Open letter to all members of the Irish Parliament - Loop Head wins Ireland's Top Tourism Destination Competition, but Enegi wants to FRACK there

28 May 2013

Dear Taoiseach,
Dear Tanaiste,
Dear Ministers,
Dear TDs.
Dear Senators,

Yesterday we could read in the Irish press that out of 1,400 entries to a competition

Loop Head peninsula in Co Clare has been named the “Best Place to Holiday in Ireland”.

Loop Head

But this "massive boost" for Loop Head is put in serious jeopardy as Enegi Oil is applying for shale gas exploration licence.

Map - Enegi Oil Plc

The Cragnashingaun Bogs is a Natural Heritage Area!

And the West Clare Peninsula could soon look like this:

Shale Gas Wells

Tourism or Fracking - You can't have both

Tourism or Fracking - You can't have both

According to Fáilte Ireland the annual total foreign exchange earnings by tourism is about €4 billion. In each year 2011 and 2012 more than 6.5 million overseas visitors came to Ireland. Tourism is employing circa 178,000 people in the country, one-in-ten jobs across the economy. Our Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food reported in 2011: "The agri-food sector remains one of Ireland’s most important indigenous manufacturing sectors, accounting for over 6% of GVA and approximately 7% of national employment."

Do we want to risk all that just for another boom and bust?

The gas industry is vaguely promising us jobs. The two companies, Enegi and Tamboran, which are applying for shale gas exploration licenses in Ireland are vastly exaggerating estimates of reserves. As reported in the Shale Gas Bulletin Ireland, several studies from the United States prove that the gas industry is not creating many jobs, but the impact on agriculture and tourism are to some extent "devastating". In Pennsylvania State shale gas development is threatening the dairy industry.

Let's do the maths:

Enegi Oil Plc holds a 100% prospecting licence in the Clare Basin, an area of 495 square kilometres. For this territory they claim natural gas resources of
  • 3.62 trillion cubic feet (“TCF”) of free gas initially in place ("GIIP") within the seismic coverage, based on a most likely porosity of 7%, with 1.23 TCF of that being in the area identified as high grade.
  • 1.55 TCF GIIP within the seismic coverage for a minimum porosity case of 3%, of which 526.4 billion cubic feet falls within the high grade area.
No matter what porosity we assume, that would mean:
  1. A shale layer which is uniform
  2. This shale layer is at least 3 kilometres thick
  3. The porosity contains 100% natural gas (methane)
  4. Every single cubic inch of shale has to be fracked
But in reality:
  1. The different shale layers are not uniform as explained in The Geological Heritage of Clare (The Geological Survey of Ireland) and The Geology of the Burren region (The Burren Connect Project, Clare County Council)
  2. The peer-reviewed study, Turbidites in the Upper Carboniferous Ross Formation, Western Ireland (Trond Lien et al) numeralises the thickness of the Clare shale at some tens to a couple of hundreds of metres
  3. Very unlikely. Professor Mike Stephenson from the British Geological Survey explains in a 55 second video clip why "a lot of shale doesn't mean lots of gas".
  4. Virtually impossible.
Therefore it is very unlikely that even a double digit percentage of Enegi's estimate can be viably recovered. In the USA about one billion cubic feet of gas can be extracted by one well in a good shale play. So we can expect to see many hundreds of boreholes if Enegi gets the all-clear for their aimed exploration.

Similar to Enegi we have many reasons to also doubt Tamboran's claim of $55 billion of gas resrves. For many weeks Richard Moorman from Tamboran Resources wanted to sell us a "chemical free fracking" which later turned out to be nothing but a red herring. Such practise has never been done before and seems to be impossible. As early as 29 February 2012, I pointed out in a letter to Minister Pat Rabbitte that it could be very likely that tis company therefore is "unfit for purpose". Meanwhile, last September, Richard Moorman resigned from his position as CEO of Tamboran.

We can conclude with highest certainty that the estimates of these gas companies applying for exploration licence are unrealistic at the least. Therefore I wrote to Minister Fergus O’Dowd on February 26, 2013:

"For the sake of openness and transparency I am urging you now to publish all industry reports submitted to the government which are in connection with any shale gas exploration licensing process."

I hope now that the government will release these reports that people can independently verify the trustworthiness of these companies.

We can see that shale gas exploration is rather uneconomic than a real "game changer". That leaves the question open why the government even bothers to spend taxpayer's money on an EPA research which should investigate whether shale gas exploration could be done safely. Would that money not be more wisely spent on research on sustainable renewable energy sources and/or energy efficiency?

Would it not be much wiser to attract even more tourists by declaring Ireland as "Guaranteed Fracking Free"?

Guaranteed Fracking Free

I thank you very much for your attention.

Kind regards,

Charlie Williams

Keep Ireland Fracking Free,
28 May 2013, 08:50
Keep Ireland Fracking Free,
28 May 2013, 04:49
Keep Ireland Fracking Free,
28 May 2013, 04:28
Keep Ireland Fracking Free,
28 May 2013, 08:43