What to watch in 2016

Crawberry Hill landscape2.JPGDrillOrDrop’s round-up of the oil and gas sites that may see action in the next  year.

The list is organised alphabetically first by country, then county and site. (Spool down for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.)

At the end of the post, there’s information on the number of wells that companies have committed to under the 14th licensing round.

Please let us know if information in this post is missing, inaccurate or out-of-date. We want to make this as complete and accurate as possible. Contact here.



Portside One, Portside North, Merseyton Road, Ellesmere Port
One well – known as Ellesmere Port-1 – was drilled in November–December 2014. This was recorded by DECC as a shale gas well. The site was granted planning permission (09/02169/min) in 2010 for two coal bed methane exploratory wells, appraisal and production for 25 years. IGas held a community day on 11th August 2015 in Ellesmere Port. Parts of the area were included in seismic testing being carried out for IGas by Tesla in August. Anti-fracking campaigners criticised information provided by IGas at the meeting. PEDL 184.

Marsh House Lane, Kings Marsh, Farndon, Chester (also known as Churton)

Dart Energy drilled an exploratory coal bed methane borehole in March 2014, known as Churton-1. Planning permission (10/10146/MIN) was granted in 2010 and extended (13/02180EXT) 8th July 2013. A condition of the more recent planning permission required work to be completed within one year of the start date. The site is not listed on the IGas website (IGas took over Dart in 2014). A camp was established outside the site. PEDL188.

Plot 11, Ince Resource Recovery Park, Marsh Lane, Ince
Exploratory coal bed methane well drilled in November 2011. Planning permission (09/02568/min) granted in 2010 for 25 years from the start of work.

Salters Lane, Picton, near Mickle Trafford, Chester
Under the terms of its planning permission, IGas has until 9th September 2016 to start work on the coal bed methane exploration well. Work must be completed within a year of the start date. 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. Link to planning application. IGas webpage. PEDL189.

Dutton’s Lane, Upton
IGas and the landowner were granted permission to evict the Upton Community Protection Camp from 4pm on 4th December 2015. Residents at the camp say they are prepared to resist bailiffs. At the time of writing the eviction has not been attempted. IGas’s website says the proposed exploratory well on the edge of Chester will provide information about coal bed methane content. The planning permission requires work to start by 28th May 2016 and continue for no longer than one year. PEDL189.

Other sites with exploratory drilling in Cheshire
Land adjacent to 4 Bretton Lane, Lower Kinnerton, Chester: Planning permission (10/11458/MIN)

Land east of Cow Lane, Foulk Stapleford, also known as Hargrave: Planning permission (10/10978/DIS )

Dog Kennel Farm, Shocklach Hall Lane, Shocklach, Oviatt, Malpas: Planning permission (09/10639/CPO)


Crawberry Hill, Walkington Heads
Rathlin Energy
Rathlin Energy announced on 18th December abandonment work had been completed successfully. The company would restore the site in 2016.

West Newton-A
Off Fosham Road, West Newton
Rathlin Energy
East Riding of Yorkshire Council granted planning permission on 26th November 2015 for another three years at the site. Rathlin said this would allow it to drill a second well. It described the gas discovery at the site as encouraging.

The Health and Safety Executive has been investigating allegations of unsafe working at West Newton-A but the outcome is unknown.

Rathlin suspended West Newton-A in November 2014 after completing flow testing. It denied suggestions that it carried out a planned 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 the area in December 2014 and led to complaints to the residents’ liaison group.

West Newton B
Crook Lane, West Newton
Rathlin Energy
No work has yet started on this site, where East Riding of Yorkshire Council granted planning permission on 4th June 2015 for drilling up to two boreholes to a depth of 2,100m to explore for gas, and possibly oil, in Permian age rocks.


Becconsall, Off Bonny Barn Road, Banks
The company confirmed in November it was abandoning the site because it was unable to secure equipment in time to meet planning conditions to protect wintering birds. Cuadrilla said it would plug the well and restore the site after the wintering bird season ended on 31st March 2016 and before the deadline set by Lancashire County Council of 31st October 2016. The site had been granted planning permission on 1st May 2015 for pressure monitoring.

Grange Road, Singleton
An appeal by written representations is underway into Lancashire County Council’s refusal on 20th May 2015 of Cuadrilla’s application LCC/2014/0084 for a three-year extension of its permission to undertake seismic and pressure monitoring. There has been no planning permission in place for the site since 19th January 2012. There’s no scheduled date for the appeal decision

Preese Hall, Weeton, nr Kirkham
Cuadrilla’s planning permission for restoration of the Preese Hall exploration site expired on April 30th 2015. Planning application

Preston New Road, Little Plumpton
A public inquiry, which could last up to 20 days, begins on 9th February 2016 at Blackpool Football Club into Lancashire County Council’s refusal on 29th June 2015 of Cuadrilla’s applications to drill and hydraulically fracture up to four exploratory gas wells and install a monitoring array. The appeal has been “recovered” by the Local Government Secretary, Greg Clark, so he will make the decision, following a recommendation from the inquiry inspector.

Roseacre Wood
The Preston New Road inquiry (see above) will also review Lancashire County Council’s refusal on 25th June 2015 of Cuadrilla’s similar application to frack up to four wells at Roseacre Wood. The inquiry will also consider Cuadrilla’s appeal against conditions imposed on permission granted for a monitoring array around Roseacre Wood. A judicial review of the Roseacre Wood monitoring decision will be heard at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on 12 April 2016.


Egdon Resources
The company said it planned to drill this well in PEDL253 near Louth in the first half of 2016. Planning permission was awarded by Lincolnshire County Council on 16th March 2015. Egdon has said no fracking is planned.

North Kelsey-1
Egdon Resources, Celtique Energie, Union Jack Oil
The company said it planned to drill this well in PEDL241 in the first half of 2016. Planning permission was granted in December 2014. Egdon has said no fracking is planned. Egdon acquired an extra 40% interest in the PEDL from Celtique Energie last year.

Wressle-1, Scunthorpe 
Europa, Egdon, Celtique Energie, Union Jack Oil
Egdon said it planned to submit a field development plan in the first quarter of 2016 to the Oil and Gas Authority for production from this well. The site is in PEDL180 east of Scunthorpe. Europa carried out an extended well test in June 2015 with what it called “encouraging” results. It did not carry out the planned pumped flow test of the Ashover Grit oil reservoir because of problems with downhole testing equipment.


Ebberston Moor South Well Site
Third Energy and Moorland Energy Ltd
Third Energy received planning permission on 20th August 2015 to extract up to 15 million standard cubic feet of gas per day and reinject 556m3/day of waste water. It also has consent to drill a second borehole and construct an underground pipeline from the site to Knapton Generating Station. The Environment Agency approved Third Energy’s permit application on the same day. More details.

Kirby Misperton-8, Ryedale
Third Energy
North Yorkshire County Council has set a target date of 9th February 2016 to decide Third Energy’s planning application NY/2015/0233/ENV to frack its existing KM8 well at Kirby Misperton. The Environment Agency (EA) has said it is minded to grant environmental permits for the work. A second EA public consultation continues until 15th January.

Third Energy
On 26th August 2015, the Environment Agency approved an environmental permit (EPR/BB3699EY/A001) for the reinjection of waste produced water from its gas production wells into an abandoned well at its Pickering site in North Yorkshire.


Grantham Road, Radcliffe on Trent
Hutton Energy
The company says it plans to drill two 950m oil exploration boreholes on the site, known as Harlequin 3. There is no confirmed start date. The site has permission until 31st October 2017 (decision notice). The Environment Agency granted environmental waste permit CB3300KR/A001 on 21st April 2015. Planning permission was first granted in 1999 and has bene renewed five times but the site has never been drilled. Hutton says its plans do not involve fracking.

Springs Road, Misson, Bassetlaw
Nottinghamshire County Council may decide on an application by IGas on 19th January 2016 for 12 groundwater monitoring boreholes at the proposed gas exploration site near Misson. The company has also applied to drill one vertical well up to 3,500m deep and one horizontal well to explore for gas in the Bowland Shale. IGas says it will not carry out hydraulic fracturing. There is no date yet for the drilling decision. Link to application

Tinker Lane, Torworth, Bassetlaw
The company has submitted a scoping report for this new proposed site


Barton Moss
The trial of more than 40 people who protested against IGas activities at Barton Moss is due to get underway in 2016. The case involves more than 50 charges, including aggravated trespass. The people charged had claimed their actions were justified because the site operator, IGas, had acted illegally. Pre-trial hearings heard allegations of dangerous levels of contamination at the site. But a district judge refused to allow the defence and dismiss the charges. IGas has said it has no plans to return to Barton Moss.


Albury Park Wellsite, New Road, Albury
IGas has applied for permission (SCC ref 2015/0230) to use the Albury wellsite for the production of compressed natural gas for 15 years. A public consultation closed on 14th December 2015. There’s currently no date for the decision on the application.

Bury Hill Wood, Leith Hill (also known as Holmwood-1)
Drilling is expected to start this year. UKOG, which is one of the companies behind the Horse Hill well near Gatwick, has taken a 20% interest in PEDL143, which includes the Bury Hill Wood site. Europa got permission in August for a 1,400m conventional oil well at the site near Dorking, inside the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. A planning inspector granted permission after an eight day public inquiry. Surrey County Council also granted permission for an underground drilling corridor.

Horse Hill
Horse Hill Developments Ltd (consortium including UK Oil and Gas)
The Environment Agency has varied the mining waste permit for this site to allow flow testing for oil. It also issued a permit for managing and disposing of naturally-occurring radioactive material. There’s no start date yet for the test, expected to take up to 30 days. In August 2015, Schlumberger estimated 10.993 billion barrels of oil in place in the 55 square milies of PEDL137 and 246, which includes Horse Hill.

Land at King’s Farm, Tilburstow Hill Road, South Godstone, Bletchingley
A public consultation ends on 7th January 2016 about IGas’s application to Surrey County Council for planning permission to upgrade and extend Bletchingley Central and Bletchingley-2 wellsites: SCC ref 2015/0170. The application is for 15 years and includes the installation of a hydrocarbon production plant and equipment, including new oil and water storage tanks. There is no target date for a decision.


Trafford Council approved IGas’s application for coal bed methane exploration and production on 8th October 2015. The council extended the company’s permission at the site, next to the Davyhulme water treatment works, for 25 years. It will allow IGas to drill two exploration wells and two production boreholes and install equipment to generate electricity from any gas produced.


Land south east of M6 jct 21, next to the Thelwall viaduct
Planning permissions granted on 18th November 2010 (2010/16949) and 4th February 2015 (2014/24921) for two exploratory boreholes for coal bed methane appraisal and production. Woolston and Thelwall Community Protection Camp established in April 2015 and continues.


Lower Stumble, Balcombe
The site remains suspended and the company told us it would inform Balcombe before flow testing began. As part of the planning permission, Cuadrilla is required to establish a residents’ forum, which we understand is not yet in place. Work must begin by May 2017 and the site must be restored within six months of the start date.

Markwells Wood, near Rowlands Castle
UK Oil & Gas
Under delegated powers, a planning officer for the South Downs National Park Authority granted an extension of planning permission for appraisal of the well at the site until 30th September 2016. The company said it was looking to move the licence from exploration to production and planned to submit a new application for a sidetrack development well.

Wood Barn Farm, Adversane Lane, Broadford Bridge, near Billingshurst RH14 9EB
Celtique Energie/Magellan Petroleum
This site has planning permission for a conventioinal oil well. It must be drilled by 30th June 2016 under a revised agreement between Celtique Energie and DECC. So far, only the site preparation work has been carried out. If the well is drilled, Celtique will retain PEDLs 234 and 243 until 2019. If not, the company will lose the licences. Celtique is involved in a legal dispute with its partner, Magellan Petroleum, over a $2m contribution to drilling the Broadford Bridge well.  Planning permission, which is for three years from the date work started, is due to expire in September 2017.

Northern Ireland


Woodburn Forest-1 well, Carrickfergus
InfraStrata says on its website that drilling was due to take place in the final quarter of 2015 but no work has been reported. Last year, the company said its partner Larne Oil and Gas Ltd has pulled out and now InfraStrata needs to find £2.8m to drill the well. Opponents say the site – 400m from a drinking water reservoir and nature reserve – is “highly inappropriate”.


A moratorium on fracking applications is in place while the Scottish Government carries out a public consultation and review. The moratorium does not cover water monitoring boreholes or conventional exploration. No licences were issued in Scotland under the 14th round because oil and gas licensing is to be devolved. In October, the Scottish government imposed a moratorium on underground coal gasification.

Please let us know about any planning applications or permissions for onshore drilling in Scotland.


The Welsh government is considering whether to include underground coal gasification in its moratorium on fracking applications. No licences were issued in Wales under the 14th round because oil and gas licensing is to be devolved.


Tyla Lane, Merthy Mawr
Coastal Oil & Gas

Permission granted in December 2014 for five years for test drilling in the Devonian shale. Environmental permit granted on 17th August 2015


Foel Fynyddau, Pontrhydyfen
UK Methane
Campaigners say they will not give up the fight to stop drilling for coal bed methane, despite planning permission (P2015/0031) granted by Neath Port Talbot’s planning committee. UK Methane has applied for an environmental permit to Natural Resources Wales.

Intervalley Road, Banwen
UK Methane
Temporary permission (P2010/1183) for 12 weeks to drill an exploratory gas well. Under the terms of the planning permission, work must begin before 19th July 2016.


West Nash Road, Nash
Sonorex Oil & Gas
Permission (11/1351) for a temporary oil and gas exploration site was granted in September 2012. Work must begin by 7th September 2017 and be completed within six months.


Hendre Owen Farm, Llanharan, Pontyclun
UK Methane
UK Methane is expected to appeal against the unanimous refusal of permission on 6th August 2015 for its application (15/0147/10) for exploratory gas drilling.


Bryntywod, Llangyfelach
UK Methane
Planning permission granted 8th December 2015 for five years for test drilling for coal bed methane. Opponents of the scheme said they would make a formal complaint about how the council’s planning committee made its decision.


Five Mile Lane, Dyffryn
Coastal Oil & Gas
The owner of the site has not renewed the contract with the company so development at this site looks unlikely. Environmental permit granted in September 2015. Planning permission for five years approved on 4th October 2013.

Llancarfan, Llantrithyd
Coastal Oil & Gas
The Barry GEM reported in December that Coastal Oil & Gas had abandoned plans to drill at Llantrithyd site after a villager opposed to the development bought the site. The sale has been completed and development here also looks unlikely.

Unit 20, Sutton Spring Road, Llandow Trading Estate, Cowbridge
Coastal Oil and Gas
Natural Resources Wales issued environmental waste permit number RB3593HS/A001 on 15th July 2015. Planning permission approved in July 2012 for five years.


IGas has said it still plans to drill for coal bed methane at the Borras site at Holt, Wrexham, despite the moratorium on fracking passed by the Welsh Assembly in February 2015. Campaigners continue to oppose development at the site.

 Please let us know if information in this post is missing, inaccurate or out-of-date. We want to make this as complete and accurate as possible. Contact here.

Key drilling sites identified by Frack Off

New licences

Companies awarded licences under the 14th round have committed to drill at least 112 oil and gas wells by the end of the decade. More than 80 will be for shale gas and oil.

The largest number is likely to be drilled by INEOS which, according to figures from the Oil and Gas Authority, has committed to 30 wells. All will be for shale gas and are likely to be in Yorkshire and Cheshire.

IGas has committed to 10 wells and South Western and Cuadrilla to nine each. IGas’s new licences are also in Yorkshire and Cheshire. South Westerns are either side of the Severn estuary and in Wiltshire/Somerset and Dorset.

More details on 14th round licences


5 replies »

  1. Peel conglomerates, (I think I said this last year:-)) half owned by Deutsche Bank and tangoing with NYCC on a regular basis, and controllers of Manchester ship canal and based in the NW, have made it clear that gas extraction will take place in 2017….so folks another antifracking year to go

  2. Hi Ruth, thanks for the summary!

    Just to update you regarding the Vale of Glamorgan in Wales, I can confirm that the sale of the Llantrithyd field (as reported in the Gem) has been completed so it’s officially off the menu!

    The 5 Mile Lane site is also off – the landowner quietly backed out and didn’t renew his contract with Coastal Oil and Gas, so the planning permission and environmental permit are moot. This one hasn’t hit any news.

    And in Llandow, just a typo – the address is 20 Sutton Spring Road not no 2. This one is still on though so tents at the ready 🙂

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