West Sussex County Council has approved changes to plans by UK Oil and Gas Investments plc for its exploratory oil well at Broadford Bridge, near Billingshurst.
The original permission for the well, granted in February 2013, identified a single lateral borehole.
But UKOG, which took over the site from Celtique Energie in August last year, applied for a “zone of variation” within which the well can be drilled.
The zone, described as a “cheese wedge” and marked in red on the map, heads north from the drill site at Wood Barn Farm, Adversane Lane.
County Council planners approved the request last month (4/1/2017). They said the company had confirmed there would be no alteration to what happened on the surface. The change would also not affect the duration of drilling or how it was done.
In a report, the planners also said:
“A review of the Environmental Statement has been undertaken, confirming that the conclusions set out in relation to groundwater risk would not change as the assessment considered a wider area than the ‘zone of deviation’ now identified.
“On this basis, the proposed amendment is not considered to result in any material change, or result in any materially different impacts from the development approved.”
Stephen Sanderson, executive chairman of UKOG, told DrillOrDrop:
“Although we’re still drilling a simple deviated well northwards, the well’s objective has changed from Celtique’s original deep Triassic gas test. Our focus is on the shallower, naturally fractured Kimmeridge Limestones as tested at Horse Hill. The subsurface geological target is, however, still located to the north of the well site, hence the overall northerly well trajectory remains.
“The need for the two-dimensional “cheese wedge” well trajectory plan was in order to give technical and operational flexibility to drill the well to intersect open natural fractures within the Kimmeridge. We have been incorporating our learnings from Horse Hill and other wells to determine the optimal drilling direction to penetrate such open fractures.
“This ‘cheese wedge’ approach was used in both of UKOG’s recent planning applications and we understand is common practice in similar UK planning applications. However, in 2012 when Celtique applied, the practice was a single one-dimensional surface trace of the expected subsurface trajectory”.
A spokesperson for UKOG said the company did not yet have a start date for drilling. Planning consent for the site expires in September 2017.