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Peel 'aiming to create fracking hub'

09 March 2015

The managing director of Peel Gas & Oil said the new Manchester-headquartered subsidiary was looking to support fracking across the entire Bowland Shale area.

Peel last week launched an oil and gas business to help realise the potential economic benefits of fracking.

The group is already working with onshore hydrocarbon producer IGas on three sites in the North West – Barton Moss, Ellesmere Port and Ince – where exploratory holes have been drilled and shale gas discovered.

However, Peel hopes to make further inroads into the sector when the government announces the 14th UK onshore oil and gas licensing round, which is expected shortly.

It is looking to exploit opportunities across the Bowland Shale region, where there are apparently 100 sites worth exploring including a large number that are not currently looked after by Peel.

The Bowland Shale region covers Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Cheshire, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Staffordshire and Shropshire.

Myles Kitcher is managing director of Peel Gas & Oil and also holds the same position at Peel Environmental.

He said: "We want to create a hub for the Northern Powerhouse region for the onshore gas market.

"We've looked at the onshore market for some years and seen it growing but we saw that it was very different to the offshore sector. It's an entirely different development requirement.

"We can help with the early development phase. We can bring forward stakeholder engagement and planning permission, and help them to do what they do best, which is drilling holes and extracting gas."

The selection of fracking sites across the UK has met with fierce resistance from environmental and safety campaigners. But Kitcher feels the dangers have been overstated.

He said: "We've looked at the evidence and we believe the case has been made for the safe and responsible extraction of shale gas. It's one of the most highly regulated industries in the world and the risks can be managed satisfactory."

Kitcher added that he has had no involvement with Cuadrilla's efforts to start fracking at two sites in Lancashire. But he said that Peel would "watch with interest and support them where possible".

He added: "We need to drill exploratory holes across the UK and test them so we can see what's there and what we can recover, which would enable us to have a proper debate. As a result, we're keen to see Cuadrilla's plans happen."

According to a report published by Amion Consulting, which was commissioned jointly by Peel Environmental and Igas Energy, fracking could bring huge economic benefits to the North West's Ocean Gateway region.

It claims that unlocking approximately 5 trillion cubic feet of shale gas in the region – which covers Liverpool, Manchester, Cheshire and Warrington – could trigger a £10bn boost for the region and support up to 3,500 jobs.

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