IGas gives notice of application to test well at Ellesmere Port gas site


IGas has posted a notice that it will apply for planning permission to test the well at its Portside exploration site at Ellesmere Port in Cheshire.

The notice says IGas will seek consent to:

  • Mobilise well test equipment, including a workover rig
  • Carry out a workover of the well, known as Ellesmere Port1 or EP1
  • Conduct a short and longer test of the gas flow in the well
  • Suspend the well

Information released following a Freedom of Information request, suggests that IGas has been planning for at least a year to test the well and had expected to avoid the need for a new planning application.

The site was granted planning permission in 2010 to drill two boreholes to explore for coal bed methane (CBM). The EP1 well was drilled under this permission in 2104.

The notice, posted on Thursday (20 July 2017), is required under Article 13 of the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) Order 2015. This obliges people proposing to apply for planning permission for mineral working to inform formally the owners or tenants of land to which the application relates.

Under the order, the notice must be displayed for not less than seven days in the period of 21 days immediately before the application is made. This does not replace the public consultation period of a formal planning application (see What happens next? below).

Ellesmere port 1

Location of Ellesmere Port-1 well. Map: UK Onshore Geophysical Library

IGas meeting with council planners

The notice has few details but Freedom of Information Act requests uncovered a meeting last year between Cheshire West and Chester Council and IGas representatives.

The notes of the meeting and email correspondence provide some information about what IGas may be planning in Cheshire.

According to council notes of the meeting on 5 August 2016, IGas had ruled out a large area of the licence area following 3D seismic surveying. It was considering development at the following sites:

  • Ellesmere Port
  • Ince Marsh
  • Thornton (the Energy Security & Innovation Observing System for the Subsurface project)
  • Mickle Trafford
  • Bridge Trafford

The notes said:

“Digging into churt (above shale) to find out where shale gas lies – geologist to return, prior to app. (Ellesmere Port CBM [coal bed methane] site)

“Want to discuss how to put application(s) in; one, several, scoping, screening, consultations, press releases?”

The meeting was arranged in July 2016, by David Adams, director of IGas consultants, Axis.

In his initial email to the council, Mr Adams said the project was “highly confidential” and the team wanted to discuss it with the Development Planning Manager, “rather than Case Officer level at this stage”.

Mr Adams emailed the council again on 30 August 2016 to arrange a second meeting to talk specifically about the Ellesmere Port Portside site.

He said IGas planned to use the existing planning permission to carry out an extended well test in the Pentre Chert rock feature, rather than in the coal measures.

Mr Adams outlined the proposed operations:

  • Mobilisation – 7 days, 20 Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) movements
  • Testing – 30 days (10 HGVs
  • De-mobilisation – 7 days (20 HGVs)

There would be a 30m workover rig and 12.2m flare on site during the testing phase, Mr Adams said.

He added:

“The test will not be undertaken in the coal measures, but will be undertaken in the Petre Chert. Any gas recovered is likely to of [sic] similar composition to CBM. There is no different surface effect caused by the differing location of the test within the well.”

Mr Adams said the proposals were a non-material amendment to the planning permission.

But Cheshire West and Chester Council disagreed. It turned down the request to meet. It said the work could not be carried out under the current planning permission and a new application was needed.

What happens next?

When submitted, IGas’s new application must be validated by council planners. This means the company has completed the application form, supplied the required information and paid the correct fee.

The application will then be posted on the council’s planning website and open for public comments. The consultation period usually lasts at least three weeks but can be six weeks or more.

DrillOrDrop will report on the contents on the application when it becomes public.


Existing planning permission (09/02169/MI)

Correspondence between Axis and Cheshire West and Chester Council

Categories: Regulation

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10 replies »

  1. “Digging into churt (above shale)” – presumably this means “drilling into chert” – demonstrates how knowledgeable the decision makers are not…..

    [Typo corrected at poster’s request]

    • UK banks reluctant to fund UK fracking it seems.

      UK banks not interested, it seems public opinion is having an effect after all, in spite of what we read here?
      UK banks may have deep pockets, but they seem to have short arms when it comes to fracking?
      Fraxit anyone?
      Interesting announcement today about wind and solar too, perhaps we will see that insane 800% increase in solar panel tax evaporate too?
      Is this finally sensible behaviour from this failing government? Words are easy of course, it will be interesting to watch how this emerges into the light of day. Policies have been been hidden behind too many secretive locked doors up to now.

      • Of course they are not interested. Noone would risk their money in shale without any proven flow rates or economic viability.

        • Now there is an interesting situation, if so much depends upon exploration flow rates, who monitors and verifies the anticipated flow rates? Another self regulation process? Another case for the goald standards perhaps?

          Or should that be independently verified by……?

          Perhaps now we see why there are such interest in publishing enthusiastic predicted flow rates?

          There be more than dragons in them thar drills?

          • In order to maximize your oil/gas production you need to know the sustainable rates, so you’ll gather as much accurate information as you can during testing. At the end of testing, many companies will go for the “bankers’ burn”, which is the highest rate you can achieve (probably unsustainable). This is the headline rate that you’ll use in press announcements…

  2. Exactly TW. Banks being forced by their shareholders to back out of any non core investments (great) and will require any company to put forward a verified business plan to shell (excuse the pun) out money. Quite difficult when testing and exploration would be at the top of the plan!

    Good job the oil/gas companies currently featuring in UK don’t require that source of funding. Those that have needed funding in the last few years have found little trouble attracting it, and now we have a new entrant with an initial budget of £500m, funded. And we see continuously that those companies who wish to relinquish parts of their licences get takers almost immediately.

    Yep, down to the last penny-but only for Warren Buffet.

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