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Warwick Energy Exploration Limited, a subsidiary of Warwick Energy Limited (Warwick), has been awarded additional onshore exploration licences by the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) under the 14th round of onshore licence awards. The three new licence awards are in North Lancashire, South Yorkshire and the Derbyshire/Nottinghamshire border.

These are all areas where the company has successfully operated natural gas exploration and recovery in the past from sandstone and limestone formations. The additional licences are chiefly designed to test the potential of the deeper, shale formations in these particular areas.

The licences afford a period of exclusivity during which Warwick can carry out detailed, unobtrusive environmental and geological reviews. The reviews for each area are expected to take up to two years, during which time no drilling operations will be undertaken. If suitable oil or gas potential is considered to exist, and if suitable drilling locations can be found, Warwick may commit itself to applying for permission to drill one or more exploration wells to test the productiveness of the formations in the area.

In line with best practise, if drilling proposals are considered appropriate, then a full consultation with all local stakeholders will be carried out, together with a comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment, before any planning application is made for specific sites. As well as planning permission each well would require consents from the Environment Agency, DECC and HSE before drilling could commence.

Given the time period needed to conduct all of these activities to the highest standards it is unlikely that any drilling activities, should they be proposed and approved, will commence much before 2020.

Warwick will be working closely with national and local political representatives, and local planning authorities, throughout this process.

1. Warwick is an experienced UK developer of a range of energy projects, both in conventional and renewable energy. These include the exploration and production of gas, gas storage and offshore wind developments.

2. It is a member of UKOOG and adheres to the organisation’s codes of practice.

3. Warwick has held a range of onshore and offshore exploration licences in the UK since 2001 and benefits from relevant experience within its management team stretching back to the 1970’s covering many drilling, and hydraulic fracturing operations.

4. Shale formations in the UK hold the potential to add significantly to the UK’s hydrocarbon reserves but no tests have yet been conducted to establish the potential resource that might be technically and economically developed. Only following the drilling of a number of exploration wells in different locations will it be clearer what opportunity exists to reduce imports to the UK (thus improving our energy security and reducing the balance of payment deficit) and increase economic activity (jobs and landowner/community benefits).

5. Although the consumption of gas across the UK has been falling over recent years, as we continue to decarbonise our economy, the UK still imports over half of the gas that it consumes. Production from the North Sea is expected to continue to fall faster than demand. It is therefore expected that, even as demand for gas continues to fall as envisaged under the Paris Agreement, the UK will need to import significant quantities of gas up to 2050 unless it is able to unlock the potential from its shale formations.

6. In response to some press and public concerns regarding certain aspects of hydraulic fracturing operations the UK Government initiated a series of independent reviews. Reports by the Royal Society, the Royal Academy of Engineering and Public Health England considered a wide range of evidence and the existing UK regulatory regime for these operations. Their advice outlined the risks, suggested some further regulations (that have been implemented) and concluded that; ‘The health, safety and environmental risks associated with hydraulic fracturing ….. as a means to extract shale gas can be managed effectively in the UK as long as operational best practices are implemented and enforced’.

7. Warwick Energy supports the conclusions and recommendations of the independent  Task Force on Shale Gas led by Lord Chris Smith, in particular the need for exploratory wells to be drilled in order for the UK to better estimate the potential shale gas reserves and that shale gas can contribute to the decarbonisation of the UK economy.

Contacts: Rob Jones, Director, Warwick Energy 01789 471091

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