Horse Hill new drilling and testing plans submitted – MEP says they’re ‘affront to local communities’


Horse Hill during the initial well test in spring 2016. Picture: Eddie Mitchell

As expected, plans for two new wells and extended testing have been submitted for the Horse Hill oil site near Gatwick.

The local Green MEP, Keith Taylor, described the application as “a form of climate change denial and an affront to local communities”.

In a statement released yesterday, UK Oil & Gas Investments PLC, a major investor in the site, said a planning application had gone in to Surrey County Council.

The application is not yet on the council’s website. DrillOrDrop will report in more detail on the proposals when they are published.

UK Oil & Gas (UKOG) said the application sought permission to

  • Carry out four extended production tests on the existing Horse Hill-1 well
  • Drill a side-track to Horse Hill-1
  • Drill a new well, to be called Horse Hill-2
  • Carry out extended production tests on the new wells


The statement said UKOG had listened to the views of local people in putting together the application.

“In order to minimise impact to the locality, feedback from both a public consultation and engagement process, undertaken in July, and subsequent meetings with local residents’ representatives, was incorporated into the envisaged development design and planning application.”

“Monetisation of our core recoverable resources”

Last month, UKOG submitted an application for 20 years of oil production in the South Downs National Park at Markwells Wood, in West Sussex. More details

UKOG’s executive chairman, Stephen Sanderson, said the two applications were “firmly designed to move these assets into near term oil production and the monetisation of our core recoverable resources.”

Mr Sanderson said of the Horse Hill application:

“It is also one of the next key steps in furthering our industry leading knowledge of the Kimmeridge limestone play that lies beneath our extensive acreage holding in the Weald. We look forward to further engaging with stakeholders and to a successful planning outcome.”

In March, UKOG announced that Horse Hill-1 had achieved some of the highest flow rates of any onshore well in the UK, leading to the nickname “Gatwick Gusher”.

“Not good news for Surrey or the planet”

The local Green Party MEP, Keith Taylor, said the new planning application would not be good news for the people of Surrey or the planet. He urged planners to reject this and any other proposals for more drilling in the Weald.

Keith Taylor tweet.jpg

Mr Taylor said:

“It is a form of climate change denial and an affront to the local communities already blighted by the ‘Gatwick Gusher’ to expand drilling operations. The application, which looks set to include plans to extract, by what are widely considered unconventional means, hard-to-get oil by drilling a new well at the Horse Hill site, flies in the face of scientific consensus.”

“The development of new oil reserves must be scrapped immediately. Fossil fuels need to stay in the ground if we’re to have any chance of mitigating the worst effects of catastrophic climate change. The application is wholly incompatible with Theresa May’s promise to ratify the Paris climate agreement.

“I want Britain to be a country that values the quality of life of its residents and local communities and works to build a secure future for our children and our children’s children. Which is why I’m urging planners to reject this, and any, application for more drilling in the Weald.”

The initial flow testing at Horse Hill in February this year saw protests and a protection camp established by opponents of onshore drilling. In two court trials, 10 campaigners were cleared, mostly of obstructing the highway. Another eight were found guilty of a range of offences and received absolute or conditional discharges or a fine.

The then Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett, and Mr Taylor, visited the site and the camp. Ms Bennett tweeted afterwards: “Great 2 see protection camp growing. Local support plus far wider”.


UKOG statement

Keith Taylor statement

Surrey County Council online planning register

40 replies »

  1. The local Green MEP, Keith Taylor, should be focusing on his next job – if needs one with the EU freeloader pensions. Fortunately no one will take any notice of the uninformed rubbish he is spouting. But of course this is why the Greens will never get into Government. Still only one MP, and even she understands the need for fossil fuels.

    Lets see if the planning officer takes any notice.

      • Anna – you should not trust the propagandists lurking in this site. Investigate for yourself. It beggars belief that the head of INEOS (Jim Ratcliff), and the likes of hballpeeny and others here can brazenly state, or repeatedly imply, that there have been no safety or environmental issues in the United States.

        In the US there are many contaminated groundwater supplies caused by fracking; many, many health and environment issues. Scores of complaints every week and with overwhelmed regional agencies without the investigative expertise or the ‘teeth’ to do anything about it. Often the planning and other officials are bought out (paid off) by the developers to pass a blind eye and to not register complaints.

        The senate and the supreme court in the States have been dominated by Oil and Gas interests for many years. With the recent death of a senior-most judge the others immediately refused to accept any nomination by Obama for his replacement. Hilary Clinton if/when elected may be able to help ‘Make America Sane Again’ especially if the senate and supreme court become less biased. Hopefully their struggling EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) will be given back it’s teeth. They’ve had no choice but to collude in the cover up.

        There are now hundreds of honest people telling their stories and blowing the lid off the situation – including local administrators who just want the truth to come out. It shouldn’t be long before the veil of disinformation will come crashing down like so many spinning plates on sticks that are beginning to fall off. The USA may come clean on the shale gas insanity just in time for England to look really stupid for rushing into it.

        A couple of leads to what is really going on in the US (there are hundreds):

        • You are simply delusional Philip. We have made it explicitly clear that while accidents have happened, the industry does not pose a systemic risk. This is why the practice continues safely every single day, near schools, homes, and waterways. We are not dying, in fact we are breathing cleaner air because of it. You can reference the EPA report, or several other objective and independent sources which have affirmed the safety of the technology.

          • I have looked into those reports and EPA insiders are saying that the official line does not represent the actual findings of their investigative team. The Dimmock case is a prime example of this.

            Sorry but that ‘systemic’ line does not hold water – just contaminated water. Anyone can look these things up. You should try reading the reports I’ve linked to. One is to a long range peer reviewed study.

            • I see, again it is just one giant conspiracy to kill the American public that is being perpetrated by the evil head of the EPA, right Philip. I’m sure you’re on to something!

              Insiders are saying no such thing. You are full of it.

                • Not rigged, but you realize that it had nothing to do with fracking, right? All fracking-related claims were thrown out of court. Also, the plaintiffs were unable to provide any proof that their drinking water was contaminated by oil and gas activities. The award was given on a “nuisance” claim. That’s pretty lame, Philip. Read up my man.

                • Not as lame as you $4 million awarded for a ‘nuisance’ claim. That’s laughable. When are you going to get real? You know exactly why a full admission cannot be explicit about fracking. The State and Federal inspectors/enforcers would be implicated to the highest levels and even the federal coffers wouldn’t have enough in reserve to meet the claims if liability was admitted, and to decontaminate the aquifers. Luckily things can be obfuscated behind the unpredictability of geology and ‘natural occurrences’, and of course the convenient lack of baseline ‘before’ studies.

                • Well, Philip. I am basing my comments on the reality of documents issued by the court. In your world of altered realities, anything is possible, so you can see it any way you want. That’s the great thing about your perspective, it is not constrained by facts and reality. What a neat world in which you live!

            • Sorry, Philip, but the report you cite is dated and says nothing. The EPA clearly stated that there was no evidence to link fracking to water contamination. And the powerpoint your article references says that there is “apparently” a connection, but it has no scientific basis for making that statement which is why it says no more. It is also why a number of studies have demonstrated through empirical evidence that fracking is not contaminating water in PA. Note that methane and other gasses naturally occur in PA wells, and this fact has been well documented.

                • Here is a direct statement from the EPA SAB assessment:

                  “While the report could have articulated the agency’s
                  statistical assessment more clearly, there has not been any facts or evidence demonstrating a systemic or
                  widespread impact to existing drinking water resources or other water resources that may not meet the
                  current criteria of a drinking water resource. If a systemic or widespread issue had been identified, the
                  EPA and the state regulatory agencies would have quickly responded to such findings. In the absence of
                  such documented events, the conclusion is clear that no systemic, widespread impact to drinking water
                  resources is occurring.”

              • … and I bet you know that the word “apparently” was a legal technique, strategically necessary to avoid the avalanche of claims of almost unimaginable size that would implicate even the authorities in irresponsible practices. Lack of prior baseline studies and progressive monitoring allows the issue to get fudged like that. I wonder what specialised lingo will get employed over here.

                • Nice try – avoid the issue and attack the messenger (I’m not alligned with any group by the way) – I guess those reports I’ve mentioned say nothing to those who don’t read them, which I suspect is so in your case. I’m actually very pro US and would love to see it get over its fracking fever and end the suffering and headaches that it’s causing so many people (which you are in complete denial about). I believe the best brains, inventors and entrepreneurs from the UK and US (and other allied countries) could beat the looming energy dependency and clean energy problems in far more intelligent ways than pushing fracking to its limits.

                  This whole drive is being engineered by some very greedy, powerful interests who are even too ignorant to stop and consider the population density over here. England’s land area could fit 3 times into California alone, nearly 5 times into Texas, yet it has a far greater population than each. You have vast tracts of land over there which means fracking can march across your landscape (sadly) at big distances from the nearest inhabitants. The English are jealously protective of any open landscape. Fracking done at any scale that would be anywhere near satisfying demands for energy security cannot be done cleanly or discretely. Can’t you see that it won’t fly here?

                • It flies in Los Angeles. It flies in Houston. It flies in very densely populated areas of the US because the impacts of fracking are not even close to what you suggest. These are facts, Philip. It is happening in neighborhoods and cities in the US and life goes on. It happens every day. Fracking is an energy dense extractive technology, thus the land impacts are minor relative to the energy extracted. Fracking is 700-1000x less land intensive than wind turbines according to David Mackay.

                • You don’t know England at all do you? If you think LA or Houston (both having grown up with the automobile and being used to having oil wells and pipelines in their midst) are in anyway comparable to English towns, villages or cities you should think again. As for population density of those cities – are you kidding? Think of the most close packed housing on the San Francisco peninsula and multiply that by three or four and you might be getting close (for an average English town). Most towns/cities here have roots in medieval times – the roads are narrow (as are most of the country lanes) and they don’t have the massive hard-core subsurface structure for heavy trucking.

                  Silly stat at the end – absurd – haven’t you seen plans of the underground shaft layouts of fracking sights? pipes reaching up to 2km in both directions then repeated in parallel every 17-20 feet – herring bone fashion until a whole landscape is riddled with the things.

    • Anna – Surely you are aware by now that I worked in the Oil & Gas Industry for over 30 years. Does this qualify me to comment? Probably more than most. Please provide a suitable shale gas analogy in Australia for us. And Brazil for that matter. As far as I know there is very little shale gas production in both countries. Brazil even started importing shale gas from the US:

      • Paul – straight question – have you actually been near a shale gas feild? and I don’t mean just an exploratory well.

        Secondly shale gas technology is directly analogous to coal seam gas technology, especially at ground level – the pipes, the trucking, the gas and fluid machinery… there is an awful lot of that in Australia, with awful results. The ‘what could go wrong’s are very similar… A sobering study is here:

        • Philip – no I have not been “near” a shale gas field. Have you? Or do you just watch videos? But I have been on many conventional wells / fields onshore / offshore, drilled long horizontal wells, fracked wells, fixed underground blow outs, worked on gas / wet gas / high GOR / Low GOR / HPHT wells, drilled hundreds of thousands of feet of shale and experience in around 30 countries in the business. How about you? I am happy to admit I do not have any experience in media and film, humanities or cultural studies.

          I have also drilled several hundred feet of Bowland shale in Lancashire – have you or anyone else on this BB. Do you know what the drilling problems with this particular shale are? Keeping the mud PH in the correct range is important.

          Shale gas technology is not analogous to CBM or CSG below ground, we have discussed this before on this BB – did you forget.

          And have you also forgotten that I do not believe shale gas will reach development in the UK, for all the reasons I am fed up with repeating.

          But I have been correct to date on the exploration wells, the appeals, the SOS decision, and the fact that the subsurface issues the antis keep raising are not considered issues by the statutory authorities. And they are correct.

          Cuadrilla has approval to drill up to four wells, let them get on with it. There will be plenty of time to object to any proposed development. But after what I was told at the weekend about the Preese Hall flow rates, there will definitely be a development proposal for you all to fight. You will be surprised to find that the costs may actually be competitive in the market after all.

          • That figures. I thought you couldn’t have. I haven’t either but what I have done (besides knowing Americans with more direct experience) is spent most of my working life engaged with or around news and documentary makers. I have taken an avid interest in this topic and it is very clear to me when people distort facts or use information and observations to deceive or claim false authority for dubious motivations… I think ‘where’s that smell coming from?’

            You know as well as I do that exploratory wells are done for the sole purpose of bankable outcomes – to sell the prospecting interests on to the larger companies (like INEOS) – waiting in the wings – and maybe they’re already partly owned by them. You and halfpenny never mention the fact that also that for the larger operators to scale the enterprise profitably they have to block out the landscape in a 1-2 mile grid and keep drilling and fracking until saturating the shale layer with pipes. Then, above ground there needs to be a lattice of pipes or else intensive trucking to all points.From there the productive life of each well is limited which means companies involved in the short lived bonanza stage will want to offload the old infrastructure and not take responsibility for its decay and potential leaks (ongoing). Why even kick-start this whole process?

            Shale gas technology is directly analogous to CSG (perhaps you need to look up the meaning of analogous). It’s product is natural gas and it’s process is largely by fracking. That’s how it’s being done in Australia and the issues they come up with are directly analogous to the issues of shale fracking: draining or contamination of water tables, rogue emissions, methane migration, venting and comparably toxic byproducts, not to mention the usual problems of wastewater storage, trucking and so on. Why do you wish to conceal that? OK the shale seams are at a much greater depth but that doesn’t break down the analogy.

            Perhaps an inquiry should take place regarding your claim that the statutory authorities are correct in assuming there is no interaction between subsurface and surface issues. That’s not what I am seeing.

            • Philip – I would be interested to learn how shale gas can be trucked but i’m sure thats not what you mean? The well density and life cycle of each well / field depends on the productivity of the well. I have said many times that this potential high density of wells will probably be one of the reasons that shale gas will not go to development in the UK. But the Cuadrilla wells when drilled and tested may demonstrate otherwise. The Bowland shale is actually more sandy than shaley. You can have a look at it in the Trough of Bowland where it outcrops if you wish (I have, and I have drilled it). The Preese Hall flow rates indicate much higher productivity than people are expecting. But lets wait and see. The “inquiry” you wish for has just happened, three appeals granted and one on hold. The next “inquiry” is the FOE Judicial Review in Yorkshire – but even FOE couldn’t find a sub surface flaw / issue to go for JR – they are using climate change targets. Which I guess the results of the Cuadrilla appeals will have shown not to be a reason for refusal of planning permission. but we shall wait and see if their JR is granted, and if so, what the result is. CSG is not largely done by fracking, 40% of it is apparently. What am I concealing. All I am doing is corrrecting and predicting, debating I guess. Would you prefer only to discuss and rant with like minded people who learn everything on the subject via Google? I don’t know Mr. Hballpeeney but I’m sure a lot of what he says is correct, it is amusing how he is able to wind several of you up so easily. This BB wouldn’t be anywhere near as intersting without him? Perhaps you should get some of your American friends to blog and counter him?

              • Are you being so disingenuous as to pretend not to know about all the trucking involved in shale-gas fracking, or do you genuinely not understand the process? May I assume the former? – you’ll know that each frack requires a million or more gallons of water, tons of sand and tens of thousands of gallons of frack fluid. Then there’s the highly toxic flowback or waste water to deal with… trucks, pipes, holding tanks, you name it. Trucks, trucks and more trucks!Some of the above can be piped in smaller area networks, which would be on top of the necessary gas pipe networking,

                Dismissing google as a source is somewhat disingenuous as well. Google is never a source – it is just a conduit for anything from government reports to peer reviewed papers to amateur and professional videos. It all depends on what you make of the material. I’m well aware of how easy it is to dismiss any such things as evidence particularly where law is concerned.

                Hballpeeny and yourself invariably drift towards attacking the messengers (once the facts are laid out). Interesting to know that you don’t see though his obvious shtick, but yes he does spur things along – until falling silent when cornered. It’s all a bit of a game in the end but better to do battle on the internet (if possible) before conflicts end up on people’s doorsteps.

                The ‘concealing’ point is really about what people are never told about the larger processes about to unfold, even though all is known by those doing the promoting.

  2. Former head of Greenpeace, StephenTindale, with some great quotes in the Sun.

    “Anti-fracking campaigners like to say that shale gas extraction will destroy the environment. That’s simply not true. As long as the industry is effectively regulated, it will be an important part of the greenest option for the coming decades”

    “So shale gas is good for meeting our energy needs. It’s good for protecting the environment. And it’s good for human rights.”

    “But over the past decade, regulations have been tightened and the evidence is now clear that while there are some local impacts, they are not the devastating consequences that campaigners warn of.”

    • He is the ex head of Greenpeace and does not speak for the movement.

      The current stance of Greenpeace is that they don’t support fracking.

      The same stance as the Labour movement, the liberal Democrats, SNP, the Green party, Unite, and the majority of the UK population.

      While tens of thousands turn against fracking a few appear to support.

      You could hire a phone box and have a party for all those who support the industry.

      • John, what do Greenpeace say about North Sea gas production, which you’ve expressed support for many times on this site.

    • All incorrect statements I note. As with the case of Greenpeace turncoat Dr Patrick Moore it must be lucrative to make yourself a darling of the O&G industry. These are standard lines – mantras of the shale gas PR machine.

  3. So all the people in Dimmock who lost their primary clean water suppply didn’t experience any devastating consequencies then?
    (….surely it is so short-sighted to, make such non-sensical statements in the age of google?)

    • Correct Sarah – thank you. Conventional oil production. Good to see at least one other person on this BB understands the difference.

    • Who is the other one Paul? – you and halfpenny were the first to turn the subject towards shale gas (see above) 😎

      • Philip – Did you miss Anna’s comment? Blinkers perhaps? Are you admitting you don’t understand the difference? It would appear most of you don’t.

        • Side stepping the challenge … you Paul were the first to bring up shale gas specifically in this thread – as above “Please provide a suitable shale gas analogy in Australia for us” – that’s after halfpenny had mentioned ‘a couple million holes in the ground’ … referring to conventional wells? I don’t think so. Perhaps you’d misread the original post.

  4. Why not ask Anna? If she was referring to conventional wells in the US, Australia and Brazil I humbly apologise.

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