LONDON, Aug 21 (Reuters) – British shale gas explorer IGas has leased a drilling rig to spud a third well at the end of this year in its licence area in the northwest of England, the company said on Thursday.
Britain is betting on the development of its shale gas resources to reduce its growing dependence on gas imports but progress is slow due to tight environmental and planning laws.
IGas is one of the first companies to look for large volumes of shale gas in Britain but has so far not started any hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, whereby underground rock formations are broken up to release trapped gas.
Green campaigners oppose the use of fracking, claiming chemicals used in the process harm the environment and the technique can trigger earthquakes.
The company’s success of securing a rig and to drill a third well, at Ellesmere Port, bring it a step closer to starting fracking in the shale-rich Bowland Shale area.
“This well … is to further appraise the geology in the North West and another step in unlocking Britain’s onshore energy resources,” said IGas Chief Executive Andrew Austin in a statement.
IGas will also release results from test drills at its Barton Moss well in the same area following the submission of applications for Britain’s next onshore licensing round.
The company is waiting to publish the results because it wants to take advantage of its shale gas resource knowledge to apply for further licences.
“IGas will be one of the few companies participating in the bid round with data from drilling results,” said Jefferies analyst Mark Wilson. (Reporting by Karolin Schaps; editing by Tom Pfeiffer)