Investment from fracking companies sees teesside become a potential area for exploration – chronicle live 3 gases in the atmosphere

Last month Hampshire-based Egdon Resources stepped up its interest in an exploration block which includes the site of a previous gas well near the Wilton chemical complex. This additional 20% interest brings Egdon’s total stake in the licence to 68% and the company says it maybe in a position to restart production at an abandoned well site next year. Meanwhile Egdon is partnering Third Energy and Celtique Energy in assessing the potential of a licence area stretching from Seaton Carew to Seal Sands, to Redcar and out to Coulby Newham.

The trio, who secured the block in the 14th Onshore Licensing Round at the end of 2015, hope to drill an exploratory well after a ‘desktop examination of the existing data’. Third Energy hit the news earlier this year after becoming the first company to secure a licence to frack in the UK for five years when it controversially secured permission to drill for shale gas in the Ryedale area of North Yorkshire.

Many Teesside environmentalists echo the concerns of the Ryedale protestors that fracking is dangerous, and that fossil fuels should be left in the ground. Friends of the Earth has condemned the proposals and one protester has launched an e-petition pressing for a Commons debate on the ‘Teesside fracking plans’. However this renewed interest in securing the area’s gas reserves has been welcomed by many on Teesside, with the gas being viewed as vital to the region’s chemical and process industries and the UK’s energy security. The key to the future of any Teesside industry will be the extent of the areas reserves, with UK advisory experts the British Geological Survey (BGS) saying previously drilled wells in the Middlesbrough area had demonstrated its potential.

The BGS told Journal Energy that Teesside was one of many areas highlighted for oil and gas exploration by British Petroleum after World War Two. The discovery of North Sea oil and gas put most onshore exploration on hold, but the 75% decline in offshore production in the last decade has reawakened interest in onshore sites. And new techniques including fracking – fracturing rocks with a mixture of water, sand and chemicals to release the inherent gas – has enabled previously trapped reserves to be recovered.

The BGS says the area stretching from North Yorkshire out to Lancashire and the Irish Sea coast has the best potential sites for shale gas in the UK. But a BGS spokesman added: “Previously drilled wells in the vicinity of Middlesbrough – mostly those exploring for salt – have encountered shows of gas and oil confirming the presence of a migrated hydrocarbon system and with a large deep basin below we would expect petroleum generation.” The BGS said that once a licence had been acquired the operators will acquire seismic data which will be interpreted with existing boreholes to identify potential reserves.

A spokesperson for Third Energy told Journal Energy that before it could proceed with plans to drill an exploratory well it will need to secure planning permission and environmental permits. Hampshire company Egdon opened an initial £6m gas well on Kirkleatham Business Park in 2011 with the gas being pumped to the adjoining Sembcorp power plant on Wilton.

However, this well was closed the following year as Egdon battled to control water levels, but it now says it considering a further exploratory well. Egdon managing director Mark Abbott recently told investors that the Teesside area had been a ‘highly sought after region’ in the 14th round. A spokesperson for the company said: “Egdon are the operator of PEDL068 which comprises two sub-areas covering the Kirkleatham gas field near to the Wilton works and Redcar and the Westerdale/Ralph Cross gas prospect in the North Yorkshire Moors. “The next six to 12 months will see the company undertake a detailed desk-based evaluation of the Kirkleatham gas field to identify opportunities to re-start production by further drilling to un-drained parts of the gas accumulation.

“Planning consent is in place to allow further drilling at the site although it is unlikely that there will be any site operations or drilling during the next 12-month period.” Stan Higgins, chief executive of NEPIC, (North East Processing Industry Cluster) said: “Home grown raw materials are important to our economy and energy security and much preferable to buying Russian gas or French electricity.” But Simon Bowens, North East campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said there was ‘increasing evidence on the health and environmental impacts of fracking’.

“Fracking is banned or put on hold in places across the world including Scotland, Wales, France and New York State by governments acting to protect people from the impacts.” However leading scientific institutions, including the Royal Society, the British Geological Society, the British Geological Survey and WaterUK say that in a properly regulated industry any risks will be minimal. Site: http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/business/business-news/investment-fracking-companies-sees-teesside-11854122