Oil and gas exploration at Woodburn Forest, Ireland

In May 2016, after considerable opposition, the company InfraStrata started drilling at Woodburn Forest site in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Stop the Drill campaigners are seeking to stop it.


In May 2016, after considerable opposition, the company InfraStrata  started drilling at Woodburn Forest site in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, and said it expects to complete the well within the next six weeks.

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Basic Data
NameOil and gas exploration at Woodburn Forest, Ireland
CountryUnited Kingdom
ProvinceNorthern Ireland, County Antrim
SiteMid and East Antrim Council
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Specific CommoditiesCrude oil
Natural Gas
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsOne exploratory well being drilled in Woodburn Forest in 2016 by the company Infrastrata aimed at 25 million barrels of oil. There is opposition by local people, as described in this blog entry by http://www.greenlassie.com/tag/woodburn-forest/

"I’ve written about Woodburn a few times before in this blog ... and carried the news to Paris with me in December (2015). Very sadly, despite the valiant efforts of Stop the Drill, some wise and farsighted local residents, Friends of the Earth and Green Party representatives Ross Brown on Belfast City Council and Steven Agnew in the Northern Assembly, the situation has gone from bad to worse. The people of Antrim and Belfast, who rely upon Woodburn Reservoir for their daily drinking water, have been let down by NI Water, which leased this vulnerable catchment area for commercial oil and gas extraction by the ever-shifting group of interests fronted by InfraStrata, by the Environment Minister and his department, which granted permitted development rights for exploratory drilling without planning permission, by the Minister for Enterprise and DETI, which unilaterally varied the terms of the licence in the company’s favour, and by the majority of councillors and MLAs, who are content to see this destruction and potential danger go ahead."
Project Area (in hectares)20
Level of Investment (in USD)not available
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population130,000
Start Date04/02/2016
End Date21/06/2016
Company Names or State EnterprisesNorthern Ireland Water (NI Water) from United Kingdom - Holds property of the site that has been leased to the company conducting the drill.
Infrastrata from United Kingdom - Company conducting the exploratory drill.
Relevant government actorsDepartment of the Environment Northern Ireland
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersStop the Drill campaign http://www.stopthedrillcampaign.com/. Facebook: Don't Drill Antrim Water.

Friends of the Earth NI https://www.foe.co.uk/northern-ireland/northern_ireland_index
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Informal workers
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Trade unions
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Boycotts of companies-products
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Global warming, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Oil spills, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Militarization and increased police presence, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of livelihood
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseRepression
Strengthening of participation
Project cancelled
Project temporarily suspended
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.Firstly, the campaign facilitated the articulation of a network concerned about the potential impacts of the project. Secondly, the exploratory drilling was stopped after some joint venture partners decided to withdraw its support to further drilling due to the difficult circumstances encountered in the site.
Sources and Materials

Woodburn Forest row: Protesters ordered to leave Carrickfergus test drilling site or face court, by Nevin Farrell and Jonny Bell, 08/03/2016
[click to view]

Short description of Woodburn Forest
[click to view]

Stop the drill campaign website
[click to view]

The Irtish Times, 17 June 2016, Johna Monaghan, Company behind Woodburn Forest oil drill call off project
[click to view]

Media Links

Friends of the Earth video on Woodburn Forest
[click to view]

Other Documents

Exploration site view
[click to view]

[click to view]

Protest camp at the forest edge April 2016. Visit at Woodburn forest on a bank holiday.
[click to view]

Protest-crtical mass bike ride at Belfast city Hall 11/06/2016
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorAlfred Burballa Noria
Last update14/07/2016