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Gas hunt will not involve chemicals, firm says

Marese McDonagh - Irish Times

THE CHIEF executive of a gas exploration company which hopes to extract shale gas in the Lough Allen Basin yesterday reiterated the company’s undertaking that chemicals would not be used in the process.

About 150 people who are opposed to “fracking” staged a demonstration outside the offices of Leitrim County Council in Carrick-on-Shannon last night. Fracking is a method of creating fractures in rocks to extract gas.

Richard Moorman, chief executive of Tamboran Resources, emphasised his “zero chemicals” pledge to local politicians. “There is no back door here,” said Mr Moorman, who earlier told journalists that no company connected with Tamboran would use chemicals in the Lough Allen basin.

He said while it had been claimed that it was not possible to extract shale gas through the fracking process without chemicals,   this   was not the case. Many companies in the US used between 0.14 and 0.5 per cent chemicals within the water and sand mix but Tamboran would not be using chemicals here, he said.

In its presentation to councillors, the company said up to 700 local jobs could be created by the project, which Mr Moorman said would be “more financially significant than Corrib”.

He pledged that priority would be given to local people while hiring staff and that local businesses would also be given priority. The project, if it goes ahead, would lead to 15 years of development operations and a gas supply which would last for anything from 20 to 50 years, he said.

The Lough Allen basin is known to geologists as the northwest Ireland carboniferous basin, an area which comprises parts of   counties Leitrim, Roscommon, Sligo, Cavan, Donegal and Fermanagh. Many local campaigners and environmentalists have expressed concerns about the impact on the landscape and on water supplies if the project goes ahead. It has been estimated that there are 9.4 trillion cubic metres of gas in the area, worth €120 billion at current prices.

The company told councillors last night there was no guarantee they would proceed with the project. The “absolute earliest” that work would start was in 2013 as a substantial environmental impact assessment would be required in order to apply for planning permission.

By 2013 the company hoped to apply for planning permission for a test programme on one or two well pads, each with up to four wells.

If adequate gas was found, planning permission would be sought for more wells.

In reply to questions Mr Moorman admitted that no big multi-scale fracking had ever been done before with only water and sand and no chemicals. However, he said: “I intend to be the one who shows that it is no big deal.”

Posted Date: 
8 September 2011