Poole Bay oil rig coming this Winter at the earliest as regulator looks at the impact on salmon
Corallian Energy, the oil and gas licence operator for the area some 8km off Bournemouth beach, and a similar distance from Studland, had hoped drilling would begin on an appraisal well in the ‘Colter Prospect’ this summer.
However full financing for the scheme was only secured last month, and the firm and proposed well operator Fraser Well Management still face a number of environmental tests. Drilling, if approved, is not expected to begin before the Winter.
A spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said oil industry regulator OPRED is “preparing a separate Habitats Regulations Assessment to address potential impacts of the proposed drilling operations on a number of European protected sites in the general vicinity of the proposed operations, to evaluate the effect, if any, that the proposals will have on the integrity of the sites or the designated features or species”.
In particular, the applicants must demonstrate the drilling, using a jack-up rig in water some 16m deep, and to a depth of 1,800m underground, will not have an impact on salmon in protected sites.
The department spokesman said: “If the Environmental Statement is accepted, additional submissions will be required before drilling can be finally approved.
“Corallian, as licence operator, will have to seek well consent from the Oil and Gas Authority, and Fraser Well Management, as the well operator, will have to seek a number of environmental approvals from OPRED and submit a well notification to the Offshore Safety Directive Regulator.”
Local campaigners have expressed concern about the rig’s impact, alongside Bournemouth council, Dorset Wildlife Trust, Christchurch MP Sir Christopher Chope and TV presenters Chris Packham and Kate Humble.
Sara Pascoe of Save Our Shores Bournemouth said: “Any drilling poses the risk of a spill. And such a spill could go as far as Norway decimating the local coastal environment for decades or longer.
“This would risk Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty including England’s only natural World Heritage Site the Jurassic Coast, and would endanger protected species including seahorses and seagrass. Even drilling in the seabed without an oil spill will damage the local environment by bringing up heavy metals and other contaminants that are not normally exposed.”
Find out more about the group at facebook.com/SOSBournemouth
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