Balcombe update: “Lancashire comes first” for Cuadrilla

Balcombe,West Sussex, UK Anti Fracking protests..16th September

Cuadrilla’s operation at Balcombe in 2013. Photo: David Burr

Cuadrilla has confirmed that no work will be carried out at its oil exploration site at Balcombe in West Sussex before May this year.

The company told DrillOrDrop it was prioritising work to frack for shale gas near Blackpool in Lancashire.

This means the Balcombe well will have been suspended for more than three-and-a-half years.

Cuadrilla has applied for a variation of its environmental permit for Balcombe. (DrillOrDrop report) Under the terms of its current planning permission, the company must begin flow testing the well by 2 May 2017 and complete operations and site restoration within another six months.

A spokesperson said the company was in talks with West Sussex County Council:

“With regards to the flow test in Balcombe, as we have consistently said over the last three years, we needed to prioritise our work in Lancashire and, following the granting of planning consent last Autumn for our Preston New Road site, which is now under construction, this remains the case.

“We are in discussions with West Sussex County Council on the best way forwards as regards our site at Balcombe, given the current planning application expires on 2nd May.

“We commit to informing local residents in May with full details on how we aim to proceed. We can confirm no works will be undertaken before then.”

The application to vary the environmental permit at the Balcombe site includes details of a new flare and different monitoring arrangements for air and water quality during the well test. There is also a request to remove two waste products from the permit.

The spokesperson said:

“As regards the variation of the permits, I can confirm that, in order to meet new requirements from the Environment Agency, we have submitted a variation of our current environmental permits for approval for our Balcombe site.”

The Balcombe well was drilled in August 2013 but suspended a month later because planning permission expired before flow testing could be carried out. A new planning permission for flow testing was granted in May 2014 but no work has been carried out on the well since September 2013.

The No Fracking in Balcombe Society, which opposes Cuadrilla’s operation in the village, said last week it expected Cuadrilla to apply to extend the current planning permission and then sell the licence to another operator, probably UK Oil and Gas plc.

The consultation period for the Balcombe environmental permit application runs until 25 April 2017. Link to consultation web page.

18 replies »

  1. Yet another time extension? Speculators will be wondering why this company are not big enough to manage a whole two sites at the same time. Money issues perhaps.

  2. The cost of UK shale production rises with ‘gold standards’, green completions, and delays. Global oil and gas prices remain low putting further doubt on the viability of shale.

    At the same time we see year on year reduction of the cost of wind power.

    Divestment in fossil fuels will be replaced with investment in clean renewable energy.

    This Government needs to stop laying out the red carpet for an industry that is neither needed nor wanted.

    Energy analyst have stated that this is an industry that cannot develop quickly.

    More delays highlights just how slow this industry progresses at.

    • The cost of windpower can drop to zero and it won’t make a whole lot of difference. We still need CCGT and lots of it. Even you must understand that John. And what does CCGT need? Gas – and lots of it. In 2016 we had more offshore wind capacity on line than 2015, but wind generated more in 2015 than 2016. What is replacing coal? Gas…..not renewables. Dong will stop bidding for CFDs when they hit their ROR – it just shows that we are paying too much.

  3. And if Cuadrilla had progressed quicker in Lancashire whilst a court case was pending you would have claimed it was disrespectful to the community and the legal process.

    Suspect that the oil-field announced to the west of the Shetlands will be forgotten about now then John?!

    • Progressing quicker? Cuadrilla are weeks behind schedule because they are bogged down in mud having chosen just about the most flood prone site possible. So much for having expert geologists. They couldn’t even predict what’s likely to happen on the surface let alone miles down.

  4. Hurricane Energy are backed financially by Kerogen, the same company who are taking over I-Gas. Looks like they backed a winner with Hurricane – perhaps it will be the same with I-Gas?

  5. “Voters should be on the lookout for their poll cards for May’s Lancashire County Council elections. They are being sent to every registered voter by April 3 with information on where their polling station is and some key information about the elections.

    Read more at:

    Time for a change – the current lot cost us over £300,000 by voting against their Planning Officer’s recommendation.

  6. Almost as bad as £400m wasted on an uncontrolled “alternative” energy scheme in N.Ireland that could now take us back to the days of conflict. Seems to be there is little respect for tax payers money and less ability to manage consequences of decisions.

    Just think how many jobs £300k could have produced. From the pictures outside Cuadrilla, some more are needed!

    • Lancashire onshore wind. Here and now.

      Providing 30% of electric needs for a company employing 600.

      Tax payers money being poured down the grid to promote fracking should be used to create more clean energy projects like this.

      Renewable energy. Clean, proven, and reducing in price as more come on line.

      • Providing 30% of electric needs for a company employing 600……some of the time, zero at other times so do they shut down in cold high pressure weather?

    • Stop commenting on something you know nothing about Martin. Most of the people who have been standing out in all weathers since January at Preston New Road are concerned local people, Concerned about their families, their communities and the wider environment. The majority are retired. I myself am 70 years old, local and STILL work two days a week. And as far as jobs are concerned. Cuadrilla admitted at the Public Inquiry that each pad would provide just 11 full time jobs and they would be mainly security and cleaning.

  7. Just a shame about all the breaches of Gold Standard H&S shown in that picture! Absolute disgrace, close the sector down.

  8. Next time I get a pack of soggy crisps I will know the reason why. (There was I thinking it was Big Ears tears!) Think I would prefer a crisp frack snack.

  9. Here is the reasoni I will never eat Dewlay cheese again:

    Look at those particulate emitting trucks!

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