The majority investor in the Horse Hill oil well near Gatwick is claiming record UK onshore flow rates.
After completing initial flow tests, UK Oil & Gas described the results this morning as “outstanding” and equivalent to rates from the North Sea.
In a statement it said it would now seek permission for extended production tests at the site on the edge of Horley.
It also said it would apply for a horizontal side-track well and, possibly, a new development well. The current planning permission is for the existing vertical well and short-term testing only.
The statement coincided with a warning from Frack Free Surrey of increasing numbers of wells and impacts across the county.
Flow testing at Horse Hill began in February. The operation tested the Upper and Lower Kimmeridge and the Upper Portland.
UKOG said this morning the aggregate flow from the three layers had been 1,688 barrels per day. 14 tankers of oil had been sent to the Fawley refinery. The results had caused UKOG to “rethink and recalibrate” its assumptions, the company said.
Its executive chairman, Stephen Sanderson, said:
“The flow test results are outstanding, demonstrating North Sea-like oil rates from an onshore well. This simple vertical well has achieved an impressive aggregate oil rate equivalent to 8.5% of total UK onshore daily oil production.”
“We are delighted, therefore, that this discovery has the serious prospect of being a meaningful addition to the UK’s own supply of oil in a period where North Sea production is declining more rapidly than expected.”
Neil Ritson, chairman of Solo Oil, another investor in the well, said the tests, which cost about £1m had been “money well spent”.
He told Proactive Investors this was the first time the Lower Kimmeridge has been tested successfully with rates of over 450 barrels a day. He said rates of 900 barrels a day from the Upper Kimmeridge was the highest ever achieved. And the flow from the Upper Portland was among the highest of UK onshore wells.
The share price of UKOG closed down 7% at 2.22p while Solo Oil was unchanged at 0.34p.
Complaints and opposition
Since the tests began, there have been complaints from local people about smells from the site, spills, noise, light, discharges into a ditch and damage to local roads.
Volunteers and staff at a local equestrian centre, next to the site, were reported to have experienced nosebleeds and headaches. Horses had been kept inside because of concerns about their health. GetSurrey report
Protesters have attempted to disrupt activities by slow-walking deliveries to Horse Hill and locking-on to vehicles. A camp established at the junction of Horse Hill and Reigate Road.
Co-Chair of East Surrey Green Party, Sarah Finch, who is supporting campaigners, said:
“It might be easy for the oil companies to dismiss these protests, but what we’re seeing are local communities in our towns and villages rising up over the hunger of the oil companies to squeeze every last drop of oil from our countryside.”
“The planning system looks at these applications on an individual basis but the cumulative impact could be very significant across the South East”.
Yesterday, Frack Free Surrey quoted Mr Sanderson as saying:
“This type of oil deposit very much depends on being able to drill your wells almost back to back so it becomes very much like an industrialised process … Generally you have to drill a lot wells close to each other so you can maintain a certain level of production.”
The group warned:
“As more and more wells are drilled, the impacts [air pollution, traffic, leaking wells] accumulate and it is the cumulative impacts of this industrialisation which eventually becomes the dominant factor.”
Keith Taylor, MEP for South East England, said the scientific consensus on climate change had never been greater. The best chance we had of averting catastrophe, he said, was to leave large reserves of oil in the ground. He siad:
“The extraction of oil at sites like Horse Hill not only risks damaging our environment and health, it is a distraction from the work that must be done to build a sustainable future based on a low carbon, democratic energy system.”
There are currently two petitions urging Surrey County Council to adopt a policy preventing unconventional techniques, including fracking. One, with a signing deadline of August 2016, said:
“Findings to date from scientific, medical, and journalistic investigations combine to demonstrate that unconventional and invasive techniques including high volume hydraulic fracturing poses significant threats to air, water, health, public safety, climate stability, seismic stability, community cohesion, and long term economic vitality.”
The other, which is open until 22nd April 2016, said: “Evidence shows that regulations are simply not capable of preventing harm”.
Updated: 22/3/16 to include quotes from Sarah Finch and Keith Taylor