Antrim – Northern Ireland’s fracking guinea-pig?

The industry is gearing up!
Background facts – Northern Ireland
  • Exploration in Northern Ireland is administered by the N.I. Dept. of Enterprise Trade and Investment (DETI) who are advised by the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland.  Any person who wants to explore for, drill for or extract oil or gas in Northern Ireland must hold a Petroleum Licence granted by DETI.

  • Four Exploration licences were granted by N.I. Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) in 2011 to Tamboran (Fermanagh), Infrastrata plc (Larne Basin), Providence (Rathlin Island) and Rathlin Energy (Rathlin Basin).  (Rathlin Basin is the area encompassing Portstewart, Coleraine, Ballymoney and Ballycastle.)
  • A motion calling for a Moratorium on Fracking in Northern Ireland was passed by the Stormont Assembly in December 2012, however the Minister did not withdraw the Licences.  (Is the Northern Ireland Assembly actually a glorified Council with few powers?)
  • Recently (April 2013), a Licence was granted to CHx Ltd (An investment company associated with Aspect Energy LLC) for an extensive area around Lough Neagh.

Current Situation
WHAT CAN WE DO?
  1. Object to the planning application before 25th July!

For letter template, click HERE

Or go to http://notofracking.com/2013/07/10/object-to-the-rathlin-energy-planning-application-by-25th-july/.

  1. Email or write to DOE, to the MLAs, to Councillors, to newspapers.  Full list of contacts to be found on notofracking.com web page (above)

  2. Spread the word around and get hundreds of letters emailed or posted

This is the final week for objections, ACT NOW!
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“We Deserve Better” all-Ireland Campaign

 ACTION IS NEEDED NOW
Stop Drilling and Fracking in Fermanagh! 
Email the First Minister and Deputy First Minister IMMEDIATELY.
The following text is suggested:

I call upon the Northern Ireland Executive to impose a suspension of the licensing process and all drilling or fracking associated with unconventional gas exploration in Northern Ireland in line with the Government of the Irish Republic, who are refusing to issue Exploration Licenses until the EPA all-Ireland Research Studies on the Environmental Impacts of Unconventional Gas Exploration and Extraction are completed and considered.

Email it to:
Peter Robinson: peter.robinson@mla.niassembly.gov.uk
Martin McGuinness: martin.mcguinness@mla.niassembly.gov.uk

contaminated ground
FACTS
  • The new EPA-directed research study “The Environmental Impacts of Unconventional Gas Exploration and Extraction (UGEE)” is a North-South initiative.  The Steering Committee includes representatives from the Geological Survey NI, DOE (Department of Environment) and DETI (Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment).  As well as representatives from Geological Survey of Ireland, Petroleum Affairs Division, Department of Energy and Dept. of Environment.
  • Over 1,300 submissions on the draft Terms of Reference for this study were received by the EPA; 600 of these came from Northern Ireland, showing the concern of the NI people.
  • In the Republic, the Minister for Energy, Pat Rabbitte, has confirmed that no Exploratory Licences, which allow drilling and fracking, will be issued until this study is completed and considered (probably 2015).  He has said many times that more research needs to be done to establish the safety of fracking, especially in relation to public health.
  • People in Northern Ireland are not being given the same protection!  DETI has issued an exploration licence for Fermanagh which incorporates a work programme, including drilling and fracking.  The Northern Ireland Government has refused to state that it will wait until the research is completed before allowing drilling and fracking.
  • Tamboran are planning to commence drilling in Fermanagh this year!
It is NOT OK to put the people of Northern Ireland at risk!
The people of Northern Ireland are entitled to the same protection as people in the South
The exploratory work programme must be stopped!

Email the Ministers!  Lets have 5,000 emails in their inboxes this week and show our strength!
And follow this up with emails to all other politicians!

Public Consultation on Oil/Gas Licensing of Belfast and Larne Loughs

Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of Oil/Gas Licensing in Belfast Lough and Larne Lough

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) is currently developing criteria for Petroleum Licensing in Belfast and Larne Loughs (the Plan). The plan will provide a framework for how petroleum licensing will be undertaken in the internal waters of Northern Ireland.  Click HERE for more information.

View over Belfast Lough

Public Consultation
The public consultation on the Scoping Report began on the 24th April 2013 and will continue until 14th June 2013.  (http://www.sealoughs.co.uk/public-consultation/)
The consultation on the Scoping Report seeks comments on:
  • The appropriateness of the proposed scope of the SEA (this will help ensure that all issues of potential concern are considered);
  • The appropriateness of the proposed assessment methodology; and
  • Any additional sources of relevant information that could be used to inform the assessment.
Email comments should be submitted to minerals@detini.gov.uk and written submissions should be sent to:
Minerals and Petroleum Branch
Department of Enterprise, Trade & Investment
Colby House
Stranmillis Court
Stranmillis Road
Belfast, BT9 5BJ
The deadline for comments will be 14th June 2013

The EPA received 1,300 submissions regarding Terms of Reference of their proposed research study on fracking.  Oil or Gas exploration or extraction in Belfast or Larne Loughs would also include horizontal drilling and fracking. 

LET’S GET AN EQUAL NUMBER OF SUBMISSIONS TO DETI ON THESE PROPOSALS!

Also see campaign website for further information:
https://sites.google.com/site/frackingfreedocumentsireland/deti-2013

[Press release] 2-year moratorium on exploration licences!

GNU licence, wikimedia commons Meredithw

GNU licence, wikimedia commons Meredithw

Minister Fergus O’Dowd has finally given in to pressure from those campaigning against shale gas exploration and announced an unofficial moratorium on exploration licences.
In a press release on 7th March, he confirmed that two companies, Tamboran and Enegi Oil, have applied for licences and that his Department would be evaluating those applications. However, “further consideration of the application will then be put on hold until after the finding of the new EPA research have been published”, he said. He also said that he does not propose ”to consider applications for exploration authorisation in respect of other onshore areas until the EPA research has concluded”.
This means that no Exploration Licences will be given out for at least two years as the EPA report is not due until 2015.
This is a great victory for the campaigners. Recently, Good Energies Alliance Ireland organised an intense letter-writing campaign to the Minister demanding that the Government gave a commitment that no further licences would be granted for fracking. Other campaigners also had a “Licence Not to Frack Leitrim” campaign and went to Leinster House to express their concerns. Local TDs, Senators and Councillors also put pressure on the Minister. Those actions have paid off.
Statement from GEAI
“We are delighted with this development. It shows the power of the campaign that through our efforts we were able to influence the Government to pull back from issuing Exploration Licences that would give the companies concerned rights to drill. We now have two years to bring our campaign to the wider population, to raise awareness that this is a national issue, not a local one and that the consequences of allowing this industry free rein in our country could be a national disaster. The campaign is not over by any means – this is only a temporary moratorium, our ultimate goal is achieving a total ban on fracking in Ireland and we will keep working until this happens.”

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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