Gas storage chief vows jobs boost

Preesall, where Halite is planning its gas storage facility. BELOW: Keith Budinger.
Preesall, where Halite is planning its gas storage facility. BELOW: Keith Budinger.

The man spearheading the £600m plans to construct an underground gas storage facility has revealed more details of the work it could create locally.

Keith Budinger chief executive of Halite Energy based in Kirkham said if the proposal gets the go-ahead in April then the company plans to work with local training groups, suppliers and universities to find the skills it needs locally.

Keith Budinger, chief executive at Halite Energy.

Keith Budinger, chief executive at Halite Energy.

He said: “We are awaiting the decision from DECC which is due from Ed Davey by April 22.

“We have no idea how it is going or whether any recommendations have been made. We are in hiatus.

“However, that said, we are very busy doing a lot of pre-construction planning. If we get permission we want to hit the ground running and get started as soon as possible.

“We have been working hard on the supply chain trying to find material and purchase it locally

“As part of that we have invested £50,000 in a training programme working with Blackpool Build Up to train up local people ready for work on the project.

“We will have a huge requirement for ground work skills – preparing the ground – which is what all major construction projects require. We can train people locally for this work. It is civil engineering, so we will need bricklayers, civil engineers, trench diggers and general construction.

There is also a need for specialist skills when it comes to the drilling but even there we are keen to source people locally.

“We have been talking to the University of Central Lancashire about the prospects of developing courses to have that technical knowledge and skills locally.”

He said the construction phase of the project would span eight years and they should be operating the first gas cavern by year three. With up to 19 caverns being brought on stream year by year.

“The project has a 30 year life-span but the potential to go longer.”

Halite has said that the scheme would support around 3,000 jobs directly and indirectly in the area with that peak employment coming in year four of the construction phase when drilling was at its busiest.