Plans for an exploratory oil well at Biscathorpe in Lincolnshire have finally got an environmental permit – more than 21 months after the operator, Egdon Resources, first applied.
The Environment Agency announced today it had granted a mining waste permit for the site near Louth. This will allow the company to drill a 2,100m borehole, test the flow of any oil and burn waste gases in a flare.
But the long decision-making process means Egdon now has only seven-and-a-half months before its planning permission runs out.
According to Environment Agency (EA), there were no objections to the permit from the public, community organisations, other regulators or agencies.
But the permit documents make it clear that the EA had to ask Egdon for three sets of extra information before making its decision. The company also revised its original plans during the process.
Egdon got planning permission for the well in March 2015, after four-and-a-half months. But it had to wait nearly 22 months for a decision on the environmental permit.
The company submitted the permit application in September 2015 and, according to the EA, the permit was valid from 7 July 2017.
Between those dates, the EA asked formally for extra information in November 2015, October 2016 and November 2016.
The most recent information – a revised waste management plan – was submitted a month before the permit was issued.
The EA said:
“In response to our requests for further information, the Applicant revised their original proposals. As a result of these changes the Applicant provided revised and updated proposals relating primarily to the proposed flare and the design of the drill pad and well cellar for the drill stem testing activities.”
The proposal is for one vertical borehole in the Carboniferous Westphalian A aged Basal Sand. Egdon may carry out a Drill Stem Test before extended well testing. The permit allows the company to burn up to 10 tonnes of waste gas a day.
As well as gas, the permit identifies other waste products as: solidified cement, formation water, clays and sand, water-based drilling muds, drill cuttings and excess conditioning spacer.
The EA said it was satisfied that flaring would not breach environmental standards and that Egdon had measures to manage smell, noise and vibration from the operations.
The company will be required to monitor the input to the flare and calculate the emissions to air.
The EA also granted a radioactive substances permit for the Biscathorpe site.
A condition of the planning permission requires development to cease on or before 28 February 2018.
Mark Abbott, Managing Director of Egdon Resources plc, said:
“After a long and extremely thorough review of our proposals by the Environment Agency, we are pleased to receive the environmental permits for the proposed Biscathorpe-2 exploration well.
“This validates our position that the planned operations and procedures will prevent, mitigate and minimise environmental impacts. Egdon takes its safety, environmental and social obligations very seriously and is committed to maintaining the highest standards.
On 26 February 2018, two days before the planning permission for Biscathorpe expired, Lincolnshire County Council validated a new application (PL/0030/18) by Egdon. Link
The company is seeking an extension of the 2015 permission for a further three years to 2021. It has also asked to retain security cabins during the production testing phase.
The details on the council’s website indicate that the decision will be made by the planning committee but there are no details of a public consultation or target date.
Report to planning committee on 2015 application
Biscathorpe PL023614 2015 Decision Notice (pdf)
Environment Agency decision notice on mining waste permit
Environment Agency mining waste permit
Environment Agency radioactive substances permit
Updated 13/7/2017 to include quote from Mark Abbott
Updated 11/3/2018 to include new application to vary duration of 2015 planning permission
Just goes to prove how thorough the EA is. I hope this is remembered.
Or how careful the petroleum companies are to provide only what they want to provide. A factor in pedestrian pace of Igas applications in N Notts was Igas’ failure to provide requested info; took NCC planners several goes.
“The company will be required to monitor the input to the flare and calculate the emissions to air.” Whose words are these? Calculate emissions to air! Does this mean ‘monitor’. If so, well and good: ‘calculation’ is hardly satisfactory.
I would have thought they will monitor what is going into the flare, and the conditions of the flare operating to determine what the emissions to the air are. My physics lessons showed that depending upon the way you burned a gas, or a liquid, would determine what emissions were produced.
That should be much more accurate than simply monitoring which could be interfered with by all sorts of external circumstances.