Cunningham: Exploratory drilling programme must be fully scrutinised

24 01 2013

Onshore drill to sea 2

SDLP Ballycastle Councillor Dónal Cunningham has responded with a word of caution to the announcement by Providence the Irish oil and gas exploration company which has found there may be oil potential in the Rathlin Basin.

Mr Cunningham said:“The statement issued by Providence Resources today announcing a future exploratory drilling programme in the offshore Rathlin Basin should be given proper consideration.

“Any proposal must undergo the rigours of a full environmental impact assessment which would examine any possible positive or negative impacts on the environment, consisting of the environmental, social and economic aspects. Nothing must be done to disturb either the outstanding beauty or natural character of the area.

“While I welcome the confirmation that “shale gas” is not the target and therefore hydraulic fracturing “fracking” will not be the extraction technique, it is important to ensure that any development is in keeping with our environment”

“More research is required to ascertain the density of the off shore subsurface and its rock properties”

“It would appear most likely at this stage that an exploratory offshore target in the Rathlin Sound would be accessed from the onshore Ballycastle side with nothing visible above the sea surface. Exploratory drilling is expected to commence in the first quarter of 2014. Providence has engaged regularly with the Rathlin island community and I now expect this consultation to be extended to the Ballycastle side.”

“I am keen supporter of the neighbouring tidal energy projects at Fair Head and Torr Head as a safe and environmentally friendly measure of providing energy.

“I look forward to Providence engaging in discussions with all relevant parties before embarking on any exploratory drilling programme.”

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