Protest update: 16-22 January 2017


Protest outside A E Yates, Bolton, 20 January 2017. Photo: Dave Elllison

In this week’s update on protests about fracking and onshore oil and gas in the UK:

  • Protest at Cuadrilla contractor, A E Yates
  • Continuing slow-walking at Preston New Road
  • Updates on Kirby Misperton and Brockham

This post is updated throughout the week. Please let us know about news you think DrillorDrop should be reporting on this post.

A E Yates, Bolton

20 January 2017

Campaigners demonstrated outside the Bolton engineering company, A E Yates, which has the contract for construction works at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site. The protest, involving Bolton Against Fracking and some members of the Lancashire Nanas, blocked access to the site. Information from the Environment Agency about fracking was taped to the site fence.


Protest at A E Yates, Bolton, 20 January 2017. Photo: Dave Ellison


Protest at A E Yates, Bolton, 20 January 2017. Photo: Dave Ellison

Preston New Road, Lancashire

Rolling protests 16-20 January 2017

Opponents of Cuadrilla’s construction work at Preston New Road, Little Plumpton, continued their slow-walking protest in front of lorries delivering to the site.

On Friday, campaigners prevented workers from putting up fences along the A583 for an hour. They said on previous days, the fences had been placed too far across the carriageway without leaving enough room for ambulances to pass the temporary road works against on-coming traffic. Cuadrilla said: “The claim that the fences are ‘too far across the road’ is incorrect. Each day they are erected at the boundary of our roadworks.This creates a single lane for traffic which is managed by temporary traffic lights and the emergency services are aware of this so they can factor it into their journeys.”

Lancashire County Council told DrillOrDrop it was looking into allegations that Cuadrilla had breached conditions of the traffic management plan.


Protest and fencing at Preston New Road, 18 January 2017. Photo: Ros Wills


Site work at Preston New Road, 18 January 2017. Photo: Ros Wills


Site work at Preston New Road, 18 January 2017. Photo: Ros Wills


Protest at Preston New Road, 18 January 2017. Photo: Ros Wills


Protest at Preston New Road, 18 January 2017. Photo: Ros Wills

Daily account by campaigner, Tina Rothery, of activity at Preston New Road on Residents Action On Fylde Fracking

Kirby Misperton, North Yorkshire

21 January 2017

A group from Waking Up to Climate Change visits the camp, set up in a field alongside the proposed lorry route to Third Energy’s KM8 well, which the company has permission to frack


Kirby Misperton Protection Camp, 21 January 2017. Photo: Waking Up to Climate Change

22 January 2017

Food is donated to the camp.


Kirby Misperton Protection Camp, 22 January 2017. Photo: Ian Crane

Brockham, Surrey

18 January 2017

Angus Energy confirms site upgrade works had been completed and that well intervention worked is continuing. The company said:

“We anticipate the re-entry of the original Brockham-X1 well being completed within the week with the work to complete and case the well taking 2 to 3 days thereafter.”


Angus Energy statement

Surrey County Council confirmed to DrillOrDrop

“The activity is being treated as what is known as a ‘work-over’ which is covered by an extant planning permission for production extending until 2036 granted in May 2007.”

A spokesperson said the company does not have planning permission for a side-track at Brockham and that no application had been submitted.


Protest weekly update 7-13 January 2017

Protest weekly update: 1-6 January 2017

3 replies »

  1. New Plans for Brockham Oil Well & Beyond

    Following recent increased activity at the Brockham oil well site, there’s been a lot of concen from the public. This explainer hopes to give some context and is intended for anyone who is not satisfied relying only on the oil firm’s statements.

    Site: Brockham Oilwell Site 1, Feltons Farm, Old School Lane, Brockham, Betchworth, Surrey, RH3 7JP
    Operator: Angus Energy Plc
    License – PL235 (Production License)
    Angus Energy – 65%
    Terrain Energy – 10%
    Doriemus PLC – 10%
    Brockham Capital Limited – 10%
    Alba Minerals – 5%

    The field discovery well, Brockham-1 (BR-X1) was drilled by BP during 1987 and found oil in the Portland Sandstone. The field currently has average daily production of approximately 35 bopd (barrels of oil per day) from the Brockham-X2Y production well. The site has planning permission for oil production until 2036 granted by the County Planning Authority (CPA) in May 2007 (Ref. MO 06/1294) and the production limit is 195popd as per supporting papers to parent planning consent (Ref: MO/2001/1288).

    Status Update
    According to Angus’ IPO investor presentation (Nov 2016), Angus Energy and Doriemus PLC plan to drill a side-track from the existing well (Brockham BR-X4Z) through the already producing Portland reservoir as well as the underlying Kimmeridge limestone layers. This is to increase production from the Portland reservoir to 150 bopd (so nearly fivefold) and assess the Kimmeridge rock formation.

    Contrary to what Angus’s recent press releases seem to suggest (14 Nov & 15 Dec 2016), the firm needs the Surrey County Council’s planning permission to drill the side-track (as confirmed by the council on 13 Jan), but no applications have been submitted at this stage. According to the SCC’s Planning Development Team Manager’s statement from 13 Jan: at present Angus have a ‘work-over’ rig on the site to carry out maintenance activities and collect data (including porosity and rock density)/ carry out logging from the existing borehole.

    20 Jan update: Angus has been in breach breach of Condition 5 (night time working) of existing planning permit for several days, however the CPA retrospectively allowed for the breach of this condition at the advice of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), who believed it was prudent to allow 24-hr operation on the “live” well.

    Plans for Kimmeridge Exploration/Production
    The company has great hopes for the potential of the Kimmeridge, based on the reportedly very successful flow tests from this formation in early 2016 at Horse Hill site near Gatwick, nicknamed the Gatwick gusher (HH-1 well was drilled by Angus Energy, founder of Horse Hill Developments Ltd, who are the current operators). They believe the geology of both sites is very similar.

    According to Angus, “Brockham Oilfield, with production license in place, provides unique opportunity to fast-track Kimmeridge Limestones field development” and “ monetization of Kimmeridge hydrocarbon potential.” So it seems that Angus believe they won’t need to apply for a new production license to extract oil from the Kimmeridge even though this is probably going to require a different process than extracting from the Portland Sandstone. However, without planning permit at the moment to drill the side track (BR-X4Z), which was intended to properly assess the Kimmeridge, the situation is unclear.

    The Kimmeridge Tight Oil (Unconventional)
    The Weald Basin has an oil reservoir in its Kimmeridge Clay. No-one knows how much oil and it will be difficult to extract (ref: British Geological Survey from the Dept of Energy & Climate Change). The Kimmeridge Limestone is an unconventional formation, and according to an EY report commissioned by UKOG (UK Oil & Gas Investments PLC) and published in April 2016, “Kimmeridge Limestone Oil likely requires “stimulation”1 to flow to the surface at commercial rates. The primary stimulation method for wells in limestone rock formations is acidising. This method of stimulation is distinct from massive hydraulic fracturing, known as “fracking”.

    Acidising/Acidisation – Old or New?
    Acidising involves pumping the well with acids such as hydrochloric acid and hydrofluoric acid – one of the most hazardous chemicals used in any industrial process. Hydrochloric acid in low concentrations has been used by the industry for a number of years in a process called acid wash to clean older wells to remove debris, rust or scale.

    However, new acid-based technologies – called matrix and fracture acidising – have been pioneered in California in recent years, and these involve much higher volumes of acids injected into new wells to stimulate production (also much higher than in fracking fluids). As explained by a series of reports by Next Generation, a US-based think-tank, these techniques proved much more effective than fracking in making oil flow from the Monterey Shale, which, similarly to Kimmeridge layers, is naturally fractured.

    Regulation… or lack of it
    As conventional oil resources are depleting, oil companies continue to experiment with best (and ever more invasive) extraction methods from unconventional, tight-oil formations. They have the money as well as all the incentives to push ahead (despite the drop in oil price), while regulations are lagging far behind.

    In UK firms are now required to disclose the use of acidisation as part of the permitting process, but not any specifics. According to response to a Freedom of Information Request from July 2016, the Environmental Agency does not hold data on how many onshore wells use hydrofluoric acid. Where firms do disclose acidisation, they describe it as “conventional” and maintain that it’s an old, widely-used and tested technology.
    However, Stephen Sanderson, Executive Chairman and CEO of UKOG (another firm targeting the Kimmeridge in the Weald in other locations, and a major driving force behind the development effort) gives a clue that it is not the case in his presentation at Master Investor 2016, saying that the discovery of Kimmeridge oil is such a breakthrough because “we now have the benefit of twenty first century technology and knowledge” [to find the oil and to extract it] (12m00s). He also says that this “very new technology has actually only been developed in the last 10 years or so in the United States” (14m50s).

    Lack of proper regulation means that in Brockham, Angus might be able to fast-track Kimmeridge testing and development with their existing production license in place. According to their IPO investor presentation:
    “Angus’ Brockham Oilfield, with production license in place, provides unique opportunity to fast-track Kimmeridge Limestones field development.”

    Back in California, the first bill regulating acidising and fracking was signed into law only in late 2013. More recently, Monterey County banned acidising along with fracking and other risky oil extraction methods just in November 2016. The County is now being sued by Chevron and Aera Energy, owned by affiliates of Shell Mobil Co. and ExxonMobil).

    Acidising – health and Environment Impact
    There is also very little scientific information about the effects of acidising. A recent UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) study that looked at this process in California, states that chemicals used in acidisation potentially directly threaten groundwater and surface water quality and it urges further evaluation by authorities. The report reads: “There are close to 200 specific chemicals used in acidisation, with at least 28 of them being F-graded hazardous chemicals”. Some are used frequently in the range of 100–1000 kg per treatment, such as hydrofluoric acid, xylene, diethylene glycol, and ethyl benzene. Unlike hydraulic fracturing the chemical concentrations in acidising are high, ranging from 6% to 18%, and the waste returns can be highly acidic, in the range of pH 0–3.”
    Lamont farm

    Unconventional exploration of the Weald
    Brockham plans are part of a wider plan of commercial oil production from the Kimmeridge Limestone in the Weald Basin threatening the drilling of thousands of “back-to-back” wells and irreversible industrialization of the South East of England. This threat has been highlighted in the EY report as well as in various O&G industry executives presentations and interviews. The other key site for the exploration of the Kimmeridge is Horse Hill (where there is currently application for permission for further flow testing of the existing well and to drill two more wells – one vertical and one horizontal – and test them) and Bury Hill Wood (Leith Hill), which according to UKOG (who have 30% ownership in the license) will provide a further valuable “proof of concept” step in UKOG’s Kimmeridge tight oil play. There are plans of other wells being drilled in 2017.

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