‘No fracking’ at Ballinlea

THE firm behind plans to drill a second well at Ballinlea near Ballycastle to explore for oil and gas say ‘fracking’ will not be used.

In a statement to the Times, a spokesperson for Rathlin Energy Ltd said: “Rathlin Energy (Rathlin) has been working in the Ballinlea area since 2004 and drilled an exploration well in 2008. This initial and limited exploration work produced encouraging results and represented the first discovery of onshore oil in the island of Ireland. In February 2011 the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) granted Rathlin a Petroleum Licence that enables the company to continue our exploration programme.

“Last month we informed the local neighbours of our intention to submit in June a planning application for the development of a second exploration well site, this time on the Kilmaghogue Road. We are informing the local residents of our arrangements for consultation.

“As already indicated to the residents, the operation to which this planning application relates - if successful - would use only conventional drilling techniques to assess oil or gas resources. Hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’) has no part to play in these operations and the planning application does not seek any permission to use such procedures.

“By drilling a second well we hope to determine if recoverable and producible oil and gas reserves are present and, if so, whether they are sufficient to justify commercial development. If commercial quantities are discovered a new planning application would then be required and must be approved,” the statement said.