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IGas looks to drill for coal bed methane in UK

World Coal,

Coalbed methane (CBM) reserves near Chester in the UK could be exploited by energy firm IGas Energy. The company has planning permission to drill an exploratory CBM well in an area that includes the Mersey and Dee Estuaries, Cheshire, North Wales and the approaches to Marnchester.

The licenses to drill date back to an application approved in 2010.

IGas said it is looking to drill a well of 2100 m in depth during Autumn 2014 to test for the presence (as well as quality and quantity) of CBM at a site in Ellesmere Port.

If a CBM project proves unviable, there remains the possibility the site could be drilled for shale gas or oil.

Initial research has indicated that there is potentially vast amounts of CBM gas to be extracted from the license area IGas holds.

IGas holds an RoSPA gold medal for its safety record, and is already producing CBM in north Cheshire.

The company said its site at Ellesmere was “well screened from commercial and residential areas and some distance from properties”.

Experts have indicated that noise from any drilling activity would be below existing background levels at the site.

To reassure local residents over any drilling activity, the company said the containment of any gas within the well on its way to the surface was the ‘utmost priority’.

Each section of the well will be tested before further operations take place and continues to be monitored throughout drilling activity.

IGas said drilling would likely take 12 weeks and involves a slim line derrick about 32 m in height that is removed as soon as drilling is complete.

The operation continues 24 hours a day, seven days a week, after which the site is cleared. Floodlighting has been approved by the borough council.

Analysis of the CBM will likely take several months.

IGas says the well site will be subject to regular inspections by the borough council to ensure the site and drilling operations are in accordance with detailed conditions in the planning permission.

These cover issues including noise and air quality.

Independent environmental consultants will also be on hand looking in detail at aspects including groundwater, ground gas, surface water, air quality and surface soil samples.

IGas says the drilling programme will be completed in accordance with industry best practice and will meet requirements laid down by bodies including the Department for Energy, the Environment Agency and the Health and Safety Executive in addition to the planning conditions.

The company explains the exploration well, which has permission until 2039, could lead to further detailed assessments and production if it is successful which would require a new planning application and permits.

IGas has said onshore drilling “is highly regulated, uses proven technology and practices and can unlock a precious energy resource to heat our homes and businesses”.

IGas chief operating officer, John Blaymires, said: “We will be carrying out exploratory drilling for coal bed methane in Ellesmere Port later in the autumn.”

“The operation will enable us to learn more about the geology of the local area and the natural gas resources that potentially lie in the rock formations below,” Blaymires added.

Edited from various sources by Sam Dodson

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