July 2011."
Response: Emails relating to flowback and data study released