Angry residents call for immediate halt to UKOG oil drilling plans at Broadford Bridge

Billingshurst 170401 2 Jon O'Houston

Photo: Weald Oil Watch

Opponents of oil exploration at a site in West Sussex have called for an immediate stop to work after the drill rig was installed yesterday.

The campaign group, Keep Billingshurst Frack Free, alleged the plans by UK Oil & Gas for Broadford Bridge were “illegal, irresponsible, ill-judged and irregular”. It accused UKOG of “riding roughshod” over the planning process.

The group said in a statement:

“This is totally unacceptable. We are calling on the Environment Agency, the [former] local MP Nick Herbert and West Sussex County Council to intervene immediately.

“The rig should be dismantled and all work should stop until the planning process is completed in an open and transparent way. Local people are angry and shocked. We will not stand to one site and let this continue.”

UKOG said the allegations were unfounded and repeated a statement made yesterday that it had all the permissions it needed to drill at Broadford Bridge.

Broadford Bridge 170525 Weald Oil Watch2

The drill rig installed on 25 May 20117. Photo: Weald Oil Watch

UKOG said yesterday that the well would explore for oil in Kimmeridge limestones. DrillOrDrop report  The company’s application for an environmental permit included acidising the well, nitrogen lifting and hot oil treatment.

But Keep Billingshurst Frack Free (KBFF) said planning permission granted by West Sussex County Council in 2013 was for gas exploration in the Sherwood Sandstone and did not mention these techniques.

A condition of the planning permission required the development to be carried out in accordance with the environment statement. This said the operation was for conventional drilling to reach what were described as “free-flowing hydrocarbons” in the sandstone formation.

KBFF has asked West Sussex County Council to require UKOG to make a new planning application to explore for what it called “tight” or unconventional oil in the limestone. So far, the group has failed to persuade the council.

The group said:

“We are outraged. UKOG is riding roughshod over the planning process and West Sussex County Council is doing nothing to stop them.

“We wouldn’t be allowed to put up an extension to a bungalow without proper planning permission – and yet they [UKOG} have been able to sneak in a giant mechanical rig before the planning process is finished.

“They wanted to carry out unconventional oil exploration on a licence that was granted for conventional oil only.

“The two are very different. This unconventional exploration uses chemicals that are damaging to people, animals and the environment.”

The Council for the Protection of Rural England referred in its response to the environment permit consultation to a fault near the site. It said this could allow fluids and chemicals from the site to reach the River Arun and local groundwater.

KBFF said:

“Our water could be contaminated and affect the river Adur and Arun. And all without a proper planning process.”

Yesterday, a UKOG statement to investors said the company had all the permissions in place for Broadford Bridge and that drilling would begin shortly.

But KBFF said that statement was premature:

“The Environment Agency has not finished considering an application to vary the company environmental permit and no works can take place during the birds and bats breeding season (UK law, Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981).”

The group added:

“There is no social license for this project. It will use more energy than it might find and that’s yet another blow to the climate.”

UKOG told DrillOrDrop the KBFF accusations were unfounded. A spokesperson said the company had approval for drilling from the OGA, Environment Agency and West Sussex County Council. The spokesperson said the company was waiting for the variation of the existing environmental permit, which would allow it to carry out extended well tests but the tests were contingent on the drilling phase.

98 replies »

    • Drilling into an area that was not originally identified and may cause damage to the environment whether it be above or below ground may be an issue but I guess you already knew that. Proximity to water aquifers spring to mind as the most obvious. Original WMP identifies where the aquifers are. The EA consultation WMP does not.

      • I don’t have the two well paths but I expect the wellbore trajectories through the aquifer(s) will be very similar as they will drill vertically initially.

        The only difference for the two well paths may be the volumes of drilling fluids, cement and cuttings will be larger for the higher deviated well assuming the bottomhole targets are at the same TVD i.e. the well will be longer MD.

  1. Fascinating insight into big data and its use for psychological profiling in the Trump/Clinton elections and its use in the UK Brexit campaign. What has this to do with fracking? Ask yourself why Teresa May is interested in psychological profiling via cambridge analytica and the targeting of the five psychological profiles in this election.
    Remember that you always have a say, and the best way to do that is to be aware of how big data is used to achieve political results in elections.
    A “yes” for May means fracking will railroad all democratic established controls. I’m not telling anyone to vote any way, that is up to you, but just be aware how the political factions manipulate you into voting one way or the other. Just confound it by doing the opposite. Just knowing that you are being manipulated is often a way of confounding the process. Ask yourself why the anti democratic tory manifesto regarding fracking is never mentioned in the media and act accordingly.

    • I was going to vote Labour, but I’ll follow your advice to do the opposite and vote Conservative.

    • A bit of UK ‘nudge’ psychology to keep us towing the line.

      Click to access BIT_Update_Report_2015-16-.pdf

      The days of keeping the masses in the dark is nearly over. Communities don’t fall for this nonsense as clearly proven by the national response to fracking.

      It does seems to be working on those who support the industry. They have been nudged into believing the lights will all go out, people will freeze to death, wind turbines are demonic, and energy bills will soar if fracking does not go ahead.

      I am not convinced the UK tax payer is happy to have paid to have nudged people to think like the pro frackers do.

      • John
        Good work has been done by the ‘nudge’ unit. So I had a look again at your link. Where does it mention fracking? Mentions smart metering which is something we need to help manage the grid eventually and helping pensioners get better deals re energy. I might have missed it? Can you help?

  2. “Just knowing you are being manipulated is often a way of confounding the process.” Exactly, PhilC. That’s the whole justification for those of us who are not anti fracking to post on this site. Nice of you to point it out, but again, I wonder who you think are an audience who need that pointing out.
    After the 8th June, we will see how anti democratic the Tory party has been viewed by the electorate. As with the Brexit vote, I suspect the electorate will show they are not easily manipulated. Fracking will be no more important to this vote than fox hunting, or taking money off Premiership clubs, which is already being contributed.

  3. Back to the subject of the post, has there been “an immediate halt to UKOG oil drilling plans at Broadford Bridge”? Or do we have to wait unitl after the Bank Holiday? Although I expect the oil industry will continue to work 24/7 as normal rather than 0/7 like a lot of the protestors?

    Must be close to spud?

      • Here is something you definitely wont like:
        Fracking and oil and gas exploration in general has at least this major flaw in common. One of the many Achilles heels so to speak, if Achilles was a millipede it would be unable to move.
        One major flaw is the myth of the cement ‘seal’. Actually it is not a seal at all, at best it is a plug, at worst a complete myth.
        The bore is taken through several convoluted and erratic strata, not the nice neat flat uniform layers shown on fracking cartoons, fractures, crevices, fault lines and folds abound. The British Isles geology is a violent one, look at any exposed strata and you will see it is folded, contorted, twisted and fractured by the forces that result from tectonic stress and impact, volcanic proliferation and overlay of contorted strata, the legacy of the ancient violent history of the earths geology. Patrs of the British Isles, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Cornwall aren’t even the same geological origin, we collided geologically many millions of years ago, and we are still grinding against each other now, and in the future will part and continue on our journey, a sort of geological brexit.
        The o&g drill bore drills down through these layers, each with its own PH characteristics, stability and integrity. Sand, gravel, shale, stone, alluvial and overburden deposits, faults, river and fault lines, volcanic overburden, all with their own separate characteristics. There is no cement plug yet. The bore drill bit is then guided to turn in the direction of the shale gas layer, that can be 1500m to 30000m BGL. In doing so, the bore is intended to cross the major fracture lines the shale. Look at shale at the surface and there will be a set of major natural longitudinal fractures crossed by lesser latitudinal fractures. The major longitudinal fractures contain the most of the shale gas, so you want to cross as many of these as possible. The horizontal section will travel for 2, 3km as far as possible. Still no cement plug though, so the bore is crossing all these strata which may be sand, gravel, limestone, rock, aquifers, potable or non potable, and opening pathways, yet there is as yet no cement plug, its all free flowing. Pressures down at those levels will be great, and that pressure will migrate up or down, the deeper you drill, the more pressure and heat. Nature abhors a vacuum, the bore will be closing up quite rapidly due to the pressure and the fact that each strata will act differently to stress, some will close almost immediately, some will close slowly, certain rocks will fracture and crumble, contorted strata will act differently metre by metre. When does the cement plug start to be introduced?
        See next post

        • OK, so we have bored down to the shale, turned roughly 90 degrees, sometimes less and taken the bore as far as possible, the casings are following the drill bit, and will attempt the impossible, to cross all those layers and yet leave a nice 25mm gap all the way around the casings to allow for the cement to do a couple of things, firstly, you need to introduce a material that is initially free flowing, why? Because it will need to be introduced from the far end of the casing, and that is 2,3,4km away from the drill head. Ask yourself what kind of material can be that free flowing enough to travel right to the end of the bore, back up the supposed annulus, the mythical gap of 25mm all around the casing, and back up to the well head and then turn from a liquid to a solid to provide that so called ‘seal’. How can this be achieved? Well all sorts of materials are used to keep the casings from sticking all that way down, all the twists and turns and differently reacting strata. Natural sand, bentonite or its equivilent which is a gel like clay mixture, which flows when agitated but turns semi solid like a clay gel at rest, all sorts of slip chemicals to allow for free movement, water with more chemicals because water is not slippery enough in its pure state, all these and probably a lot more are used to allow the casing to reach the end of the bore.
          The most commonly used material is a cement in that it comprises of sand and lime and time agents to allow it to remain liquid enough until the material is back around the mythical annulus at the well head or near enough, more slip chemicals. Cement is an ancient material, used by the Romans and the Egyptians before and possibly well before that. A cementitious material is like a concrete, or concretion material in that it has a semi liquid state, and as it ages it becomes a solid, though unlike a concretion, has little or no structural strength and contains no aggregate other than sand and a time inhibitor to prevent it becoming solid too soon. The time for the material to “go off” become solid will vary in the constituent mix. The purpose is to keep it liquid and free flowing all the way down to the drill head end of the casings and still free flowing enough to drive it all the way back up around that mythical annulus of 25mm around the casing to the aquifer level, if any, and back up to the surface to ‘seal off’ the intervening space and only then become solid, to “go off” is the term. Think about the monumental task this material has to achieve? It also has to bond to the outside of the casing, withstand the movement of the casing under pressure, the heat and PH of the surrounding materials, the movement and pressure of the individual strata acting independently and collectively, to seal EXACTLY to the fractal edge of the fractured strata, to fill every millimetre of the gap between the casing and its joints and the strata surrounding it, to fill every fissure, every gap, every cavity that the bore has crossed and only become solid right back at the well head??
          An impossible task. Then of course it is supposed to withstand the high pressure of the introduced slip water and maintain its bond against the casing and the surrounding strata, the impact of the explosive fracturing, and still maintain its structural integrity?
          Think of some things which will prevent this from happening, and the next post will highlight a few for consideration.

          • A lot of incorrect assumptions, some absolute rubbish and incorrect outcomes in these posts PhilC – no time to correct (pretty much everything you have posted above). Simple – go on an oil well cementing course, look up what is actually in Class G Oilfield cement, look up caliper logs, work out the height you need of 3,500psi compressive strength cement in the annulus to provide a seal (it not very much). And of course, if you are correct why are the hundreds of thousands of wells drilled and cemented globally with Class G cement not spewing out hydrocarbons all over the planet?

            • I will write what i wish, none of the fracking brigade have ever been the arbiter one way or the other, and never will be. Dont attack the messenger, argue the physics involved, otherwise its the same old personal attack nonsense. I shall continue and finish off the myth of the cement “seal”, if you dont like it? Then that is only to be expected, isnt it? No surprise there is there?

              Always a pleasure.

              Have a nice day

          • OK, where were we? Oh yes, reasons for the myth of the cement seal being plain and obvious nonsense and why it can never be relied upon for that magical property of “sealing” the gas and the chemicals and the slip chemicals and the contaminated radio active materials from reaching the aquifers and the eventually the surface, which it does all the time by the way if we use the instruments to reveal the invisible tasteless and odourless gas and the contaminants it contains.

            Firstly look at the drill and the following casing, particularly where the drill is twisted and turned to avoid obstructions and turn 90 degrees to cross as many of the shale longitudinal joints as possible.
            We are told that the casing will leave a precise 25mm gap all around it for the cement to be pumped back around the resulting annulus from the surface and back up around this magical gap to the surface. Think of the drill bit and how it drills down through all those different natural materials, sand, gravel, sandstone, rock, shale, alluvial and geological deposits, volcanic and cavities, fissures, fractures and faults, water bearing strata, potable and non potable, salt brine can exist 8000 odd metres down and that is under high pressure, what do you think happens when the containing material is perforated? Remember artesian wells? Springs and mineral waters and gases reaching the surface? Those follow natural fissures, fractures and faults and they can travel many kilometres from the original aquifer. Under artesian pressure it can even travel uphill, springs are quite commonly found on hill tops, being rocky outcrops that allow pressure to be released, not to mention overburden pressure, that can squeeze water up to 30 metres above above ground level.

            Then the casing is supposed to follow the original drill head and leave a precise 25mm gap around it for the “cement seal” to occupy. OK, so the casing follows the path of the bore down, but it is not a nice regular smooth bore, it is erratic as it twists and turns and the surrounding strata is all ready closing up under pressure, so the casing follows down, but it will meet these distortions and like any path that follows a tortuous route, it will jam up against the sides part of the way, particularly on the turns to the horizontal sections, it will bind up against the inside of any curve and again at the base of the curve. Pure simple logic and physics, it will be hard up against various sections, is there a gap there for the “cement seal”? No, of course not.

            The cement, still liquid, hopefully, will be pumped down the casing and out back along the gap, such as it is. How perfect will be this pumping? How long will the drill team wait for the cement to to become a solid? Enough time? How much care was put into the cement mix, delay chemicals and hardening compounds? Too much hardening and the cement will harden before it reaches the well head, or below, too much delay compound and the cement will never go off in time for the high pressure fracking to begin. How long will the team wait? Time is money. Remember the cement will not seal against the areas where the casing is touching the edge, it will not go off in the different PH and structural integrity of the various materials in the same way. Also cavities, fissures, fractures and faults will channel off some of this material and a seal will not be achieved. the cement will then, if it is a success, be subjected to further pressure, the high pressure fracking pumping will cause vibration along the casing, that is cavitation, a word that is not popular in these posts, also the high pressure will be pouring water and chemicals out of the explosive holes in the horizontal sections, not just once, but many times along its length. How will this magical seal cement be reacting to that massive pressure? Remember that cement has no structural capability, it is just a semi hard plug, it can be easily washed away, play a high pressure hose against the cement holding the bricks together in a brick wall and watch the result. Dont expect the wall to remain standing afterwards.

            Obvious isnt it? The mythical cement seal is nothing of the sort, it works more by luck than judgement, and the effects are seen all over the world of that mythical magic seal. And that magical, in places, non existent seal cannot be reinstated if it fails to seal right back up to the surface or along the aquifer, which is not just sitting there, but water is moving through it and washing away further cement. if it fails completely, what will happen? The drill cost millions so far, will it just be abandoned? Of course not, it will just be used any way, the seal was a failure, they will do without it.

            Ask yourself who monitors all this? Is there continuous monitoring by an independent regulatory body such as the toothless underfunded and undermanned EA? Gold standard regulations? As far as we can see so far, there are NO standard regulations in operation, what mistakes are made are quickly hidden or not even declared, we can expect even less protection or adherence to standards in the future according to the tory manifesto, so where does that leave us?

            Last bit is age, look at any ageing cement anywhere, the outside surface will often be failing just by normal wind and rain, imagine that same material 1500 to 3000 metres down in a high pressure caustic environment and subsequent multiple bores and fracking will put extra pressure on the existing bores, cross contamination is very common in USA ns across the world, high pressure new bore causing the old well heads to fountain up high pressure fluids, not at all unusual.

            Is your water and your homes and your land and your health protected by this magical mythical cement seal?

            i expect the frack farm collective troll agents are all ready getting out their usual suspects to dis me and these posts, but ignore all that, just use your god given common sense and decide whether your entire safety is really protected by 25mm of mythical cement “plug”?

            • So why not answer the question – why are the hundreds of thousands of producing wells not leaking and spewing out hydrocarbons? If you are correct (which of course you are not, just the usual scaremongering), why are all the subsea wells not flowing into our oceans like Macondo did? Why is Poole Harbour not full of oil? Simple answer – because the cement seal actually works…….

              Why did Macondo fail? It will be interesting to see if you can explain this technically.

            • Phil
              I have been pressure washing my brick wall for 8 years. It is a Karcher, now a new one as the old one failed. The wall is still there, although the brickwork seems to be more likely to flake than the cement. Do I need to use a higher pressure washer to get the wall to fail, or is it because it is OPC, which has only been around since the late 1700s, but is much harder than the lime mortar which holds up the house?

            • Try that 1800 to 3000 metres below ground in a high pressure caustic environment that is being continually disturbed by high pressure fracking. not the same is it?

            • “So why not answer the question”
              Fine, i suspect that they all leak one way or another, some immediately, some following, we just have no established reliable way of measuring it, and we have no established regulatory bodies that either have the funding or the resources to do so, and no independent bodies that can afford to do so either, that is all. Certainly no more than 40% of fluids and materials are ever recovered back at the surface, it got to go somewhere, and its a high pressure environment down there.
              The recent forest fires in Canada and USA were noteable because the fire fighters had never seen such intense fires ever before and they lasted many times longer than usual and burned unusually intensely as if they were fuelled by more than just wood and oxygen, and they burned below ground for months afterwards, perhaps we can see why?
              Sinkholes too may be a result of the increasing build up of subsurface gasses and liquids finding their way to the surface by whatever means.
              Hey! i mentioned the “s” word! Ooops! naughty me! Ha ha! Love it!

            • Phil
              4 th para, last three lines, re hosing a cement wall. Nothing about the wall being 1800 to 3000m underground in your text, so still keen to know why my wall is still standing. Regards.

          • Paul, I’m just surprised you read his garbage. I skim the first line, have a laugh, and move on. It’s a waste of good pixels.

            • I notice none of you attempt to refute anything I said, that is very interesting and very revealing. Regarding your comment, speaking of garbage and a waste of pixels, are you not guilty of your own epithets!
              It is always transparent when you guys resort to personal abuse, and that is because its all you have, and it avoids actually having to say anything that is remotely relevant, and that is because you dare not open up issues in matters you don’t want discussed, because your paymasters will not allow it.

            • Repeat refute (applies to your more recent posts on oilwell cementation as well (ha ha)):

              A lot of incorrect assumptions, some absolute rubbish and incorrect outcomes in these posts PhilC – no time to correct (pretty much everything you have posted above). Simple – go on an oil well cementing course, look up what is actually in Class G Oilfield cement, look up caliper logs, work out the height you need of 3,500psi compressive strength cement in the annulus to provide a seal (it not very much). And of course, if you are correct why are the hundreds of thousands of wells drilled and cemented globally with Class G cement not spewing out hydrocarbons all over the planet?

  4. I think Ukog have announced the plans end last week. So they can get on it with minimal disruption over the bank holiday. Also meaning they don’t have to RNS it until Tuesday. Here’s hoping!

  5. PhilC “explaining” all about boring. Now, that has got me really excited! Anyone else noticed how there seems to be a direct relationship between numbers and obscurity of such posts when activities of the antis is flagging in the face of progress by the exploration companies?

    Looking forward to the excitement this week will bring, fuelled (sorry to use a taboo term) by all this boring stuff.

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