Updated: Council “extremely disappointed over Brockham well drilled without permission”

Brockham well Brockham Protection Site

Photo: Brockham Protection Camp

Surrey County Council is meeting the oil and gas company, Angus Energy, this week to discuss a side-track well at Brockham, amid allegations that it was drilled without planning permission.

The company has openly said it drilled the side-track in January 2017 and has argued that it was not in breach of planning consents.

But a statement from the council this afternoon said:

“We were extremely disappointed to find out that Angus Energy has acted without planning permission and contrary to our advice and guidance so we are meeting with them this week as a matter of urgency to resolve this.”

Angus Energy issued a stock market statement on 10 March saying:

“The Company is of the firm opinion that the drilling of the BR-X4Z well, which was approved by the OGA, EA and HSE, did not constitute a breach of the planning consents. Discussions with Surrey County Council are ongoing and the Company will update the market as soon as these discussion are complete.”

Opponents of onshore oil and gas developments were suspicious about operations at the Brockham site in the green belt near Dorking. There were reports that 180 sections of pipe 10m long had been delivered to the site, along with drill bits.

Brockham lorry1 Brockham Protection Camp

Photo: Brockham Protection Camp

Brockham lorry 2 Brockham Protection Camp

Photo: Brockham Protection Camp

Asked by DrillOrDrop in December 2016 about what was happening at the site, Surrey County Council said:

“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.

“The operator is to comply with the planning conditions attached to the 2007 planning permission.  The company is using the ‘work-over rig’ under the 2007 permission.”

The council repeatedly told us that Angus did not have permission for any horizontal or vertical drilling.

But last week, Angus Energy released results of analysis of the sidetrack well, BR-X4Z, predicting that production could begin by the summer of 2017. Details

Managing director, Paul Vonk, said the company had raised money on the junior AIM stock market for two wells, the first of which, the Brockham sidetrack, was drilled in January.

Speaking in a podcast for investors he said:

“During the drilling of the Brockham BR-x4z sidetrack, we encountered hydrocarbons in all three layers that we were interested in: the Portland, the Kimmeridge and the Corallian. The Corallian also had some gas.”

Asked if there were any local planning issues. Mr Vonk said:

“We have this site that has been basically operating under a planning permit valid up to 2036 I believe. We haven’t changed the wellbores. We just want to produce oil from them. That is all fine. What we doing is like a technicality. We are moving from one layer to another layer. That is something that the OGA [Oil and Gas Authority] needs to sign off on.

“From a planning perspective, nothing really changes. We have not changed the footprint of the site and we will only do so after we have put the first well properly into production for the Kimmeridge.”

But Surrey County Council said in a statement today:

“A meeting is due to take place this week about the breach.

“The drilling wasn’t covered by the planning application which was approved and any further work would need an additional planning application.”

DrillOrDrop has twice asked Angus Energy to comment on this issue but it has not replied to our requests.

The company did make a statement to BBC London:

“In our opinion, we did not breach the planning consents. Our professional team had a very constructive meeting with the SCC Planners today and that the way forward in relation to oil production and obtaining any further consents that are necessary in the future is now clear.”

Surrey County Council said the meeting had not yet taken place.

Monitoring by campaigners

Brockham Protection Camp by BPC

Photo: Brockham Protection Camp

A protection camp established by opponents of Angus Energy’s operation monitored and filmed developments at Brockham.

In January 2017, campaigners reported that the site was working at night, also apparently against conditions of the planning permission. The company said the work was maintenance but Surrey County Council later confirmed that hydrocarbons had bypassed a plug, requiring emergency work.

Brockham night working Brockham Protection Camp

Photo: Brockham Protection Camp

The campaigners said today:

“The effect of having even a small protection camp has resulted in this coming to light as it would not have been noticed by Surrey County Council or the HSE.

“Whatever your views on oil and gas in the UK, we were promised gold standard regulation. This is only the start and the industry is already laughing at the regulations.”

“Outrageous breach of trust”

Keith Taylor, The Green Party MEP for South East England, issued this statement on 10 March 2017:

“The drilling, without permission, of a new well is an outrageous breach of an already deeply strained trust. It is little wonder why residents and campaigners simply don’t trust the oil and gas drilling industry or the Government ‘regulations’ utterly failing to protect our environment and our local communities. Regulations that are being openly flaunted by the industry.”

“Angus Energy appears to have misled or misunderstood the planning department, the Environment Agency and Health and Safety Executive. The regime for regulating and monitoring oil drilling isn’t fit for purpose. Had there not been a small, but dedicated group of campaigners resident at the protection camp on the site then this breach would not have even come to light.”

“An extremely alarming precedent is in danger of being set if Surrey County Council allows Angus Energy to get away with this flagrant breach; action and sanction must swift and effective.”

Updated 10/3/2017 with statements from Angus Energy and Keith Taylor MEP


65 replies »

  1. It is an example of why LPAs should not be involved in subsurface issues, they should stick to the areas of their planner’s expertise which are the above ground impacts, traffic, LVIA, noise etc. LPA planners have no understanding of sub surface oil and gas operations; Councillors even less….

  2. If they drilled a new hole then they would have produced a lot of cuttings. These would have had to be removed in skips. Surely the “protector” would have filmed this.

  3. Wake-up & tell the profiteers of poison to take a hike! You Gas bill won’t come down due to local fracking, but the value of your house will plummet. It won’t create extra jobs & any the industry does will be given to those already trained from outside the area. Typical if this company has just rode rough-shod over the rules, just as the UK Gov has done with Lancashire Council. If you let this industry in, enjoy the environmental clean-up for generations to come.

    • There is no fracking happening.
      I have a great deal of experience in oil spill clean up. It doesn’t come from sites like this.

      • Did i miss the bit where anyone mentioned fracking ? As i see things it is a matter of [edited by moderator] whether Angus had every opportunity to meet with SCC before now , like when they first denied drilling to SCC after complaints of out of hours working. They still denied it right up until this story came to light . Not very Gold Standard operation. If it hadnt been questioned then Angus apparently wouldnt have said anything.

      • Terri: “I have a great deal of experience in oil spill clean up. It doesn’t come from sites like this.”

        TFA : “Surrey County Council later confirmed that hydrocarbons had bypassed a plug, requiring emergency work.”

        The observable facts appear to render your experiences purely anecdotal.

          • You’re maintaining that hydrocarbons had not bypassed a plug? It seems the Council’s information is at odds with yours.

            The emergency work was, I’d imagine, to prevent it becoming a spill. Your point was this doesn’t happen at sites like these, but clearly it did happen. Ergo your point appears to remain unsupported by the evidence.

    • Better stick to your day job if it is you. No fracking involved – or gas. This is an oil well. Perhaps you posted on the wrong page?

    • Obviously you got out on the wrong side of the bed this morning and still traumatized by the nightmare by the scary stories of FoE leaflet. There is no fracking on this story.

      • There is no fracking, but Angus are planning to drill from the Kimmeridge – unconventional reservoir that will likely require fracking-like acid stimulation.

        • Do you understand the differences between high volume proppant stimulations (what people on here refer to as fracking, used for shale oil and gas wells), acid fracture stimulations (similar in that the fracture pressure of the rock may be exceeded, smaller volumes, no proppant), matrix stimulation, acid wash, mud acid treatement (the last 3 are not fracture stimulations as the fracture limit of the rock is not exceeded). One of the antis down there (the wine woman or the journalist, I forget which) wrote a summary up for you all to read which makes an attempt at explaining the differences.

          If Angus uses acid it will likely be a matrix stimulation:

          “A treatment designed to treat the near-wellbore reservoir formation rather than other areas of the production conduit, such as the casing across the production interval, production tubulars or the perforations. Matrix stimulation treatments include acid, solvent and chemical treatments to improve the permeability of the near-wellbore formation, enhancing the productivity of a well. Matrix stimulation is a process of injecting a fluid into the formation, either an acid or solvent at pressures below the fracturing pressure, to improve the production or injection flow capacity of a well. The goal of a matrix treatment is different in sandstones than in carbonates. In sandstones, matrix treatments restore or improve the natural formation permeability around the wellbore by removing formation damage, by dissolving material plugging the pores or by enlarging the pore spaces. In carbonates, matrix stimulation creates new, highly conductive channels (wormholes) that bypass damage. Because of these differences, the selection criteria for the treating fluid are also distinct. For sandstone treatments, knowledge of the extent, type of damage, location, origin, reservoir mineralogy (petrographic study) and compatibility of the treating fluid with the formation are especially important. In carbonate treatments, reservoir temperature, pumping rate and fluid type become more significant because these parameters directly affect the reactivity of the treating fluid with the reservoir rock. A sandstone matrix stimulation treatment is generally composed of a hydrochloric acid [HCl] preflush, a main treating fluid (HCl-HF mixtures) and an overflush (weak acid solution or brine). The treating fluid is maintained under pressure inside the reservoir for a period of time, after which the well is swabbed and returned to production. In carbonate reservoirs, HCl is the most common fluid used. Organic acids such as formic and acetic acid are used in either sandstone or carbonate acidizing, mainly in retarded-acid systems or in high-temperature applications. Matrix stimulation is also called matrix treatment or matrix acidizing.”

        • The oil flow free into the sell bore here nature fractured it millions of years ago. One of the failing of the green movement is promoting myth information,

        • Kimmeridge is naturally fractured which means there is NO need to frack! Do u even understand what fracking means? Please file a court case if u don’t understand! A judge will dismiss ur case as ur basic understanding is wrong!

        • Not true this has shown to be naturally fractured and flows under own pressure . The company is trying to demonstrate fracking is not required but obstructed by short sited radicals, who will then allow in foreign imports from real irresponsible polluters and human rights abusers. Comforted by their own pipe dream.

        • The company is trying to demonstrate by using imaging techniques never used in the UK that nature has fractured the rock, And therefore fracking is not required. A suggest you focus your effort else where because we already know it is well proven it can be extracted through fracking. Angus is trying to demonstrate YOU DON’T NEED FRACKING HERE. We don’t wont blood oil either.

    • This is not fracking. The well has been there over 30 years. The maintenance this company has performed has made it safer. The protesters here were a nuisance riding rough shod on the road. Oil produced from here has less carbon mile and women are allowed to drive in here in Surrey. [edited by moderator]

      • Are you calling the people opposing this nimbys? Be realistic and take this: without nimbys not much would ever get done and if all were nimbys then the world would be a much better place for everyone. Proud to be NIMBY.

  4. It would appear Mr.Taylor has decided not to go back into sales when his redundancy occurs! (Yes, politicians are sales-people.)

    “is an outrageous breach of trust”

    “Angus Energy appears..”

    I would suggest it may be better to find out which it is, because it is not both. Hedging your bets doesn’t work in this context, and would probably not be enough to protect against litigation, so what is the point?

    • This comment thread seems to be full of greedy investors and trolls so I’m not commenting anymore. The fact you people are so interested means you are worried.

      • I am local, the well has been here for 30 years, I was able to find out and understand what the company was doing. I do not want festival go-ers everywhere, who do not understand what has been going on. Local oil for local people. This does not stop us burning oil. Yet it makes the production more efficient, safer cleaner and benefits the UK -not a foreign autocratic monarchy that discriminates against women. Tax on oil produced could be put into electrics car development.

  5. Pg 173 of Angus Energy’s admission document is fairly clear on the point:-

    “Following a meeting on 28 September 2016 with Surrey County Council, the Group will carry out its current work programme for Brockham in reliance on existing planning permissions (on the basis that the abandonment of one well side-track and the drilling of another is considered to be well maintenance and as such falls within the parameters of the existing planning permission). ”

    Click to access Angus-Energy-AIM-Admission-Document-7.11.2016.pdf

    • Well, if this is what it seems hopefully Angus are going to sue the perpetrators of these lies. The share price crashed when the BBC released their apparent erroneous news item, and no doubt hundreds of small investors (who own the vast majority of Angus’ shares – like all AIM UK onshore explorers, this is not some big multi-national company) lost a lot of their hard earned savings.

      • Rubbish. Less than 45% of shares are in small investors hands. It is quite easy to buy back if stop losses are triggered. In fact you may be able to buy at a price lower than they were sold at. I have never seen anyone complain about a stop loss being triggered. I have never seen anyone say a stop loss has been triggered. Stop losses are set by the investor for a reason. Only idiots who know nothing about investing make up stories about mm’s, stop losses, buys v sells as it makes them sound knowledgeable. Bunch of amateurs.

        • What are you on about Mike? The ANGS price was 11.35. Had investors (who had previously bought at 13 say) set stop losses at 9.4, they would have been triggered. At what point exactly could they have bought back since and made a profit?
          By the way, I didn’t mention mm’s or buys v sells, so what was the point in bringing that up? To make yourself look knowledgeable?

          • I have been thinking more about your post Mike. The flippant way you suggest stop losses can make you money infers you have never traded a share in your life. Just as some of your other posts suggest you have worked with drilling rigs. You are nothing more than a fantasist Mike.

          • Those trades below 10p were reported late (about 9am) so had nothing to do with stop losses.

            10-Mar-17 08:02:38 Sell* 13.88k
            10-Mar-17 08:02:03 Sell* £9,200

            [Edited by moderator]

        • There are people that will invest in local industry, small investors who lost half of their life savings, people who live in the real world. Who know oil from this source will be more ethical than oil from oppressive regimes without the additional carbon miles and bad standards of production. They are not walking in front off trucks bring oil from Nigeria or countries where they beat women for smiling and cut their vaginas.

        • What is your point Paul? Private investors should have noticed the drop, thought the price was about to crash because a fake story was about to be released, and bail out before it was, so if they didn’t and lost money it’s their fault?
          The figure of 11.35 I gave was the last trade price on the day before the RNS. If the price was dropping unnaturally it suggests to me that people who knew the BBC were about to transmit that news item were holders of ANGS shares and knew the potential impact of such a news release. I believe that that would have included the BBC reporters and the perpetrators of the fake story. You know who they were, don’t you? One thing’s for sure, they weren’t genuine long-term ANGS shareholders.

  6. SCC must have forgotten about this meeting Pg 173 admission document. Following a meeting on 28 September 2016 with Surrey County Council, the Group will carry out its current work programme for Brockham in reliance on existing planning permissions (on the basis that the abandonment of one well side-track and the drilling of another is considered to be well maintenance and as such falls within the parameters of the existing planning permission). There’s other guff about OGA permissions and Environment …there you go people it’s there in black and white…you want to hope investors who lost money [edited by moderator] don’t sue you and the bbc…I assume you will be issuing an apology … [edited by moderator]… even got the bbc involved who obviously didn’t do any research

  7. terri-you have to remember it was the BBC who used the phrase, the “Gatwick Gusher”, for Horse Hill, and then the companies received the flack for overegging the story! It’s life. Not enough news to go around, so extras get added, and you end up with two stories to report.

    ie. a) We all agree that more money needs to be raised to pay for social care. (media and politicians)

    The Chancellor has raised taxation to do (a) Let’s now pull that policy to pieces. Hey ho-two stories.

  8. I’m hopeful that this will all be resolved in a timely manner and Angus will be free to continue thier agreed and permitted work programme.

    SCC will look incompetent and whoever broke this “story” will hopefully be hearing from the FCA. I’m sure the national press will be interested too, plenty of publicity for Angus.

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