Several companies are currently exploring the possibilities of shale oil in Northern Ireland, and Enegi Oil is the latest company to apply for an exploration license. Since February 2011 the independent oil and gas company have carried out an extensive work program evaluating the Clare Basin Licensing Option and the possibility for shale oil, which they now believe to be highly prospective.
There is evidence of shale oil reserves throughout Northern Ireland, particularly in the Northwest and Co Fermanagh which are currently being explored. It’s been estimated that around 1.5 billion barrels of oil could be sitting beneath Northern Ireland, potentially worth around £80 billion. But there are worries around the environmental risks the extraction of shale oil brings – known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
Fermanagh relies heavily upon agriculture and tourism in the area, developing any shale oil discoveries here or in similar areas could potentially destroy the existing economy of these areas. Northern Ireland’s Environmental Minister is supporting the launch of an all-Ireland hydraulic fracking consultation exercise, to determine exactly what impact the process could have on Northern Ireland.
The development of these shale oil discoveries and future discoveries could change the future of the UK and its economy. Any development would contribute to investment, employment and provide energy independence for the UK and its economy. It is thought that shale oil will help to balance oil costs, putting a cap on rising oil prices around the world.