No Petroleum Prospecting Licences issued for Shale Gas companies in Republic of Ireland

A recent answer to an environmental information question has revealed that no Petroleum Prospecting Licences have been issued to Tamboran, Enegi or Lough Allen Natural Gas Co. (LANGCO).
In March 2011, The Petroleum Affairs Division of the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources granted Licensing Options to Enegi, Tamboran Resources and Lough Allen Natural Gas Company for a combined area covering nearly half a million acres.
Condition 2 of those Licensing Options [eg. Tamboran’s] required each of the above companies to hold a Petroleum Prospecting Licence. Condition 13 from Licensing Terms For Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration, Development & Production 2007 which form part of the Licensing Options granted to the three companies reinforce the requirement to hold a Petroleum Prospecting Licence.
The 1960′s Mineral act states in section 6:
6.—(1) No person, other than the Minister, shall search for petroleum in any area in the State unless—
(a) he is the licensee under an exploration licence, a petroleum prospecting licence or a reserved area licence which is for the time being in force and includes that area, or
(b) he is the lessee under a petroleum lease which has not expired and which includes that area.
So this would seem to indicate that the above companies are in breach of this act and may have been prospecting illegally. There do not seem to be any other licences granted to these companies from looking at department records.
It is worth noting too that the Petroleum Prospecting Licence, is what appears to give the holder permission to enter onto land. It also should contain a clause indemnifying the Minister.
There are serious questions to be answered by the Minister and his Department over how this situation arose, and also over why this situation has persisted for nearly two years.
Note: This article has been written by Tom White and published on his blog. As a member of Good Energies Alliance Ireland, he is working on legal issues about unconventional gas exploration and extraction in Ireland and Northern Ireland.
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