There will be no drilling in Manx waters this year, with the company behind plans to exploit a gas field and the government in talks over amendments to the licence granted.

Crogga, which has a licence to drill in an area off the coast of Maughold, had previously said it wanted to drill an appraisal well later this year.

However, its plans have come off the rails, with the company saying it is returning money raised from islanders through its offering memorandum.

In a statement issued today, the company blamed the Manx government for the delay to its plans, saying the government had ‘taken no visible steps toward publishing the drilling and field development regulations required to provide a consent to drill a well and guidelines to develop a gas field’.

Particularly in Crogga’s firing line is the Department of Infrastructure, saying: ‘Inaction on the part of the DoI has delayed drilling of the Crogga Independence 112/25a-2 appraisal well from 2023 to 2024.’

The company said: ‘As the first well to be drilled under Manx jurisdiction, it is not surprising there are no published Isle of Man drilling regulations.

‘It is however surprising that the Isle of Man government seems so reluctant to request assistance from the UK North Sea Transition Authority who have permitted more than 6,000 exploration and appraisal wells on the UK Continental Shelf, several hundred of which are in the East Irish Sea adjacent to Manx waters.’

Crogga said that, as a result of this, it will now be 2027 at the earliest before gas could be commercially extracted from the Manx seas.

In essence, the issue is surrounding Crogga’s bid to alter the terms of the licence, which required 3D seismic surveys to be completed before drilling could begin.

Richard Hubbard of Crogga
Richard Hubbard (Isle of Man Newspapers Gef)

The company’s chief executive officer, Richard Hubbard, has claimed this is not necessary and that Crogga’s plans should be allowed to continue to the next phase.

A spokesperson for the DoI said that it was continuing to assess the application to vary the terms and bring forward the drilling of an appraisal well.

They said: ‘Full consideration is being given to the consequences of this proposal and Crogga’s ability to undertake this under the provisions of the licence.

‘A decision on this will be made in due course, in consultation with professional technical advisors appointed by the department, and communicated to Crogga.

‘The department looks forward to continuing working with Crogga to determine how best to achieve the outcomes envisaged when the licence was originally awarded, whether this be through the variation of the licence or by undertaking activities in accordance with the current licence.’

While the company has criticised a lack of engagement from the government, Isle of Man Today understands that there has been an exchange of letters between the NSTA and senior figures in the Manx government, but that it is only able to provide limited assistance on the matter.