Regulation

West Newton gas find “very encouraging” – Rathlin Energy

West Newton A

Testing for gas at West Newton A

Rathlin Energy has described the discovery of gas at its exploratory wellsite at West Newton in East Yorkshire as “very encouraging”.

The comments were made in its application to East Riding of Yorkshire Council to extend planning permission at the site for another three years.

Rathlin now wants to carry out more tests and drill more wells to find out if the discovery could lead to gas production.

The company was granted consent in 2013 to drill up to two wells at the Fosham Road site, known as West Newton A.

It drilled one well in June 2013 and tested it during 2014. But a condition of the planning permission required work to finish within three years.

Rathlin has now applied to vary this condition so that it has the option of drilling the second well. The application said:

“The results of the drilling and subsequent testing were very encouraging with the recovery of natural gas together with the capture of important data on the characteristics of the sub-surface prospects. “

The application said the decision on the second well at West Newton A would depend on what Rathlin found when it drilled at another site in the neighbourhood, known as West Newton B.

The company got planning permission in June this year to drill up two wells at West Newton B. Today, the Environment Agency opened a four-week public consultation on an application for a mining waste permit for that site.

Rathlin said:

“The additional information from the West Newton B exploratory drilling and testing, together with the drilling and testing of the second well at the West Newton A wellsite will help assess whether the West Newton A discovery could be the basis for a conventional gas production development, which would be the subject of a separate planning application to the MPA [Minerals Planning Authority].”

The company has repeatedly said it has not used hydraulic fracturing at West Newton A and does not plan to do so. Its permission for West Newton specifically excludes fracking.

Comments of the planning application must be submitted to East Riding of Yorkshire Council by Monday 26th October 2015. A decision is expected before the end of the year.

Permit application

The application for as mining waste permit, published today, gives more details about Rathlin’s plans for West Newton B and possible gas production in the area.

It notes that the site at Crook Lane is 5km from the Aldbrough Gas Storage facility and 10km from petrochemical plants at the Saltend Chemical Park.

The permit application lists the operations at West Newton B, which will include:

  • Drilling the first borehole
  • Possible drill stem test to determine whether gas is present in the Cadeby and Kirkham Abbey formations
  • Testing both formations, including an acid wash and/or squeeze using 6-11m3 of 15% hydrochloric acid solution
  • Drilling and testing second borehole if needed

According to the permit application, liquid carbon dioxide will be injected into the wellbore during testing at a rate of 2m3-3m3 per 10m interval. CO2 changes from liquid to gas because of the temperature of the wellbore, the application said. This leads to rapid expansion, forcing formation fluid and debris into the wellbore and back to surface. In a separate operation, nitrogen would be injected into the well to help the gas to flow to the surface.

During an extended well test, the permit application said gas would be flared off as a waste product. Rathlin experienced problems with flaring at West Newton A in autumn 2014, when gases escaped unburnt into the atmosphere.

The permit application said:

“The flare is equipped with a propane fuelled permanently lit pilot, which ensures that ignition takes place as soon as natural gas is present and reignites if there is a break in flow.”

“The flare proposed for the West Newton B exploratory operations is a single tip shrouded flare with a ‘tube type’ burner provided by PW Well Services Limited, which is considered BAT [Best Available Technology] by Rathlin Energy”.

Comments on the mining waste permit application must be submitted to the Environment Agency by 30th October 2015.

Link to application to East Riding of Yorkshire Council to extend permission at West Newton A

Link to application to the Environment Agency for mining waste permit and consultation

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