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FRACKING operations could be brought to the Formby countryside as mining firms eye up shale oil deposits beneath the old oilfield.

Scottish company Aurora Petroleum are set to explore the site for conventional oil in the coming weeks.

However, Aurora revealed there was potential for fracking there in the future, with the area thought to possess shale oil reserves.

Fracking operations in Banks have been targeted by protestors fearing it damages the environment. Last month the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) confirmed minor earthquakes detected near Blackpool last year were caused by fracking nearby.

At the end of this month Aurora are planning to begin exploring for conventional oil left from previous operations at the site. Between 1939 and 1965 the oilfield produced 72,000 barrels of lucrative oil.

If successful, mining on the site will be low profile, with Aurora tapping into shallow reserves.

But, with shale oil deposits deeper below the oilfield at Norris Farm on Downholland Moss Lane, fracking is a possibility for the future.

Aurora MD Ian Roche said: “It (fracking) is certainly part of the prospects of the place. Under our licence we have the commitment to look at all the aspects of the place for oil and gas and that is one area – and is certainly an area seeing a lot of interest in the UK and Europe following on from the US and may come in the future.”

Aurora’s exploration license borders with Cuadrilla – the company responsible for fracking operations in Banks. While the companies are in contact they have not discussed drilling for shale oil at Norris Farm – though Aurora’s website declares the company is looking for “an industry partner to progress this exciting new play”.

Any fracking operation would need planning permission from West Lancs Borough Council.

Eve McNamara, of campaign group Ribble Estuary Against Fracking (REAF), said: “We are concerned about any operation that involves the use of large amounts of water and chemicals…it diverts attention and resources away from renewable energy.”

Formby Times, 1 May 2012