Puzzle as vandals sabotage gas site

The redundant borehole on the Halite land near Barnaby's Sands and (below) chief executive Keith Budinger.
The redundant borehole on the Halite land near Barnaby's Sands and (below) chief executive Keith Budinger.
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VANDALS have targeted a gas company’s equipment after trespassing on land and covering it in flammable liquid.

Halite Energy alerted police after a liquid – believed to be kerosene – was poured over and around a now unused borehole on land at Barnaby’s Sands, near Preesall.

Chief executive Keith Budinger

Chief executive Keith Budinger

The field is close to the Wyre Way – and local residents have said they are “baffled” the culprit managed to tamper with the valve and escape unnoticed.

It is the second time the energy firm believe it has been the victim of sabotage after a brine well exploded last year – although a police investigation could not find enough evidence to support its claims.

Halite was alerted to the tampering on Friday night by a local farmer, and the firm’s chief executive Keith Budinger said: “As always, safety is our primary concern and I would ask any member of the community to report any suspicious activity that they may have seen on or around Friday March 30 to the Police.

“I’d like to reiterate that there is no danger to the local community as a result of this incident but would ask people to remain vigilant.”

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The tampered borehole was last used by Halite for test drilling samples back in January 2009.

It is now redundant and the firm has stressed it is not under any pressure and contains only mud.

A gauge from the borehole had been removed and cannot be traced, but Halite’s contractors secured the site.

June Jackson, from Stalmine Parish Council, lives nearby and said the borehole was “clearly visible” from the surrounding area.

She said: “I don’t understand how this could have happened without anybody noticing, particularly Halite’s security men.

“The site is adjacent to the Wyre Way, it’s miles from anywhere and it’s clearly visible from all directions.

“It is simply a test borehole and I would wonder what anybody would wish to achieve by trying to set it on fire.”

There was no damage to the surrounding area and Halite said the field is still being tilled and prepared for planting.

Halite wants to build a massive underground gas storage facility at Preesall and has lodged its plans with the Independent Planning Commission.

Similar plans from Canataxx attracted widespread protest and were rejected twice.

Lancashire Police confirmed it was investigating the incident.

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