UK Oil & Gas Investments has described early results from its oil exploration well at Broadford Bridge in West Sussex as “highly positive and ground-breaking”.
The company said it has evidence of a continuous oil deposit up to 1,100ft thick. The site near Billingshurst could become its “flagship asset”, it said.
The announcement to investors yesterday came as campaigners and residents gathered outside the site gate for two days of protest at plans to acidise the well before testing. The Broadford Bridge Action Group said residents could be “guinea pigs” for the technique.
“Continuous oil deposit across the weald”
UKOG said it had evidence of wet gas readings and mobile light oil in the core, drill-cuttings and drilling fluid throughout the Kimmeridge Limestone target sections of the well.
This, it said, suggested there was a continuous oil deposit under the entire PEDL234 licence and the wider Weald Basin. The company now plans to test the well, known as BB-1, to establish whether oil will flow at commercial rates and quantities.
Stephen Sanderson, UKOG’s Executive Chairman, said:
“In the Company’s view, these highly positive and ground-breaking drilling results support our concept that a continuous oil deposit, some 1100 feet vertical thickness, underlies the BB-1 well location and the wider Weald Basin.
“UKOG as the largest licence holder in the prospective area of the Kimmeridge oil deposit is ideally positioned to take full advantage of this position.”
UKOG bought the entire PEDL234 exploration licence last summer from the former operator, Celtique Energie, and its partner, Magellan Petroleum. Mr Sanderson said:
“Given our 100% ownership of BB-1 and the 300 km² size of the PEDL234 licence, this licence now looks set to supplant Horse Hill as the Company’s flagship asset.”
He said natural fracturing in the Kimmeridge limestones “bodes very well” for the flow testing.
“Rescind permit or introduce independent monitoring”
Residents gathered at the Broadford Bridge site gates for a second day this morning in protest at the approval by the Environment Agency of an environmental permit (DrillOrDrop report).
The permit allows UKOG to use acidisation, a process where (in this case) dilute hydrochloric acid and other chemicals are pumped into the well to stimulate the flow of oil from Kimmeridge limestones and shales. UKOG will also be permitted to burn in a flare any gases produced during the flow test.
Local campaigner, Jill Sutcliffe, called on the EA to rescind the permit or introduce independent monitoring.
“It was suggested in a government report that all such monitoring should involve a member of the local community.
“They are involving the local community in discussions but not in the monitoring and we don’t know what they are finding.
“We know what the company is reporting their findings but we don’t know the findings from an independent source.”
Acidisation at Broadford Bridge could be a first in Sussex and “we will be guinea pigs”, she said.
Broadford Bridge Action Group, which also opposed the granting of the permit, said:
“We are demanding that the Environment Agency states publicly what independent testing will happen to protect our land, water and air.
“They claim there is no risk – how can they possibly know? They have not done the detailed work needed to be sure of this and there is no evidence that they will be on site regularly enough to monitor activities above or below ground – so how can they say it is safe?
“The agency is supposed to be there to safeguard the public instead they appear to prioritising commercial need over the long-term impacts on health of residents and the wider countryside.”