Thursday, May 25, 2017

News: Council confirms INEOS seismic survey

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Rotherham Council has confirmed that INEOS' oil and gas exploration and production business is set to carry out a 3D seismic survey in part of the borough from early June, as reported by Rothbiz last week.

The company, which owns licences to pursue a range of oil and gas exploration activities in the region, is assessing the suitability of the area for hydraulic fracturing (fracking). It has submitted details about the areas to be surveyed and how the survey will be undertaken. The full survey area covers approximately 250 square kilometres (approximately 17.32 sq. km. in Rotherham) and also includes parts of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.

Areas in the Rotherham borough include the villages of Thorpe Salvin and Harthill, where INEOS is already pressing ahead in the search for shale gas as it prepares to submit a planning application for a proposed test drilling operation.

The test drilling operation requires a planning application but, subject to certain restrictions and giving prior notification to the Council, planning permission is not required for the seismic survey as Government planning rules state that it is "permitted development."

Paul Woodcock, assistant director for Planning, Regeneration and Transportation at Rotherham Council said: "Subject to certain restrictions, the company is permitted to undertake the seismic survey without planning permission in line with national planning rules. However, any further development, including test drilling to explore for shale gas below ground, will require full planning permission."

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Seismic surveying uses the principles of seismology to allow deep subsurface geology to be imaged and mapped in either two or three dimensional (2D or 3D) detail. INEOS will require an agreement with affected landowners and occupiers although local parish councils have already refused to allow surveys on land they own.

Turley, planning consultants for INEOS, has stated that the seismic survey will last for no longer than six months and it is assumed that it will commence from June 5 2017.

Taking place between 7am to 7pm on a 7 day a week basis, activity ranges from deploying small recording equipment, to a convoy of three trucks that hydraulically vibrate the ground for between 20-30 seconds with increasing frequency. "Shot holes" could even be used. This more invasive source involves the loading and detonation of a small explosive charge at the base of a shallow pre-drilled hole.
The survey will help INEOS to gain a better understanding of the geology and rock formations below the ground to understand where shale gas might be located.

The company has already identified a Greenbelt site between the villages of Harthill and Thorpe Salvin because it is within an area of interest to INEOS based on existing seismic data. It is here that plans are coming forward to enable a period of surveys before a period of drilling, coring and testing. A well would be drilled to approximately 2,800 m using a drill rig of maximum 60 m rig height followed by three months of testing.

Rothbiz reported last week that Rotherham Council has ruled that the proposed operation "would not be likely to have significant effects on the environment" in relation to national planning guidelines.

The authority did however ask INEOS to include an Environmental Impact Assessment alongside any planning application. In response to the request Ineos will submit an Environmental Report addressing, among other topics, the aspects of water environment, ecology, noise, landscape and visual effects, and cultural heritage.

INEOS website

Images: INEOS / Turley


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