New planning application due for Horse Hill’s “Gatwick Gusher” oil site


Picture: Lisa Scott

The company behind the Horse Hill oil well near Gatwick in Surrey has confirmed it will submit a new planning application for the site in the next few weeks.

Horse Hill Developments Ltd has posted an official notice at the site about its plans.

They include:

  • Flow testing the existing well, nick-named the Gatwick Gusher
  • Drilling a horizontal sidetrack well
  • Drilling and flow testing a second deviated borehole

The notice, dated yesterday (30 September 2016), is required under Article 13 of the Town and County Planning (Development Management Procedure) Order 2015. This obliges people proposing to apply for planning permission for mineral working to inform owners or tenants of land to which the application relates.

Under the order, the notice must be displayed for not less than seven days in the period of 21 days immediately before the application is made to the local planning authority.

Any representations must be made by 5 November 2016. This period does not replace any public consultation period when the application has been submitted and published.

When submitted, the application must be validated by planners at Surrey County Council. This means the company has completed the application form, supplied the required information and paid the correct fee.

The application will then be posted on the council’s planning website and open for public comments. The consultation period usually lasts at least three weeks but can be six weeks or more.

DrillOrDrop will report on the contents on the application when it becomes public.


Flow testing at Horse Hill in February 2016. Picture: Eddie Mitchell


The Article 13 notice describes the proposed work as:

“Retain the existing exploratory well site and access onto Horse Hill for the appraisal and further flow testing of the existing bore hole (Horse Hill-1) for hydrocarbons, including the drilling of a horizontal sidetrack well; drill a second (deviated) borehole (Horse Hill-2) and flow testing for hydrocarbons; erect security fencing and gates; modifications to the internal access road; install of plant, buildings and equipment, for a temporary period.”

The original planning permission for Horse Hill was granted by Surrey County Council on 16th January 2012 (SCC 2010/0197). It covered site construction, drilling the Horse Hill-1 well and short-term testing only.

Results of the initial flow tests, carried out in February 2016, were described as “outstanding”, leading to the nick-name “Gatwick Gusher”.

At an exhibition in July, Horse Hill Developments Ltd (HHDL) said it wanted to carry out extended flow testing of four sections of the Horse Hill-1 well. The tests would each last up to 90 days (or around a year in total) and involve flaring of gas.

The outcome of the tests would determine whether the sidetrack and deviated wells would then be drilled, according to staff at the exhibition. They included Stephen Sanderson, executive chairman of the majority investor in HHDL, UK Oil & Gas (Investments) Ltd.


DrillOrDrop reports on the Horse Hill exhibition:

New drilling and testing plans for “Gatwick Gusher”

UKOG plans for production at Horse Hill but residents say it’s the wrong site for an oil well

Local community to share Horse Hill oil revenues, UKOG’s boss promises

UK Oil & Gas has submitted an application to the South Downs National Park for 20 years of oil production at a site at Markwells Wood in West Sussex. DrillOrDrop report

21 replies »


      Averil Macdonald. Another one who does not mention the North sea which has supplied her with 43 billion barrels of oil and gas over the last 40 years. No mention of the 20 billion plus barrels left. Another classic. I must rent this boat and send you all on a little trip.

      Thanks for pointing her out. She really knows her stuff.

  1. The reason the government can’t fuel Britian by renewables is it would cost around £5000 per year t heat and light the average home with un-subsidized renewables. Also you still need hydrocarbons to make the renewables. You would also need huge mines to extract the materials to make the batteries to store the energy. You could of course import the oil and gas from Donald Trump!

    • Hi Tony
      Don’t think we have heard from you before?
      Can i suggest you read through some of the older posts on Drill or Drop. You will get a different insight and be able to dispel some of the media myths you have just posted. The oil and gas industry is ‘heavily subsidized’, much more than renewables; they don’t call them subsidies, just like they are not calling fracking, ‘fracking’. 🙂 Happy reading

      • But Tony is not far off with the cost estimate. If there are no fossil fuels there can be no hidden subsidies and no fracking. Unless geothermal is part of the renewables mix.

        • Geothermal has been running in Southampton for 30+ years. It is an interesting project and just about makes lukewarm water. It used to heat the lido, the civic Center and a few city Center homes. Not like Iceland. Sadly it is not economically viable. As I say, we can’t all subsidize each other or we will financially implode.

          • Dear me, financially implode…but then you can’t breathe money.

            ‘lukewarm’ water…are you saying it is not hot enough or that not hot enough for you? Consider that if this project had not gone ahead how much fossil fuel would have been burned. I would consider this a success story!

            It is apparent to me that many people worldwide are unaware of the REAL cost of energy, water and food. Business (fueled by media image) to create profit for the few, take subsidies from the tax payer resulting in country debt or encourage personal debt to buy their products. This is what will make us ‘financially implode’. Folk are living in an ever thinning debt bubble which is in danger of popping. We must start to consider what is needed rather than want or greed.

            Climate change needs to be addressed or we all are on a bus to nowhere. Clean energy, for now, must be produced at the expense of fossil fuels and profit. Food production needs to be weaned off oil and supermarkets away from their price wars.

            We all need to play a small part; support clean energy investment, put up solar panels, insulate, add a smart meter, wear a jumper instead of shorts in the middle of winter, cycle to work, work local, buy local, support local (tax generating) businesses, grow some of your own food.

            Using energy has moved from need to addiction. But positive action is happening, renewables online and projects such as those above have made inroads into the necessary changes and have already saved fossil fuel burn.

            Keep going, think of the children….

      • I refer to Sherwulfe’s post 1 October stating that the oil & gas industry is ” heavily subsidised”, a claim by anti-frackers I have heard many times.
        Can anyone provide the facts? From what I can discover the Oil & Gas Industry , whether we like it or not , is one of the major net contributors to the national exchequer. There may be tax reductions (rightly or wrongly) to encourage risky explorations but a tax reduction is not a subsidy any more than a penny off the tax on a pint of beer is a subsidy to drinkers.
        A subsidy is paid to an industry which is unable to produce a product at a viable price, & in some cases may be justified, but it is still a subsidy.
        It seems to me that in any normal use of the terms renewables are subsidised & are thus a drain on the exchequer while the Oil & Gas Industries make a huge contribution to national revenues.
        Can anyone clarify this please.

    • The tax payers of the UK pay 6 billion pounds a year to subsidise the UK fossil fuel industry. Referencing batteries to store energy is not how UK renewables operate.

      We could of course use the 20 billion barrels of oil we have left in our North sea while we maximise on our renewable potential. In case you do not know, the wind, Daylight, and the tides are free and infinite so a sane person would exploit that potential to the full.

      Renewables are being subsidised by us but the price is dropping. Dong energy hoped to have offshore wind down to the same price as fossil fuels by 2020. Their most recent project has already met that target.

      You could of course pepper the countryside with wells extracting the dearest form of gas, create an entire new infrastructure, and train an entire new workforce. While you do that the renewable energy sector will plough ahead using free energy sources to combat climate change and supply clean infinite energy and drive down prices. Is it any wonder that so many are divesting from fossil fuels?

      If you are another who does not know about our huge North Sea oil and gas industry You may wish to go on a boat trip and see for yourself. On your way have a look at this. It is quite impressive. Free wind generating electricity. Basic common sense really.

      • The unsubsudised price of heating is around

        2.772p gas heating
        23,32p offshore wind heating

        How are you going to get offshore wind power down to anywhere near 3p?

        I’m all for renewable power, but it has to come near to costing in.
        Also I have crawled round all the eaves of my bungalow installing LED lighting and celotex insulation into of the existing insulation. (Celotex is made from oil) and halved the fuel use.
        But you are unrealistic if you think renewables can replace oil and gas.
        And I ask again , how are you going to get the minerals to make the batteries. HUGE MINES!

        • Offshore wind energy was expensive. There was little competition and technology was constantly moving forward. Our next generation turbines have huge outputs and prices have fallen dramatically.

          These turbines do require energy and minerals to be produced but once made the fuel source is free. With life spans of over 20 years that equates to high yield from minimal input.

          Renewables cannot just replace oil and gas. What should happen is we work quickly towards maximising their potential, with political will for, instead of against, the most logical approach to the UK’s energy security. The UK is a million miles away from maximising our renewable potential. Our grid could take 50% renewables and 80% plus with the inclusion of tidal. Battery storage is not needed, the work would be in countrywide connections from all energy sources and the political will to implement that system.

          Great job with your insulation. If everybody did that I doubt we would need any gas imports as our home grown North Sea 20 billion barrel reserves would suffice.

    • So lets do a comparison to an all shale energy system.

      Consumers bills would go sky high. The figures are in for UK shale. The dearest form of energy constantly increasing as wells dry up as sweet spots are lost

      House prices would drop. People going into care in later life would have less money to support themselves.The tax payer would pick up the bill. At around £30,000 per person per year this would cost us billions unnecessarily

      There would have to be tens of thousands of wells to heat and light the average home turning our countryside into an industrial wasteland.

      That would require hundreds of thousands of truck movements causing massive traffic issues, bottle necking rural roads and tens of millions in road repairs paid for by us.

      An all shale system would permanently damage tourism and agriculture.

      As the industry has stated it wants a 2.6M seismic threshold for future operations it is obvious there will be damage to properties and a host of other problems relating to regular seismic activity.

      There will be health impacts. An all shale gas industry dealing with toxic and explosive material in huge quantities only metres from peoples homes will obviously have health risks and put additional pressure on our already stretched NHS.

      Our legally binding climate change targets could never be met.

      You could of course build up with renewables whilst using up our 20 billion barrel North sea reserves.

  2. Statistics – Some background to UK energy policy from Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy statistics published recently.

    Coal now accounts for less than 6% of electricity generation, down from 35% just a few years ago.

    In the meantime, the proportion of electricity generated from gas grew by over 50 per cent during the same period, hitting a 45.2 per cent share in the second quarter of this year, while nuclear counted for a 21.3 per cent share, slightly below the 21.5 per cent share it held during the same quarter the previous year.

    Bioenergy was the renewables source which provided the most electricity despite having a lower overall capacity than both solar PV and onshore wind. It’s generation increased from 7.1TWh in Q2 of 2015 to 7.7TWh in Q2 of 2016 in large part thanks to the conversion from coal to biomass of a third unit at the Drax power station in Yorkshire.

    The government figures show the share of energy produced by renewables overall similarly fell slightly from 25.4 to 24.9 per cent largely due to unfavourable weather conditions.

    The fall in coal use and rise of gas for electricity generation appears to have had a clear knock on effect on greenhouse gas emissions over the past year, with provisional statistics from the government showing emissions fell by 6.8 per cent during the 12 months leading up to June 2016 – a decrease of 34.7 MtCO2e to 476.3 MtCO2e.

    Another interesting fact which I picked up recently is that we use much less electricity, and energy generally, as a nation than we did as far back as 2005. This probably due to increased efficiency of electrical appliances and machinery generally. A notable example of this is the improved efficiency of lighting.

    • ‘The fall in coal use and rise of gas for electricity generation appears to have had a clear knock on effect on greenhouse gas emissions over the past year’

      Mark, should read…….

      The fall in coal use, increase in renewable generation, more homes insulated, smart meters fitted which are reigning back a rise of gas for electricity generation, appears to have had a clear knock on effect on greenhouse gas emissions over the past year.

      Sadly not quick enough to begin to meet our climate change targets? We need more renewables deployed, more insulation and less waste. This will further reduce emissions and stretch out the gas.

      Today, renewables have reduced the amount of fossil fuel we would have burned. This will happen tomorrow and the day after. We need to maximise the renewables and use fossil fuel for need not want or greed.

      If you turn the Earth into a chain smoker, the end is inevitable…….

  3. While I agree with the Green cry for faster and more renewables roll out and it is the future but a rush will do more harm than good as this independent technical limitation analysis explain very well (trust me this is from the Australia ABC which is as lefty as the equivalent as our UK Guardian and the Independent). It is one thing to cry out for more renewables but it is another to provide reliable technology to make it happen and practical and economical.

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