Friday, December 18, 2015

News: Remainder of Rotherham offered up for fracking

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The Government has now offered licences for the whole of Rotherham borough that gives leading names in the energy exploration industry exclusivity to search for shale gas.

A type of natural gas, shale gas has the potential to become an important energy source for the UK, as it is in the US, but extracting the gas using a method called "fracking" (hydraulic fracturing) has negative environmental impacts.

In 2013, an independent survey identified that the whole borough of Rotherham could be sitting on reserves of shale gas. Now the Oil & Gas Authority (OGA) – the UK's oil and gas regulator – has announced that further onshore blocks will be offered to companies.

Petroleum Exploration and Development Licences (PEDLs), provide the first step to starting drilling – but do not give absolute agreement to drill. On top of a licence, any further drilling application will then require planning permission, as well as permits from the Environment Agency and sign-off from the Health and Safety Executive.

Four large blocks covering the majority of the borough were licensed in August with a second group of licence block awards now announced following the conclusion of the Habitats' consultation.

Block SK39 has been offered to operator INEOS and covers areas including Wentworth, Harley and Thorpe Hesley. INEOS has already been offered the licence for SK58a which includes Dinnington, North Anston, South Anston, Woodsetts and Thorpe Salvin.

Jim Ratcliffe, chairman at INEOS, said: "The UK government has demonstrated it is determined to move forward with this exciting new industry. This is the start of a shale gas revolution that will transform manufacturing in the UK. INEOS has the skills to safely extract the gas and we have already committed to both fully consult and to share the rewards with the local communities."

The company has committed to full consultation with all local communities before proceeding with any shale gas development. The company has also committed to share 6% of revenues with homeowners, landowners and communities close to its shale gas wells.
SK59b has been offered to IGas and includes Hellaby and Maltby. The operator is partnering with Egdon Resources, the company which already owns the PEDL for the adjacent area around Maltby (PEDL043).

IGas will be operator of the licences with a 35% interest, Total will have a 50% interest and Egdon a 15% interest. These licences are located in the Gainsborough Trough close to where the company currently operates 80 sites, the majority of which have been in production for many years. IGas said that it will conduct a shale work programme including 3D seismic surveys and three firm wells. The company's work programme also contains a further two drill or drop wells targeting conventional prospects.

IGAS was offered another Rotherham area in August - SK49 which covers Swinton, Kilnhurst, Rawmarsh, Parkgate, Greasborough, Kimberworth, Thrybergh, Ravenfield, Eastwood, the town centre, Flanderwell, Bramley, Wickersley, Herringthorpe, Canklow and Whiston.

Stephen Bowler, chief executive of IGas, said: "This is a critical time for the future of Britain's energy mix as gas, of which 50% of our consumption is currently imported, is central to our energy security as we transition to a lower carbon environment."

INEOS website
IGas website

Images: INEOS / Oil & Gas Authority

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