The Department for the Economy is seeking to procure research into the economic, societal and environmental impacts of future onshore petroleum exploration and production, including Unconventional Oil and Gas (UOG), in Northern Ireland, including fracking.
The £75,000 worth of research will analyse relevant contemporary qualitative and quantitative information and research across economic, social and environmental issues with focus on the interaction between these factors in determining the viability of onshore petroleum and, separately, UOG development.
Policy makers will use the research to formulate evidence based policy options and provide Ministers with the information required to make fully informed decisions about future petroleum development.The potential for UOG in Northern Ireland is greatest in the parts of Fermanagh that constitute the Lough Allen Basin.
In May 2019, Tamboran Resources (UK) submitted a petroleum licence application which could eventually lead to fracking and which covered an area of 608 square kilometres.
On the Department for the Economy’s website the general aims of the research are to inform understanding, based on a current knowledge of the resource that might exist in Northern Ireland, of the potential economic, social and environmental benefits and disbenefits to Northern Ireland of onshore oil and gas development for conventional and unconventional gas development, in both the exgploration phase and commercial extraction stages; inform identification of the key economic, social and environmental variables that may be impacted by conventional and unconventional gas development, and to determine suitable indicators against which the impacts can be assessed; compare the economic, social and environmental variables to those of a continuing reliance on the importation of oil and gas; compare the economic, social and environmental variables to those of increased reliance on renewable energy technologies; inform Identification of any potential cross-border implications of conventional or unconventional oil and gas development; inform policy development on conventional and unconventional oil and gas exploration and development.
The research is intended to be an independent assessment and a final report should be provided and presentation made to senior department officials within four to six months of the signing of the contract.