Friday, June 16, 2017

News: Testing rig will have "no detrimental impact on the local environment," INEOS claim

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Environmental studies included in a detailed planning application have led to INEOS' oil and gas exploration and production business concluding that there would be no detrimental impact on the local environment from its proposed shale gas testing well in Rotherham.

Rothbiz reported in March on the details of INEOS' plans for a site between the villages of Harthill and Thorpe Salvin for shale gas exploration. The Green Belt site was chosen because it is within an area of interest based on existing seismic data.

Recently submitted plans seek permission for a vertical core well and is the first of three potential phases. This application does not include any horizontal drilling and it does not include any hydraulic fracturing (also known as "fracking").

The vertical well has been designed to extract a "core" sample of the rock for laboratory analysis. This process will establish the properties of the local shale formation and surrounding rocks. The data from this well along with existing geological data will allow a better understanding of the shale gas potential.

A pressure transient test (PTT) will also be undertaken following the drilling as the gas is easier to extract if it is over pressured.

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 hydraulic fracturing has negative environmental impacts.

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Rotherham Council planners determined that the proposed project falls outside the remit of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Regulations, concluding that: "The impacts from the proposed development are found not to be likely to be so significant, either individually or collectively, such as to require EIA."

The authority did however ask INEOS to submit detailed environmental impact assessments with the full application.

Now out for consultation, the drilling application includes assessments and proposed mitigation relating to noise, traffic, ecology, flooding and air quality. It concludes that "there would be no detrimental impact on the local environment" and adds that the design has evolved to take into account the information and feedback received during the consultation process and mitigation measures have been incorporated into the application where necessary.

Drilling a vertical core well to a depth of approximately 2,800m will require the 24-hour operation of a drilling rig of up to 60 m high with a 15 m drill sub-structure and associated lighting.

The project is expected to generate 70 total daily movements with 60 HGV movements for a period during site development and establishment and the drilling, coring and pressure transient testing stage.
The duration of the planning permission requested is five years. Site construction and rig assembly will take up to three months. Drilling, coring and testing will take up to five months. Once drilling, coring and testing operations have ceased, establishing the well as a Listening Well and suspension will take approximately one week with the suspended well in place until restoration.

The application, drawn up with the help of Turley planning consultants, states: "INEOS understands that many people will wish to know whether or not this is likely to lead to a future application for high volume hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking". Until the potential commercial viability of the target resource is established through the laboratory analysis of the extracted core of shale rock, the prospect of development being taken forward to the appraisal stage is uncertain, both in respect of the content and timing of any future application.

"There are a number of possible outcomes that could follow this application, but the intention for this site is for it to be restored. Any future proposals would need planning permission and a range of consents from other regulators.

"If future appraisal or production proposals were to be brought forward, either on the application site or within the surrounding area, an application for planning permission would need to be made.

"INEOS understands that this does not give certainty to those people who are concerned about future shale gas extraction in this area. INEOS intend to keep local communities informed of their future intentions and will continue actively engaging with the local community."

Seismic testing by INEOS is already underway in the borough as part of a larger survey.

INEOS website

Images: INEOS


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