Government discussions with a company that hopes to exploit a gasfield off the east coast of the island are ongoing.

The licence that the company, Crogga, currently holds requires a 3D seismic survey before exploratory drilling can take place, but the company is requesting a variation to the licence and had been waiting for a decision to be made by the Department of Infrastructure.

Crogga’s requested variation to the licence would enable the company to drill an appraisal well using the results of a 2D Seismic Survey undertaken in 1982 and reprocessed in 1996, by British Petroleum, which was interested in the gasfield at the time.

Former infrastructure minister, and Douglas Central MHK Chris Thomas, questioned a number of ministers on the matter in the House of Keys this week.

He asked the current Infrastructure Minister Tim Crookall, when the department will be making a decision on the matter and whether it will be going to Council of Ministers.

Mr Crookall said that there are ongoing talks with Crogga at the moment and confirmed that it will be going to CoMin.

Mr Thomas asked Minister for Environment, Food and Agriclture, Clare Barber, what BP concluded and recommended in respect of seismic data exploration and appraisal of the Permian gas discovery were to be pursued.

Mrs Barber said that in 1982 when BP held its first licence a well was drilled based on 2D seismic data.

‘The well was found to contain gas, however no gas flow was observed and the well was plugged and abandoned.

‘When BP held their second licence, they proposed a work programme to reprocess seismic data, undertake reservoir deliverability studies, undertake a gas market study, fund a marine environment study, undertake a 3D seismic survey and drill an appraisal well.

‘However in 1997 after completing their technical study, BP decided not to drill an appraisal well and not to collect 3D seismic data.’

‘Bp decided to relinquish the licence in 2001 based on the discovery and prospects not being economically attractive due to the discovered volume being small, risk on reservoir delivery being high and the cost of stand alone development being too high.’

Mr Thomas said: ‘I would have thought more geophysics geology sedimentology, 3D geological modelling laboratory analysis, drilling analysis, reservoir engineering, engineering of gas composition, gas properties, reservoir pressures, permeability analysis, mathematical modelling and computer simulation modelling with deterministic scenario and probabilistic volumetric calculations would have been necessary to get the licence.

‘Why would government even consider such a variant which would risk our nation’s national natural resources?’