UKOG threatens group with legal action over Broadford Bridge newsletter

Broadford Bridge 170525 Weald Oil Watch

UKOG’s Broadford Bridge site. Photo: Weald Oil Watch

The company behind a West Sussex oil exploration well, where drilling began on 29 May 2017, has threatened legal action against a local campaign group.

Lawyers acting for UK Oil & Gas (Investments) plc have accused Keep Billingshurst Frack Free of making defamatory comments in a newsletter published earlier this month.

The group had criticised the company’s proposed operations at its site at Woodbarn Farm, Broadford Bridge, near Billingshurst.

In a legal letter, the lawyers said comments in the newsletter were “entirely false”, “extremely damaging” and “likely to cause serious harm” to UKOG’s reputation and result in financial loss.

DrillOrDrop understands the letter gave Keep Billingshurst Frack Free (KBFF) until 4pm today to:

  • Remove the newsletter from any website
  • Provide and publish a written apology
  • Undertake not to make or publish further defamatory comments about the company

DrillOrDrop also understand UK Oil & Gas (UKOG) said it would consider issuing defamation proceedings to recover damages and take out an injunction preventing further publication.

UKOG referred to the dispute in correspondence with the Conservative election candidate for the area, Nick Herbert.

The company’s executive chairman, Stephen Sanderson, told Mr Herbert:

“For your information, we served a Letter of Claim from our lawyers Hill Dickinson LLP to KBFF on 26th May, referring to their defamatory comments. We have requested KBFF cease and desist from making further false claims, withdraw their comments and apologise. We are prepared to use all legal means available should KBFF fail to comply with our requests. We regret that the situation has arisen but KBFF must realise that they are bound by the same law and duty of care that they incorrectly accuse us of breaching.” Link to correspondence

As the 4pm deadline passed this afternoon, UKOG would not confirm whether the group had complied.

A spokesperson for the company said:

“It is no secret that we served a Letter of Claim. It is publicly stated in our letter to Nick Herbert of 28th May 2017. But it is a confidential document and we are unable to comment further.”

Keep Billingshurst Frack Free was not commenting this afternoon.

51 replies »

  1. Good. [Edited by moderator] Friends of the Earth were unable to sustain their ‘science’ when I challenged em on their false claims. [Edited by moderator] After all they are trying to block a properly regulated business that would be beneficial to the country on fake news.

    Another fake news claim made by antis is ‘industrialisation of the countryside’. It was amusing today when protesters tried to block construction trucks they thought were destined for a well. They went to look for the well, and guess what. They couldnt find it!! You couldnt make it up!

  2. 100 megapads with associated pipelines, shale gas processing plants and compressors stations sited on farmland of any grade, it is industrialisation of the countryside, and do please go through a court of law to determine this, Mr. Wilkinson.

    It’s far worse when you consider that these sites, should shale gas production become commercial, will be belching radon via their flares over the Salad Bowl of England, and in close proximity to high-end meat producers whose reputation is built on their unique animal husbandry in contrast to factory farming, or high-end cheese producers whose reputation is built on their artisan cheese craft.

    Keep claiming that our countryside is not being industrialised by shale gas development, Mr. Wilkinson. I think you’ll find that when the plans these shale gas cowboys have in store for us here in Britain are considered, very few would agree with you.

      • Flaring, using two flares, each belching 130,000 tonnes per day into the atmosphere, is conducted during the initial flow testing, which lasts for up to 90 days. They can’t sell the shale gas during the initial flow testing phase.

        • 1 million metric tons LNG = 48.7 billion cubic feet NG
          Therefore 100000 tons = 4.8bcf.
          Please correct my maths if it’s wrong. There’s no well in the world producing that much gas per day.

          • Just to add in, if I’ve confused metric and imperial and I’m out by a factor of 1000, then we’re down to 5mmscfd which seems reasonable. Do you know how small a flame you get from 5 or even 20mmscfd?

          • Flaring produces water, CO2 and Radon-222 only if there is complete combustion.
            Mr. Wilkinson is assuming there will be complete combustion in his fantasy physics. The reality is that there will always be a reduced combustion efficiency with flaring, and factors such as wind speed affect flare combustion effiency.

            The composition of the shale gas is also important where emissions are concerned. If H2S (hydrogen sulphide) is present in the shalegas, combustion produces SO2 (sulphur dioxide).
            Unburned fuel components (methane and non-methane volatile organic compounds) along with the byproducts of combustion process, soot, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and oxides of nitrogen (PM2.5, CO, CO2, NOx) are also released to into the atmosphere during flaring.

            Because flaring can never produce 100% effiencient combustion, PAHs (poly-nuclear aromatic hydrocarbons) and VOCs (volatile organic compounds) are also formed during flaring and released to the atmosphere.

            Mr. Wilkinson is in need of a science refresher course.

    • Odd that Frack Free Ryedale withdrew their advertising after I complained. They were unable to sustain the claim of ‘industrialisation’ to the Advertising Standards Authority. Perhaps the farming industry could comment? Perhaps a visit to the biggest onshore oilfield in Europe with its 100 wells would help. Thats Wytch farm in Poole harbour. Its INVISIBLE!! (practically). Otherwise what you are doing is scaremongering.

      • Wytch Farm in Poole harbour is 18 hectares. The site at Preston New Road is 10 hectares. Another 99 of these are planned for rural Lancashire. It is definitely industrialisation of our countryside.

    • Hardly industrialization. The energy density of these installations means they are some of the least industrializing alternatives for creating domestic energy. These are the plain facts, lockthegate. Prove me wrong and show me how wind or solar would be less industrializing if you will.

      • Stephen Sanderson CEO of UKOG is on film as calling it an industrialised process. When a gas processing plant, compressor station, pipelines, and 40-60 well heads are located on a 10 hectare site that once was grazing land for lamb, beef and milk cattle, it is industrialisation of the countryside.

        • Facts are stubborn things, lockthegate. There’s no getting around them no matter what kind of pretzel logic you employ. I don’t care who called it what, but I care that the energy density of shale gas extraction makes it a far better alternative than wind or solar as far as industrialization. All the best!

      • Really Ken? On 8th January 2015 you tweeted (quite wrongly)

        “Confirmed from IET. You cannot claim Chartered Engineer status unless MIET. Mike Hill is not.”. When it was pointed out to you that this was libellous as he is MIET, you very very very hastily posted

        “IET got it wrong. Mike Hill is MIET C.Eng. Postcode error (not by me!) Pls retweet. Apologies.”

        It was amusing that you tried to blame your own libel on the IET, but then that’s you I guess. Are you now going to have the ill grace to suggest now that that apology was not for Mike Hill?

  3. Stephen Sanderson CEO of UKOG is on film as calling it an industrialised process. So he agrees [edited by moderator]

  4. Thank you for clarifying your difficulties with the real world, LocktheGate. UKOG are drilling this site for OIL. Bog standard exploration for OIL. Just like the ones already operating across this country. There is plenty of information around the Weald potential, and plans to examine it.

    These attempts to excite the troops with totally false information is what has lead to this situation. At the very best, you will succeed in keeping a few people excited but you will lose any support from the wider public. You are only succeeding in creating a repeated trail of misinformation and scaremongering. It will come back to haunt you.

    [Edited by moderator]

    • [Edited by moderator]
      As for losing support, it seems your self proclaimed heroine prefers a “contemptuous no show” approach to public relations . The lady is for turning so much, she is spinning on her axis. Somewhat reminiscent of the unfettered o&g industrialisation of the countryside she represents contrary to public opinion and democratic principles and practice.
      Go figure.

  5. Keep going PhilC. You are just speculating again, you have no idea whether I have a heroine or a hero, let alone who they may be. For someone who keeps promoting their scientific credentials you seem to spend a lot of time trying to discredit anyone who disagrees with you through speculation and obfuscation. Having worked in research, together with a great number of scientists and engineers, it is an interesting approach. I appreciate speculation and fabrication may be some of your angles, I just find them rather obtuse.

    • [Edited by moderator]
      First and foremost in any situation is our human condition and that encompasses all aspects of our interactional social condition, scientific considerations are no less limited, quantum physics shows even they are open to debate . Human activities include situational projection into possible future events, without that we cannot plan for even a few seconds in advance. What you call speculation is not just your sole territory, it is everyone’s and I reserve the right say anything that is within the totality of our human condition
      [Edited by moderator]

  6. Will be interesting to see if this element of society do what they’re told for once. They usually throw a wee tantrum. Let’s check at 4pm!
    I think the O&G firms have finally cottoned on that being nice and trying to reason is a waste of time.

  7. I’m sure you are exciting someone PhilC. I’ll stick with the reality, bit too old in the tooth to get excited about the meaning of life. If I haven’t sussed that by now, I must have been in a box all my life. [Edited by moderator]
    Anyway, must go and tend my Cobras. (My Trumpism for today.)

    • [Edited by moderator]

      The only boring aspect i am aware of seems to be the consistent and worrying inability of you guys to discuss any technical issues that are too dangerous to raise in public for fear of the truth becoming common knowledge to everyone. Quite sad really, also very transparent and most revealing.

      [Edited by moderator]

      That false god of profit was never in it anyway, that is just a sick illusion dreamed up by the slave masters.

      • What technical issues do you want to discuss? Annular cement seals work very well, hole is generally gauge if the correct drilling fluid is used and the offset of casing vs hole is maintained using centralisers fixed to the pipe. Only a few feet of continuous cement is required to provide and maintain an annulus pressure seal. This is why plug guidance (best practice = law in UK) calls for a 300ft minimum (may be longer now), to ensure that in the middle of the 300ft there is a long section of good cement. For higher temperatures at deeper depths silica flour is added to the Class G cement to prevent temperature degradation. CBLs give you an idea of where there is no cement, VDLs give you an idea of potential channeling, USITS provide both, but still qualitative. Jobs are simulated before hand, hole diameters are measured with calipers before hand, centraliser programs are calculated based on load / hole deviation, cement recipes are formulated and tested in labs (at correct temperature and pressures) using rig samples of cement, additives and water for flow properties, pumpability, setting times and compressive strength. Samples are taken throughout the job and monitored in ovens to ascertain when the cement has actually set. But you would know all this if you had read up on it.

        Finally the actual job is compared with the simulation to check if there may be any problems such as losses (cement / spacer not seen at surface, volume back less than volume in / channeling (cement / spacer back to early), volume back greater than volume in – well control problem.

        • Finally! Someone with some brains, well done, could you tell me where did that info originate? Is it publicly available?
          I would like to read it if you have a link?

            • I might add that the Schlumberger Oilfield Review articles are an excellent source of information. Many articles are written for the layman to understand.

          • Phil C, You need to do a petroleum engineering or drilling engineering degree then maybe a doctorate, and follow on with many years of experience in the field. Then maybe your opinions would be worth listening to?

            • [Edited by moderator]
              Engineering should be a service to advise and educate the community and then stand back, but you guys act all “holier and more qualified than thou” and “only we know best” in an attempt to intimidate and stifle debate if anyone dares to question. But debate is the very purpose of this blog. Such an attitude that seeks to pervert that is perverse at best.
              That’s not engineering its a dictatorial hierarchical hegemony and is a travesty of service to the community, which should be the primary purpose of the Engineering Profession. Without that being observed we are just another compromised spin doctor, and there are enough of those around as it is.
              I suggest that you should not presume to tell me or anyone else what is sufficient grounds to question and debate, here or anywhere else.
              I suggest considering whether such an attitude brings the Engineering Profession and the Institute into disrespect.
              If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

          • Where did that info originate? Where do you think? I worked in the industry for 30 years and designed and supervised many cementing operations. All companies have standards and systems to meet the regulatory requirements. I went on several intensive courses in Tulsa, Oklahoma (clue to who I worked for in my early career days) in the 1980’s, one specifically on cementing design and execution, one on drilling fluids, one on process, one on logging etc. etc.

            If you want UK relevant documents a start is:

            Click to access Shale_Gas_Well_Guidelines_Issue_4.pdf

            The DCR Regs and guidelines are what you probably want to look at, I think you may have to purchase the documents, not 100% sure. I know they can be obtained from Oil & Gas UK:




            In the UK it is the Law to follow best industry practice and ALARP – industry guidelines such as those published by Oil & Gas UK etc must be followed.

            As an engineer I am sure you can understand that 10 ft of annular cement with a compressive strength of over 3,500psi is going to withstand a significant pressure differential.

  8. Some handy general knowledge on flaring…
    “Flaring is the practice of burning gas that is deemed uneconomical to collect and sell. Flaring is also used to burn gases that would otherwise present a safety problem. It is common to flare natural gas that contains hydrogen sulfide (i.e., sour gas), in order to convert the highly toxic hydrogen sulfide gas into less toxic compounds. Flares emit a host of air pollutants, depending on the chemical composition of the gas being burned and the efficiency and temperature of the flare. Flaring results in hydrogen sulfide emissions if hydrogen sulfide is present in large enough amounts in the natural gas. There may also be additional by-products formed if some of the chemicals used during the drilling or hydraulic fracturing process are converted to a gaseous form and are burned along with the natural gas. The Ventura County Air Pollution Control District, in California has estimated that the following air pollutants may be released from natural gas flares: benzene, formaldehyde, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs, including naphthalene), acetaldehyde, acrolein, propylene, toluene, xylenes, ethyl benzene and hexane. Researchers in Canada have measured more than 60 air pollutants downwind of natural gas flares.” – See more at:

    I’ll bet a lot of the applications contain permissible flaring in ’emergency’ circumstances. It’s dangerous not to – otherwise it would be down to covert venting.

    Venting (same source)…
    “Venting is the direct release of methane gas to the atmosphere. Venting occurs at a number of points in the oil and gas development process (well completion; well maintenance; pipeline maintenance; tank maintenance; etc.). During oil and gas development, huge quantities of gas may vent to the atmosphere. For example, during well completion, after a well is fracked, the wellbore and surrounding formation must be cleaned out. The solids and fluids from the well go into pits, while the gases are allowed to escape into the atmosphere, or they are burned off (flared). It has been estimated that a single well in Wyoming’s Jonah field will emit 115 tons of VOCs, and 4 tons of hazardous air pollutants such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene and hexanes. If the gas is flared, rather than vented, the emissions of VOCs and HAPs are reduced to 29 and 1 ton, respectively; but flaring of completion gases also results in the release more than a ton of nitrogen oxides, and almost half a ton of carbon monoxide per well.”

    • Well I’ve been flaring off natural gas on the hobs in my kitchen for years and I’m still here!

      • That’s ‘clean/dry’ natural gas Benjamin. Raw natural gas has to be purified to meet the quality standards specified by the major pipeline transmission and distribution companies. It contains a variety of contaminants it its raw state.

  9. Oh dear! Sorry PhilC, I have employed quite a number of engineers in my time, and whilst your posts on here do not quantify a full CV, I’m not convinced. I found ex naval engineers from the nuclear fleet could look at projects from “all angles” but then would make a decision that was outside any preconceived approach, and certainly not constrained by dogma. Maybe that’s why we tend to disagree. But, is that not a healthy situation?

    • Oh dear martin, do try to let it go, i thought you fell asleep after the first sentence? Obviously not? Go out and enjoy the sunshine and have a great weekend.

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