About the Company
What is Tamboran?
Tamboran Resources (UK) Limited (NI605039) (shortened to TRUK) is a UK & Irish owned natural gas company that is planning to evaluate the natural gas in County Fermanagh.
TRUK was previously owned by an Australian company, Tamboran Resources Pty Ltd. It was brought into local ownership via a management buyout in July 2016.
Where is TRUK based?
Tamboran Resources (UK) Limited (NI605039) is registered and based in Northern Ireland.
What is TRUK’s background and experience?
The TRUK senior management team is composed of petroleum industry specialists with decades of experience who have the necessary expertise and capability to deliver on the County Fermanagh work programme.
Will you be using hydraulic fracturing?
As part of the Petroleum Licence application process TRUK has submitted a five-year Work Programme, which is currently under consultation. The proposed work programme is in two parts. Under the Terms and Conditions of a Petroleum Licence, the company would be required to notify the Department for the Economy before the end of Year Three if it wishes to proceed to the drilling of an exploration well or to relinquish the Licence.
Part 1 (Years 1-3)
- There will be no hydraulic fracturing in Part 1 of the Petroleum Licence.
- TRUK will drill a stratigraphic borehole to collect fresh rock samples. The samples from the deep shale will be analysed off-site and from this their potential to yield gas will be ascertained.
Part 2 (Years 4-5)
- TRUK will acquire, process, and interpret 3D seismic, which will be used to determine the drilling location.
- A planning application and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) will be submitted to the Planning Authority. This would be subject to expert and public scrutiny.
- Once the necessary consents are in place, a borehole will be drilled to test the natural gas potential of the Bundoran Shale Formation using hydraulic fracturing.
- If results are positive and the company wishes to progress beyond the initial 5 year exploration period, TRUK will have to submit a second Work Programme to the Department for the Economy.
When will you decide if you are going to move on to the stage when fracturing will be used?
Under the Terms and Conditions of a Petroleum Licence, the company would be required to notify the Department for the Economy just before the end of Year Three.
Why Northern Ireland?
On 29th June 2010 the then Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment published a Notice (2010/C169/4) in the Official Journal of the European Union announcing the availability of all of onshore Northern Ireland for Petroleum Licence applications.
Announcement of the availability of the onshore area of Northern Ireland for oil and gas licensing applications in accordance with the open door procedure
Licensing onshore Northern Ireland
With reference to Article 3(3) of Council Directive 94/22/EC, the Department for Enterprise, Trade and Investment hereby declares that under the provisions of the Petroleum (Production) Act (Northern Ireland) 1964 the onshore area of Northern Ireland is available on a permanent basis for licences for the prospection, exploration and production of hydrocarbons.
Based on existing geological data including information from 14 previously drilled exploration boreholes in Fermanagh and Leitrim (5 of which were fractured), TRUK believes there is potentially a very significant natural gas resource in County Fermanagh.
You can read more about Petroleum licensing in Northern Ireland on the Department for the Economy website: https://www.economy-ni.gov.uk/articles/petroleum-licensing.
The Fermanagh Project
How much will the exploration programme cost?
£30 million pounds for the full 5 year work programme.
Are you exploring for oil, natural gas or both?
We are only looking for natural gas.
How much natural gas is there in County Fermanagh?
The purpose of the exploration is to be able to answer this question more accurately. Currently we believe there could be enough natural gas to supply all, or a substantial part, of Northern Ireland’s needs for decades.
What is the Company proposing to do?
As part of the licence application process, TRUK has submitted a detailed Work Programme. The first three years include choosing a suitable site of about 1 hectare in size, carrying out environmental monitoring, obtaining the necessary permissions and then drilling a single vertical exploratory borehole to a depth of about 1500m (5000ft). The rock samples obtained will then be professionally examined. Based on the results, a decision will be made whether or not to continue to the final two years of the licence when a 3-D seismic survey will be carried out and a second borehole will be drilled and tested for natural gas.
What is an exploration borehole?
Thousands of exploration boreholes have been drilled across the UK and Ireland. An exploration, exploratory, stratigraphic, geological or scientific borehole is a standard drill hole that goes through the rock layers (strata) beneath a site. As the borehole is drilled, a metal casing is inserted to support the hole. The rock drilled through is either retrieved as chippings or core and these are studied to understand each rock layer. Drilling also determines the level of the local water-table.
When will the exploration borehole be drilled?
It will be drilled in the second half of the first three year period (Part 1) of the licence subject to the company receiving all of the necessary permissions.
How long will it take to drill the exploration borehole?
There are factors, like rock variability, that make it impossible to be exact but the company will aim to complete the drilling within 4 weeks.
How do you access the rock samples during the drilling?
They are brought to the surface as solid rock core or as chippings.
What do you expect to find from your first exploration borehole and rock testing?
We will find the exact level of the local water-table, which is generally located at a relatively shallow depth. Also importantly, the rock sequence under the site will be precisely defined, the amount of organic carbon (an indicator of potential gas content) in the target shale will be determined and the physical characteristics of the shale will be ascertained.
Who gives permission for the drilling to progress?
Petroleum licences are awarded by the Department for the Economy. The Department for Infrastructure and the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council are responsible for planning.
The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) is the authority with primary responsibility for environmental protection and will continually assess risks to the environment from drilling operations. Extensive legislation provides effective regulatory control on petroleum exploration activities in Northern Ireland. If and when a Licensee applies to the Department for the Economy for ‘Consent to Drill’ a well then the risks to health and the environment will be considered fully by all relevant authorities. The Department for the Economy’s consent to drill is dependent on a Licensee having obtained all the necessary consents including planning permission.
What type of drilling rig will you be using?
A drilling rig that can be relatively easily moved on and off site by lorry. It will be of a type commonly used for onshore exploration drilling for minerals, water and petroleum. The rig will be about 20m high and the drill hole will mostly be 25cm (10½ in) to 15cm (6 in) in diameter.
Can you outline the drilling process?
See the description of an exploration borehole above.
The borehole will be drilled under the regulations that are in force at the time, which currently includes the ‘Borehole Sites and Operations Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1995’. http://www.legislation.gov.uk/nisr/1995/491/made
Drilling will also be subject to the normal UK regulatory safety regime, incorporating:
- Health and Safety at Work (Northern Ireland) Order 1978 https://www.legislation.gov.uk/nisi/1978/1039
- Offshore Installations and Wells (Design and Construction, etc.) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1996 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/nisr/1996/228/contents/made
- and RIDDOR (NI) 1997 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/nisr/1997/455/contents/made
To what depth will the Company be drilling?
The exploration borehole will be about 1,500m (5,000ft) deep.
What information will inform you to proceed to Part 2 of the Licence?
All information about the area will be important. At the site the rock sequence that is discovered, the amount of organic carbon (an indicator of potential gas content) in the target shale and the physical characteristics of the target shale are critical factors. These will be considered in relation to all the past work in the area by the Company and others. Surface and groundwater conditions will be considered and all the many socio-environmental factors – plants and wildlife as well as the economy, etc.
Where will the exploratory borehole be?
The Company is currently assessing and reviewing potential sites. If you have land, and would be interested to speak to our acquisition team, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
What type of chemicals will be used when drilling the exploration borehole?
The Company will use drilling materials that are standard in drilling operations in the UK. They will be safe, having been approved by the Health and Safety authorities. At the time information will be listed in detail on our website to include an Exploratory Drilling Factsheet and Use of Chemicals in Drilling the Well.
What happens with all the debris and by-product?
Inert debris will be used in the re-establishment of the site to its former condition once the drilling operation is over. By-product, like water, will be disposed of as agreed with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency from which the appropriate consents will be obtained.
What materials will you drill through?
The surface few metres may include soil and stony clay left by the last glaciation but beneath that it will be sedimentary rock – mostly sandstone, limestone and shale. These rocks are in layers, in places at angles to the horizontal but they are not especially hard.
What do you know about the rock formations in the licence area?
The rock formations in the area of the licence application are (from the youngest downwards) the Dartry Limestone Formation, Glencar Limestone Formation, Benbulben Shale Formation, Mullaghmore Sandstone Formation, Bundoran Shale Formation, and Ballyshannon Limestone Formation. Generally they have been well described by the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland – see Geology of the country around Derrygonnelly and Marble Arch, Memoir of the GSNI, 1998 and The Geology of Northern Ireland, Geological Survey of Northern Ireland, Belfast, 2004. The general descriptions are good although for natural gas exploration a much finer level of detail is needed.
Is any water used in this process?
Yes about 100m³ (100,000 litres) of non-potable water will be needed for the exploration borehole. It is expected to be transported in by tanker and will be disposed of by a licensed waste contractor.
Are you planning on extracting any gas while drilling the exploration borehole?
What does an exploration borehole look like when it is finished?
The borehole will be totally sealed and the site restored to its original condition.
How much land will be required?
The land required for the exploration borehole will be around 1 hectare in size.
Will you be recruiting?
The discovery of a natural gas resource of the size the Company expects would lead, beyond the first 5 year period and subject to planning approval, to eventual commercial production. That scenario will see the direct creation of hundreds of new well-paid jobs and thousands of indirect jobs via suppliers, local businesses and in the hospitality sector. The intention is to recruit locally as much as possible and to offer appropriate training.
Under the previous exploration licence (PL2/10), over 500 people from County Fermanagh and overseas expressed an interest. Many people from Northern Ireland who emigrated to find work, some in the petroleum sector, would like to return home if the opportunity arises.
Individuals, or companies, interested in working with TRUK can register their interest by emailing email@example.com.
About Hydraulic Fracturing
What is hydraulic fracturing?
Hydraulic fracturing, commonly referred to as ‘fracking’ or “fracturing”, is the long-established process of creating hairline cracks, or fractures maybe up to a mm or so in width in underground rock. It facilitates the flow of natural gas into the well bore and back up the cased borehole to the surface.
Water, very fine inert sand and a very small amount of harmless/biodegradable additives are injected down the well bore and into the formation in order to fracture the rock. All additives to the water have to be approved by the regulators and precise details will be given on the Company website. The liquid is injected under strong hydraulic pressure that can be controlled as the cracks develop usually within just a few metres of the borehole. The purpose of the sand is to hold open the tiny cracks that develop and allow continuous flows of gas.
Where has fracturing been done safely in the past?
It has been continuously and safely used in natural gas projects in countries such as the USA, Canada, Argentina, Australia and Saudi Arabia.
What is the difference between the natural gas in the shale of County Fermanagh and the natural gas we currently use in Northern Ireland?
There is no difference. Natural gas originates from shale rock.
Is hydraulic fracturing new?
No. Fracturing has been carried out for around 70 years in conventional rock formations such as those found in the North Sea. Fracturing rocks in boreholes, from water wells to geothermal drills, has been common practice to increase flow.
Historically, a variety of fracturing procedures have been used, such as explosives and acids. However, the industry has now developed hydraulic fracturing using high pressure water to extract the hydrocarbons.
Will you be using radioactive materials?
What chemicals will be used to fracture the shale rock?
The chemicals used in the fracturing process make up a tiny proportion of the mix. All chemicals used must be disclosed and will only be allowed if they can be shown to be safe – which means they have to be biodegradable or entirely harmless.
Will you be carrying out fracturing at shallow depth close to the water aquifer?
Will there be well pads?
Only if natural gas is commercially proven and permission is obtained to go into production. That is over 5 years, and probably nearer 10 years, away. Well pads are areas not much larger than a football pitch where a number of wellheads are concentrated. Each wellhead is above a drill hole which, at depth, turns to the horizontal or sub-horizontal following the shale rock.
What will be the impact on the local economy?
Should TRUK progress to the production phase, the anticipated benefits would include:
- Thousands of direct and indirect jobs in County Fermanagh and across Northern Ireland
- Significant opportunities for long term well paid jobs
- An estimated multi-billion pound investment over the Project lifetime
- A direct benefit to the local community through a bespoke Community Benefit Fund
- Cleaner, lower carbon supply of natural gas
- Improved security of natural gas supply for Northern Ireland
- More stable local energy costs
- Billions in tax revenues including corporation tax, VAT and employment taxes
- Decades of local natural gas supply
- Reduced reliance on imported natural gas
- Potential to attract new energy intensive industries
- Encourage foreign direct investment
- Training for local people
What are the benefits of producing domestic natural gas?
Natural gas is a lower carbon alternative to fossil fuels such as coal and oil. A local supply would mean we could reduce our dependence on, and the sizeable carbon footprint of, huge fuel/oil tankers sailing from all over the world to supply NI.
NI currently imports 100% of its natural gas supplies. This leaves it vulnerable, not only to unstable price fluctuations, but also to the decisions of overseas governments and global events beyond its control.
A local supply would give NI more control, more stability, energy independence and greater affordability, all whilst boosting the economy and reducing its carbon footprint.
The economic case for supporting natural gas is compelling and the Company would be creating a multi-billion pound industry in Fermanagh. This is an investment in the West that would create hundreds of jobs directly and thousands of jobs indirectly.
Should the company proceed to the development stage, it will initiate a multi-million pound Community Investment Fund to support the people of Fermanagh. This will be designed and agreed in partnership with the local community.
This is in addition to the Government’s proposal to channel tax revenues back into local communities through the ‘Shale Wealth Fund’ that proposes to pay local householders upwards of £10,000 each – ensuring that they benefit directly. https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/shale-wealth-fund
We are conscious of the public need for investment in the west of Northern Ireland – where we want to invest – and evidence shows that such projects also act as a beacon, attracting other large companies that rely on secure local energy supplies.
What is the overall level of investment for this Project? What is the breakdown in terms of lifetime of the Project?
It will not be possible to estimate accurately the overall level of investment until the size of the economically recoverable gas resource is known. However, should the Project proceed to development, investment will be in the billions of pounds with the majority of expenditure over the first 15 years.
What will the impact be on the local tourism and hospitality sector in the area?
We will be able to strengthen directly the local tourism and hospitality sector through our investment. Comparable examples in Pennsylvania, U.S.A. show that the hospitality sector benefitted directly from inward investment from natural gas Projects. Revenue rose by 14.8% between 2007 and 2011 at a time when the national average saw a 1.7% decline.
How much does TRUK intend to spend locally?
It will not be possible, at this stage, to estimate, with accuracy, the level of local investment until the size of the economically recoverable gas resource is known. The Company is committed to using local goods and services wherever possible.
Who owns the rights to the natural gas?
The Company will have the right to develop the resource, although the Treasury will benefit from its share of taxes, which would be considerable. The landowners would also benefit from contracts allowing use of their land.
Where will the gas be sold?
The Company needs to prove the Project is commercially viable and determine the size of the economically recoverable gas resource before it can consider routes to market. The more gas that is sold locally the better, as there will be fewer transportation costs and lower carbon emissions due to lowering imported natural gas requirements.
What opportunities will there be for local companies?
The Company will use local companies wherever possible. Should the Project proceed to the development stage, there will be a requirement to build well pads, lay pipe, improve roads and provide transport and catering.
About Health, Safety and the Environment
What impact will the exploration borehole have on the landscape in the short term?
A site of up to 1 hectare will be used for a few months, probably in year 3 of the licence term. Another site of nearer 2 hectares will be used for the test well in year 5. The sites will be chosen for minimal impact and be returned to their original condition after the work is completed. The drilling rig will be temporary.
Does using shale gas bring serious risks to the local environment and people’s health?
No. Leading British professional organisations – The Royal Society, The Royal Institute of Engineering, Public Health England, Water UK – have said that with proper regulation, natural gas from shale rock can be produced without significant risk.
Strong regulation is essential and, in the UK, the regulatory regime is particularly strict. Northern Ireland has some of the strictest environmental legislation in Europe, and rightly so. The industry itself is aware that it cannot afford to make mistakes and the Company is committed to operating in accordance with regulatory best practice. Regulation has been applied over the past half century to both offshore and onshore oil and gas in the UK: the record of safety speaks for itself.
The Company is committed at all times to operating at the highest possible environmental standards and regulatory compliance.
Will you be submitting an Environmental Impact Assessment?
The Company will develop and submit a full Environmental Impact Assessment for all relevant work, as required.
Who will be monitoring the process to protect the environment and our safety? (I.e. water, air, noise and dust.)
The Shale Gas Regulators Forum.
Does fracturing cause tremors?
Fracturing is micro-seismic activity designed to create tiny hairline cracks in the rocks. It can cause tremors which should not be felt at the surface and certainly not at a level to cause damage. We do not expect to encounter such issues but even so extreme care will be taken. The rocks in Northern Ireland are not naturally liable to more than very minor movement, as is shown by the very few records of even small tremors in County Fermanagh. For more information on past earth tremors see the British Geological Survey (www.earthquakes.bgs.ac.uk) and the Irish National Seismic Network operated by the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies (www.dias.ie).
How will TRUK ensure there is no risk of contaminating the water table?
The Company will be working in accordance with the strictest environmental standards, which will be monitored by the Department for Infrastructure. The initial exploration borehole does not involve fracturing but even so all necessary precautions will be taken, including those to ensure there will be no spillages and that correct disposal of on-site fluids will be carried out.
The Company reasonably believes the risks are insignificant even for the test exploration well. There is no evidence of contamination from gas or chemicals due to the fracturing process. The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) believes in its 2016 paper Shale Gas and Water these risks can be ‘be effectively managed through robust best practice and there is no reason why this should not be achievable’
Professional wellhead construction is essential and this will be tested rigorously by the Company- to the satisfaction of the regulators.
The chemicals used in the fracturing process make up a tiny proportion of the mix. All chemicals used must be disclosed and will only be used if they are safe – which means they have to be biodegradable or entirely harmless. The sand is fine rounded grains of quartz (glass). Alternatively, tiny rounded inert beads can be used.
How will TRUK protect the groundwater?
This is especially important at the test well stage. Regulations require all wells to be constructed with cemented surface and production casing to isolate the well bore from any groundwater; the water-table level will have been ascertained during drilling and before fracturing is undertaken.
This Project will not be allowed to have any impact on local water quality, above or below the ground.
Will the volume of water needed for fracturing affect the availability of local water supplies?
No. Northern Ireland is generally oversupplied with water. The single exploration test well will require less than 1 million litres and by comparison, NI Water supplies customers with 560 million litres of good quality drinking water every day.
What will happen with the excess water?
It will be removed from site and disposed of under local regulations in conjunction with local authorities. This will all be outlined in detail in a future Environmental Impact Assessment and will be publicly available.
Is there a risk of drinking water contamination?
No risk given the precautionary approach that will be used.
Will you be using fresh water?
Yes. For the exploration borehole this will be brought in by tanker.
How do you ensure the integrity of the test exploration well casing?
The industry uses an instrument that provides what is called a ‘cement bond log’ to ensure the integrity of the casing. This log will be available to the regulators as soon as it is run so the cement between the well casing and the rock can be seen to be perfect, without any voids or cracks.
Who compensates the locals if there is an accident?
We do not foresee accidents, however, under industry regulations the Company has responsibility for making good any damage.
Does natural gas from shale produce high levels of Carbon Dioxide?
All natural gas (including from shale) will produce CO² after burning. It produces 40 to 48% less CO² than coal and about two thirds that of oil.
According to the Northern Ireland greenhouse gas inventory 1990-2016, energy production was one of the top contributors to greenhouse gas emissions (20%) in 2016 but switching fuel from coal to natural gas made a large contribution to CO² emissions reducing by 15.9% since 1990.
Similarly, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reports shifting electricity generation from coal to natural gas saved 2,007 MMmt (million metric tonnes) of CO² between 2005 and 2016, which was over 63% of all savings.
Does gas escape during drilling or production?
No. Leaks should not occur in any properly designed operation. Closed gas systems will be used in County Fermanagh and will be monitored 24/7 to ensure leaks do not happen. Good industry practice throughout the UK gas industry over the past half-century or more has mitigated against leaks and this will not be allowed to change.
Is there a risk of methane migration?
Not during the exploration borehole as no gas will be flowed. Should the project proceed to the test well or later development stages, mitigation measures will be put in place to ensure methane does not escape. We want to protect the environment at all times. We will not be allowed to proceed if we cannot demonstrate that measures are in place to ensure this does not happen.
Mitigation measures will be outlined in detail in an Environmental Impact Assessment.
How will the Company ensure there is no risk to air quality?
Dust levels around every site are closely monitored and controlled. The main cause of dust can be during drilling and due to vehicle movements. Mitigation measures will be put in place and dust levels have to be within statutory limits. Air quality will be covered extensively in an Environmental Impact Assessment.
Will fracturing cause noise pollution?
All work will be carried out within statutory noise limits. Sites will be selected as far away from dwellings as possible and will be designed to deflect noise away from homes.
After drilling is complete, sites become quiet. Noise mitigation will be covered extensively in an Environmental Impact Assessment.
Will there be a large volume of truck movements?
A traffic management plan will be agreed with the Department for Infrastructure. Although there will be additional vehicle movements during the initial phases of the Project, as with any construction Project, we will engage with local residents throughout this process. We do not believe the increase in traffic will affect locals on a large scale and it will be temporary in duration.
Will this activity impact the local roads area?
There will be a slightly higher volume of traffic, although this should not damage roads. Any damage will be repaired and upgraded at the Company’s cost. This will be agreed with the Road Authority in Northern Ireland.
Traffic management and vehicle movement will be covered extensively in an Environmental Impact Assessment.
Will TRUK have a traffic management plan in place?
Yes. The Company will implement a traffic management plan in agreement with local authorities.
What impact will this have on human health?
The Project will not affect people’s health – there are no toxic chemicals used during this process and there are no hazardous levels of minerals or radioactivity. Furthermore, there is no evidence of health problems that can be attributed to shale gas extraction.
A full impact assessment will be detailed extensively in the Environmental Impact Assessment.
What impact will fracturing have on animal health?
The project will not impact animal health. Farming and fracturing already co-exist in areas such as Pennsylvania and other areas of the USA and Canada where natural gas is being produced from shale.
A full impact assessment will be detailed extensively in the Environmental Impact Assessment.
Will fracking have a visual impact?
Fracturing takes place over a short period of time, normally measured in days and weeks. The site is busy with heavy equipment to develop the hydraulic pressures necessary and there will be a visual impact on the site of 1 or 2 hectares. Thereafter there is no significant visual impact.
Will TRUK operations give off any bad odours?
No. A full impact assessment will be detailed extensively in the Environmental Impact Assessment.
What impact will fracturing have on key tourist attractions such as Lough Erne Resort, and Marble Arch Caves?
It will have minimal impact or none at all.
Are there areas which you can completely rule out at this stage?
Until exploration has been started the entire area of the licence application is of interest.
Are you able to force landowners off their land?
How will gas be carried off site?
By the development of a pipeline. It is too early to be more specific.
How did the Company come to the figure of over £20 billion as the potential value of the natural gas?
The company has taken the area of the shale, its thickness, the estimate of the proportion that might yield natural gas and fine details of the shale that are currently known.
It has considered the recovery levels being obtained from similar shales in producing countries using a proven technology that continues to yield increased recovery factors.
Our estimates have been made incorporating various recovery factors from 15 to 50% and a range of moderate gas prices, which will naturally fluctuate.
These suggest the natural gas resource in County Fermanagh could be worth in excess of £20 billion.
This figure will be refined as the exploration progresses and could go up or down. However, even at half the figure quoted, it is still potentially a colossal benefit to the local and national economy.