Implications of Proposed New Fracking Study by Governments on the Island of Ireland
The governments in the Republic of Ireland (RoI) and Northern Ireland (NI) are jointly undertaking a research project to assess the environmental impacts of “unconventional gas exploration and extraction,” the most controversial of which is fracking. Members of the public are invited to submit comments, by 08 March 2013, on the draft Terms of Reference document prepared by the governments’ Steering Committee, which is identified in the document.
Both RoI and NI are considering whether to permit further investigation or exploration by companies interested in fracking in northwest Ireland, Clare, and Fermanagh in NI. The research project will be launched in mid-2013, after this consultation, and is expected to take two years to complete.
The three Onshore Petroleum Licensing Options in the RoI expire in February 2013 before which the licensees can apply for an Exploration License for the area covered by their option. In NI one Petroleum License was issued by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment and it runs from 1st April 2011 for three years. Before expiration of the 3-year period, the company must commit to drilling an exploration well within following two years or relinquish the license. In the pre-drilling 3-year exploration period, the company may drill stratigraphic boreholes.
Since the governments do not expect to complete the research study before mid-2015, and presumably could not, or would not, issue permits for exploration and extraction before the study is done, it remains unclear what will happen to the existing licenses while the study proceeds.
UPDATED: Monday 14 January 2013
“State bans fracking until environmental tests are carried out” Irish Independent