Colin Hutchinson, CEO of Ascent Resources plc, commented: The proper development of the Petišovci natural gas field poses no significant environmental risk and will benefit the Slovenian environment as the country switches to cleaner gas from more polluting energy sources.
At the same time the project will benefit the Slovenian economy by creating jobs, investment and tax revenue. The project is also important strategically for Slovenia as it can reduce its reliance on imported energy supplies.”
The Board of Ascent is pleased to announce that our JV partners have been informed by the Slovenian Environment Agency (“ARSO”) that it has again approved the permit application (“IPPC”) for the installation of a processing plant at Petišovci, that the Company and its Slovenian partners originally submitted in June 2014, subject to any further appeal.
The Board of Ascent will reserve further comment until it has received official confirmation from ARSO that the appeals period has elapsed.
The IPPC permit is important to the Company and to Slovenia. It will allow the installation of a small processing facility which would enable Slovenian gas to be sold into the Slovenian national grid system. Currently, virtually all production from the field is exported untreated to Croatia. Slovenia currently imports 99.9% of its natural gas needs from Russia and elsewhere.
Natural gas is the least polluting fossil fuel and will be of growing importance over the next thirty years as Slovenia transitions to lower carbon energy sources. Slovenia currently generates most of its domestic electricity from nuclear and coal.
While the final award of the IPPC Permit would be very welcome the partners also require the well permits to develop the project.
The well permits are required to re-stimulate the existing wells with low volume hydraulic stimulation and we continue to hope that this permit is awarded without further unnecessary delay as the process is well understood and carries no significant risk to the environment according to third party experts.
· There is a long history of Oil and Gas production at the Petišovci field since the 1940s with over 160 wells drilled. Low volume hydraulic stimulation has been carried out on at least 50 wells since 1956 without incident.
· The process is commonplace across the region and is specifically permitted under EU Regulation.
· There was an Environmental Impact Assessment carried out by the Geological Survey of Slovenia in 2012 after Pg-10 and Pg-11A were drilled which concluded there was no significant environmental risk.
· During the current preliminary screening application process, six independent government bodies were consulted by ARSO and all six concluded that the process carried no significant environmental risk.
· A significant level of additional information has already been provided by the partners to ARSO in a spirit of full co-operation and disclosure.
· We have materially exceeded the level of scrutiny normally required and a process which should take two months has taken close to two years.
Forcing the partners to carry out a further environmental impact assessment is therefore unnecessary and contrary to Slovenian and EU Law. It would further delay the development of a project which has significant benefit to the Company and to Slovenia. We continue to hope that the Environment Ministry will take a decision on this permit based on the facts of the case.