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    More Success for UK Shale Exploration: Igas


The company may apply for permission to hydraulically fracture the shale in the early summer, if the encouraging tests continue to support the investment.

by: William Powell

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More Success for UK Shale Exploration: Igas

UK explorer Igas said February 15 the preliminary tests on shale samples from within the Millstone Grit Group at Tinker Lane, Nottinghamshire, were encouraging, following reports to that effect in the national press. UK Cuadrilla has also reported very encouraging flows from its acreage further west, in Lancashire, but it has gone further, using hydraulic fracturing.

Igas said the tests pointed to good gas resources in the Gainsborough Trough basin. "The analysis of these samples is still subject to further testing and validation.  As previously stated, the well, which is part of a wider exploration programme in the basin, has been plugged and abandoned and preparations are being made to fully restore the site," it said in a stock exchange note.

Further, "drilling operations at Springs Road-1 are progressing well. We have encountered shales on prognosis, at about 2,200 metres, including the Bowland Shale horizon and coring will commence imminently. The rate of drilling at Springs Road has been quicker than anticipated, building on our learnings and operating efficiencies from Tinker Lane and augurs well for the future," it said.

As this is still the exploration phase, it has not yet sought a permit to hydraulically fracture the shale. It might be in a better position to do that in the second quarter after more thorough analysis of the core samples. It could take another two years to secure approval, it told NGW.

Partner Egdon Resources said the same day: "Although preliminary, these results are highly encouraging for the Gainsborough Trough shale play and we look forward with anticipation to the results from Springs Road-1 where progress to date has been significantly ahead of schedule."

Igas is hopeful that the current restrictions on seismicity, as set by the traffic light system, will be eased, as the energy minister Claire Perry has said there will be a review once operations are under way. Cuadrilla and Ineos have both complained of the stop-start nature of their production as the 0.5 Richter scale limit is unnecessarily low.

Other subterranean activities, such as geothermal drilling, do not face such stringent thresholds and they carry out hydraulic fracturing at similar depths.