Cuadrilla will apply for permission to continue work at the UK’s most advanced fracking site as the industry seeks a way forward despite regulation it claims is stifling business.
Chief executive Francis Egan will ask Lancashire County Council to let the firm continue for another 18 months on top of the current period.
Its license at the Preston New Road is set to run out at the end of November, 30 months after it was granted.
However, Egan said, the firm will only have drilled or fracked at the site for 21 of those months.
The extra time would give Cuadrilla the chance to drill two more wells on top of the two it has already drilled. It has permission, but did not have the time, the company said.
There will be no changes to the substance of the planning permission, and the site will still be decommissioned and restored by April 2023, Egan said.
It comes as the Oil and Gas authority today approved Cuadrilla’s plans to start fracking at its second well. The approval included one year for flaring gas, the OGA said today.
Shale gas proponents have pointed to British gas as a less carbon intensive way of meeting the UK’s gas needs. Liquid natural gas, imported from places like Qatar, is estimated to have a carbon footprint around a fifth higher.
However protesters worry that fracking can cause earthquakes, and contaminate groundwater.
Current regulations force work to stop if sensors detect a tremor of over 0.5 on the Richter scale. The sector says the limits, which are well below the US where fracking has created a booming shale gas market, is killing off the industry before it can even start.