IGas sets out vision for back-to-back shale gas development

190204 Misson Eric Walton 5

IGas site at Misson Springs, Nottinghamshire, 4 February 2019. Photo: Eric Walton

Exploratory drilling, fracking and production could be underway at the same time across multiple wells on several pads in a shale gas field, a company suggested today.

IGas, which has shale gas licences mainly in the east midlands and north west England, described how construction crews would build pads across the area, followed by drilling rigs and fracking teams.

Ross Glover, IGas’s development director, told a seminar in London, the strategy envisaged four pads with 10 wells on each pad.


“The drilling rig sets the pace of the entire operation and we carry on and we move from pad to pad to pad and execute this pilot development.”

It would, he said, make shale gas development more efficient, lower costs and increase drilling times.

“We’ve seen this through drilling Tinker Lane and Springs Road.

“The acceleration in drilling pace has been remarkable. The cost savings have been very, very welcome.”

Mr Glover said the approach “de-risked” the resource.

“Once we’re on to the 7th, 8th 9th well we’re becoming better and better at exploiting that resource. The risk is being lowered. And importantly we’ve got learnings so the cost of the 10th well will be significantly cheaper and much quicker than the first well drilled. And it will be significantly more productive.”

190404 WEETF Ross Glover (2)

Ross Glover

But he said the strategy depended on planning applications getting approval at around the same time.

“The key with all of this is that this schedule needs to be executed back-to-back. So your planning application or series of planning applications would need to have been given consent at the same or similar times because the only way we can get the scale and learnings is by doing things back-to-back.”

He said IGas liked the idea of applying the nationally significant infrastructure regime, known as NSIP, to all phases of shale gas development, from exploration, through appraisal, to production.


Under NSIP, decisions on major projects are made by a government minister after a public hearing chaired by a planning inspector. The government consulted last year on applying NSIP to major shale gas production schemes. It has not yet published its decision.

Mr Glover said:

“The key for us is that NSIP would give us scale. We could go in with an NSIP programme – a project of scale, for example, four well pads across a geographic area.

“We would see an NSIP planning application taking us through from exploration through appraisal through into pilot development and that early stage production.”

NSIP would also give the company a fixed timescale, unlike the standard planning system, which, he said, had a very unpredictable timeline.

“A fixed timescale and the scale of an NSIP project would encourage investment, both into the development and into the supply chain.”

“Be careful what you wish for”

190404 WEETF Andrew Mullaney

Andrew Mullaney

Another speaker at the seminar suggested the NSIP regime may not be a panacea for shale gas.

Andrew Mullaney, head of planning at Lancashire County Council, described NSIP as inflexible, long and time-consuming.

He said problems could arise when operators wanted to apply for variations to their permission.

“We know from shale gas in Lancashire and indeed in other parts of the country that because this is exploration by its very nature things do change.

“Inevitably that will mean that you [operators] will want to change your original proposals and in turn that means you will want to change the planning conditions.”

He said if the changes were issues such as different night-time noise limits or HGV movements there would need to be a new hearing.

“They will probably require the designation of a new planning inspector so be careful what you wish for. Unless you’ve been involved in day to day logistics of NSIP. I don’t believe it offers a panacea that some people in the industry believe it brings.”

Mr Mullaney also said NSIP would devalue the system of local plans:

“What is the point of a mineral planning authority planning in the long-term for regional, local and national provision if these things are parachuted in with very little control or say from the local plan-making process.”

  • Mr Glover and Mr Mullaney were speaking at the Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum keynote seminar on Unconventional oil and gas market in the UK – planning changes, environmental regulation and tackling the scale-up challenges

Reporting from this event was made possible by individual donations from DrillOrDrop readers



28 replies »

  1. Great – that should speed up the death of the human race.
    The more extraction and burning of fossil fuels we do, the more we pollute and degrade the biosphere, and the more we warm the planet. The faster we warm the planet and more we degrade the biosphere, the sooner the collapse of global industrial civilisation will occur and then 90% of all species will follow into extinction.
    Indeed, be careful what you wish for.

    • So Mark – on your calculations how many more GHGs will be emitted over time if the UK goes ahead with fracking compared to if it just imports gas?

      • ‘ if the UK goes ahead with fracking’

        That won’t be happening. Have you not been watching these past 9 years. Repeatedly pummelled by well organised communities springs to mind.

        • John Powney – typical answer – another green without a plan. You all sound very similar to the ERG – say no to everything but don’t put a coherent plan forward.

  2. What planet are these frackers living on? IGas vision of the future is pure fiction. They seem to have forgotten that the people do not want it. End of.

    • Your right Fred – every one wants to use energy but most people don’t want energy produced close to where they live – I’m sure there’s a name for people with such attitudes

    • The frackers sense of entitlement is staggering. Hardly surprising when government kowtows to them and communities are regarded as “receptors”.

      • Pauline – it seems it’s the antis who have a sense of entitlement – they want to use energy but as long as it’s produced away from their homes

  3. Judith, you seem to no a bit about the tech of the o&g industry. However, you are a sandwich or two short of a picnic when it comes to understanding how communities evolve when it comes to protection. This industry will never take off, simply because of the economics but more importantly, people have done the research and are realising the responsibility for the health and well-being of our planet is down to us. Fracking could have worked 30 years ago when we were far more ignorant about climate change etc. it’s too late for an industry like this to ever take off in a way that there would be benefits for the masses.
    With your usual pro-industry spin on this, you fall short by a long way of convincing people that this is the answer to energy “security”.

    • Candore – maybe you could tell us how you think that not fracking will reduce out CO2 emissions. We are going to be reliant on gas for several years whether we frack or not. We need to be looking at alternatives, which we are doing, but that’s a totally separate issue.

  4. Hi Judith – So just suppose the fracking sector was eventually shut down, and no imports of natural gas allowed, and suppose eventually we had a huge shortage of natural gas, as a scientist please let us know your suggestions of how energy could be produced close to where people live – clean energy with no greenhouse gas emissions and not nuclear. let us say, for Greater Manchester and Merseyside.

    Robin Grayson MSc Liberal Democrat Geologist.

    • Robin – in the short term I don’t see any way that would be possible and the country would fall into total chaos. In the longer term we would clearly have to make more use of wind, solar, geothermal etc. However, that in itself has massive problems. Firstly, the figures that I’ve seen suggest even with the current rate at which we are expanding the renewables we are going to run into a shortfall of certain critical elements very quickly. Secondly, we will need to develop an efficient way of storing energy. Many of these alternatives will create many of the problems that people object to regarding fracking – seismicity associated with geothermal and several of the energy storage methods would be far higher than fracking; the environmental damage associated with mining of critical metals both for the production and storage of energy will be very large; traffic movements for geothermal and energy storage will be difficult. One of the reasons why I’m for fracking is that I’ve spent much of my life working on technologies for a low carbon economy and that as made me realize how difficult it will be without nuclear. By far my greatest irritation with the anti’s is that they don’t come up with a well thought out plan of an alternative – all they keep saying is renewables, renewables without actually sitting down and thinking through the practicalities – hence why I draw the similarity with the Leave campaign for Brexit

  5. Now I see the Lib Dem reference!


    However, back in the real world and recognising there are some on here who have a decent understanding of the technology, I have a question.

    Looking at the reported thick levels of potential gas producing shale reported by Igas and INEOS, would there need to be more than one lateral heading in a given horizontal direction, but at different depths? I recognise that would be linked to the geology but to a non driller it seems a bit ambitious that one horizontal in any direction would be able to extract gas from a very thick gas containing layer.

    30 years ago Candore we would have not speculated about economics until there was some real data to base that upon. Think you might find if/when there is, public opinion has a way of incorporating that into their judgement. Probably why the majority are still not against fracking being tested in UK.

  6. No Martin, the majority do not support fracking nor do they oppose it. In fact they are sat on the fence. It is the minority that support it and of those with an opinion the majority oppose it. And furthermore the statistics show that the more people learn about fracking the more likely they are to oppose it.

  7. So, the majority are still not against fracking, then KatT!! Exactly what I stated, but different to what you wanted to suggest I stated. Keep on proving my point for me, it does help, and pleases reaction as he is so concentrated upon correct English.

    Of course many are sat on the fence, or undecided. You think when they know more they will become anti. Well, as the research also showed a high proportion of the antis had little knowledge regarding fracking, that connection is not proven. Viewing DoD, would add extra confirmation. Other research also shows a high proportion of UK people seek a scientific career (great-what a change), so the knowledge bit may be a double edged sword. And congratulations to Highfield Leadership Academy, and enjoy the prize money. (Much more productive and valuable than photographs of ladies undies with a £5k prize.)

    I suggest which side of the fence the sitters go will also depend upon whether they believe the reward is substantial. That has yet to be established, but previous projects would show that is a very strong driver of opinion, and certainly what I learned and practiced in marketing. The reliance, and repeat, of the antis referencing 2013 speculation as the anti gospel in terms of reward-or no chance of-merely goes to show many activists realise that strong driver. But, speculation could be overtaken by reality-it often is, as shown within USA.

    I have stated many times I want to see whether that reward can be established. No other motivation, although it is easy for the attack dogs to suggest otherwise and saves them doing any real work. But, it will not change my view on that and I suspect there will be many “fencers” who feel the same.

  8. Oh, “we”, within the pack, have made that suggestion before, reaction. So, once again you have problems with all to add to majorities and minorities. Come on, do a bit of work for your pleasure. You know you like that concise use of the English language. Why not add accuracy to it as well?

    But, I have no need to be looking for funding as I do not have to pay any motor vehicle or aircraft pollution charges. Perhaps the UN will give me an award for that?

    • I meant “we” who read your Collywibble Martian.

      If anyone does think your content had a financial value I am sure that they will leap to your defence….

  9. Obviously find my contributions mesmerising then reaction! So much better, when money is out of consideration.

    I’m like Eddy Stone-just shedding some light through the fog, and not asking for reward. A service to the all at sea.

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