THE potential for upwards of 600 local jobs directly, and over 2400 jobs indirectly; up to 50 years of secure gas supply for Northern Ireland; and potentially cheaper energy prices.
These are just some of the potential benefits for people here if fracking goes ahead according to director of Tamboran Resources Ltd, Dr Tony Bazley.
In an interview with the Fermanagh Herald, Dr Bazley claimed that the ‘local economy and tourism in particular would benefit tremendously’, encouraged that people keep an open mind on fracking, and said that if the company does not believe that it can extract gas in a safe and secure manner ‘then we will simply not seek to proceed’.
The geologist made his comments this week, before it was revealed that the company must seek full planning permission to test drill at Belcoo.
Daily protests have taken place at the site – with heavy opposition demanding the removal of the company from the county.
On the opposition, Dr Bazley said: “We would ask for people to keep an open mind and make a decision based on the facts, not misinformation.
“We recognise there are some people who do not want to hear what we have to say but we believe the vast majority of people feel like they do not yet know enough to be able to make a balanced judgement. This is completely understandable and rational as we don’t yet know if the gas is there and if it is commercially viable.”
He went on: “Since we announced our interest in Northern Ireland we have been inundated with several hundred CVs and approaches, all unsolicited, mostly from local people looking for work which in itself tells a compelling story.
“Of course we will never be able to satisfy everyone but I think by and large the majority of people want to know more before being able to make up their mind.”
Mr Bazley reiterated that at this point, seeking to drill a scientific borehole, the process is not fracking. At Belcoo he said that it involved ‘fact-finding, not fracking’.
“Let me be very clear about this, Tamboran will not do anything that would or could damage the local environment. If we cannot demonstrate that we could extract the shale gas safely then we will not be allowed to do so. If we as a company do not believe that we can extract the gas in a safe and secure manner then we will simply not seek to proceed.”
He added: “We have very strict environmental standards in Northern Ireland, and rightly so. We can assure you that we will be operating at all times to the highest possible environmental and health and safety standards.
“Everything that we plan to do will be subject to the most rigorous scrutiny and I can assure the people of Northern Ireland that we shall not be found wanting.”
Dr Bazley said that at present the company knows that gas exists beneath the surface, however, added: ‘but not if it will be commercially viable’. He also encouraged politicians to have an open mind.
“If the gas is there and if we believe it can be recovered safely and can clearly demonstrate this, then we believe it should go ahead but the decision will ultimately rest with the Northern Ireland Executive.
“However, if we can do this safely and in the process provide several billion pounds worth of investment in the local economy, create upwards of 600 jobs directly and support in the region of another 2400 while securing Northern Ireland’s natural gas supply for decades and potentially stabilise or even reduce energy costs while helping reduce CO2 emissions, then I think really the question for the politicians would be what rational reason would they have not to support us?”
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