Northern Ireland

Infrastrata: NI oil drilling plan secures replacement funding

Woodburn reservoir
Image caption The well site is within the catchment of Woodburn reservoir, which supplies drinking water to 1,800 streets in Belfast and Carrickfergus

A company that plans to drill for oil in County Antrim has said it has secured funding which will allow the scheme to go ahead.

Infrastrata intends to drill an exploratory well on a site at Woodburn forest outside Carrickfergus.

It was left with a £2.8m hole in the project's finances after a partner company pulled out last year.

It has now said it has found new partners. There has been opposition to the plan from environmentalists.

The site is leased from Northern Ireland Water.

It is within the catchment of a reservoir that supplies drinking water to 1,800 streets in Belfast and Carrickfergus.

Northern Ireland Water has said it believes the project will not have a detrimental impact on the public water supply.

A condition of the new finance agreement is that the well is drilled in the first half of this year.

Infrastrata has said it will be a conventional drilling operation and will not involve the controversial practice known as "fracking".

The company said surveys indicate the presence of 25m barrels of oil 2,000 metres underground.

Green councillor Ross Brown said he was "concerned" that the project was back on.

He said it was "crucial that the most robust regulatory process is applied".

Infrastrata's chief executive, Andrew Hindle, said the news was the "culmination of five years hard work".

He said the development of an oil and gas industry could have a "positive impact" on Northern Ireland's economy.

The exploratory well was given the go-ahead under what are called permitted development rights.

That means it did not need planning permission.

If oil is found and the company wanted to exploit it, it would have to apply for planning permission.

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