The residents association for people living round the so-called Gatwick Gusher oil well in Surrey has criticised the location on Horse Hill. But the company behind the development is planning for production at the site.
Chris Lowe, of Norwood Hill Residents’ Association, said today:
“This is the wrong place. There are people who live all around. They live too close. This is not a brownfield site. It is a peaceful field behind woods.”
Mr Lowe was speaking at an exhibition by the companies operating the Horse Hill site. They plan to submit a new planning application in mid-September for extended flow tests of Kimmeridge limestone and Portlandsandstone formations.
If the tests are successful, the companies want to drill a side track off the existing well and a vertical production well. See DrillOrDrop report on the details.
Four houses are close to the well. Mr Lowe said:
“For people living 300 or 350 yards away this is not at all terrific.”
He said the wider community would also be affected. There were concerns about the impact of the operations at the site on health. He said the regulatory agencies were not “big enough or strong enough to regulate effectively”.
Local residents were also worried about the effect of extra traffic generated by the safe, Mr Lowe said.
“People use the road to get to Crawley and Gatwick. It is a well-known rat run.”
Industrialisation of the Weald
Mr Lowe said:
“What is proposed is part of the greater industrialisation of the Weald”.
He said planes were already flying in tighter circles over the area, an extra runway could be built at Gatwick and more housing had been agreed.
“I can envisage 100s of [oil and gas] sites from Bletchingley to Markwells Wood. They could be one every three miles. They [oil and gas companies] are already working half a dozen sites within 10 miles of here.”
In spring this year and during 2014 there were protests at Horse Hill about the oil operations.
Mr Lowe predicted that the cost of policing protests would increase with further development of the site.
“Future police costs are going to run to very large sums indeed. The company does not pay. The costs go on the rates. The oil company can take the oil and make the profits.”
Production plans for Horse Hill
Stephen Sanderson, the Executive Chairman of UK Oil and Gas Investments Ltd, the biggest partner in the well, said Horse Hill had advantages.
When asked by DrillOrDrop if he saw it as a production site, he said
“For the Kimmeridge limestone, I don’t know.”
But he said the planning application included drilling a production well for the Portland Sandstone formation, if flow testing proved there were commercial accumulations of oil.
He added that if the Kimmeridge limestone was not commercially viable the existing well could become a production well.
He said of the site:
“I cannot really comment on the picture of the Weald and the way it might being changed.
“It [Horse Hill] is quite well screened. There are a couple of houses to the south of the site where the site can be viewed. “If we did go into production we could plant more trees.
“It quite close to the A road, which leads to the motorway network. It does not pay to put heavy vehicles on small roads.”
Mr Sanderson said people living near other oil and gas sites in the Weald were unaware of them. He said UKOG planned to make the Horse Hill site as “invisible” as possible by putting most of the equipment underground.
He also said the Kimmeridge limestone was ubiquitous across the region.
“We can cherry pick. We can think about brownfield sites or locations next to a major road or railway line.”