Three “Options Licences” were granted in the Republic of Ireland by the Department of Energy and Natural Resources in 2011. These allowed oil and gas companies to do desktop studies of the licencing area, carry out shallow drilling (200 metres) and complete seismic studies of the area. They did not allow deep drilling or hydraulic fracturing. February 2013 was the date of expiry of all licencing options. However, the companies involved were allowed to submit applications for exploration licences. Tamboran Resources (Lough Allen Basin) and Enegi Oil (Clare Basin) have submitted such applications.
The situation in December 2014 was as follows:
1. Lough Allen Basin (Tamboran Resources): Their application was incomplete as they did no drilling. Instead, they proposed using the results of deep drilling in Fermanagh to support their application. This was agreed by the Dept. of Energy. Since they failed to carry out this work, and their licence has expired in Northern Ireland, the position of their application for an exploration licence is unclear. Additionally, the government has agreed not to issue further licences until an EPA-led research study on the ‘Environmental Impacts of Unconventional Gas Exploration and Extraction’ is complete and considered. This study is due for publication in late 2016.
Tamborans plans can be checked out here.
2. Clare Basin (Enegi Oil): To fulfil their licencing requirement, Enegi Oil carried out drilling without a Prospecting Licence. The legality of their operation must therefore be questioned.
Three “Options Licences” have been granted in the Republic of Ireland by the Department of Energy and Natural Resources. These allow oil and gas companies to do desktop studies of the licencing area, carry out shallow drilling (200 metres) and complete seismic studies of the area. They do not allow deep drilling or hydraulic fracturing.
February 2010: Applications for Onshore Licensing Options invited by Dept. of Energy.
March 2011: Tamboran Resources and LANCO awarded two Options Licences for the Lough Allen Basin, also known as the North West Carboniferous basin. The licences cover an area of approximately 1,500 square kilometres over parts of counties Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Mayo, Monaghan, Roscommon and Sligo.
March 2011: Energi Oil awarded an Options Licence for the Clare Basin. This licence covers an area of approximately 500 square kilometres over parts of counties Clare, Cork, Limerick and Kerry.
December 2012: Deadline for detailed work programme for any follow-up authorisation(s) i.e. Petroleum Exploration Licence(s), for the approval of the Minister, which will include drilling commitment/commitments. Exploration licences can include permission for deep drilling and hydraulic fracturing. Such applications can be made before the due date.
February 2013: Options licence term ends. (Any licensing options awarded are valid for a period of up to a maximum of 24 months and may not be extended. )
2013: Possibility of five-year Exploratory Licences awarded which could include deep drilling and hydraulic fracturing.
The border area in the Northwest Carboniferous Basin targeted for fracking included almost all of Leitrim and parts of Sligo and Cavan. This is an area of outstanding natural beauty, including the famous Yeat’s Country, Ben Bulben, Glenade Valley and Slieve an Iarainn (home of the Tuatha De Denaan). It also is the home of hundreds of pristine lakes, rivers and streams famous for fishing.
Tamboran Resources were granted Options Licence for the Northern part of the Basin. Fracking plans for this area included:
- takeover of 100,000 acres in the first phase
- construction of 120 7-acre pads with up to 24 wells each
- construction of access roads with major machinery and equipment installations.
Tamboran applied for an Exploration Licence without completion of its work program. No decision had been made on applications for Exploration Licences in the Republic of Ireland until the completion and consideration of a 24 month major research study on Unconventional Gas Exploration and Extraction being due for completion at the end of 2016.
The area in the Clare Basin initially targeted for fracking is Look Head, a peninsula on the west coast of County Clare, bounded on the north and west side by the Atlantic Ocean and on the south by the River Shannon estuary. It is an area of outstanding natural beauty in the middle of the Wild Atlantic Way, a 2,500 km of the finest Coastal Scenery in Ireland.
Enegi Oil received the Options Licence, which is in abeyance until 2016.
The company has done some shallow drilling and carried out tests on the shale found in this area.
They have applied for a further Exploration Licence which would allow them to carry out hydraulic fracturing throughout Loop Head and possibly expand into the rest of the Clare Basin, which includes part of Limerick, North Kerry (as far as Killarney) and North Cork.