The companies behind the Horse Hill oil well in Surrey, nick-named the Gatwick Gusher, announced details today of its plans for two new wells and more testing at the site.
The proposals were described at an exhibition near Horse Hill attended by a dozen executives, including Stephen Sanderson, executive chairman of the major partner, UK Oil and Gas Investments.
Flow testing for one year
The exhibition described plans for extended flow testing of four sections of the existing well. This was expected to take up to 90 days each, or around a year in total.
Depending on the outcome of the tests, the operating company, Horse Hill Developments Ltd (HHDL), may then drill two new wells.
One would be a horizontal or side-track well off the existing borehole, to target oil in the Kimmeridge Limestones.
The other would be a separate vertical well to target the Portland sandstone formation. Drilling each well would be expected to take 30-60 days and each well would also be flow tested for up to 90 days. Drilling would be a 24-hours a day operation.
A planning application, for a period of five years, is expected to be submitted to Surrey County Council in mid-September, the company said. An application for an environmental permit would also be submitted around the same time to the Environment Agency.
The company said it proposed to use acidisation to clean the formation. This would a solution of 15% hydrochloric acid, delivered in that concentration to the site. Hot oil treatment may also be needed on the well, the company said. This involves circulating heated oil produced from the well back into it to remove any build of waxes.
HHDL confirmed it did not intend to frack the existing or new wells and the proposed planning application would not include production.
Flaring During the extended flow tests, any gas would be flared off, the company said. Executives said the choice of flare had not been decided but it was likely to be a shrouded type.
During the initial flow tests in February and March, gases were vented, not burned and there were complaints of a hydrocarbon smell. One consultant said the flare had been agreed with Gatwick Airport to avoid bright lights and turbulence.
Truck movements According to the company, the number of truck movements to prepare the site is expected to be 10 in and 10 out. During flow-testing, there would three in and three out per day. During drilling, this could increase to five in and five out per day.
Noise Consultants suggested they would use acoustic screens mounted on scaffolding to reduce noise from the site.
Site preparation According to consultants, HHDL plans to straighten the access road to make it easier to bring in large equipment. Two trees would be felled. Two other trees on the other side of the site may also need to be felled.
Carbon impacts Consultants said the carbon footprint of the scheme had not yet been calculated but would be part of the planning application.
Consultation HHDL said this was the only public meeting planned by the company. The exhibition and accompanying leaflet said:
“We are keen to understand your thoughts about this exhibition and to listen and address any questions or concerns you may have so please feel free to approach the HHDL team today.”