Broadford Bridge oil site: work underway, permit consultation and opposition mobilising

Broadford Bridge 170327 Charlie Flint 6

Broadford Bridge, West Sussex, 27 March 2017. Photo: Charlie Flint

Work is underway at the Broadford Bridge oil site in West Sussex for the first time for nearly two and a half years.

The site operator has said it plans to drill an exploration well between April and June 2017 and has applied to vary its environmental permit.

Opponents of the work at the site near Billingshurst wrote to West Sussex County Council this week arguing that UKOG’s drilling plans were not the same as the ones for which planning permission had been granted four years ago. Two campaign events have been organised for April.

Site work

The former operator at Broadford Bridge, Celtique Energie, prepared the site for drilling in autumn 2014. But the company got into a legal dispute with its partner, Magellan Petroleum UK Ltd, over the cost of drilling.

No other work has been carried out at the site since then. In August 2016, Celtique and Magellan sold the exploration licence for the area (PEDL234) to UK Oil and Gas (Investments) plc. The site is now operated by the UKOG subsidiary, Kimmeridge Gas and Oil Ltd (KOGL).

In February 2017, UKOG announced the Broadford Bridge well would be drilled in the second quarter of 2017. It said the planning permission allowed the company to test the flow of the well for up to 14 weeks. The company told investors if the tests were encouraging, it would apply for permanent production status by the end of 2018.

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Broadford Bridge, West Sussex, 27 March 2017. Photos: Charlie Flint

Environmental permit changes

A public consultation is underway until 13 April 2017 on changes to the environmental permit.  Link to consultation

The permit application says KOGL wants to drill and test a deviated well, targeting Jurassic age Kimmeridge Limestones at a depth of 3,360-3,580ft.

The company describes the geology as a “look-alike” for the Horse Hill oil discovery near Gatwick Airport. It says the rocks are naturally fractured and so do not need what it calls “massive hydraulic fracturing” or fracking.

The permit application does, however, talk about acidising the well before testing. This involves pumping dilute hydrochloric acid into the well.

KOGL is seeking permission to flare any gas released from the well during two sets of tests: the short drill stem tests (DST) and the longer extended well tests (EWT). According to the application, gas would be burned up to a maximum level of 250,000 cubic feet per day (250 mscf/d). The company has also applied for a standard rules permit for radioactive substances.

Details from the permit


Drilling: 46 days

Acidising: 7 days

Drill Stem Test: up to 3 days

Extended well test: Up to 12 weeks

Drilling waste

  • Water based drilling fluids or muds (255m3)
  • Formation or drill cuttings (804 tonne)
  • Cement (5-10 tonne)
  • Cementing pre-flush/casing cleaning pill (7-15m3)
  • General waste (0-1,000kg)
  • Oil, natural gas and other fluids from the reservoir

Waste from acidising

  • Spent/neutralised acid: 15m3 (about 50% of volume pumped
  • Inhibited light brine: 25-30m3
  • Surface pad rain water runoff 0-1,000m3
  • General waste 0-1,000kg


The permit application says the flare has 98% combustion efficiency, according to the application. It says carbon monoxide production has “the potential to be the most significant of the pollutants of interest”. It was “well within environmental standards” but could exceed the Environment Agency’s standards are certain flow levels.


Maximum heavy goods vehicle traffic: 10 in and 10 out a day during mobilisation and demobilisation

Challenge to planning permission

The campaign group, Keep Kirdford and Wisborough Green, has argued that UKOG should make a new planning application because its plans were “quite different” to those proposed by Celtique Energie and approved in 2013.

Broadford Bridge section 2013 planning application

Diagram of the proposed well from the 2013 planing application

A condition of the planning permission required the development to be carried out in accordance with the Environmental Statement. This proposed conventional drilling of free-flowing hydrocarbons in the Sherwood Sandstone formation (shown yellow at almost 10,000ft in the diagram above).

This would have involved drilling through the Kimmeridge Limestones (shown in grey at about 4,000ft in the diagram above) that UKOG now wants to explore.

The limestones may require acid fracturing and UKOG proposes to acidize its well before flow testing. There is nothing in the Environmental Statement about the transport, use or storage of acid, the campaign group says.

Keep Kirdford and Wisborough Green said:

“We sent a letter to WSCC, the Planning Department, this week drawing attention to the differences between the ES and what is planned; and, now.”

Campaigners are organising a photo-shoot and public meeting in April near the Broadford Bridge site:

Saturday 1 April 2017 It’s no joke: Drill due any day now. Photo opportunity about UKOG’s Broadford Bridge well, organised by Frack Free Billingshurst, 2pm-4pm, the Green, Billingshurst RH14 9JH. Details

Sunday 30 April 2017 Drilling on your doorstep, public meeting, hosted by Sue Jameson, with speakers Tom Broughton, Peter Edmunds, Nicola Peel, Professor David Smyth and Kia Turner, 7pm-9pm, Pulborough Village Hall, Swan View, Lower Street, Pulborough RH20 2BF. Details

Broadford Bridge details

Broadford Bridge 170327 Charlie Flint 7

Broadford Bridge site, 27 March 2017. Photo: Charlie Flint

Address: Woodbarn Farm, Adversane Lane, Broadford Bridge, nr Billingshurst RH14 9ED

Site dimensions: 55x55m

Existing land: Grade 3 agricultural land (classed as good-moderate quality) surrounded on three sides by woodland

Access: two improved agricultural tracks to points on the B2133

South Downs National Park: 5.5km to east

Listed buildings: Broadford Bridge Farmhouse (500m), Brook House Farm House (600m), archaeological site of Beedings Copse (950m)

Ancient woodland: Steepwood Copse (1.3km), Marringdean Wood (450m)

Rivers and ponds: Tributary of the River Adur 400m, ponds 200m and 320m

Aquifers: Upper Tunbridge Wells Sand (Secondary A aquifer) drilled at 160m depth. Well may penetrate secondary aquifers formed by sandstone and limestone lenses within the Weald Clay. Application states the Upper Tunbridge Wells Sand “has no practical connection with groundwater beneath the site or through which the proposed hydrocarbon exploratory borehole will penetrate.”

Groundwater vulnerability: Assessed as low – relatively resistant to any pollution at the surface

Flood risk: Flood Zone 1 (low probability of flooding)

Petroleum Exploration and Development Licence: PEDL234

Planning permission: WSCC/052/12/WC granted 11 February 2013 by West Sussex County Council

Information taken from the environment permit application


DrillOrDrop page on Broadford Bridge

UKOG factsheet

Environmental permit consultation

10 replies »

  1. What a great piece of security fencing! Plenty of income to the local community. Next it will be the courts. Who said this industry doesn’t create jobs?

  2. You have to admire the tactics. Cuadrilla, Third Energy, and Ineos up north, then a dash into the Weald by other players.

    Just like Stamford Bridge and then Hastings!!

    (Local garages will also be looking forward to the repair jobs on the over-worked “transportation wagons”.)

    Suspect we may see another appearance from Ms Lucas, after she has finished with her conference. Perhaps she should first work to bring in a policy to ban her party from Daily Politics interviews. Another horror show today. Must be after the sympathy voter still, but with local elections around the corner caution could have helped.

  3. Thanks for sharing that Jack. For those who want to examine the employment that oil development could bring there are real examples, for the UK. I am sure that the Giggle muscles could find many references to facts from the N.Sea or even on land development in the UK.

    As this site is not looking for permit to frack, these data might be a little more helpful than any speculation regarding employment for future UK fracking.

    Call me old fashioned, but I much prefer facts when they fit a particular situation, and they exist from decades of similar development.

  4. Martin, to frack or not to frack, either way jobs for locals will be next to zero as most of the work will require skilled workman. These jobs will have to be shipped in.

    If we move on to Fracking, just as a guide …… Cuadrilla said at their two proposed fracking sites, a whopping 22 permanent jobs will be created. NO cause for putting out the bunting for that.
    Although if we work of Ineos own projections of a peak capacity of 4000, yes 4000 wells across the UK, then YES we might see a noticable surge in jobs.
    The question is, do the people want that amount of industrilisation ????

    My arguing point for today, is only about the overall long term job prospects for the local people ( from the UK ) from this particular site.

    Can anyone expand on this please ??

    • I drilled a well in Lancashire in the late ’80s. Exploration, nothing found (except a hell of a lot of Bowland Shale full of gas which we did not know how to extract then), we were looking at a deeper SST target for oil. We were there for several months. We put a lot of money into the local economy, the village nearest the site was upset we did not find anything – some of the local residents told us we want oil development up here, we are not like the south, we want work. We used local welders, machine shops, trucks caterers, B & Bs, restaurants, pubs, labour, construction services and more.

      We did not find anything, we plugged and abandoned the well, restored the site and left, much to the locals dissapointment. I visited the old location last year while my wife was on a course in the area. I could only find the correct field with help from the locals, back to agriculture, sheep grazing etc.

      So no long term local employment in that case but if we had discovered oil or gas there certainly would have been plenty of work and money spent in the locality and nearby towns with an appraisal program or development.

    • Your no local jobs arguement is more appropriate to renewables. The Caton Moor wind farm in the FOB AONB, 8 off 2MW turbines, employs the grand total of 0.5 people. This is for 20 years. Of course their would have been some local involvement during the construction phase, but less than for a single exploration oil & gas well. The transport is very specialised and comes from outside, the turbines etc came from abroad etc etc.

  5. The data exists. Either visit, or research, Wytch Farm.

    As with all businesses, some imported specialists (probably redundant from the N.Sea!), but an awful lot of income generation to the local economy-as Paul indicates. And then, transport of the oil to the refinery (lorries or pipeline-British Steel??)), the jobs at the refinery etc. etc.

    If you “explore” for anything, then initial jobs are limited. It is what happens when something commercial is found and developed that matters. A few guys panning for gold, and then they find something. Chalk and cheese-or, income to a donkey seller or expansion of the Rolls Royce factory!

    This “particular” site Jack, is part of a potentially huge field within Sussex/Surrey/Kent. There appears to be a lot of oil there that modern techniques may now be able to extract. Not with fracking. Tests to date indicate the rock is already fractured naturally. May not even be required to drill thousands of sites as one small site above ground can reach out underground a long way with a 360 degree cover. So, the feared levels of industrialisation are just fears. Most of any activity will be hidden underground. This is the way technology has advanced. Take a look at the plans for Sirius Minerals in N. Yorkshire. The visible presence will be extremely modest, but 10-20 million tonnes of material will be mined underground EVERY YEAR, transported underground to a port facility and exported. No spoil heaps, nothing to see but a winding tower and some office facilities-footprint the size of a school, and national income to fund numerous schools.

  6. Thank you Paul and Martin for your detailed explanations regarding the financial rewards for the local communities and the possibilities for job creation.

    Although we will know doubt cross swords at some time in the future, debating/arguing about other aspects of the Oil and Gas industry. On this occassion I have found the information and points raised in your above posts, informative and thought provoking .


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