The Becconsall exploration well site is based near Banks. This area is no stranger to hydrocarbon exploration. In the past, other exploration wells have been drilled in Banks and Hesketh. During the many site visits that took place at Banks, locals would recall the ‘nodding donkeys’ on the nearby Formby oil field, drilled by D’Arcy Oil Exploration Company in 1939. The Formby oil field produced 72,000 barrels of oil until its decommissioning in 1965.
Planning permission was granted by Lancashire County Council (LCC) for the Becconsall site in October 2010. Drilling of an exploration well began at the site in 2011, reaching a target depth of 10,500 feet. Following the completion of the well, the drilling rig was removed and the site secured.
In March 2014 Cuadrilla applied to Lancashire County Council for planning permission to undertake measurement of the pressure of the gas in the shale rock at the well, to be followed by plugging of the wellbore with cement and restore the site to its original Greenfield status. Planning permission was granted by LCC on 1st May 2015, however the planning consent contained a condition which required Cuadrilla to place all pressure monitoring equipment on site by 31st May 2015. The equipment could not be secured and mobilised to site within that timeframe. Therefore, rather than seek to vary the planning condition, Cuadrilla decided not to pursue the pressure testing and decided to plug the well with cement and fully restore the site in accordance with the Planning consent.