Company outlines 'fracking' plans


A company that intends to use the controversial process of fracking to drill for gas on both side of the Border today outlined its plans at a Leinster House meeting.

The representatives of Tamboran attended a meeting in the Leinster House audio-visual room organised by Sligo Senator Susan O'Keeffe.

Many local TDs and senators also turned up at the meeting in which Tamboran made a presentation about its plans to drill for up to 2.2 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas in north Leitrim over more than 30 years

The fracking will start at least a year earlier in Northern Ireland than it will in the Republic if it goes ahead at all, a group of TDs and senators were told today.

Tamboran chief executive Richard Moorman said he had hoped that the process of drilling for gas in Leitrim and Fermanagh could go ahead together, but he expected it to start earlier in Northern Ireland because the regulatory process was “much more tuned up” North of the border.

However, elected representatives reacted sceptically to claims by the company that the process of fracking would be safe.

Leitrim TD, Michael Colreavy, told Tamboran: “I do not trust you guys”, and he said the company’s primary concern was to make money for itself. Mr Colreavy said the burden of proof that the process was safe rested with the company and the go-ahead for drilling should only be given it is proved “beyond all doubt” that it is safe to go ahead.

Roscommon-South Leitrim TD Frank Feighan said companies involved in fracking in the United States have been forced to downgrade their estimates by 80 per cent, and he questioned Tamboran’s claims about the amount of gas it could extract.

Fellow Roscommon-South Leitrim TD Luke "Ming" Flanagan told that the company that if they respected local democracy they would not drill as both Leitrim and Roscommon County Councils as both county councils had voted against it.

Mr Moorman told the meeting that they intended to drill up to 150 wells a year using six well pads.

Production will peak in 2025, where maximum employment would be 600, and the wells would produce 400 million cubic feet of gas a day, enough to supply 80 per cent of Ireland’s current needs, the meeting was told.

Mr Moorman confirmed that Tamboran is going to float on the stock exchange in between three to six months and has operations in Australia, Botswana and Northern Ireland.

When questioned by Senator O’Keeffe, Mr Moorman said they had not bought any land from local people in Leitrim yet but had spoken to Coillte.

Mr Moorman conceded most of the people qualified to ascertain whether or not fracking was safe were already working in the oil and gas industry because that was where the expertise lay.

He said he had already received 200 CVs and added recruitment was “frankly not going to be a problem”.

In response to a suggestion by Minister for Energy Pat Rabbitte that a different taxation regime might apply to onshore drilling, Mr Moorman responded by stating that they would deal with that issue when it arose.

He disputed Mr Rabbitte’s contention that onshore drilling was not as risky as offshore drilling and should therefore be subject to a different regime. Mr Moorman contended the biggest problem with the Corrib Gas field was not the offshore part but the kilometre long onshore pipe.