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Lough Allen
Lough Allen
Image: dusi_bbg via Flickr

'Serious concerns' over gas drilling in Lough Allen area

Underground gas worth €120billion could be tapped by the controversial ‘fracking’ process, which some have linked to serious environmental damage.
Jul 5th 2011, 7:04 PM 2,325 43

A COUNTY COUNCILLOR has said he has “serious concerns” over proposals to extract gas from rock seams under the Lough Allen basin.

Fine Gael’s Enda McGloin expressed fears over the environmental consequences of drilling for gas in the Leitrim area. It is thought that the gas reserves contained in shale rocks far below the surface would most likely be tapped by the controversial ‘fracking’ process, in which the rock is fractured at high pressure to drive out the gas.

Fracking in the US has been the subject of high-profile protests and a film, Gasland, which purports to show householders setting tap water alight after it became contaminated with methane. In Ireland, energy firms Tamboran Resources and Langco (Lough Allen Natural Gas Company) have been licensed to carry out initial studies on the viability of gas extraction in parts of Cavan, Leitrim, Roscommon and Sligo.

Mr McGloin told TheJournal.ie that if the firms are given the go-ahead to extract gas, “one of the methods that may possibly be involved is fracking. I would have serious concerns.

I’ve seen the film and I’ve read about it and I have concerns because of what has happened in countries like France, the US, England. I’d be very interested to hear companies coming forward with their view on how they would do it, how they would extract the gas.

However, he added that protesters who gathered outside Leitrim County Council offices last month were being “premature to say the least”. “I don’t want the situation which I think some people are trying to create, where there is a frenzy of fear,” he said. “In my view, with the licenses these people have, there is no immediate danger to the environment.”

Leitrim County Council has invited Tamboran Resources and Langco to make representations explaining their plans. Asked if either firm had responded, the council said it was “expected” that the companies would do so “at a future date”.

In a statement, the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources told TheJournal.ie that the firms in question are currently only licensed to carry out desktop studies and geological sampling. If the companies apply for exploration licenses and propose fracking for gas, “that activity would be subject to an environmental impact assessment, including an appropriate public consultation phase.”

Latest estimates suggest that rock strata under the Lough Allen basin contain 9.4trillion cubic metres of gas – worth around €120billion at current market prices.

What the frack? Everything you need to know about fracking >

Column: Never heard of ‘fracking’? You will soon >

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Michael Freeman

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