Who’s drilling where? Spring update on drilling, permissions, companies and consultations

Summary of recent activity, applications and decisions on UK onshore oil and gas. The list is organised alphabetically first by country, then county and site. (Spool down for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.)

Merseyton Road, Ellesmere Port
On 15th December 2014, IGas announced preliminary results from the exploration well at Ellesmere Port. The well was spudded on 15th November 2014 and reached the well total depth a month later. IGas said the well drilled into an 800ft thick interval of coal measures and 1,400ft of shale. An all-party working group of Cheshire West and Chester Council is considering evidence from all sides of the fracking debate and is expected to report to the council’s executive in spring 2015. In October 2014, the council served an eviction notice on a protection camp, established alongside the Ellesmere Port site. Protests have continued, including a Solidarity Sunday in December 2014.

King’s March, near Farndon
Dart drilled a coal bed methane exploration well in spring 2014. A camp established outside the site and campaigner have continued to campaign against the site. A report in February 2015 revealed that the costs of policing all demonstrations against fracking in Cheshire in 2014 had reached £280,000. The Farndon site is not currently listed on the IGas website.

Salters Lane, near Mickle Trafford
Planning permission for a coal bed methane exploratory well was granted in 2010, with a three-year extension added in September 2013. IGas says it plans to drill to approximately 1,200m to remove a core of coal for analysis of the gas content and permeability of the coal seams.

Dutton’s Lane, Upton
A protest camp was established in April 2014 at a field at Dutton’s Lane intended for coal bed methane drilling. The site, on the edge of Chester, received planning permission in 2010 and a three-year extension in May 2013. The site also has mining waste permit. In 2014, the applicant, Dart Energy, was taken over by IGas. IGas said it planned to drill vertically into coal seams to a depth of 1,100m and remove a core of coal for analysis of the gas content and permeability of the coal seams. The camp residents said in January 2015 they planned to stay until IGas stated publically it would not frack at Upton.

Doe Green, Warrington
The only coal bed methane production site in the UK. The pilot site only covers its costs, producing enough methane to power a generator that produces enough electricity for around 1,200 homes. The operator, IGas, said it has been useful as a research and development facility for trying out different techniques. This included fracking, which was unsuccessful.

Also in north west England
IGas said its 2D seismic surveying is now complete. In its interim report to investors in November 2014, the company said: “We are also planning the acquisition of 3D seismic across some of our acreage with a view to submitting applications for multi-well sites in 2015 for drilling and hydraulic fracturing of gas from shale.

East Yorkshire
Crawberry Hill, Walkington Heads
Rathlin Energy
Rathlin Energy has yet to begin flow testing at Crawberry Hill. A protection camp was established along the grass verge outside but was dismantled by bailiffs in January 2015 following notices served by East Riding of Yorkshire Council under the Highways Act. Campaigners continue to protest outside the site. On October 2nd 2014, East Riding of Yorkshire Council granted the company an 18-month extension to its planning permission, six months less than it asked for. More details Rathlin Energy does not have permission to frack and says it has no plans to do so. The company said in November 2014 it would not carry out the planned mini fall-off test, also known as a mini-frac.

West Newton-A
Rathlin Energy
Rathlin suspended its West Newton-A well site in November 2014 after completing flow testing. It said it chose not to conduct a mini fall-off test, also known as a mini-frac. Following complaints about a smell coming from the site, our investigation revealed that the site breached 14 conditions of its environmental permits between July and October 2014. Seismic testing covering 52 sq km was carried out in December 2014 and led to complaints to the most recent meeting (February 2015) of the residents’ liaison group, set up by the company. In December 2014, a High Court judge in Hull granted a possession order to the owner of land used by a small camp outside the site and awarded initial costs of £10,000.

West Newton B
Rathlin Energy
In November 2014, Rathlin Energy submitted initial plans for a third exploratory well in East Yorkshire, about 2km from West Newton-A. The full planning application (14/04107/STPLF) was submitted in January 2015 and the deadline for comments has been extended from mid-February to 15th March. The plan is to drill to a depth of 2,100m to explore for gas, and possibly oil, in Permian age rocks. The company says it will not drill into the Bowland shale and will not frack. A decision by East Riding of Yorkshire Council is expected to be made at a planning committee meeting on Thursday 26th March.

Coastal Oil and Gas
Leaked emails sent to an anti-fracking group in November 2014 showed that Coastal Oil and Gas proposes to drill for coal bed methane around Tilmanstone in east Kent. The company applied for planning permission for exploratory wells at Guston, Shepherdswell, Woodnesborough and Tilmanstone, in 2013 but withdrew the applications after local concerns about contamination of the aquifer. No new application has been submitted. Eythorne Parish Council recently received the information about Tilmanstone from Coastal Oil and Gas and has posted it on the front page of its website.

Becconsall, Banks
Cuadrilla has planning permission to retain its Becconsall Exploration site at Banks until 2017 to allow pressure monitoring, plugging and site restoration. Planning application

Grange Road, Singleton
On 25th February 2015, Lancashire County Council’s development control committee refused Cuadrilla’s application for a three-year extension of its permission to install seismic and pressure monitors and undertake seismic and pressure monitoring. The application LCC/2014/0084 will be discussed again at a future meeting to confirm the reasons for refusal. Cuadrilla withdrew an application to frack at the site in November 2014.

Preese Hall
Cuadrilla has planning permission to restore its Preese Hall exploration site at Weeton, near Kirkham, until April 30th 2015. Planning application

Preston New Road, Little Plumpton
On January 28th 2015, Lancashire County Council deferred a decision on Cuadrilla’s application to drill and hydraulically fracture up to four exploratory gas wells at Preston New Road. The council’s planning department had recommended refusal of the application on noise grounds. Cuadrilla supplied further information about how it proposed to deal with these problems and asked for a delay. The target date for a decision is now April 30th 2015. The Environment Agency has granted a permit for the proposed operations at Preston New Road. Cuadrilla has also applied for monitoring works in a 4km radius of the proposed site.

Roseacre Wood
On January 28th 2015, Lancashire County Council also deferred a decision on Cuadrilla’s application to drill and hydraulically fracture up to four exploratory gas wells at Roseacre Wood. The council’s planning department had recommended refusal of the application on traffic and noise grounds. Cuadrilla supplied further information about how it proposed to deal with these problems application and asked for a delay. The target date for a decision is now April 30th 2015. The Environment Agency has granted a permit for the proposed operations at Roseacre Wood. Cuadrilla has also applied for monitoring works in a 4km radius of the proposed site

Burton on the Wolds-1
Egdon Resources, Celtique Energie, Teraine, Corfe Energie, Union Jack Oil
Egdon Resources has plugged the well and says the site will be restored to agricultural land when ground conditions allow. The well was drilled in October 2014 to 1,086m. The company said the well penetrated only thin sands in the primary reservoir and the secondary objective was a non-reservoir rock.

Egdon Resources
Egdon is preparing a site at Laughton near Gainsborough for exploratory drilling. The company’s Martin Brooks, told the Lincolnshire Echo in February 2015: “The Laughton well is a conventional exploratory well and is looking for conventional oil only. The Laughton well is the only well that we have in the licence area and there are no plans now or in future for any hydraulic fracturing”. Drilling is expected to last 35 days and run for 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Kiln Lane wellsite, Mauxhall Farm, Immingham Road, Stallingborough DN41 8BP
Europa Oil and Gas, Egdon Resources
Egdon Resources announced on 23rd February 2015 that drilling had started at the Kiln Lane-1 exploration well. The operator, Europa, told the Grimsby Telegraph (February 2015) it would not be fracking the well. Europa estimated 2.9m barrels of oil were recoverable. Planning application, permit application and Link to Facebook page with videos of the site

Egdon Resources
Egdon Resources says it has submitted a planning application to drill a conventional exploratory oil well west of Biscathorpe, about 9km west of Louth. The company says it will not frack the well. The proposed site replaces another about 1km to the east where the company says it withdrew a temporary planning application last year “after listening to the feedback from local people”. More details from the company. Planning officers have recommended approval of the application. Planning application

North Kelsey-1
Egdon Resources, Celtique Energie, Union Jack Oil
Lincolnshire County Council granted planning permission on 8th December 2014. The site is about 10km south of Wressle-1. Egdon estimated the site could produce 6.7m barrels of oil. The company said it does not intend to frack the well. It said the well would be drilled as part of a programme, which also involves Laughton-1, Biscathorpe-1 and Kiln Lane-1.

Europa, Egdon, Celtique Energie, Union Jack Oil
Europa announced on 19th February 2015 that tests on the Wingfield Flags reservoir at the Wressle-1 well confirmed free flowing oil production rates equivalent to up to 182 barrels of oil per day, along with 456,000 cubic feet of gas per day. The company said the Wingfield Flags is the second of three potential hydrocarbon bearing zones to be tested at Wressle. The company said: “Wressle is so far living up to its pre-drill billing as a potential oil and gas discovery that could transform our existing production and revenue profile”.

North Yorkshire
Ebberston Moor South Well Site
Third Energy and Moorland Energy Ltd
In August 2014, Third Energy submitted identical planning applications to the North York Moors National Park Authority and North Yorkshire County Council for its Ebberston Moor South Well site, at Ebberston Common Lane. The applications are for natural gas production and water re-injection, an underground gas pipeline to the Knapton Generating Station and a gas reception module. The applications are still being considered. Third Energy has also applied to the Environment Agency for a permit to dispose of 556 cubic meters of produced water into a gas well at Ebberston South. A public consultation on the permit closes on 4th March 2015 Details and link to consultation

Kirby Misperton-8
Third Energy
On 25th November 2014, Third Energy announced it intended to apply for planning permission to frack its conventional well at Kirby Misperton. Third Energy has held meetings with local parish councils and residents. At one meeting in February 2015, the local MP, Anne McIntosh, said the company admitted it did not have traffic or noise plans, nor had it appointed a contractor to transport or treat waste. Local anti-fracking groups have organised protests, including a demonstration in York (13th February 2015) outside Barclay’s Bank, which owns much of Third Energy, and another outside the offices of the Environment Agency to coincide with a meeting with the company. Third Energy has had talks with Halliburton, the US drilling services firm. Ryedale District Council held an information meeting about fracking and an extraordinary meeting, at which it rejected a motion calling for a blanket ban on fracking.

Third Energy
Third Energy has applied to the Environment Agency for a permit to dispose of 556 cubic meters per day of waste produced water from its gas production wells into an abandoned well at its Pickering site in North Yorkshire. A public consultation on the permit closes on 4th March 2015. Details and link to consultation

Daneshill Road, Sutton-cum-Lound, Retford
In November 2014, IGas added a location off Daneshill Road in Sutton-cum-Lound to the list of areas that would qualify for grants from its Energy Community Fund. Applications will be accepted from within 5 miles of the postcode DN22 8RB. The company carried out test drilling for coal bed methane at Daneshill Road during spring 2014. Campaigners established a camp for seven weeks while the drilling took place. The site is currently suspended. Frack Free Nottinghamshire questions whether the inclusion of the area in the grant scheme means that test drilling at the site showed some commercial potential.

Dark Lane, Calow, Chesterfield
Seven Star Natural Gas Ltd
The Environment Agency is consulting on Seven Star’s application for a mining waste permit for oil and gas exploration at Dark Lane. A planning application for two wells at the site was refused in July 2014 because of its location in the countryside and cumulative impact, including traffic. The company said it was in the process of appealing against the decision.

Grantham Road, Radcliffe on Trent
Hutton Energy
Hutton Energy has applied to the Environment Agency for permits to drill two 950m deep exploratory oil wells. The public consultation ended on February 13th 2015. Nottinghamshire County Council first granted planning permission for two boreholes at the site in 1999. Since then, according to the Nottingham Post, the application has been renewed five times but the wells never drilled. The paper says the council carried out a consultation last year and received only one complaint. Frack Free Notts believes the wells could be for coal bed methane extraction, though Hutton Energy denies this. FFN says Hutton has confirmed it has plans for shale gas fracking in Rushcliffe district.

Springs Road, Misson, Bassetlaw
In January 2015, IGas submitted an Environmental Scoping Report to Nottinghamshire County Council for plans for a vertical and horizontal boreholes at this site. IGas said it would submit a planning application when the council had given its scoping opinion. It said if exploration was successful, another application would be submitted for appraisal, which could include fracking. The site is 2.5km from the centre of Misson village and covers about 3ha. The Misson Training Area Site of Special Scientific Interest is about 500m to the east and the River Idle Washlands about 1.5km to the south east. Campaign groups in the area have conducted door-to-door opinion surveys which, they say, suggest overwhelming opposition to the proposals.

Barton Moss
IGas said in December 2014 it had no plans to return to Barton Moss after completing exploratory drilling. But in January 2015, responding to a report by the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee, the company’s David Petrie said: “It was never our plan to stay at Barton Moss indefinitely. It was an exploratory well to calibrate our understanding of the area. There are currently no plans to come back, but because of the nature of our business, we cannot rule out a return to Barton Moss.”

The well was completed in March 2014. IGas said the test results, analysed in Colorado, had helped it to refine geological models. The company said: “The well encountered 15 gas bearing coal seams in accordance with the pre-drill prognosis. The well also encountered a Namurian Shale section, consisting of the Sabden Shale and the Upper and Lower Bowland Shales. Approximately 400 feet of core was recovered, including from the shale section”.

A fictional protest, based on those during the winter of 2013-2014 at Barton Moss, has been used by the College of Policing to train senior officers. A report by a group of academics concluded that Greater Manchester Police breached human rights in the way they handled the Barton Moss protest. In January 2015, a court case which might have tested the impact of shale gas drilling, based on evidence from the IGas site at Barton Moss in Salford, was adjourned until March. Press restrictions are in place, but the Salford Star says the result could have huge implications for the future of the industry.
Link to a video film at Barton Moss

Brooklands Farm, Dudleston, Ellesmere
Shropshire Council’s Planning North Committee voted on 17th February 2015 that it was minded to refuse Dart Energy’s application to explore for coal bed methane at Dudleston. This repeated the committee’s previous vote in October 2014, against the advice of planning officers who recommended approval. The decision will be made by the planning inspectorate because Dart has appealed over the council’s failure to approve or reject by the target date. The appeal has been validated as a written appeal, which means local people will not have a chance to participate in person. Frack Free Dudleston argues that this breaches government guidelines, which say appeals that have generated appreciable local interest must be held as a Hearing on an Inquiry. Comments from Dart and Shropshire Council are due by 26th March 2015. The appeal reference is APP/L3245/W/15/3002435. Details here

UK Methane
In early December 2014, Gas Field Free Mendip invited election candidates on a tour of the Mendip Hills and Somerset Coalfield, visiting mines and stream sinks in PEDL 227. This is held by UK Methane and covers the east Mendip region, thought to be the source of water for Bath’s hot springs. The visit aimed to give the candidates an understanding of the geology of the area and possible dangers to water supply from oil and gas drilling. Jacob Rees-Mogg, Conservative MP for North East Somerset and a supporter of fracking, did not take part.

On 28th January 2015, Tessa Munt, MP for Wells, resigned her government post as an aide to Vince Cable, after calling for a moratorium on fracking during the debate on the Infrastructure Bill. Frack Free Somerset organised a series of public meetings in November to raise awareness about unconventional gas and fracking in PEDL 227, held by UK Methane

Horse Hill
Horse Hill Developments Ltd (consortium including UK Oil and Gas)
Steve Sanderson, CEO of UKOG, told investors in February 2015 that the Horse Hill well had discovered shale that was “super rich” in organic material that was possibly better than that from the North Sea. He said this challenged current thinking about onshore oil and gas in southern England, including the British Geological Survey report on the Weald. The well was drilled in 2014 and UKOG said it has contracted the US specialist NUTECH to evaluate the results and shape its exploration plans in the Weald.

IGas says it is consulting on plans to turn the Bletchingley appraisal site into a conventional gas and oil production site, which, the company said, would operate for up to 15 years. The company proposes to extend the site by about 0.8ha, and drill up to four new wells at Bletchingley Central, in addition to the two existing ones. It also wants to pipe gas produced at Wellsite 2 to the Central site, where it will be fed into the local grid and used to generate electricity for the site and local network. More detail on IGas website

Bury Hill Wood, Leith Hill
Europa has applied for planning permission for an underground corridor to allow it to drill a horizontal borehole to explore for oil near Dorking. This is the latest stage in a long-running planning dispute between the company and Surrey County Council and local campaigners. Details here A public inquiry is scheduled to start on 22nd April 2015 in Dorking into a previous application by Europa for the Bury Hill Wood well site. The Leith Hill Action Group, which will be part of the inquiry, said it has been briefing local MPs and county councillors and taking their advice.

Davyhulme – Igas
On October 9th 2014, Trafford City Council voted to defer consideration of IGas’s application for a coal bed methane drilling and production site at Davyhulme in Trafford. The council’s planning committee said: “This application has raised a number of detailed and conflicting environmental issues and it is important that the Council acts to ensure that its decision is fully informed in relation to these matters. The application will come back to committee once we are satisfied that these issues have been addressed.” Council statement   In November 2014, Trafford Council committed itself to support a motion that the authority would oppose fracking “until such time as it can be proved to be safe”.

West Sussex
Lower Stumble, Balcombe
Frack Free Balcombe Residents Association failed, at a judicial review in November 2014, to overturn the planning permission granted by West Sussex County Council to Cuadrilla for flow testing at its well at Balcombe. The site has been suspended and the company told us it would inform Balcombe before testing work began. As part of the planning permission, Cuadrilla is required to establish a residents’ forum.

Wood Barn Farm, Adversane Lane, Broadford Bridge, near Billingshurst RH14 9EB
Celtique Energie/Magellan Petroleum
Magellan Petroleum has told investors drilling is scheduled to start in the spring 2015. The site has been prepared, roadside ditches cleared and new fencing installed. Magellan said the cost of drilling was estimated at $5m (£3.17m) and, under a deal with the UK government, the well would secure the future of two license areas for the operators. The well is expected to explore for conventional hydrocarbons but possibly also what Magellan described as “other potentially productive formations”. Local campaigners are watching out for delivery vehicles.
Link to Youtube video of site on 22nd February 2015 by Jonoatlast

Celtique Energie
The South Downs National Park Authority refused an application on September 11th by Celtique Energie for an exploratory well at Fernhurst. The company said it was considering an appeal but at the time of writing had made no announcement. The deadline for its decision is mid-March.

Boxal Bridge, between Kirdford and Wisborough Green
Celtique Energie
The date has been set for Celtique Energie’s appeal against refusal of planning permission to drill at land near Boxal Bridge, between Kirdford and Wisborough Green (reference APPP3800/A/14/2227410). The public inquiry will start at 10am on 8th September 2015 at Northchapel Village Hall. The Planning Inspectorate has set aside 12 days for the inquiry, sitting between Tuesday and Friday. Appeal summary information Appeal timetable   Planning application and company’s appeal statement West Sussex County Council is proposing to demolish Boxal Bridge, near the proposed site, despite opposition from Kirdford and Wisborough Green parish councils and many local residents. The county council is to defer a decision until after the planning inquiry. Link to a petition against demolition.

Markwell’s Wood, Rowlands Castle
Magellan/Egdon, sold to UKOG
In February 2015, David Lenigas, chair of UKOG, told investors his company had bought Markwell’s Wood. Magellan Petroleum told shareholders in December 2014 that the well, on the West Sussex-Hampshire border, would be abandoned if a buyer could not be found for it. The well, part-owned by Magellan and Egdon Resources, was drilled in 2010.

Baxter’s Copse, Graffham
At a meeting with villagers in October 2014, a land agent working for IGas said the company planned to drill a new well at Graffham. The site was drilled by Conoco in the 1980s but abandoned because the discovered oil was regarded as uncommercial. The land agent said there would be a single vertical borehole and the well would not be fracked. He said a planning application was not expected for about a year. He also said there would be no economic benefits to the local community and no jobs from the site.

West Dean
At a meeting in Graffham in October 2014 (see above), a land agent acting for IGas said the company was also looking at developing an exploratory well site near West Dean

Ballinlea 2
Rathlin Energy
Rathlin submitted an Environmental Impact Assessment in January 2015 to the Northern Ireland Department of Environment for its application for a second exploratory oil and gas well at Ballinlea. The proposed well would be 2,700m deep. The EIA claimed it would have “no significant impacts” on the surrounding area. Ballinlea Residents Group is raising money to pay for environmental consultants to respond to the EIA.

Belcoo – Tamboran
In November 2014, lawyers for Tamboran told the High Court in Belfast that the company would be seeking damages from the Northern Ireland government. The company has issued proceedings following two decisions. On September 30th 2014, the Northern Ireland Enterprise Minister, Arlene Foster, terminated Tamboran’s exploration licence for County Fermanagh because the company missed its drill or drop deadline. Earlier Environment Minister, Mark H Durkhan, refused planning permission for an exploratory borehole in the former quarry at Belcoo. A full court hearing is expected later this year. The German authority on fracking, Helmut Fehr, visited the site on March 2nd 2015, along with campaigners from both sides of the Irish border.

Airth – Dart Energy

In February 2015, the Director of Planning and Environmental Appeals for the Scottish Government confirmed that work on Dart Energy’s appeal near Airth and Letham Moss in Falkirk would be suspended. This followed the moratorium on fracking applications announced by the Scottish government in January. The government had called in the appeal by Dart Energy against refusal of its plans for Coal Bed Methane development at Letham Moss, near Airth (Falkirk Herald report). A public inquiry had heard from more than 50 witnesses. Falkirk and Stirling Councils opposed the application on grounds of cumulative impact and the precautionary principle. The application was for a multiple well site, pipeline and gas gathering station.

Grangeview – Dart Energy
On September 12th, Falkirk Council granted planning permission to Dart Energy for an exploratory Coal Bed Methane well at land north east of Grangeview, Falkirk. Planning application

Neath-Port Talbot
Pontrhydyfen – UK Methane
UK Methane applied on 20th January 2015 for permission to drill a well targeting coal bed methane and shale in the Foel Fynyddau Forest, near Pontryhdyfen. An earlier application for the same development by the same company was refused by Neath-Port Talbot planning committee on October 2nd 2014. Councillors then voted by 17-6 to reject the plans because of concerns about noise. The new application has a noise management plan. A public consultation was due to end on 19th February. On 13th February 2015, the Welsh Minister for Natural Resources, imposed a moratorium on fracking in Wales.

Borras – IGas
IGas has said it still plans to drill for coal bed methane at the Borras site at Holt, Wrexham, despite a motion for a moratorium on fracking passed by the Welsh Assembly in February. (Since then, on 13th February, the Welsh Minister for Natural Resources imposed a moratorium on fracking in Wales). CCTV cameras and other facilities were removed from the site in January, leading to speculation that IGas was abandoning the site. But a spokesman said it had not given up on its plans. No date has been set for drilling to begin. In November 2014, a camp set up by local people, was evicted but another camp was then established opposite the site. On October 8th 2014, the Welsh Planning Inspectorate overturned a refusal of planning permission by Wrexham Borough Council Wrexham. Planning Inspectorate decision. IGas says it plans to drill a vertical well to approximately 900m to remove a core for analysis of gas content and permeability of coal seams.

Rhondda Cynon Taff Council
Hendre Owen Farm, Llanharan, Pontyclun
Coastal Oil & Gas
In February 2015, Coastal Oil & Gas submitted a new application for an exploratory borehole to test for unconventional gas reserves on land near Hendre Owen Farm. Link to the application. See above for information on the Welsh moratorium on fracking applications.

Key drilling sites identified by Frack Off

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