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Little Leitrim could save the Irish economy – there’s gas in them there hills! Initial indications suggest there is enough natural gas underground in Leitrim to supply Ireland’s needs for the next 12 years.
The Irish Times reports that exploration drilling in the much maligned county suggests a gas field worth up to $55billion.
Tamboran Resources, the Australian and Canadian company with exploration drilling licences in the Leitrim and border areas, has confirmed the findings.
The company says the find could create as many as 3,000 jobs on the back of a ‘substantial gas field’ in the Leitrim area.
The Irish Times reports that Tamboran’s findings suggest that production there could ultimately reach 2.2 trillion cubic feet of gas, worth $55 billion at current prices on the New York market.
“The Leitrim gas field could hold the equivalent of 12 years worth of Irish daily natural gas consumption,” said a statement from Tamboran.
Chief executive Richard Moorman confirmed in the statement that his company’s initial analysis suggests the presence of very substantial shale gas reserves in the north Leitrim area.
“Allowing for even modest rates of recovery, the energy and economic benefits would be tremendous,” he said.
“If the field were commercially developed, this would create 600 jobs directly and the knock-on effect would result in a further 2,400 new jobs.
“It could also yield a substantial benefit for the State, which could get €4.9 billion in corporate, exploration and employment taxes.”
Over 90 per cent of the natural gas consumed on a daily basis in Ireland is imported. The fuel is used to generate more than 60 per cent of electricity supplies.
Tamboran has stated that the Leitrim field would substantially cut these imports for up to 40 years.
The company argues that it will help secure future energy supplies for the island of Ireland and intends investing $10billion in the region.
If the find hits commercial targets, the company has pledged to create a local investment fund that will channel $2 million a year into Leitrim.
Currently Tamboran only holds exploration licences for the area. Further permits are required Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources to exploit the find.
Local protestors have campaigned against the company already however.
They are opposed to the company’s plans to extract the gas using hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – a technique that has been blamed in the US for contaminating water supplies and other environmental problems.
Ireland’s Minister for Energy Pat Rabbitte has asked the Environmental Protection Agency to commission an independent study into the practice.
The Irish Times reports that: “Fracking involves pumping large quantities of water at a rock face, deep underground, to create fissures or cracks through which natural gas can escape and be captured. It is used on rock types that are not porous enough to allow gas to be extracted by normal drilling techniques. The rocks are mainly shale, which is why the fuel extracted by fracking is known as shale gas.”
The paper adds: “Tamboran plans to drill at 500m-1,500m under ground, using drill bits sealed in chambers constructed of steel pipe and cement designed to prevent contamination of soil or groundwater.”
The company issued a statement last month stating that it supports tough regulation and full-scale monitoring, embracing boreholes and drilling, seismic activity, and air and water quality.