Guidance for Licensees – PL2/10 Tamboran Resources Pty Ltd (relevant to Infrastrata

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Guidance for Licensees – PL2/10 Tamboran Resources Pty Ltd  (relevant to Infrastrata)

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PL2/10 Tamboran Resources Pty Ltd
Guidance for Licensees
The following guidance is issued by Minerals and Petroleum Branch (MAPB), DETI, to assist petroleum licensees in the planning and operation of exploration activities on their licence. Some of the guidance arises from the responses to a consultation exercise carried out by MAPB after the initial offer of the licence. It should not be considered to be exhaustive but indicates the main responsibilities of the Licensee when planning and undertaking work on their licence.

1. Licensees are advised to consult MAPB at their earliest convenience when planning field-based activities on the licence. DETI are obliged, under the Conservation (Natural Habitats, etc) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1995 as amended, to carry out screening of Licensees’ plans to determine if they are likely to have a significant environmental effect on designated areas (Special Areas of Conservation, Special Protected Areas) and, if they are, carry out an assessment of these effects. Likewise, DETI must assess the likely effects of licence activities on Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSIs). DETI realises that this screening and assessment cannot take place until the Licensee has made, and submitted, firm plans for these activities, which may not be scheduled until the latter part of the Initial Term, and may be dependent on the results from preceding exploration studies/activities.  However, both these processes will involve consultation with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) and other relevant bodies so Licensees should build adequate time for this into their work schedule. DETI may also ask Licensees to provide information to help enable this screening and, if necessary, appropriate assessment to be carried out. 2. Licensees are advised to consult with statutory bodies and other relevant organisations during the planning of field-based exploration activities on their licence areas to ensure that they obtain all the consents or permissions that they may need, and to minimise or mitigate any potential environmental, operational or health and safety risks. While it is expected that most exploration activities will be permitted in the licence area there may be restrictions with regard to operational procedures, location and/or timing. 3. Licensees are encouraged to be pro-active and open in their involvement with local communities, organisations and elected representatives from the licence area. Previous experience has shown that this approach generates trust and facilitates the smooth running of exploration programmes.
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4. The Licence contains a two part ‘Drill or Drop’ work programme to be carried out during the initial term of the Licence. If the Licensee wishes to apply to continue the Licence into the Second Term then they must commit to drill a well during the Initial Term, with the drilling commitment to be made before the Break Point at end of Year Three. If the Licensee decides not to drill, the Department still requires Part I of this work programme to be completed, to the satisfaction of the Department, for the Licensee to discharge its responsibility for the Initial Term.
The main actions arising from the responses to the consultation are summarised below, together with a list of contacts from the various bodies involved. Some of the responses apply to all the petroleum licence applications received whereas others are specific to individual applications. DETI’s approach to issues raised is given, where appropriate. Copies of the actual responses will be supplied to Licensees separately.
1. Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA)  NIEA requires DETI to carry out screening and, if necessary, appropriate assessments with respect to Licensees’ exploration plans and their potential environmental effects on SACs, SPAs, RAMSAR sites and ASSIs, as described above.  NIEA have recommended that
‘a precautionary approach be taken by attaching a condition to any licence issued that no petroleum production operations or activities should be undertaken within or in close proximity to an ASSI.’
DETI propose including the following clause:
The Licensee shall not carry out any work within or in close proximity to an Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI) without the prior written consent of the Department.
This would allow Licensee to submit their proposals to DETI and allow the Department to meet its obligations under Article 40 (public bodies: duties in relation to authorising operations) of the Environment (Northern Ireland) Order 2002.
 NIEA draws the Licensee’s attention to the fact that the licence area may contain species protected by law [see the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985 and the Conservation (Natural Habitats, etc) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1995 as amended]. NIEA recommend that appropriate surveys are undertaken prior to the commencement of any petroleum exploration activity or operation and that such surveys are undertaken by a suitably qualified surveyor.    NIEA also observes that the Licence Application Area may contain habitats, species, earth science and landscape interests which are provided with a degree of protection via the Northern Ireland Planning
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In addition habitat, species, earth science and landscape surveys could be carried out to identify areas and amenities which are likely to be of conservation value or are particularly vulnerable to impact from the proposed development.  NIEA recommends that the surveys should be undertaken by a suitably qualified surveyor. The timing of habitat and species surveys is often critical and should therefore be carried out during appropriate times of year.
DETI supports the recommendation for Licensees to carry out such surveys where these are appropriate for the type, location and timing of licence activity being proposed. In the first instance, Licensees are advised to contact NIEA, Planning Service, the RSPB and MAPB to discuss this.
Contact:  Mark Hammond Conservation, Designation & Protection Northern Ireland Environment Agency Klondyke Building Cromac Avenue Gasworks Business Park Lower Ormeau Road Belfast. BT72JA Tel: 028 9056 9579 E-mail: mark.hammond@doeni.gov.uk
2. RSPB  The RSPB ‘believes that the challenge of climate change demands a revolution in the way we use and generate energy, ending our dependency on fossil fuels, massively reducing the amount of energy we use and delivering environmentally sustainable renewable energy. The RSPB want this revolution to take place in harmony with the natural environment’ and has argued that the natural environment must not be sacrificed in pursuit of wider public policy objectives. This is the context for their response to the consultation.  RSPB asserts that DETI is required to carry out an Article 6 assessment of the licence proposals under the terms of the Conservation (Natural Habitats, etc) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1995 (as amended).
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DETI agrees that Article 6 screening and, if necessary, assessment is required for the exploration activities planned under the proposed work programme. However, DETI avers that, as the proposed exploration activities are sequential and dependent on the results of preceding studies, it is appropriate that such screening and assessment be applied to the individual activities only after detailed plans are submitted to the Department. The petroleum licence awards exclusive rights to Licensees with regard to exploration, development and production of petroleum resources but additional departmental consents are required before fieldbased activities can be carried out. It is these consents to which DETI will apply the Article 6 screening and assessment.
 RSPB would welcome a statement from the Licensee that they do not intend to drill in any nationally or internationally designated wildlife sites and that they give a commitment that would rule out any drilling that would negatively affect designated sites.
DETI supports the sentiment of this recommendation and points out to the Licensee that, if significant potential adverse environmental effects from licence activities cannot be ruled out, mitigated, or alternative solutions identified, then the exploration and/or development and production plan could only proceed if there were found to be ‘imperative reasons of overriding public interest’. Subject to the above, DETI believes, however, that drilling proposals should be treated on a ‘case by case’ basis.        RSPB recommends that the licences contain conditions such that, at each new phase, the relevant environmental assessment takes place before any consents are given for work on the ground. RSPB also recommends that the need for other required consents should be made clear in the licence conditions.
DETI believes that it would be inappropriate to specify the different consents that may be required by different government departments in the licence because these may change during the term of the licence (e.g. the forthcoming Wildlife and Natural Environment Bill will impose new biodiversity duties on all public bodies). DETI reiterates the requirement, outlined in the Guidance to Applicants, that it is the Licensee’s responsibility to ensure that all necessary consents are obtained and that written evidence of this will be required before DETI will approve the licence activity in question.
 RSPB urges Licensees to determine the social and economic impacts on local communities and economies and to provide appropriate information to all those potentially affected.
DETI actively encourages this approach as part of Licensees’ involvement with local communities and their representatives.
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 RSPB holds bird data which can be made available to Licensees on request and on receipt of a fee. RSPB landholdings are available to download from the RSPB website at  http://www.rspb.org.uk/ourwork/science/datazone/reserves.aspx
Contact:  Claire Ferry Senior Conservation Officer RSPB Northern Ireland Belvoir Park Forest Belfast BT8 7QT
E-mail:  claire.ferry@rspb.org.uk Tel: 028 9049 1547
3. Planning Service  Prior to any exploratory works to include drilling of exploratory boreholes, Planning Service should be consulted in order to gain confirmation of permitted development rights or a full planning application should be submitted to Planning Service if permitted development rights are not applicable (please see the Planning (Northern Ireland) Order 1991 (“the 1991 Order”) and the Planning General Development (NI) Order 1993).   Licensees should be made aware that the Planning (Control of MajorAccident Hazards) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2009 came into operation on 31st December 2009. These Regulations amend the Planning (Hazardous Substances) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1993 (“the Hazardous Substances Regulations”) (S.R 1993 No.275) to increase the range of dangerous substances for which consent must be obtained for storage or processing, the definitions of these substances, and the amounts allowed before consent must be obtained.  Under the 1991 Order and the Hazardous Substances Regulations, consent for the storage and processing of hazardous substances must be obtained from the Department of the Environment as the authority for hazardous substances. Contact: Niall Marshall Minerals Unit Planning Service Headquarters Millennium House 17-25 Great Victoria Street Belfast BT2 7BN Tel: 028 9041 6901 E-mail: niall.marshall@doeni.gov.uk
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4. Roads Service
Roads Service does not object in principle to the proposal to prospect for Petroleum by Tamboran Resources Pty Ltd., subject to the following;
 Roads Service would want to be assured that the road infrastructure would not be adversely affected by any of the associated operations. Should Licensees wish to carry out any exploration along or adjacent to the public road network, then their attention should be drawn to Article 11 of the Roads (Northern Ireland) Order 1993, which provides for the recovery of expenses incurred by the Department [for Regional Development] in the repair of public roads damaged by excessive weights or extraordinary traffic.  The Divisional Roads Manager must be informed beforehand of the prospecting locations to ensure that any extraordinary damage to the roads can be observed and repaired at the expense of Licensees. In the case of exploration methods which would cause a temporary reduction in carriageway width, it will be necessary to impose specific conditions which require Licensees to bear all costs relating to restricted working or road closure.  It is important that, prior to the commencement of any operations, proper approvals are obtained from Roads Service regarding the access and trucking routes that are to be used.  Licensees will be required to consult with the local roads Maintenance Engineer about any exploration activities on or adjacent to the public road network, and may be required to obtain a Road Opening Permit etc before carrying out any work on the public road.  The Licensee is requested to contact the Divisional Roads Manager as a condition of the licence.
DETI have not inserted this as a condition of the licence but expect the Licensee to do this at an early stage in the planning of any field-based exploration activities.
Contacts: Pat Doherty  Divisional Roads Manager County Hall  Drumragh Avenue  Omagh  BT79 7AF
Tel: 028 8225 4111 E-mail: roads.western@drdni.gov.uk
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5. DARD
 Countryside Management Branch has commented: o Farmland habitats are important for flora and fauna and every precaution should be taken during the exploratory phase to minimise damage to habitat areas.  Specific measures may be required to ensure minimum disturbance or suitable mitigation measures provided following disturbance. o Landowners must be consulted with regard to their participation in agri-environment schemes (Environmentally Sensitive Area Scheme, Countryside Management Scheme and NI Countryside Management Scheme).  If any of the landowners, or lessees, holds management agreements under such schemes they should notify DARD prior to any developments on the land. o Every effort must be made to minimise the impact of soil compaction on agricultural land.  All areas which suffer from compaction should be sub soiled to alleviate the risk of impeded crop growth. o Particular care must be paid to the disposal of spoil from excavations or borings etc.  This can not be dumped on farmland without prior permission from relevant government organisations (DOE/DARD) and should not be disposed of on valuable habitat areas such as species rich grasslands, scrub, heather moorland and wetlands. o Scrub, hedge and woodland removal should not take place between 1 March and 31 August. Under DARD Cross Compliance farmers are not permitted to cut / coppice or lay a hedge during the bird nesting season (1 March to 31 August) unless there is a health and safety or animal welfare reason. o Field boundaries are an important component of the farmed landscape.  Specific measures may be required to ensure minimum disturbance or suitable mitigation measures provided following disturbance.  It is recommended that any reinstatement of hedges are of a traditional mix of species, such as that specified under agrienvironment schemes, planting at a density of 9 plants per metre, with at least five native woody species throughout each 30 metre length of hedge, using a recommended mixture consisting of 75% hawthorn : 25% other species such as blackthorn, hazel, holly, dog rose, whin, beech, guelder rose and willow.  Single species hedges, for example, beech or hawthorn, are not acceptable and no ornamental species should be planted in the open countryside.
Further information is available from  http://www.dardni.gov.uk/index/environment/countryside-managementin-northern-ireland.htm
 Quality Assurance Branch reported that none of the lands as outlined in the map are subject to the terms of a notice relating to Potato Cyst Nematode (PCN) or Potato Wart Disease (PWD).  Therefore there are no restrictions in so far as the Plant Health Order (NI) 2006 is concerned
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on the movement of soil or other material from these lands. The Licensee is, however, requested to confirm this with the Branch prior to undertaking any such activity.  Rivers Agency asks that the Licensee should be aware of their statutory obligations in respect of watercourses as prescribed in the Drainage (NI) Order 1973 and consult with Rivers Agency on any related matters.    Any proposals in connection with any type of development, either temporary or permanent, which involves interference with any watercourse:- such as diversion, culverting, bridging; or placing any form of structure in any watercourse, requires the written consent of Rivers Agency.  Failure to obtain such consent prior to carrying out such proposals is an offence under the Drainage (NI) Order 1973 which may lead to prosecution or statutory action as provided for. Any such application should be made a minimum of 3 months before any proposed works commence.  Forest Service provided a map of grant-aided woodland and Forest Service land that lies within the licence area. Permission will be required before the Licensee can undertake any work in Forest Service land and the Forest Service is also required to give an opinion on proposed projects in respect of the Environmental Impact Assessment (Forestry) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006.  Veterinary Service do not know of any animal health or welfare implications that would affect the Licence, on the basis of the information supplied but have listed the following requirements:
 The boundary fences with surrounding fields, which contain livestock, remain stock proof during construction and operations.  Livestock do not have access to any material being stored and/or processed.  Construction and operations do not result in contamination of surrounding agricultural land and/or waterways by building materials, their by-products, leachate from the site or petroleum.  Livestock do not have access to electricity cables or other live components.  The Licence does not compromise any of the five essential welfare freedoms of livestock in the vicinity i.e. freedom from hunger, thirst or malnutrition, provision of shelter, freedom from injury or disease, freedom from fear, and freedom to express their normal behaviour.
Contact: Denise Mackle Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Countryside Management Development Branch Loughry Campus 76 Dungannon Road Loughry Cookstown BT80 9AA Tel: 028 86757550 ext 36550
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6. Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL)
 DCAL has a statutory responsibility for the conservation and protection of salmonid and inland fisheries within Northern Ireland it protect and administers stocks and enhances important stretches of rivers and reservoirs within the public angling estates. The licence area includes much of the Lagan, Lough Neagh and Larne Lough catchment areas.  The proposed area for exploration has within its boundaries a large number of Loughs and rivers which flow into Lower Lough Erne Lough Macnean and Lough Melvin. Lough Erne has a licensed commercial scale fishery which creates local employment and is valued at £3/4 of a million at first point of sale. It is also a popular destination for anglers, tourists and walkers from all over the world generating revenue and employment for the whole county of Fermanagh. Lough Melvin and Lough Macnean are renowned world wide for their unique and protected populations of Sonaghan, Ferox, Gillaroo trout, and Arctic Char. The rivers and Loughs within the area support populations of salmonids, both salmon, brown/sea trout, eels and various species of course fish including pike which hold a considerable nature conservation and biodiversity value and provide a valuable recreational resource in the form of angling opportunities..  Exploration by borehole drilling and/or seismic could have an impact to salmonid and inland fisheries interests. Fish populations are sensitive to reductions in water quality and salmonid habitat is particularly susceptible to siltation. There is a risk that pollution (e.g. chemicals, fuel, construction materials, high levels of suspended solids) from ground and preparation works may enter watercourses to the detriment of aquatic ecology and consequently fisheries interests. The developer should be aware that aquatic ecology can be impacted not only in the immediate area of works but also significant distances downstream unless comprehensive mitigation measures are applied. DCAL asks that these issues are taken into consideration and addressed to provide:
 A description of the mitigatory measures proposed to prevent, reduce or offset adverse impacts on fisheries
and the Licensee should  understand that
 No works will be carried out on the bed or banks of existing watercourses within the Licence area.  No works will carried out within ten metres of existing or discovered watercourses during preparation works until agreed with NIEA and DCAL.   Any water discharge from works should be consented by Water Management Unit, NIEA, under the Water (Northern Ireland) Order 1999.
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 All works near watercourses to be carried out in line with guidance as described in the Pollution Prevention Guidelines 5 (Works In, Near or Liable to Affect Watercourses).  Storm water should not be discharged to nearby watercourses unless first passed through comprehensive pollution interception and flow attenuation measures in line with SUDS principles. Storm water can carry pollutants into watercourses and high volume discharges can alter the prevailing hydrological regime, both of which can impact on fisheries interests
DETI has not specified these conditions within the Licence but would require the Licensee to comply with them in order to obtain the Department’s consent to carry out field-based exploration activities.
 Licensees should also be aware that it is an offence under section 47 of the Fisheries (Northern Ireland) Act 1966 to cause pollution which is subsequently shown to have a deleterious effect on fish stocks and that they may be liable to criminal and civil court action for the cost of restocking/rehabilitating a watercourse should a fish kill occur.
Contact: Tom Cowan Fisheries Operations and Technical Support DCAL Inland Fisheries Group Causeway Exchange 1-7 Bedford Street Belfast BT2 7EG Tel: 02890515122 E-mail: tom.cowan@dcalni.gov.uk
7. BT
 To protect any BT plant that is be in the area, before any drilling or digging takes place, the contractor or sub contractor must contact BTNI on the following number  “Freefone Dial Before You Dig”   0800 917 3933, choosing Option 1 – this call will be free. This will help to protect BT infrastructure in any areas programmed for excavation.
8. Invest NI
 Invest NI owns a number of properties adjacent to the Licence area in Enniskillen at Carran and Lackaghboy Industrial Estates.
Invest NI has no objection to the Licence in principle; however it will not permit entry to its property without express prior permission which should be sought from Property Solutions Unit.
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Works on the site which may affect existing properties may not be permitted.
Contact: Graham Cardwell Deputy Principal Property Solutions Unit Invest Northern Ireland Bedford Square Bedford Street Belfast BT2 7ES. Direct T: +44 (0) 28 9069 8091  Mobile T: 07796277174 Email: graham.cardwell@investni.com
9. NIE
 Licensees should contact the Northern Ireland Electricity Distribution Service Centre at Carn Industrial Estate, Portadown BT63 5QJ before any site work commences to seek guidance on the location of Northern Ireland Electricity plc equipment and to ensure that the necessary safety proceedings are known and adhered to.
 Licensees should also be advised that they will be held responsible for damages to any equipment of Northern Ireland Electricity plc resulting from their operations and the cost of any alterations to or re-siting of any equipment necessitated by their operations
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10. Health & Safety Executive
 Licensees are advised that many petroleum-related operations are subject to control under Northern Ireland health and safety legislation, particularly exploration well drilling. In the first instance Licensee should contact HSENI to determine what consents are needed for different operations.
Contact: HSENI Headquarters 83 Ladas Drive Belfast BT6 9FR Tel: 028 9024 3249 Fax: 028 9023 5383 Email: hseni@detini.gov.uk
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12. NI Water
NI Water abstract water from this area and expressed concern as to the potential impact of any work on the water quality of their raw water supply. The Licensee should contact NI Water before undertaking any activities that impact on water supply.
Contact: Alison McMullan E-mail: Allison.McMullan@niwater.com
13. Department of Justice
If the applicant company should wish to use explosives this Department and the Firearms & Explosives Branch of the Police Service of Northern Ireland should be informed and provided with a method statement outlining the company’s proposals, explaining their requirements and addressing issues such as the security, transportation and storage of those explosives.  The proposals can then be assessed.
Contact:  Richard Murphy Firearms and Explosives Branch Department of Justice Castle Buildings Stormont Belfast  BT4 3SG Tel 028 90520760 Fax 028 9052 0194 E-mail: Richard.Murphy@dojni.x.gsi.gov.uk
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For further information on this guidance Licensees should contact
Minerals and Petroleum Branch Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment Colby House Stranmillis Court BT9 5BF
Tel:    02890388462 Fax:   02890388461 E-mail:  minerals@detini.gov.uk    sam.mcallister@detini.gov.uk
For technical or geoscience queries please contact:
Geological Survey of Northern Ireland Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment Colby House Stranmillis Court BT9 5BF
Tel:  02890388462 Fax: 02890388461 E-mail:  gsni@detini.gov.uk    derek.reay@detini.gov.uk