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British firm seeks fracking permit

Wants to test well for shale gas

LONDON — Cuadrilla Resources, a private equity-backed British oil and gas company, continues to try to find a way to produce shale gas in its home country.

On Friday, the company said it was applying for a permit to hydraulically fracture an exploration well that it has drilled at Grange Hill in Lancashire in northwest England. The company hopes to be able to test the well next year. The company also said it planned to ask for permission to drill and fracture six new wells in the region.

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Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, involves pumping large amounts of liquids and sand or other material down wells to loosen rock formations so that the oil and natural gas they contain flow out.

Cuadrilla’s efforts to pioneer shale gas production in Britain has not been without setbacks. An attempt to fracture another well in 2011 set off small tremors and led to an 18-month moratorium on fracking that was only recently lifted.

Despite tens of millions of dollars in expenditure, the company still has no production outside of a 1990s-era gas well in the same area.

The company also delayed recent plans to drill for oil in West Sussex, after environmental regulators determined it needed additional permits.

Despite the costs and delays, there have been some recent upbeat omens for the company and other would-be shale gas drillers. Britain’s coalition government sees shale gas as a possible replacement for the declining production in the North Sea and is broadly supportive.

“There is a general recognition we should be getting on with the exploration phase,” said Francis Egan, Cuadrilla’s chief executive.

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