Rathlin Energy terminate exploration licence

21 10 2015


From the Rathlin Energy website


It is with much regret that I have, as Chairman of Rathlin Energy Limited, written to the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment (DETI) giving notice to terminate our petroleum licence PL3/10, related to the Rathlin Basin. The licence, granted in 2011 for 5 years, will terminate on 14 January 2016.

The company has been involved in Northern Ireland for almost 12 years, believing there to be the potential for the discovery of oil and/or natural gas in the Rathlin Basin, Co Antrim. However, we have reached a point where there no longer remains sufficient time, under the initial phase of our Petroleum Licence, to complete the planned program of work. Against the background of severely depressed world oil prices we have had to make important strategic decisions, and in view of all the uncertainties we face in Northern Ireland, especially in terms of the unforeseeable delays to our future operations, we have concluded that we cannot justify further work on our Licence at this time.

The immediate cause for our decision is the length and complexity of the process for securing planning permission for the second exploration well we need to drill to evaluate the results of our first well at Ballinlea. That was drilled in 2008 and recovered crude oil, although not in commercial quantity. We submitted a planning application for the second well in June 2013 and, regrettably, we have no sense of knowing when there will be a determination of the application.

The business of oil exploration in Northern Ireland, a region with little past history of the industry, was always going to be a technical challenge, and the risk of disappointment very high. It is therefore particularly regrettable that, notwithstanding the encouraging signs of oil we have found at Ballinlea, we are not going to be able, for reasons which have nothing to do with geology or our technical operations, to continue our work.

At all times Rathlin has sought to conduct its business with integrity, to fulfil all our obligations punctiliously, to work closely with our local communities and to cooperate fully with the planning authorities and all the other regulatory agencies.

On behalf of the company and my colleagues I would like to express our appreciation for the support and encouragement we have had from DETI. I would also like to thank all the other individuals and organisations in Northern Ireland who have helped and supported us.

We continue to believe in the potential for Northern Ireland to develop the natural resources which could make an important contribution to the security and economic benefits of energy supply. After all the work we have done, including a significant investment in the local economy, we very much regret that the conditions needed to support the development of oil and gas potential do not currently appear to be present in Northern Ireland.


21 OCTOBER 2015

Ritchie: Fracking not the way forward

12 09 2014

fracking silhouette

In  Wednesday’s meeting of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee at Westminster SDLP MP for South Down Margaret Ritchie challenged Secretary of State Elizabeth Truss about the use Fracking as a viable energy option.

 Challenging both witnesses, Ms. Ritchie, the only Northern Irish MP on the EFRA Committee, asked for a clarification on the chemicals that were added to the water and sand mix in order to create fracking fluid.

 Ms Ritchie said:

 “The UK government seem determined to proceed with fracking, no matter what the cost to the environment and the wider economy. Fracking would increase our dependence on fossil fuels at a time we need to be focusing on developing and investing in renewable energy. It is short-sighted to look to fracking as an answer, and it will divert us from EU2020 carbon reduction targets.

 “There are a number of serious risks associated with fracking – including water contamination and dangerous seismic reactions, and enough research has not been done to support the UK government’s approach. That is why the Northern Ireland Environment Minister Mark H Durkan decided not to make any decision until there is a much greater evidence base and determined that any decision to proceed now would be a mistake.

 “In 2011 there were two earthquakes in England and fracking operations were postponed until it could be established whether there was a link. While the UK government has moved very quickly to resume operations following these incidents I fully endorse the more cautious approach taken by my party colleague in Northern Ireland. We shouldn’t blindly follow the UK government into this reckless dash for gas.”

Gallagher welcomes SDLP Minister’s rejection of proposed exploratory drilling

17 08 2014
SDLP Fermanagh District Councillor Brendan Gallagher has welcomed the news that the Minister for the Environment has rejected Tamboran’s proposals for exploratory drilling in the Cleggan Quarry in Belcoo.

“The SDLP in Fermanagh have been very vocal opposing fracking in Fermanagh.  Local people are fearful about the impact hydraulic fracturing may have on our environment and our health with worries about noise and air pollution, water contamination, irreversible damage to our landscape and the link between fracking and seismic activity as seen in Blackpool.

“There were significant fears locally that this drilling was the first step to fracking in Fermanagh.

“Now Minister Mark H Durkan has taken the bold step of rejecting Tamboran’s proposals for exploratory drilling which they believed was allowable under permitted development rights. The Minister took the view that this was an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) development requiring full planning permission. The Minister also took the view that the environment must be protected at all times and that full consideration must be given to any impacts of drilling.

“With our local economy heavily reliant on agriculture and tourism, we are very concerned that the impact of fracking on these sectors could be devastating for Fermanagh.

“It is now vital that the DETI Minister, Arlene Foster, listens to the concerns of the Fermanagh people, reflects on the decision made by Minister Durkan and places a moratorium on the licence granted by her department to Tamboran Resources.”

Environmental Statement required for Ballinlea application

5 07 2014


Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has welcomed the outcome of the DOE Planners application screening determination, which has concluded that an Environmental Statement is required for the Rathlin Energy application to drill a new test well site at Ballinlea.

Councillor Cunningham said “I am particularly pleased for the Ballinlea Residents group who campaigned to ensure that an Environmental Impact Assessment which includes social, economic, environmental and public health impacts is carried out before any planning decision was made”.

Councillor Cunningham continued “The public are still have many concerns around this application , hopefully the Environmental statement will comprehensively inform the decision making process”.

Need for robust regulations, inspection and enforcement before any further oil/gas exploration is permitted.

29 05 2014


 Speaking after attending a public meeting in the Dunluce Parish Centre, Bushmills organized by the Ballinlea Residents Group, SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham who is opposed to the Ballinlea No2 test well, has called for a robust regime of regulation, inspection and enforcement for the oil and gas industry before any permissions are considered to allow further exploration.

Guest speaker, Michael Hill B.Sc. C.Eng. MIET an independent chartered engineer highlighted to the meeting the deficiencies of the UK regulation system and the need for an independent on-site testing and verification regime.

Councillor Cunningham continued “Regulation, inspection and enforcement are required to protect well integrity, well leakages (vertical and horizontal) as well as leakages from flanges and flares.”

“The public have every right to be concerned that the existing regulation is inadequate. Given that Methane gas is a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, and that Radon gas is the second highest cause of lung cancer, the local community needs the protection of robust and far reaching regulation.”

Is Rathlin Energy Ltd exploring for shale gas, or not?

15 05 2014

fracking- 14


Please see excellent piece from mb on the ‘No to Fracking ‘ blog

Is Rathlin Energy Ltd exploring for shale gas, or not?.

Assembly Question on Ballinlea exploratory bore well

22 03 2014


Proposed On-Shore Oil Well in Ballinlea

 Mr Agnew asked the Minister of the Environment what consideration has been given to the health of residents in the vicinity of the proposed on-shore oil well in Ballinlea (E/2013/0093/F); and whether he is aware of best practice regulations in other locations which require a buffer zone around the vicinity of such developments. AQW( 31531/11-15)

Mr Durkan:

To clarify, application E/2013/0093/F relates to temporary works for the drilling of an exploratory borehole to approx 2700m depth to investigate underground strata for hydrocarbon exploration under DETI licence PL3/10 issued to Rathlin Energy Ltd. The application is not for the commercial exploitation of oil. In relation to the health and safety of the local residents the Department consults with a range of statutory consultees when assessing the impact the proposed development will pose to the local area.

In relation to this application the Department has consulted with environmental agencies within NIEA such as Water Management Unit, Industrial Pollution and Radiochemical Inspectorate and Land and Resource Management who assess the potential impact the development will have to the local land, air  and water environment.

The local Councils Environmental Health Department (EHD) has been consulted and has the remit to assess and comment on noise and air quality impacts. The Health and Safety Executive (HSENI) has also been consulted to ensure that on-site operations are conducted in line with health and safety regulations.


The Department also intends to consult with the Public Health Agency upon receipt of information to be submitted in March from the applicant. In terms of best practice, DOE Planning Officials work closely with colleagues in NIEA and in other regulatory agencies to ensure that the development is comprehensively assessed and safeguards are in place to protect the safety and amenity of the public.



“No fracking for Fermanagh, no fracking for Northern Ireland, as things stand” – Durkan

13 08 2013

fracking- 14

 SDLP Environment Minister Mark H Durkan today stated that agreeing to fracking at present would be reckless and irresponsible.The Minister was responding to the David Cameron’s statement yesterday in favour of fracking.
Mark H Durkan highlighted that no decision should be taken until all facts and scientific evidence are established.He also re-assured the public in Northern Ireland that fracking could not take place in Northern Ireland without his say so.Mark H Durkan said: “At present there is no planning application for fracking in Northern Ireland. If and when any application comes in, it will be for me to decide, not David Cameron. I am not going to make any decision until all the facts and scientific evidence are established. To do otherwise would be reckless and irresponsible. Do we need to extract shale gas? Can it be done safely? Would it be done responsibly? These are the responsible questions. All facts are not in. The scientific evidence is far from being established. No fracking for Fermanagh, no fracking for Northern Ireland, as things stand.

“I am not though sitting on my hands here, simply waiting for a planning application to come in. I have asked my officials to get us to a position of best knowledge possible here. This means reviewing existing research, analysing new studies, studying case studies from other parts of the world and liaising with counterparts in other Environment Agencies in Britain and Ireland. Remember also, there is a big cross border issue here – shale gas beneath the surface will not follow the meanderings of a border above ground.

“So decisions based on fact, a process ensuring best possible knowledge is acquired, is my strategic way forward”.

Cunningham calls on Rathlin Energy to clarify their intentions

23 04 2013


Ballycastle SDLP Dónal Cunningham has called on oil and gas exploration company Rathlin Energy to clarify their position with regard to their plans for any new exploration well within the onshore Rathlin Basin.

Councillor Cunningham continued

“We are aware that following the analysis of results from the 2008 Ballinlea well, the company intends to seek permission for a new exploration well with drilling likely to take place early 2014”

“I would call on the company to make clear from their geological evidence and seismic data what their intentions for development are.”

“Bearing in mind that that the Environment Minister Alex Attwood has warned against a headlong rush in to hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” and that Council and the local community have both voiced their opposition to fracking – the onus must be on the company state if this forms part of their plans.”

Promised Land – Matt Damon tackles the social impact of Fracking

28 12 2012

matt damon


In his new film “Promised Land” Matt Damon tackles the social impact of the hydraulic fracturing drilling technique, or “fracking,” which has sparked environmental and political battles over its impact on drinking water, energy use, seismic activity and other impacts.

Damon plays a corporate salesman who goes to a rural U.S. town to buy or lease land on behalf of a gas company looking to drill for oil. He soon faces opposition from a slick environmentalist, played by John Krasinski.

Promised Land