The proposed exploration drilling site is to be located on the edge of the South Downs National Park an area of outstanding natural beauty and between the two quintessential west Sussex villages of Kirdford and Wisborough Green.
Celtique’s proposal, if successful will not result in a benign nodding donkey tucked away in the corner of a forgotten field. Once the exploration well is established it will be used to frack the subterranean shale. Here it is from the horse’s mouth, the CEO of Magellan (Celtique’s senior partner in the enterprise) in his letter to his shareholders.
“In the UK, we maintain a large acreage position in the Weald Basin, which we believe is a very promising unconventional play. In recent months, it appears that the regulatory and political climate has warmed considerably to unconventional production onshore UK. The Department of Energy and Climate Change recently lifted its moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, and the government is exploring new tax incentive proposals to encourage unconventional drilling onshore. We believe that these developments should have a favourable impact on the perceived value of our acreage. In order to substantiate this value, we, together with our partner Celtique Energie, plan to drill one or two evaluation wells at the end of 2013, through which we will gain a better understanding of the shale potential of our acreage. In the meantime, Magellan remains one of only three publicly traded companies to offer significant exposure to this emerging UK shale play”.
To understand the statement it helps to understand the drilling terms “unconventional play” and “unconventional production”, put simply they mean fracking. Conventional gas is found in pockets in permeable rocks such as sandstone and can be extracted using a conventional well. Gas cannot flow through shale so simply drilling a well won’t work. The shale rock must be cracked to free the gas, hence the need for “unconventional” hydraulic fracturing (fracking).