Thursday, August 20, 2015

News: Rotherham offered up for fracking


Four large blocks of land covering the majority of the borough of Rotherham have been offered to leading names in the energy exploration industry as the Government pushes ahead with making shale gas a part of the UK's energy mix.

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 27 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.

Caudrilla, the company hoping to secure planning permission in Fylde, Lancashire, has been offered block SE40f which covers areas of Wath and Manvers. Alkane Energy plc generates energy from coal mine methane (CMM) at Manvers and recently submitted a planning application that would allow it to drill into the previous coal mine workings in the Dearne Valley in the search of further energy sources.

Caudrilla said that for the next year activity in these new exploration licence areas will largely centre on desktop studies and in some cases carrying out seismic surveys. This will give the company detailed data on the geology deep underneath the licence areas, helping to assess where exploration sites could subsequently be located.

Francis Egan, CEO of Cuadrilla, said: "We are very pleased to be offered these new exploration licences. Whilst we continue to progress our shale gas exploration work in Lancashire, we welcome the potential for exploration in Yorkshire along with the associated benefits of new jobs and economic growth we believe it will bring.

"Our first priority will be to talk with local communities. We recognise that some members of the public will have concerns and there continues to be a good deal of misinformation circulated regarding onshore shale exploration. We have a responsibility to ensure people understand the facts and are not misled by harmful scaremongering. Onshore exploration and fracking can and will be done safely, securely and in an environmentally responsible way."
IGas has been offered block SK49 which covers Swinton, Kilnhurst, Rawmarsh, Parkgate, Greasborough, Kimberworth, Thrybergh, Ravenfield, Eastwood, the town centre, Flanderwell, Bramley, Wickersley, Herringthorpe, Canklow and Whiston.

IGas is partnering with Egdon Resources, the company which already owns the PEDL for the adjacent area around Maltby (PEDL043). Egdon is working with international energy firm, Total, who has already put forward £30m to deliver up to three shale gas wells in nearby areas. With other offered blocks, Total will have a 50% interest and Egdon a 15% interest. IGas will be operator of the licences with a 35% interest.

SK48 has been offered to INEOS and includes Brinsworth, Catcliffe, Treeton, Waverley, Thurcroft, Ulley, Aughton, Aston, Todwick, Wales, Rother Valley and Harthill.

INEOS has also been offered SK58a which includes Dinnington, North Anston, South Anston, Woodsetts and Thorpe Salvin. SK58a is adjacent to the already approved PEDL200 that covers Firbeck, Laughton en le Morthern and parts of Thurcroft and Dinnington and is owned by Dart Energy.

Gary Haywood, INEOS Shale CEO, said: "Shale gas is a once in a lifetime opportunity that the UK cannot afford to miss. North Sea oil created great wealth for the UK and shale gas can do the same. It will help secure manufacturing, deliver investment and create thousands of jobs, provide us with greater energy security, and help us to meet our climate change obligations using our own home-grown source of energy."

A second group of licence block awards are expected to be made later in the year following the conclusion of the Habitats' consultation. These blocks are likely to include the rest of the borough not already covered such as Hellaby, Thorpe Hesley and Wentworth.

UK Energy Minister Lord Bourne said: "As part of our long-term plan to build a more resilient economy, create jobs and deliver secure energy supplies, we continue to back our onshore oil and gas industry and the safe development of shale gas in the UK. This is why the OGA has moved quickly to confirm the winners of licence blocks which do not need further environmental assessment.

"Keeping the lights on and powering the economy is not negotiable, and these industries will play a key part in providing secure and reliable energy to UK homes and businesses for decades to come.

"It's important we press on and get shale moving, while maintaining strong environmental controls. Investment in shale could reach £33 billion and support 64,000 jobs creating financial security for hardworking people and their families, whilst providing a cost-efficient bridge to lower-carbon energy use."

Shale gas planning applications are set to be fast-tracked through a new, dedicated planning process. Previous announcements include offers of £100,000 for communities situated near each exploratory well, and 1% of revenues from every production site.

Oil & Gas Authority website

Images: INEOAS / Oil & Gas Authority


David Burley,  August 21, 2015 at 6:14 PM  

It is astonishing that, in order to improve energy security by extracting shale gas in the UK, our government has pulled back from other entry security improving measures - such as house insulation and renewable energy schemes. It also says local communities should have the final say on local wind farms but is threatening to pull planning decisions on fracking into central government. Baffling.
It pours billions of aid into fossil fuel exploration companies at the very time there is worldwide scientific consensus that we should keep fossil fuels in the ground, and withdraws funding from renewables.
Investors are beginning to sniff the prevailing wind; the Wellcome Trust lost around £175million last year as its fossil fuel investments lost value.
Shale gas will not reduce our energy bills, it will not have any significant impact on our energy security (better insulation and stopping exporting gas will) but it will put at risk our air, water, landscape and house values.
And as for jobs, it has been demonstrated that, per unit of energy, renewables create up to ten times the number of jobs as fossil fuel. So pushing shale gas is LIMITING jobs.
This 'dash for shale gas' is, quite frankly, inexplicably bonkers.

Ben Longden,  September 2, 2015 at 5:06 PM  

I'm just going to leave this here.

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