How many wells does Third Energy want to frack at Kirby Misperton?


Cllr Paul Andrews

A local councillor in North Yorkshire says Third Energy showed him a diagram of ten horizontal boreholes leading from the well the company wants to frack for shale gas at Kirby Misperton.

John Dewar

John Dewar

Paul Andrews, the deputy mayor of Malton and chair of Habton Parish Council, said today he was shown the drawing by John Dewar, Third Energy’s operations director. He has twice asked for a copy but Mr Dewar has declined to provide it.

Cllr Andrews, who is also an independent member of Ryedale District Council, said:

“Mr Dewar made it very clear that Third Energy are planning at least ten boreholes at Kirby Misperton and I feel this information should be in the public domain.”

Third Energy is currently applying for planning permission to frack, test and produce gas from the vertical KM8 well at Kirby Misperton. The application stated that fracking five sections of the well would take only six weeks and there would be no drilling. There was no reference to future plans for the site.

Cllr Andrews said if the KM8 well got permission it would set a precedent.

“The public should be told what Third Energy’s long-term plans are now – not after the current planning application is decided – when it may well be too late.”

“Mr Dewar now appears to be stalling for time. Perhaps he is waiting to see if KM8 is approved before revealing Third Energy’s long-term plans to the local villages.

Third Energy issued a statement this afternoon saying the diagrams were “very early conceptual sketches” used to “communicate complex ideas”. The statement, which can be seen in full at the end of this post,  added:

“These early sketches were not the result of any engineering work and the company has no plans in this regard. These early conceptual sketches attempted to show how one small surface wellpad can cover considerable distances underground which increases the separation between well pads and reduces their number.”

“Proper engineering drawing”

Cllr Andrews described the illustration to DrillOrDrop as a “proper engineering diagram” that measured several feet across.

“The illustration showed ten lines radiating from the KM8 well-site in all directions and then converging into two sets of parallel lines running in opposite directions. Mr Dewar explained that these lines represented ten horizontal boreholes, and they would need to run in parallel so that they follow the grain of the shale rock.”

Cllr Andrews said:

“Ten horizontal boreholes at Kirby Misperton would mean the local villages would have to endure years of drilling and fracking. It takes about a hundred days to drill each borehole – the KM8 well itself took 114 days to drill in 2013 – and drilling has to be continuous, day and night. The drilling is noisy and the drilling rigs are lit up at night like Christmas trees.”

“These wells would then all need to be fracked, which again is a noisy, disruptive process, and would condemn the local villages and nearby Flamingo Land to years of HGV traffic, noise, air and light pollution, potential water contamination and general disruption to their daily lives.”

KM8 radius

Location of KM8 well (white dot in centre of image) with Kirby Misperton Village and Flamingo Lane tourist resort

Request for diagram

Cllr Andrews said he had emailed Mr Dewar twice to ask for a copy of the diagram to show to members of Habton Parish Council. Mr Dewar said the councillor would be welcome to the information at “the appropriate time”.

Cllr Andrews said he saw the diagram during a meeting of a liaison group for local councillors held at Third Energy’s offices at Knapton Generating Station on 10th November. He said:

“John Dewar was not part of the meeting. He kept coming in and out. I said at the beginning I was opposed to what they were doing. He acknowledged that. I asked questions and put some points. He took me into his office and showed me a couple of drawings.”

According to Cllr Andrews, Mr Dewar said the area covered by the illustration was nine miles by five miles.

“I think he was trying to show me it [the Kirby Misperton operation] was not going to have an impact on the environment.

“He said if you used renewable energy you would not get half as much energy as you would get from all of this.”

“The message I am taking is that for fracking to be effective you have to frack along a grain of the rock. What they are talking about is sending out laterals with five on either side of the well.”

“It came out of the blue”

Cllr Andrews said he was shocked by the diagram.

“It came out of the blue. If I had had proper warning I would have asked a lot of questions. I was quite taken by surprise.”

It does, however, support what Mr Dewar told a committee of MPs in March when he said Third Energy would need up to 19 fracking sites with up to 50 wells on each. DrillOrDrop report.

The tourist resort of Flamingo Land, on the edge of Kirby Misperton, has not objected to the KM8 planning application but it said it would have “massive concerns” about the prospect of multiple fracking sites in the area. DrillOrDrop report

Cllr Andrews said:

“It appears that Kirby Misperton is planned to be the first of these 19 well-sites, with a plan for at least ten boreholes on the site in the coming years.”

“Work in progress”

Cllr Andrews said he mentioned the diagram to members of Habton Parish Council, who asked to see a copy. He wrote to Mr Dewar on 16th November:

“It would be much appreciated if you could send one either to me or to the Parish Clerk, Nicky Mason.”

Mr Dewar replied the same day saying:

“I would be very happy to but as you can appreciate, it is still work in progress.

“I will naturally keep you, the parish councils and the general public informed but it has to be done in a controlled manner as we don’t want start any hares running.”

Cllr Andrews emailed again on 23rd November

“I will shortly have to report back to the Parish Council. You said in your previous email that you would be happy to send me a copy of the illustration you showed me at the last Liaison meeting of the plans for further wells at KM8, as I would like to include it in my report. Please send the illustration as a PDF or jpeg, whichever is easier. I would be grateful if I could receive this by Friday 27th November.”

Mr Dewar replied on 1st December

“I repeat what I said earlier, and that was that you are more than welcome to see the information, but only at the appropriate time. As you can appreciate I have to go through a number of steps and consultations before I can release anything. And being honest, I have not progressed the work very far from what you last saw. With your reminder I will try to spend some more time on it.”

Cllr Andrews said this morning:

“My feeling is that perhaps he regrets having shown me and he doesn’t want to make it public. My view is that this is a document that should be made public.”

Planning application

According to the Third Energy’s planning statement, if the KM8 well were considered commercially viable after fracking it would be hooked up to production equipment at the site, with “only minor additional equipment”. The statement said:

“Once permanent hook-up is complete and commissioned, production of natural gas will commence and continue until cessation of natural gas production, which is anticipated to be circa nine years.”

Once the well reached the end of production it would be decommissioned and abandoned, the planning statement said.

Chapters five and six of the planning statement deal with the phases of the development from preparation to site restoration. A search revealed no reference to “lateral”, “side-track” or “horizontal” wells.

Third Energy response

Third Energy made the following statement:

“It is important to recognise that the diagrams shared with Councillor Andrews were very early conceptual sketches to try and communicate complex ideas.

“These early sketches were not the result of any engineering work and the company has no plans in this regard.

“These early conceptual sketches attempted to show how one small surface wellpad can cover considerable distances underground which increases the separation between well pads and reduces their number.

“The information was shown to Councillor Andrews outside of the formal liaison group to educate him on how subsurface development can access a resource over a large area with minimal surface footprint. Extended reach horizontal drilling can be complex to explain, and difficult to understand so the sketches were used to try and simplify that process of explanation, although these conceptual sketches do not represent a proposal or plan of any kind.”

North Yorkshire County Council is expected to make a decision on the KM8 application in February 2016.


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