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Tuesday, 02 September 2014

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Everything to play for in Morecambe Bay

ONGOING exploratory work could be the key to securing the future of 400 jobs.

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Centrica Energy Regional Director Mike Astell

Centrica Energy is carrying out tests in a bid to find more gas around its gas fields in the eastern Irish Sea.

The Morecambe Bay field, which has been operating since 1985 and supplies around eight per cent of the UK’s residential gas supply, was expected to run out by the end of the decade.

However, Centrica Energy is now looking at production well into 2020 and possibly even beyond. And full pipes means people in work.

Last year the firm was drilling in the Rhyll gas field, 39km from the Barrow coast, and conducting seismic scans in the Morecambe Bay gas field.

Seismic exploration work in the area is at an “early stage”. This is the first seismic activity in the area for more than a decade.

It is hoped the work will reveal signs of porous rock, such as sandstone, which is often a positive indicator of gas being present.

Centrica Energy, which remains one of the biggest employers in the region, is hopeful of finding further gas off the North West coast and said should this happen, jobs in Barrow and Morecambe would be secured, as well as potential apprenticeship programmes.

This is UK gas, produced from a UK field using UK infrastructure, which will continue to play a significant role for the foreseeable future.

With more exploration activity planned in the region it’s no wonder that Mike Astell, Regional Director for Centrica
Energy’s East Irish Sea business, is optimistic about the future.

He said: “These are very exciting times for the business as we continue to invest in both our assets and our people to extend our operations in the East Irish Sea. With more exploration activity planned in the region, there is everything to play for.

“From our graduates to our Offshore Installation Managers, everyone has a role to play to ensure safe operations long into the future as we continue to secure energy for the UK, and jobs for the local area.

“Centrica Energy remains very committed to the area and the community. We will continue to be a key local employer at our East Irish Sea gas terminals, Morecambe Bay gas fields and Heysham offices including through our Rampside apprenticeship scheme, which continues to train the next generation of engineers.”

News of the renewed search has been met with enthusiasm in Barrow.

Councillor Brendan Sweeney, deputy leader of Barrow Borough Council, said: “The gas terminal has provided good quality jobs for Barrow and district for a good number of years.

“It would be really useful for the town if more gas was found. It would be excellent news in terms of employment, particularly if they could take on apprentices.”

Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock said: “Centrica’s welcome investment in gas drilling is helping cement Furness as a key part of Cumbria’s energy coast.

“Successfully opening up new fields would in turn sustain current jobs and have the potential to create new apprenticeships – opportunities that are badly needed for young people.”

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