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Undercover fracking!!

Relying on the fact that most dedicated anti-frackers are having the proverbial kicked out of them at Barton Moss, and that attention has been focused on the activities of the Big 3 frackers - Cuadrilla, iGas and Dart Energy, lesser-known gas companies are pushing forward with under the counter exploratory drilling in other parts of the country.

As Frack Off have just exposed, Rathlin Energy are making progress with little-known plans in East Yorkshire and Northern Ireland. The company have just applied for mining waste permits and 'radioactive substances activity' permits for their licence block near Hull in the Bowland Shale, the vast shale formation in the north of England.

Their activity on the site began last summer, when they drilled two conventional oil exploration wells. As Frack Off report, “While portrayed as purely conventional oil wells both were drilled much deeper than the primary target, ending just below the bottom of the Bowland Shale... For both wells the primary target was the Permian era Caedby Formation at a depth of less than 4,900 ft but a secondary objective was to take core samples of the Bowland Shale.”

The new applications contain new small print – the desire to conduct a 'mini frack' beneath the conventional wells. As our Frack Off boffin explained to the laymen at SchNEWS, a mini-frack is “pumping fluid in until the shale starts to crack, then they stop it. It's all to find out more about the shale”. He added, “It's just testing but it still involves producing about 100 thousand gallons of radioactive waste and gas flaring”.

They're not the only company taking baby steps toward frackmegeddon behind a façade of business as usual . Viking UK Gas have recently borrowed Caudrilla's fracking rig to drill an exploratory well in Kirby Misperton in north Yorkshire.

There have been ripples of discontent in localities near to the fracking sites, particularly in response to the radioactivity permit sought by Rathlin in East Yorkshire. But so far the softly-softly approach is working: Compared to the massive community resistance efforts against plans by the likes of Cuadrilla in East Sussex and iGas in Barton Moss, the small-scale testing has attracted little fuss from opponents.

“Rathlin are now the third company that have been caught undertaking exploratory drilling into shale when they'd applied for permission to drill either a conventional oil well or into coal seams thousands of feet shallower than the shale,” says a Frack Off campaigner, “Its becoming increasingly clear that all new onshore drilling operations need to be seen as potentially advancing the process of fracking. We need to be scrutinizing these activities in future.”

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