AQW 24916/11-15

Mr Phil Flanagan
Sinn Féin
Fermanagh and South Tyrone

Tabled Date: 02/07/2013
Answered On Date: 17/07/2013
Priority Written: No

To ask the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, given her statement in the Impartial Reporter of 28 March 2013 on hydraulic fracturing in Co. Fermanagh, 'Gas exploration should have a relatively small impact on the local community and landscape', (i) to outline how many exploration wells and appraisal wells she believes would be required to determine shale gas potential in the area; and (ii) for her assessment of the view of a geologist from the Petroleum Affairs Division of the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resouces who stated that 'many exploration and appraisal wells' would be required to assess the potential for shale gas.

The sole Petroleum Licence currently issued by my Department in respect of Co. Fermanagh is held by Tamboran Resources Pty Ltd. Tamboran has indicated that a test site of about 6 acres within which about 7 test wells would be drilled should be sufficient to establish the technical and commercial viability of the shale gas resources in Fermanagh.
It is important to distinguish between exploration and production phases. If the DCENR geologist means that extended production testing from a substantial number of wells would be required to define the variability in the shale gas potential within the sedimentary basin, then my Department would agree. Indeed the characterisation of production from the Bundoran Shale Formation throughout the basin would inevitably continue into the development or production phase rather than be restricted to the exploration phase. Many production wells could also be termed appraisal wells in this context.