Cuadrilla drilling rig in UK.

Good Energies Alliance Ireland (GEAI) have considered all the official statements being made by Government recently and are now concerned that the issuing of exploration licences for shale gas exploitation is not prohibited, despite the new report on fracking being commissioned by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Minister Fergus O’Dowd issued a statement last August, supported by Taoiseach Enda Kenny last week, that “Until there has been time to consider the second stage of the EPA research, the use of hydraulic fracturing in exploration drilling will not be authorised.”

“This statement does not go far enough,” said Dr Aedín McLoughlin, GEAI member. “Firstly, there is nothing to prevent an exploration licence being granted next year that would allow deep drilling without hydraulic fracturing. This would allow the industry’s path towards commercial extraction to continue. Secondly, if the conclusions of the EPA report leave the exploratory phase open, the gas companies could then apply for permission to carry out hydraulic fracturing.“

“A third extremely important point can also be made. An exploratory licence cannot be offered to any oil or gas company without a tacit agreement that if the results are good, the operation could proceed to the production stage, with major repercussions for the environment and health. Any other agreement would not attract these companies. This is too dangerous a situation and we are totally opposed to any further licences being granted for exploration or commercial exploitation of on-shore shale gas.”