Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Fracking in Devon: new government licencing round

Following on from questions from last year on the likelihood of fracking happening in Devon
Futures Forum: Fracking in Devon?

... and questions being asked earlier this year:
Full County Council (Questions) - Thu Feb 20 2014

... it appears now that things might be changing ...

Government offers up Devon for fracking licencing

Monday, 08 September 2014 0 Comments by Claire

The latest map from Devon County Council shows that the Government is offering licences across the county, to companies interested in drilling for shale gas (or fracking).

A Devon County Council officer advises me: “Since the map was prepared (last year), the Government has launched a new licensing round for oil and gas, and the pink area equates to the area being offered for licensing.

“The map shows areas of Blue Lias within East Devon, which is a shale resource that has potential for shale gas elsewhere in southern England.

“However, in East Devon this is unlikely to occur at the depth required (at least 1500 metres) for shale gas to either form or be capable of extraction.”

“It does not follow that all of these areas will have oil or gas resources or that, if oil or gas are present, that it would be physically, environmentally or economically feasible to extract them.

“As the national map shows, only a small proportion of the area offered for licensing is currently licensed. The same area of Devon was offered in 2007, when no licenses were issued within the county.

“For shale gas extraction to be feasible, it needs a suitable geological resource (generally organic-rich shales) located at the depth necessary (a minimum of 1500 metres) for the gas to form and for the pressure to exist to force it upwards after fracking.

“The British Geological Survey has published a report (https://www.og.decc.gov.uk/UKpromote/onshore_paper/UK_onshore_shalegas.pdf)
 identifying the geological formations they consider have potential for shale gas, of which the only one occurring in Devon is the Blue Lias that I have indicated on the map I provided.

“Within Devon, the Blue Lias either occurs at the surface or at depths of up to 300 metres, and is therefore unsuitable for shale gas to have formed. Gas is more likely to be present further east in Dorset, where the Blue Lias occurs much deeper and already yields oil around Poole Harbour .

“My view is that the area being offered for licensing within Devon (i.e.the pink area) is unlikely to be suitable for shale gas extraction as it either does not have the right type of geology or, in the case of the Blue Lias, it is not at the necessary depth.

And to further questions, I have received this prompt reply:

“We’ve had no contact from any company concerning shale gas or fracking.

“The only instance of interest in oil or gas in Devon that I’m aware of was in 1985 when an operator obtained a licence for an area of East Devon, and then obtained planning permission for an exploratory well at Musbury (shown on the map) - this was drilled (no fracking) and found negative for oil and gas. This licence lapsed in 1991, since when there has been no further interest.”

Image: The latest map from Devon County Council on shale gas potential/licensing.

Government offers up Devon for fracking licencing - Claire Wright

There has been some concern about property rights:
Futures Forum: "Allowing fracking companies to drill on private land without first requiring a landowner’s permission."... or... "Neighborhood Environmentalism: Toward Democratic Energy"

Devon landowners hit out over fracking consultations

By Exeter Express and Echo | Posted: August 15, 2014

Fracking protests have taken place across the country

Devon landowners have accused the Government of riding roughshod over property rights and disregarding long-term liabilities in its enthusiasm to realise shale gas extraction.

The Country Landowners’ Association (CLA) says the Government has allowed the demands of energy industry investors to take precedence over established property rights.

CLA South West Director, John Mortimer, explained that the Department of Energy and Climate Change Consultation on Underground Drilling Access proposes removing the need for landowner consent for underground works associated with oil, gas and geothermal heat exploration.

He says the consultation is one-sided and is squarely aimed at meeting the demands of the energy industry while disregarding the rights and concerns of UK property owners.

“The Government is anxious to streamline the existing system of access, but we see no reason why the fracking industry should be entirely absolved of its duties to identify and agree access with landowners – just as other profit-making industries do.”

The CLA, he says, is not opposed to the development of the UK’s shale gas and geothermal resources, but as an organisation which represents land ownership and property rights it has serious concerns with the current proposals – particularly because no real consideration has been given to alternative means of gaining the underground access required.

“Large-scale shale gas development is new to the UK and the long-term implications are uncertain. There is currently no clear system in place to protect landowners from any ongoing liability should problems occur once a well has been abandoned.

Devon landowners hit out over fracking consultations | Exeter Express and Echo

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