Belfast Telegraph

The shale gas debate: seven key questions

By Staff Reporter

Q. What is the extraction method of fracking?

A. Fracking is the process of drilling for shale gas. Boreholes are drilled and a high-pressure water mixture is directed at the rock to release the gas inside.

Q. What is so controversial about it?

A. Environmentalists argue that the process can cause contamination of the water supply and earth tremors. Campaigners say the costs of sustainable energy are coming down every year, and the technology is becoming more efficient, so there is no need to extract shale gas.

Q. What do the supporters see in it?

A. Fracking allows drilling firms to access difficult-to-reach resources of oil and gas. In the US it has significantly boosted domestic oil production and driven down gas prices. The industry suggests shale gas could contribute significantly to the UK's future energy needs.

Q. Has fracking taken place in Fermanagh?

A. No. Tamboran Resources wants to drill a scientific borehole to collect rock samples. It has insisted before that it is not fracking. But protesters fear it is the first step towards fracking.

Q. What has been happening up until now then?

A. Protesters have been staging a round-the-clock vigil at the entrance to the quarry. They have pledged their protests will be peaceful. The company had obtained a High Court injunction to stop protesters getting close to where it plans to drill and planned to start drilling next month.

Q. How much money could be made from the extraction of shale gas in Northern Ireland?

A. Recent reports have estimated that shale gas deposits in Northern Ireland could be worth about £8bn, which is equivalent to about 1.5 billion barrels of oil.

Q. What happens now for Tamboran Resources?

A. The Australian company has said it is currently reviewing its position.

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