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Cuadrilla to begin shale gas fracking after last hurdle dismissed

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LONDON (Reuters) – British energy company Cuadrilla said on Friday it would begin fracking a shale gas well at its Lancashire site on Oct. 13 after a court removed the final hurdle to the first hydraulic fracturing in Britain in seven years.

The privately owned company will spend three months fracking two horizontal wells, which involves injecting sand, water and chemicals to split the tightly packed shale rock and induce gas to flow out.

This will be the first fracking of a horizontal shale gas well since a 2011 attempt by Cuadrilla caused earth tremors, prompting protests, tighter regulations and delays.

The process will be followed by the first flow rate tests from fractured horizontal shale gas wells in Britain to ascertain not only whether the well could commercially produce gas but test how similar the prospect is to the shale plays that have transformed the U.S. gas industry.

“We are delighted to be starting our hydraulic fracturing operations as planned,” Cuadrilla’s Chief Executive Francis Egan said in a statement.

Flow rate tests will be run after Cuadrilla fracks the two wells and results are expected in the new year. The company said last week it would put sensors in one well as the other is fracked to monitor any seismic activity during the process.

Egan said last week that a result matching an estimate that a single 2.5 km (1.6 mile) well could produce about 5 million cubic feet a day would be a good one.

A local resident wanted the fracking suspended to allow for a judicial review of the local council’s safety procedures, but a High Court judge dismissed the case.

(Reporting by Sabina Zawadzki; Editing by Jason Neely and Dale Hudson)

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