Will the Government grant exploration licences?

From March, the Government must decide whether they will grant an Exploration Licence to Tamboran Resources in Leitrim.

From March, the Government must decide whether they will grant an Exploration Licence to Tamboran Resources in Leitrim.

The deadline for completed shale gas exploration licence applications to The Department of Energy & Natural Resources is this Thursday, February 28. After that it is up to the Government to grant or deny the licences. It is understood that Tamboran Resources and Enegi Oil have applied for the Exploration Licences after they submitted relevant documents in relation to the same last November.

Tamboran Resources will be applying for an Exploration Licence for at least the area of North Leitrim. There is concern that despite the Government’s promise that no hydraulic fracturing will be permitted before the new EPA report is published, exploration licences allowing deep drilling and flow testing of gas could still be issued.

Dr Aedín McLoughlin of Good Energies Alliance explained that “An exploration licence grants the company rights to the petroleum products in the licencing area.” She said that with an Exploration licence, “companies can look for planning permission, build pads, drill and flare. In the meantime, they can look for permission to frack.”

She stated, “It is vitally important that Exploration Licences are not granted. We have an opportunity now to make our voices heard and to show the solidarity of the community against fracking. Minister for State Fergus O’Dowd must be bombarded with letters. He has been delegated the power to grant Exploration Licences and can do so at any time. We must demand that no further licences be granted.”

With this deadline in sight, the Love Leitrim campaign for a “licence not to Frack Leitrim” has caught people’s imaginations.

Support for the licence “not to frack” has been pledged to the campaign by folk hero Christy Moore, Waterboys violinist Steve Wickham, and Leitrim’s finest Eleanor Shanley amongst others. Glen Hansard who has previously shown his loyalty to the anti-fracking movement at last years Electric Picnic, actively spread the application to 60,000 followers on the social media site twitter causing a tweeting frenzy.

One of the promoters of the campaign and Love Leitrim PRO Dervilla Keegan said “Its powerful for us to see these artists coming behind the campaign. Its as simple as this, our futures are on the line, we cannot afford the government to grant the next licence. We urge people to sign and send.” Applications for a frack free future can be got in local shops and through www.frackingfreeireland.org

This Saturday, March 2 Award winning scientist, Jessica Ernst, a 55 year old Canadian with 30 years oil and gas industry experience will present “Fracking Community” - Actions and Omissions speak louder than words in Leitrim Village Community Centre from 7-10pm.

Jessica Ernst is suing the Alberta Government, Alberta Energy Regulator, the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB), and EnCana for negligence and unlawful activities related to hydraulic fracturing. The technology has become the subject of serious government investigations throughout North America due to surface and groundwater contamination.

Ms. Ernst’s statement of claim alleges that EnCana broke multiple provincial laws and regulations and contaminated a shallow aquifer that supplied drinking water to the Rosebud community with natural gas and toxic industry-related chemicals. She returns to Leitrim after her visit last year to discuss her own case, the impact of this industry upon her own community and why she believes no healthy society should ever permit hydraulic fracturing.