Many Slingsby residents will recall that a geophysical survey was carried out in our area during the summer. This 3D seismic survey was conducted on behalf of Third Energy Ltd by Tesla Exploration International Ltd, in a 123 square km area centred around Hovingham. You might have seen bamboo poles with coloured tags at the side of the road and slow-moving vehicles (vibrator trucks or recording trucks) in fields or on the roads.
The data collected in the seismic survey is analysed in order to map the underlying geological layers, with a view to assessing the profitability of drilling in our area.
Third Energy (formerly known as Viking UK Gas) has been producing gas in the Vale of Pickering for the last 20 years, employing around 25 local people. The gas produced from its existing licence areas and sites is used to produce electricity at the Knapton Generating Station.
The company currently has well advanced plans to build a gas pipeline from its Ebberston Moor South well site to the Knapton Generating Station.
More information can be found on the company website:
Third Energy have not indicated precisely what type of exploitation may ultimately follow on from their survey analyses in our area.
So should we be concerned?
The answer, according to the local campaign group Frackfree Ryedale, is Yes.
It is known that Ryedale sits upon a large band of shale rock. Whereas conventional gas drilling has had a relatively minor environmental impact hitherto, the method of releasing gas from shale is to inject water, sand and chemicals into the shale to fracture the shale hydraulicly – this is “fracking”.
The risks of this method include contamination of ground water, leakage of methane and air pollution. Naturally, extensive infrastructure and heavy transport will be required.
We understand that there are concerns that Third Energy have already drilled deep at Kirby Misperton into the “Bowland” shale, indicating a possible interest in gas exploitation by fracking.
For the FrackFree Ryedale view of what’s going on here, see: http://frackfreeryedale.org/ryedale/
On the wider national front, the current Government has given the green light to fracking in the UK, apparently as a cheaper alternative to certain renewable energy sources. This so-called dash for gas aims to plug a national energy supply gap and thereby help to keep energy prices down.
The national press has recently reported that, in spite of overwhelming opposition from environmental groups and others in a recent consultation, the Government plans to go ahead with a change to the trespass laws, so that homeowners cannot object to gas and oil development below 300m under their homes.
It has been widely reported that the gas industry looks set to compensate landowners and local communities affected by fracking work. Environmental campaigners see this as a bribe.
Perhaps now is the time for residents to look into the matter and form their own conclusions. To that end, we can report that ex-oil industry executive Ian Crane will be giving a talk entitled “Is fracking safe?” at a number of local venues this month. He is due to speak in Slingsby Village Hall on Tuesday 21 October at 7.30pm. Entrance is free.
So, is Slingsby heading for boom-time – or potential environmental disaster? Tell the Slingsby Village website what you think!
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