Wednesday, 12 August 2015

IGas, Tesla and 3D seismic studies for shale gas and coal bed methane

Yesterday IGas and Tesla held a public meeting at the Holiday Inn in Ellesmere Port outlining their latest intentions regarding studying the area for coal bed methane and shale gas.  The latest proposals will see a large swathe of the marshes, Stanlow, Ince, Elton and Helsby etc studied with a view to determining what lies beneath in terms of geology.

Whilst the area of study covers part of the Frodsham ward and parish on the western side of the marshes it does not appear to include any part of the town.  Indeed a quick glance at their proposals map suggested to me few if any residential parts of the Frodsham parish were included at all.  This is in contrast with Helsby, where the area of study includes all of the village.

I asked IGas whether it will publishing the results of its study in due course.  They indicated that whilst the 3D survey itself will remain 'business confidential' they will be providing a synopsis of what they find in due course.   Lets not forget it was a Labour Government that granted the exploration licences (by a seemingly secret process) and like it or not IGas and Tesla have the right to explore what lies beneath.   If that is to happen I do believe it is important for us all to know what they find.

I made sure that IGas fully understood my position on 'fracking.'  It is the same position that Cllr Lynn Riley and I have been putting forward consistently over the recent years - and you can see it in various webcasts and other places!   IGas in fact witnessed Lynn and me making these representations early this year so nothing I said to them yesterday came as a surprise.

If we are to face applications to 'frack' I want to make sure that the locals have the definitive say on any applications that may come in the future ... and if that means organising some sort of local referendum or poll then that is what I will do.  They teased me pointing out that, in their view this was Labour party policy.  I rejoined that, in fact, this was our policy for Frodsham first and that it was Labour that was copying us!

I stressed very clearly to IGas that absolutely nothing can take place unless it is safe and without risk of harm to man or the environment.  I also insist that full insurance and compensation arrangements must be in place to ensure that any adverse effects do arise that full compensation.  If they can pass these hurdles then I would want to see the community fully informed about the proposals and the benefits - so that all of us can be involved in making an informed decision about it.

For my own part if if we do face planning and licence applications in future I will champion community involvement in the decision making and will advance the consensus view of Frodsham democratically expressed after an informed debate whatever that proves to be.

I've had some interesting discussions with those in the know in the oil industry over the last few days. The consensus is the further you are away from the 'well-head' at the moment the better the industry appears to be.  However life is very tough at the exploration end.  With the cost of oil and hydrocarbons falling so low one has to question the economics of exploring for shale gas as things presently stand.

map showing the area of study - note the settlement area of Frodsham lies outside the study area