IGas pulls out of Cheshire licence


Blue square marks the former PEDL188 exploration licence in Cheshire. The purple hashed line is the English-Welsh border. Source: UKOGL

IGas has given up an exploration licence south of Chester. 

The licence, PEDL188, has been held since 2008 and spanned the border with Wales.

The news was confirmed when DrillOrDrop asked what would happen to this and two other licences that crossed the border when the Welsh government took responsibility for licensing in Wales this month.

A spokesperson for the Oil & Gas Authority (OGA) said two of the licences, PEDL147 and PEDL184, now contained land only in England. On PEDL188, the spokesperson said:

“The previous licensee of PEDL188 has surrendered the licence – the reasons for this are a commercial matter.”

IGas has not made a formal announcement of the surrender. It told DrillOrDrop:

“It’s just a routine part of our portfolio management.”

A spokesperson for the local campaign group, Frack Free Farndon, welcomed the surrender. But the spokesperson said the group would continue to oppose fracking:

“The relinquishment of the licence creates a huge sense of relief and reflection, but there will ‘no corks popping’.

“The sober realities are this industry is by no means over because it still exists in other areas, both on neighbouring land at Ellesmere Port, Ince Marshes and further across the Cheshire plains in Lancashire, where there is imminent fracking. Additionally, we have the issue of the impending change to the planning laws.

“Frack Free Farndon will remain part of the Frack Free Dee coalition and an integral part of the region’s outreach team.

“Nothing will change in this regard, we will continue to campaign against this toxic, destructive and greedy industry.

“We are ‘one river’ and the pollution has no regard or respect for geographic, political or licensed boundaries, it travels the route of least resistance!  Therefore, we will continue to stand together with communities across the country until this toxic industry is banned.”

Coalbed methane drilling

Two unconventional wells were drilled in PEDL188. Both targeted the coal measures to explore for coalbed methane:

  • Castletown-1, drilled in 2009 by Composite Energy (now part of the IGas group) to a depth of 1,519m (4,984ft)
  • Churton-1, drilled in 2014 by Dart Energy (now part of IGas) to a depth of 771m (2,529ft)

An older well, Milton Green 1, was drilled in 1965.

An IGas report on coalbed methane prospects in 2016 concluded:

“The Cheshire area was deemed to have low prospectivity due to insufficient coal volumes and lower than commercially viable coal seam gas contents.”

The report said the Castletown-1 well cored the entire coal-bearing Carboniferous sequence and collected coal samples for analysis. The borehole recorded a total coal thickness of 11m of coal, with individual seams up to 2.3m thick. The report also said the Churton-1 well encountered 8m of coal across 12 schemes, up to 1.5m thick.

Other IGas withdrawals

In 2015, the IGas subsidiary, Dart Energy, announced it was withdrawing from its proposed site at Dudleston, near Ellesmere in Shropshire. In 2016, IGas announced it would not drill for coalbed methane at Upton near Chester, in PEDL189, which was next to PEDL188.

Earlier this year, IGas announced it was withdrawing investment from 10 oil and gas licences in the East Midlands, southern England and north east Scotland (DrillOrDrop report).

  • The OGA would not release the relinquishment report for PEDL188. DrillOrDrop has made a request under the Freedom of Information Act. Link to request

5 replies »

  1. Ruth

    What is an unconventional well?

    I see they drilled and cored the coal measures, which would not seem to need anything unconventional to do that. Indeed, something the NCB and BC were adept at.

    So maybe a conventional well, in order to assess if it was worth persuing CBM, which is considered to be ‘unconventional’?

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