Drill well licence ‘extension’ criticised

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An environmental group has criticised a decision to amend the licence for an oil and gas exploration well at Woodburn Forest.

Stop the Drill made the comments after InfraStrata, the company behind the project, indicated last week that it had secured the necessary funding to commence construction in the coming weeks.

It follows agreement from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment to amend the terms of the project’s original five-year licence, known as PL 1/10.

This would have required the project to be complete by March 3, 2016.

Indicating that InfraStrata had not applied for an extension, a spokesperson for DETI added that the department had removed from the licence terms the requirement to drill within the initial five-year term, following a request from the company. “Accordingly the Licensees are fully compliant with the terms and conditions of PL 1/10,” the spokesperson added.

“Compliance provides for PL1/10 progressing into its second five-year term; referred to in the Petroleum Regulations as ‘the first renewal term’.

“DETI still requires, and the Licensees remain committed to, drilling the exploratory well at Woodburn. The requirement to drill the exploration well is being included as a ‘time-bound’ condition of the work programme of the first renewal term.”

Meanwhile, a series of “farm-outs” in recent months have seen a total of five new companies brought on board for the venture, reducing InfraStrata’s stake from 45 percent to 10 percent.

However, Stop the Drill campaigners criticised the move as an extension to the licence “in all but name”.

A spokesperson for the group said: “Behind the scenes and with no opportunity for scrutiny by those who oppose the drilling of the oil well, DETI have agreed to allow a private company to continue on to the licence for another five years.

“InfraStrata have failed to fulfil the requirement of their licence for both years four and year five.

“What we need now urgently is for our public representatives to step up to the plate and challenge this absurd decision by DETI.”