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 »

  1. Sorry that re-education is boring for someone of advanced years Martin but if you can think of the next generation and overcome your complacency you will see that the real progress will only be made when a radical shift towards clean energy is made. It’s not rocket science. We can start by rapidly moving away from fossil fuel dependency and fracking nonsense and stop being such a pushover for the O&G corporates and the billionaire vested interests who have no care for the future of the planet.

    • Teresa May to break the Paris agreement on climate change?

      “Caroline Lucas, leader of the Green Party, said this is “a strong indication that, unless we fight back, Britain could become an offshore pollution haven where the environment is in the firing line of an aggressive Government with a blind and brutal deregulation agenda.”


      Now there is a surprise (not), it was Paul Tresto that let slip that the governments brexit strategy zeal was to throw away all EU climate change and environmental protection policies and allow fracking and far worse to go ahead without any regulation at all.
      It is also interesting to see the tories intend to remove all objections to what chemicals or environmental hazards being placed beneath our feet, and over rule any objections by so called parliamentary railroad decree.

      How quickly will this government turn this country into a burned out devastated resource stripped waste dump for private corporate profit?

      Tory promises are like the mythical cement seal on fracking and drilling wells, unregulated, badly designed, poorly executed, and imminently disastrous.

      Still want to vote Tory?

      • Cement seal unregulated? Wherever I’ve worked, the regulators have always wanted to see the cement bond log

          • I’ll edit my comment to “…have always wanted to see the cement bond log and could demand that remedial action be taken if they were not satisfied with the well integrity.”
            Is that clear now?

            • Al
              A struggle to explain the difference between regulation and regulated no doubt. Easier to comply with specific regulations rather than goal setting ones. But from the outside specific ones always seem better. Lots of countries with them re cementing, Certain American States Spring to mind. But are they regulated and any better than the UK goal setting ones?

        • Freedom of information request for correspondence between HSE and Cuadrilla regarding Preese Hall well includes,

          Cuadrilla were looking for some guidance on when a cement bond log was required and who was responsible for the interpretation of the logs. We advised that in a goal setting regime that it was the operator to establish the criteria for when they would run a CBL for surface, intermediate, and production casing. The criteria should be documented and then we could then inspect your operations against this standard.

          The above correspondence is dated 20/10/2011. The Preese Hall earthquakes happened before that date.

          And when they finally got round to doing the log,

          From our 5.5 inch bond log we have identified some questionable cement bonds.

          The Government should revoke their licence

        • So infantile and so damaging to his cause to make off the cuff allegations about the conduct of drilling companies. We have had it all in spades from the antis, earthquakes, flue like symptoms, contaminated drinking water, escape of methane, cattle dead in fields, flameable water . All totalling un-researched but repeated boldly as if it were a fact . Meantime the detractors drive cars, use busses and trains, type away on their computers, dress themselves in the morning, turn on their central heating when it is cold. Telephone home, turn on the TVs and read their newspapers. What a bunch of hypocrites

      • “it was Paul Tresto that let slip that the governments brexit strategy zeal was to throw away all EU climate change and environmental protection policies and allow fracking and far worse to go ahead without any regulation at all”

        I am flattered that you think I am privy to the inner workings of the Government. Please let us all know where I “let this slip”? Fracking is already going ahead, hardly news? The rest is your fanciful mind at work, conspiracys and all that. I do recall mentioning that the EU had been interfering with our oil and gas regs but not in the way you think.

        I think you will find that the Government’s Brexit strategy will be focused on trade, immigration and rights of citizens living abroad.

      • Is this the same Greenpeas that got in such a pickle with the Brent Spar and stopped jackets being left in place to form artificial reefs with erroneous evidence? I see the NGOs are now asking for the Greenpeas (flawed) initiated Ospar ruling to be changed.


        And of course this will save UK taxpayers a fortune in decommisioning costs……

        Good old Greenpeas – I wonder where Caroline Lucas stands on this?

        • Paul
          Sounds like a win win for NGO, industry, marine life and government. Certainly good for SNS. Plus a good way to plan leaving wind turbine footings to rot as well. Plenty of evidence it works OK in GOM

        • Attacking the organisation rather than discussing the facts? Tut tut, naughty naughty….same old same old….

          • Facts:

            Brent Spar, or Brent E, was a North Sea oil storage and tanker loading buoy in the Brent oilfield, operated by Shell UK. With the completion of a pipeline connection to the oil terminal at Sullom Voe in Shetland, the storage facility had continued in use, but by 1991, was considered to be of no further value. Brent Spar became an issue of public concern in 1995, when the British government announced its support for Shell’s application for its disposal in deep Atlantic waters at North Feni Ridge (approximately 160 mi (250 km) from the west coast of Scotland, at a depth of around 1.6 mi (2.5 km)).

            Greenpeas organized a worldwide, high-profile media campaign against this plan occupying Brent Spar for more than three weeks. In the face of public and political opposition in northern Europe (including a widespread boycott of Shell service stations, some physical attacks and an arson attack on a service station in Germany), Shell abandoned its plans to dispose of Brent Spar at sea — whilst continuing to stand by its claim that this was the safest option, both from an environmental and an industrial health and safety perspective. Greenpea’s own reputation also suffered during the campaign, when it had to acknowledge that its assessment of the oil remaining in Brent Spar’s storage tanks had been grossly overestimated. Following Shell’s decision to pursue only on-shore disposal options, as favoured by Greenpeas and its supporters, Brent Spar was given temporary moorings in a Norwegian fjord. In January 1998, Shell announced its decision to re-use much of the main structure in the construction of new harbour facilities near Stavanger, Norway.

            • And the infamous failures? dear dear, still attacking the reputation of the organisation and not mentioning the failures of the industry?
              you want a list?

        • The Conservatives propose to support offshore wind but prohibit onshore wind. They also want cheap energy.

          Onshore wind is cheaper than offshore wind and best sited onshore wind is the cheapest form of UK energy.

          Their energy policies are bonkers.

          • Perhaps they are smarter than you John? Everytime you post about wind being the answer to everything I check the real time data. As of a few minutes ago the 14GW of installed capacity of wind turbines (onshore & offshore) in the UK is producing 2.5GW equivalent electricity. A load factor of 18%. Absolutely brilliant…. CCGT is producing 15GW equivalent – thank goodness we have it.

            So to displace ONLY the gas today with wind (and there is also solar, nuclear and even coal producing today) you would need to increase the installed capacity of wind turbines by nearly 600% – i.e. we would need to build another 84GW of wind capacity.

            How do you propose we do this?

            The main reason that onshore wind is not advocated is that the best (most windy) sites are already occupied with wind farms, sites that are not are in National Parks and AONBs, areas which you antis don’t want to see a 30m temporary drilling rig in, never mind 30 off 150m wind turbines for 20 years….. New sites are will be less efficient due to less wind. No doubt most of today’s wind production is from the offshore turbines.

      • Phil C you seem to have a lot of knowledge on the subject. Mythical cement seal on fracking and drilling sites. If you are party to such knowledge then you should report it, because it would be illegal. Although I suspect like most anti oil and gas contra experts experts it is just made up. Ah that old chestnut ‘ climate change’ . So what is the optimum climate. During one of the last ice ages , during the Jurassic when generally the world was much warmer, when you were young, last year, ten years ago. Do tell us what is the optimum temperature for the world. Then how we are to maintain it that temperature and will it suit everybody from African bushmen to Eskimos . Are you perhaps thinking of that nice holiday you had as a boy with your family when the weather seemed perfect ?

  2. Well PhilipP, sonny, I can do without patronising, and have the benefit not only of education but also of experience. We all know there is a level of global warming currently. It is not the first time this has happened, and will not be the last. What the debate should be about is what proportion of this is man made, and what actions could adjust this. But, because this is not possible, then certain persons decide any actions, however expensive and without benefit, must be adopted. Some of us do not support this, largely because we see repeatedly ill advised blunderbuss activities that are incorrectly focused and are based on nonsense, like Greenpeas stating that Ineos should focus on low carbon energy, rather than import fracked gas from USA. (Do they not own a basic chemistry handbook?). I trust you will see the nonsense, but if you don’t, how do you produce plastics from a low carbon source?

    Could you please explain how oil from this UKOG well would be worse than oil from Saudi Arabia being processed at Fawley oil refinery? (I wonder how protestors would be “managed” if they tried to prevent activity at a site in Saudi?)

  3. Well, I’m in my 60’s Martin. For you to call me sonny would put you in your 80’s perhaps? And I’m qualified in both engineering and humanities so not without some education and experience.

    For those who haven’t yet broken through the welter of misinformation put about by climate denying merchants of doubt I can only urge them to take a long hard look at the real science and not be duped by the cranks, pseudo-scientists and the billionaires with their o&g lobby groups. The evidence, the observations and the real science points overwhelmingly to an urgent need for action, globally on the mounting climate change issues. I was taken in by the pro fossil fuel and alt-right brigade for a while – there’s so much of their propaganda about – but it was refreshing, and a real eye opener (and a worry) to see and understand what is really going on.

    I won’t load people up with more links which I don’t expect would be viewed anyway. As Paul Tresto would say, its all from ‘giggle’, or Mr Google perhaps? who just makes it all up, just as (he must think) the queen writes everything you get via the royal mail.

    I believe that the old industry men, o&g workers and the profiteers who frequent these threads all have a special responsibility to update their thinking rather than entrench into their group comfort zone and sniping mentality. You/they after all are the ones advocating continued oil and gas exploitation and therefore have the responsibility and accountability to what is happening to the planet now at an accelerating rate. Global temperatures are rising seriously, sea levels are rising, climate change (people and species) migration is accelerating and staple crop failure is anticipated to be in the order of 25-30% by 2050. That’s not far off! Species extinction, coral bleaching and ocean deoxygenation are all overtaking their predicted rates presently. The video I linked to above is not a bad quick-fire summary for those who don’t have much time.

    As for UKOG I cannot see any reason why existing supply chains cannot run their course. Demands should be trending downwards with the accelerating uptake of clean and renewable energy sources and smart grid (and storage) technologies that any modern government needs to get a handle on. A massive new oilfield discovery in the North Sea west of the Shetlands (by Hurricane Energy).. https://www.energyvoice.com/oilandgas/north-sea/137686/west-shetland-uk-super-resource-now-cards/ and the huge reserves of, say, Canada raises questions about why depend on Saudi anyway. Saudi themselves are launching a $50 billion renewable energy plan, and with other countries ramping up the renewables sectors as well, demand is going to slide for o&g, as it should. Oversupply will hold prices down as will the keenly priced competition from clean energy (now cheaper than traditional ff sources). All this will make the onshore unconventional market unprofitable and meanwhile the tory government brazenly ignores of the huge gamble it is taking with the UK population – now feeling manipulated and (quite literally) shafted by the whole fracking push. Once again I say it’s insane.

  4. Well, PhilipB, it may come as a surprise to you, but OIL is used very little for generation of ELECTRICITY in the UK, so the renewables you post about are largely irrelevant.

    The confusion, or deliberate misinformation, around such basics seem to be the norm on this platform with comments about “evidence, the observations and the real science” trying to justify it. It may also come as a surprise that certain types of oil are needed to make certain types of processing commercially attractive, so to post about other sources may just be as irrelevant, apart from being illogical in terms of the carbon footprint in respect of transportation and the other often forgotten “fact” that UK extraction is normally liable to UK taxation, to fund the NHS, social care and our state pensions. (Mind you, if Jeremy got in you can forget that.)

    Finally, I would gently point out that this UKOG well is nothing to do with the “onshore unconventional market”. It is bog standard conventional on shore oil, continuing the tradition that has been well established in the UK for decades. The only difference is that with modern drilling techniques far larger quantities of oil MAY be extracted than was the case when earlier exploration was unable to see the potential in this location.

    If you want to link to fracking, take care. Fracking for OIL in the USA is what has forced down the world oil price, far more than renewables. That is why the Suadis are needing to diversify. Currently, there is not much to talk about in terms of fracking for OIL in UK. The current plans are to frack for GAS, and that has no connection with UKOG and this site.

  5. I accept that it’s no bad thing to pin people down to the topic of this particular post and I too don’t know why there should be a huge fuss about conventional oil extraction, for some of the reasons you mention (hence my mention of the new discovery in the N.Sea). Then again I don’t know the whole story in this particular case. UKOG is such a tiny player too and loosing money as we speak (and I see very little if any gas in its portfolio although iGas is one of its operators).

    However I thought I saw the topic broadening (courtesy of Phil C’s meandering approach) as it often does on the Drill or Drop site threads, to the wider context of fossil fuels dependency and some of the bigger elephant(s) in the room, manipulation of the public debate, misrepresentation of regulations and risks, climate change etc. I was lamenting your boredom with some of the wider issues. But I can save that debate for another topic thread .

  6. Paul Tresto
    May 28, 2017 at 9:40 pm

    “Must be close to spud?”

    Looks like I was a day out but they are turning to the right as of yesterday…..

    “UK Oil and Gas Investments announced today that drilling had begun at its well site at Broadford Bridge in West Sussex.

    In a statement to investors, the company said operations started at 5pm on Monday 29 May 2017.

    The well, to be called Broadford Bridge-1 or BB-1, is near the village of Billingshurst in Petroleum Exploration and Development Licence 234.

    UKOG said the well would test for oil in Kimmeridge limestones and would test what was described as “a mirror image geological look-alike” to the company’s oil discovery at Horse Hill in Surrey.”

    So UKOG / the authorities have ignored the subject of this post, requesting “an immediate halt to UKOG oil drilling plans at Broadford Bridge”.

    Shocked and stunned that they didn’t listen…. We can now debate on the spud post.

  7. [Edited by moderator]
    You are right about UKOG being a tiny player, so are Solo and Angus, but if they are successful they will either be gobbled up (Ineos??), or acquire funding to make them sizeable. At the moment they are EXPLORING the Weald. They have already had some success, if they can replicate it, then it is a different ball game in terms of PRODUCTION. I wouldn’t be concerned about UKOG currently losing money. That’s what happens during exploration. If they have assets that the market is interested in enough, they will get funding to explore and develop, as this site shows.

    • [Edited by moderator]

      As for my “meandering approach”, btw, thank you very much Philip P for that little insight? It has always been my engineering training to examine a subject from all angles, eventually the solution just “pops out” and can be easily separated from the rest of the chaff. [Edited by moderator]

      • You do make me laugh:

        “At least Paul T tries his best, perhaps due to his experience (allegedly) even if he is invariably mistaken and quite wrong, but a brave effort none the less.”

        Do you want a copy of my CV and references?

        Mistaken and wrong? Dear me, you do live in a different world to reality….

        • Thought that would give you a giggle! It returns the same thing you said about me a while ago, so i thought i would return the compliment, fun, isn’t it?
          I could provide you with the same, but i don’t like to boast about it.
          You plainly live in a different world yourself, but it appears we are stuck here with each other, funny that? it would be a boring…….hmmmmm…..old world if we were all the same wouldn’t it?

          • Touche…. Agreed, life would be very boring if we were all the same. Keep up the banter…

  8. “Teresa May to break the Paris agreement on climate change?” Really technical and examining a subject from all angles?

    Err, no. Just an attempt to excite the foot soldiers and get a few more arrested. You will probably be successful as well, and oil will continue to be tankered up the Solent as it arrives from the middle east (not Giggle, conversation with the pilot.) But not to worry, there will be no need for the serious technicality of wheel washing, which is a pretty noteworthy angle! (We can, of course, ignore the risk of tank washing as they head back out to sea, as that would be over the horizon-until the double tides got to work. See how I interjected a little technicality there?)

    Drilling underway, and started 5pm on a bank holiday Monday. All that lovely double time and TAXES into the UK pot-only close to £2 trillion to go! Industrialisation of the countryside?

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