Delays to IGas shale gas drilling in Nottinghamshire and fracking plan in Cheshire – DRILL OR DROP?

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Tinker Lane, north Nottinghamshire, 12 May 2018. Photo: Eric Walton

Drilling the first shale gas well in Nottinghamshire has been delayed until at least the autumn, IGas told investors today.

In a trading update, the company said:

“We have experienced some delays in our final preparations and now expect to spud our first shale appraisal well in North Nottinghamshire at Tinker Lane in Q4 2018 [October-December].”

In company results published in March 2018, IGas said it was on track to spud the first well in mid-2018.

Shares in IGas closed down 8.84% today at 105.75%.

Hobbies at Tinker Lane

Campaigners reported that work had stopped at the Tinker Lane site near Blyth after a hobby was spotted near the site.

A condition of the Tinker Lane planning permission said construction and drilling work could not begin in the bird breeding season (May-August) unless a breeding hobby survey had been carried out, demonstrating no birds were present in the plantation near the site.

Sally Gill, Planning Group Manager at Nottinghamshire County Council told DrillOrDrop this week:

“IGas is currently in the construction phase of development, which commenced prior to the bird breeding season. I can confirm that they are currently working in accordance with Condition 26 and there is no action for the Minerals Planning Authority (MPA) to take.

“A hobby survey was undertaken by the applicant in May and, at this time, there were no nesting hobbies in the plantation. Sightings of hobby in the general area have been reported by members of the public subsequent to the survey, but no evidence that they are nesting in the plantation has been provided.

“The MPA has notified IGas that if they wish to proceed to the drilling stage during the breeding season, a further survey of the plantation will be required.”

Owls at Misson

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Long Eared Owl Photo: Sergey Yeliseev Licence

Construction work had also stopped temporarily at IGas’s other shale gas site in Nottinghamshire, at Springs Road, Misson.

The planning permission for this site included a condition restricting construction work during the owl breeding season (February-August). This was designed to avoid disturbing birds on the neighbouring Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Nottinghamshire County Council initially allowed IGas to continue construction work from February to the end of March.

Last month, the council gave permission for construction work to resume from 20 July to 31 August.

IGas said today:

“Construction works are nearing completion. As we have satisfied Condition 21 through the ongoing monitoring of site noise this has enabled us to resume works through the bird breeding season.”

Ince Marshes and Ellesmere Port

Ellesmere Port petition hand-in Frack Free Dee

Campaigners against the Ellesmere Port application outside Cheshire West and Chester Council in January 2018. Photo: Frack Free Dee

DrillOrDrop reported last week that IGas had lodged an appeal on the last possible day against the refusal of Cheshire West and Chester Council to allow testing of the Ellesmere Port well.

The company said another application in the region – to drill and fracture a well at Ince Marshes – would now be delayed until after the appeal decision. The statement said:

“Ince Marshes application- whist the application is now complete, we have taken the decision not to submit to Cheshire West and Chester Council until the outcome of the Ellesmere Port appeal is known.”

Stockbridge shut in

The company reported what it described as “mixed results” at the Stockbridge oil site near Winchester in Hampshire.

It said workovers on production wells had “delivered above expectations”. But a sidetrack water injection well had been abandoned after it “encountered greater than anticipated reservoir connectivity”.

IGas said:

“As a result we have shut in some production temporarily from the field until water management is optimised.”

This means production for 2018 is likely to be down by 100 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

According to figures from the Oil & Gas Authority, the Stockbridge field was the fourth biggest onshore UK oil producer in 2017, representing 14% of IGas’s total oil production.

Albury gas to grid scheme

IGas also announced that its power generation project from gas at the Albury site in Surrey remained on track. It said full export of electricity would begin in August.

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