UK Energy Minister Lord Bourne said:(On August 20th) “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.”
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.
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. Alkane Energy plc generates energy from coal bed methane (CBM) 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. If CBM extraction is carefully controlled and monitored then methane gas should not escape into the atmosphere in any great quantity. Problem is Methane is a ‘Greenhouse gas’ which according to the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change has a global warming potential which is 21 times greater than that of carbon dioxide over a 100 year time horizon and the biggest problem with CBM is containment. 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. http://www.rothbiz.co.uk/2015/08/news-5417-rotherham-offered-up-for.html
The Anti Fracking Groups are well organised and publish reams of statistics and data which claim to show Fracking Is A Bad Idea. They may be right. They could be wrong.