Pat Rabbitte TD Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources
claims to be neutral on the subject of Hydraulic Fracturing in Ireland, however, he has asked the EPA to look into the pros and cons of this new technique of extracting fossils fuels from underground (their final report expected in 2014). He also consulted the chief executive of Tamboran about a different tax regime for onshore drilling, so he’s definitely considering it.
The Australian shale gas exploration company Tamboran has been granted a licence to explore the potential for extracting natural gas from the North West of Ireland (North Leitrim and South Fermanagh), with claims of finding reserves of up to 4.4 trillion cublic feet worth €116 billion (£96.5 billion). An Irish company called Langco (Lough Allen Natural Gas Company) has also been granted a licence.
Tamboran’s chief executive Richard Moorman has confronted protesters and with a €7 billion euro investment, has made promises to operate at the highest standards during the controversial fracking process by strictly monitoring air and water quality as well as seismic conditions. Tamboran promises not to use chemical additives in any fracking process in Ireland. Will this be enough?
The pros so far are: 3000 jobs for the next 40 years and a long term supply of fuel which would attract international businesses to Ireland. So it might be a bright light for the Irish economy, not necessarily for sustainable development.
Tamboran outlined plans to start drilling in Leitrim from 2014 for 40 years, hauling out 2.2 trillion cubic metres of natural gas. Fracking is expected to start a year earlier in the North of the border as the regulatory process is ‘’much more tuned up’’ there, according to Moorman. Production is expected to peak at 2025 with 150 wells, maximum employment would be 600 with 400 million cubic feet of gas produced daily. Mr. Moorman claims that this is enough to supply 80% of Ireland’s current needs.
An Irish doctor, Dr. John O’Connor campaigned to highlight health problems associated with oil exploration in Canada and is now expressing his concern over the risk of water contamination due to Hydraulic Fracturing in Ireland. A study by the University of Austin, Texas, found that most of the pollution from Hydraulic Fracturing came from the evaporation of ‘produced’ water, water that has been pumped into the well and released, containing all the fracking fluids and other chemicals.
Hydraulic Fracturing is opposed by the locals in Leitrim and Fermanagh, forming a group called ‘No Fracking in Ireland’. A new cross-border umbrella organisation called Good Energies Alliance Irelandhas also been set up to campaign against Hydraulic Fracturing on the whole island.
Some questions I have for Mr. Moorman,
- How can you promise that none of the fracking fluids will end up in the drinking water supply? If unexpected fissures form in the rock due to intensive drilling, how are you going to stop the area from being contaminated?
- It is proven that only 75% of the water that is pumped into the well returns to the surface for every fracking process, where is this water going?
- When you are disposing of waste water, it is kept in water storage ponds where a lot of the chemicals are released into the air, are you covering your costs of air pollution?