IGas starts exploratory drilling in Barton as first half profits drop

Suzie Neuwirth
SHALE gas explorer IGas yesterday said it has begun exploration drilling at Barton, Greater Manchester, as it unveiled first-half profits that had more than halved from last year.

The company posted relatively flat revenues of £36.2m, compared to £33.4m in the first half of last year. But pre-tax profits fell from £10.23m in the first half of 2012 to £4.62m this year.

Environmental campaigners have protested against IGas’ exploratory drilling at the Barton site, in case shale gas is found and will need fracking to extract it.

Critics claim that the controversial hydraulic fracturing technique – known as fracking – causes earth tremors.

“It remains our priority to engage with local communities as fully as possible to ensure we maintain our social licence to operate,” said chief executive Andrew Austin.

The Aim-listed firm also said that its expects to complete its acquisition of independent UK oil and gas explorer Caithness Oil “imminently”.

“It is clear that the most exciting time in the company’s history is about to start,” said Malcolm Graham-Wood, analyst at VSA Capital. “The move by the Treasury to permit fracking has brought forward the great move into unconventional plays.”