This horizontal drilling process involves the pumping of millions of gallons of water, mixed with hundreds of highly toxic chemicals, thousands of feet deep into the ground.

FRACKING HAS BEEN the subject of huge controversy in the US and internationally. It is the subject of a critical documentary, has been banned in France, and campaigners are already warning of the possible environmental consequences if it begins in Ireland. But what exactly is it and why is it such a big deal?

Fracking, short for ‘hydraulic fracturing’, is a method of extracting natural gas from pockets in underground rock. It has been used in the oil industry for decades.

However, it is only in the last few years that developments in drill technology have made it viable as a technique for tapping gas reserves dispersed through shale rock strata – such as those in Ireland’s Lough Allen basin.

Typically, fracking is used when shale rocks contain gas trapped in numerous small pockets. “It’s where you know that there is oil or gas but it can’t get out because those spaces aren’t connected,” explains Prof Shannon. “Fracking opens new fractures in the rock so you can connect those little bits together” and efficiently collect the gas.

Fracking has the potential to damage, disrupte and polute large area in which it becomes used.



Issues with Fracking are as such:

  • Large areas cleared and levelled to allow for drilling sites and road infrastructure to help support the process taking place.
  • Potential damage to water systems, above and below ground from use of toxic fluids and elements used in drilling.
  • Unkown damage to Geological layout.
  • Risk of explosion on site. (incidents have happened in the past in USA)
  • Loud Noise.
  • Escaping gas, this alone can cause health effects.
  • Has the potential to cause earthquakes.
  • When a site becomes exhausted of extracting gas, the site must be heavily and treated long term as there could pressure build-up.
  • The storing and treatment of used fluids and chemicals after drilling. This is very costly to the companies drilling.


Issues with Fracking in terms of Northern Ireland / Ireland along with above:

  • No governmental body or independant overseeing the industry here. Therefore accountability is minimal in any given event.
  • No State ownership of resources after drilling. The Shale gas becomes privately owned. Private companies have no obligation to give discount to local economy of resources aquired.
  • Tax payer here must foot the bill in the event of a clean up after an accident.
  • Ireland is small, even a small event could affect the island as a whole. The drilling here is focused in and around border counties with proximity to the Erne-Shannon waterway that could allow chemicals to travel the length of Ireland.
  • The private companies here are new to the drilling industry and have no prior or minor experience of Shale gas drilling.
  • With Fracking the earth for gas, there then comes a need to store that gas. Huge chambers (500 Million cubic metres est) are being unearthed deep beneath the Larne Sub Basin onshore and offshore and along the NorthEast coast. These chambers are being created to store air at high pressure but could also be used to store gas. It is not certain whether gas Fracked in N.Ireland will be stored at these sites but it is a possibility. The salt deposits from the excavated caverns and tunnels may be injected into the sea sending the water/salt levels out of sync causing huge problems for marine life. There are 3 projects to create these chambers in planning.


Here we see an image of the area's in NI that could see Fracking for Shale Gas or Oil.




Four 5-year exploratory licences have been granted in Northern Ireland.

1.“Lough Allen Basin”. 750 sq km of County Fermanagh. Granted to Tamboran Resources (Australian) though licence was not extended and renewed by DETI in Sept 2014. Tamboran is taking legal action at present time on this decision by DETI.

2.“Central Larne - Lough Neagh Basin”. Area stretching from Lough Neagh to Antrim coast. Granted to Infrastrata plc. (UK)

3.Rathlin Island – granted to P.R. Singleton Ltd., subsidiary of Providence Resources (C.E. Tony O’Reilly) (Irish) Providence have since dropped this licence granted by DETI. Providence Resources have since dropped this Licence area in mid 2014. The option for another company to become involved in exploration in this area is still a real concern to people in Ulster/Ireland.

4.“Rathlin Basin” Area covering Coleraine, Ballymoney and Ballycastle. Granted to Rathlin Energy, (Canadian).




Below shows all areas under threat in the Republic of Ireland.

Company offered licence in County Clare : Enigi Oil plc

Companies offered licence's in Counties Monaghan, Sligo & Leitrim : Tamboran & Lough Allen Natural Gas Company - (owned by finavera)

For a link to Map of all areas affected in and around the British Isle's - Click Here:



Counties in Northern Ireland under threat are:


Antrim, Derry/Londonderry, Fermanagh




Counties in the Republic of Ireland under threat are:


Leitrim, Cavan, Donegal, Sligo, Roscommon, Kerry, Monaghan, Limerick and Clare.

Fermanagh will have from 40 to 100 drilling pads in an area to the West of the County alone.




Youtube Twitter FaceBook MySpace Spotify Linkedin Flickr Blogger