Peel eyes shale gas opportunities

PEEL Group is looking to benefit from a potential shale gas boom through agreements with exploration firm IGas on its land around the Manchester Ship Canal.

The two companies have been working together since 2010 and Peel has leased five drilling sites to the energy company which is currently at the centre of protests by anti-fracking activists at an exploratory site in Barton Moss, Salford.

Latest filed accounts for Peel Land and Property state, “an exploration drill has been completed at Ince Park and a second drill will be undertaken towards Irlam in October 2013” – referring to the activity at Barton which is currently underway.

The report adds: “Peel Environmental continues to explore downstream opportunities arising from the development of this shale gas reserve.”

In the summer IGas revised up the potential for shale gas across its North West licence areas. It told investors that there may be 172.3 trillion cubic feet of gas, up from nine million, in an area which includes the Peel sites.

The accounts for the year to March show revenues slipped 12.6% to £85.8m. Pre-tax profits jumped to £31.9m from a loss of £20.8m last time.

The company’s bottom line benefited from revenue of £36.7m from the sale of a number of subsidiaries as part of a restructure. During the year the business paid interest of £55.6m on debt worth £920m.

Rents slipped 6% to £62.2m and vacant space increase by 10% to 985,000 sq ft. The group said occupancy rates declined by 1% due to tenants going into administration. During the year property sales raised £16.6m, up from £5.5m, as it continued to sell what it described as “non-core” assets.