Drilling activity starts at onshore Antrim oil well
Surrey-based InfraStrata has commenced drilling activity at a controversial oil well at Woodburn Forest in Co Antrim.
The representative body for the UK oil and gas sector has said it is an important test of whether Northern Ireland could have its own oil and gas industry, reducing its reliance on imported energy.
The project has been met with protests by residents, who are concerned that the project might contaminate the local water supply. Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has also spoken against the project.
InfraStrata chief executive Andrew Hindle said the company is "committed to completing this project in an environmentally responsible and safe manner and will seek to minimise disruption for local residents at all times".
He said he wanted to thank the site's construction team for dedication they had shown "during very difficult and challenging circumstances". The drilling is set to conclude in five or six weeks.
The exploratory well will be plugged and abandoned after it is drilled. Any further development at the site will require more planning permission.
InfraStrata has a 20pc interest and seven different partners in the project, which is located in an area that has been lightly explored for oil and gas thus far. Partners include Baron Oil and Horizon Energy Partners.
In geological terms, the area is seen as similar to the East Irish Sea basin from which gas has been recovered.
The InfraStrata well will dig 2,000 metres underground. The company has undertaken a major analysis of seismic data covering 400 kilometres.
Analysts at Allenby Capital give the well a 16pc chance of success.
Sunday Indo Business