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IGas starts exploratory gas drilling near Manchester

24 September 2013

IGas Energy is in talks with major landowners and industrial companies in Lancashire and Cheshire about drilling access and gas supply deals. It announced on September 12 that it plans to start drilling a well to collect gas samples at Irlam near Manchester in October. 

Photo: IGas Energy
Photo: IGas Energy

The company does not have planning permission to frack at the Irlam site but could apply for it at a later date. IGas has launched a website and phoneline to try to help inform the local community and avoid the difficulties faced by Cuadrilla at its site at Balcombe in West Sussex earlier in the year, where anti-fracking protesters disrupted drilling operations.

Andrew Austin, chief executive of IGas, told The Sunday Telegraph he hopes to agree new partnerships over the next few months, saying businesses in the area were actively keen to grant access in return for use of any gas that is ultimately produced.

IGas believes there could be as much as 172 trillion cubic feet of shale gas beneath its exploration licences, which span an area of 300 square miles in the North West.

Austin said industrial users of gas and large employers in the area were very enthusiastic that shale gas resources are developed, as bilateral deals had the potential to undercut the costs of getting gas from the National Grid. 

IGas is understood to have had expressions of interest from companies including glass and clay manufacturers, and has had contacts with Essar Energy, owner of Stanlow refinery in Cheshire.

Since 2008, IGas has had a joint venture with Peel Holdings, a major landowner in the area. Under the deal, Peel gave IGas unlimited access to its entire land holdings for the purpose of identifying suitable sites for drilling for coal bed methane.

The companies also agreed commercial terms for leases of sites if drilling went ahead.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has been unequivocal in his support for fracking as a way to create jobs and cut energy bills. The north of England is estimated to hold enough gas to meet Britain's needs for the next 40 years.

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