Offshore natural gas drilling has many pros and cons, and either way it’s a subject that inspires a passionate response.
Crogga, the Isle of Man-based hydrocarbon exploration company, has today announced it has been awarded the licence by the Isle of Man Government for the appraisal and production of natural gas resources in Manx waters off Maughold Head.
Crogga’s Chief Executive Officer Diccen Sargent has stressed that the process for extraction would not be ‘fracking’, as the find is not an unconventional shale gas reservoir, but a conventional, sandstone deposit.
Fracking is the process of drilling deep underground to take advantage of the natural gas layers found between rock formations. Fracking fluid penetrates the rock layer generating tiny cracks, and the liquid (made up of mostly water, sand and chemicals) is pumped out almost in its entirety, recovering the natural gases from the rocks below.
Whether the ‘F’ word is used or not, natural gas exploration is a controversial subject guaranteed to generate conflicting views.
Powering the Isle of Man
Typically, the Isle of Man does not currently have its own energy supply and is instead dependent on importing natural gases both for electricity generation and for heating the island’s homes and businesses. Commencing natural gas extraction provides a transition to a lower carbon energy mix and will enable the island to generate its own energy, reducing the imports of foreign resources, which ensures that more money is kept on island, thus strengthening our economy.
The gas reserves at Maughold Head were identified during an appraisal of the site in 1982, and could essentially assist the island in becoming more energy secure.
What will this project cost taxpayers?
Founded by a team of Manx professionals, Crogga’s plans to explore natural gas resources in Manx waters will be funded privately, meaning there will be no direct cost to the Manx government or Manx public for Crogga’s appraisal operations.
Diccen Sargent, Chief Executive of Crogga, said:
“We are absolutely delighted to have been awarded a licence to appraise the natural gas resources … as Manx professionals, the best interests of the island are at the heart of our business and we will do everything in our power to ensure that opportunities are created for residents, businesses and marine stakeholders.”
Challenges to Crogga
Before the licensing round started, over 1,800 signed an Isle of Man Friends of the Earth petition against plans to extract fossil fuels from Manx waters.
Today, the Isle of Man Green Party issued a press release condemning the licence, fearing that the effects of gas exploration will ultimately damage and degrade the surrounding ecosystems and will be a catalyst for damaging the island’s reputation as a UNESCO biosphere.
The Green Party has raised numerous questions to Crogga and the Isle of Man Government with regards to the long and short-term implications of gas exploration, including what role the island’s society will play in the indicated stakeholder consultation and the strategy/objective of determining the maximisation of the social and economic value of the island’s territorial seabed.
While using our island’s own gas would be an economically advantageous, its effects on the climate and environment cannot be denied (unless your name is ‘The Donald”).
Gas exploration contaminates fresh water sources, releases greenhouse gases and turns people’s attention towards natural gas consumption instead of developing new renewable energy sources such as wind farms and solar power plants.
What is the real cost?
The Green Party have also raised concerns over the operation’s funding. Whilst the process itself is being funded by private investors, this does not take into account the climate costs of extracting and burning fossil fuels, nor does it consider the immediate environmental costs to the seabed and its associated ecosystems.
There are also questions surrounding the processing of the extracted gases and whether they’ll be processed and burned at the CCGT station in Pulrose, or whether they will be shipped off-island. This in turn raises further questions as to whether the Isle of Man Government will need to purchase gas for the CCGT plant on the open market, with revenues of the royalties from the licence of the seabed.
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