NEWS the company hoping to drill for gas in Fermanagh has removed the
‘fracking’ element of its exploration licence application has been met with suspicion locally.
However, the strong opposition shown in the Assembly last week to the issuing of any such licences has been warmly welcomed.
Last week Finance Minister Diane Dodds, who had been
leading a Stormont review into gas and oil exploration licensing, stated Tamboran Resources Ltd wanted to amend its application to explore Fermanagh’s shale and sandstone for gas. This was after 5,700 responses were received during the public consultation into the application, which was submitted last year.
“The proposed revision will remove the need for fracking, very much a direct result of the strength of opposition to this controversial technique, highlighted by the respondents to the consultation process,” Minister Dodds told the Assembly.
The Minister had been speaking during a debate in the Assembly on a cross-party motion that had called for an immediate end to the issuing of licences for oil and gas exploration across the North. The motion passed unanimously.
Local anti-fracking campaigners have since taken to social media to point out that while Tamboran may have removed the need for fracking for the purposes of exploration, the company had not explicitly ruled out using the controversial process in future.
Prominent local campaigner Tom White tweeted, for example: “Fermanagh
Natural Gas (Tamboran’s company) still intent on fracking. All they’ve done is move fracking to next phase is our understanding.”
Indeed, on the company’s own website it still states that while it does not intend to use fracking to look for gas, if any is found the process will be needed to extract it.
In a statement issued when the consultation was opened, Karl Prenderville, CEO of Tamboran UK, said the initial application was to explore for gas, a process that would take five years and would involve “standard drilling”, not fracking. He added if gas was found “test fracturing” would be used however this would require a fresh, full planning application that would subject to intense scrutiny.
“We can only proceed if we are able to demonstrate clearly that this can be done safely and with minimal impact on the environment,” he said.
To read more.. Subscribe to current edition