Opposition

Horse Hill update: March, money, Greens and policing

Greens visit

Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett, and MEP, Keith Taylor, during a visit to Horse Hill. Photo: Jono Houston

Campaigners against oil exploration at Horse Hill near Gatwick are planning a march and mass cycle to the site next week.

A consortium of oil companies is currently carrying out an extended flow test of the well drilled in 2014. Opponents fear the well could be fracked in future.

The march, designed to raise awareness of operations at the site, is on Saturday 20th February. It begins at 12 noon at the Black Horse pub, at the junction of Reigate Road and Horse Hill. Marchers, joined by a “bike train” from London, will then continue up Horse Hill to the wellsite. Details here

The flow test seeks to establish whether the oil discovery is commercially viable. It is testing the flow in the Upper Portland sandstone and in two Kimmeridge limestones below the Portland.

The largest volume of oil is estimated to be in the Kimmeridge limestones. They have been described as “tight” and the oil source as a hybrid of conventional and unconventional.

Green Party visit

Natalie bennett at Horse Hill

The leader of the Green Party, Natalie Bennett, visited Horse Hill yesterday (13th February 2016) to speak to the site operators and opponents.

She said the UK should be investing in renewables and energy conservation. After the visit she tweeted:

“Great 2 see protection camp growing. Local support plus far wider”

Ms Bennett was joined by Keith Taylor, the Green Party’s MEP for southern England.

He said:

“The discovery of oil at Horse Hill should be the opportunity for us to have an important national debate about keeping fossil fuels in the ground.”

“The scientific consensus on climate change has never been greater and we have been told that the only way we have a chance of averting catastrophe is by leaving large reserves of oil in the ground.”

Stephen Sanderson, the chief executive of UK Oil & Gas, one of the investors at Horse Hill said said oil supplies would “create a lot of jobs and a lot of wealth for the country”.

“That’s good for the local area, it’s good for England, and it’s good for the UK.”.

Arrest

Before the Green Party visit, an anti-fracking campaigner was arrested outside the site. He was later released without charge. But during his time in custody he alleged police cut beads threaded into his hair. DrillOrDrop will put the allegation to Surrey Police.

Campaigners have previously complained that they have been threatened with arrest for “slow walking” protests where they attempted to delay deliveries by walking in front of lorries.

In response, Surrey Police said it would always facilitate peaceful protest and would only take action if activity at the site caused a breach of the peace or resulted in a public order offence.

Video from the Horse Hill site recorded by Jono Houston on 12th February 2016

Money

One of the investors in the Horse Hill well, the US based Magellan Petroleum, has revealed it may sell its stake.

Yesterday (12th February), the company, which has a 35% share in Horse Hill, published its latest submission to the US Security and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Magellan said once the results of the flow test were known, it would decide on “the most appropriate path to generate value for its shareholders”.

It said the options “may include a sale or further farmout agreement of the company’s interests in HH1 [the Horse Hill well]” and the exploration licence areas, PEDLs 137 and 246.

The submission suggests that a sale could help fund the company’s operations for the first three months of this year.

Magellan added that the decision would “reflect consideration of the overall political and social environment in the UK with respect to conventional and unconventional oil and gas developments”.

More details from Magellan Petroleum’s SEC filing here.

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