IGas has defended its well at Ellesmere Port against allegations that it was more than 1,000m deeper than had been approved in the planning permission.
DrillOrDrop reported on Monday that Cheshire West and Chester Council said planning consent for the site at Portside was for a well drilled to 900m but the company had actually drilled to more than 1,900m. DrillOrDrop report
The council’s cabinet member for environment, Cllr Karen Shore, said:
“We have requested that IGas explain their actions and advise what confirmation they believe they had to drill to such a depth.”
This afternoon IGas released its response to the council. IGas response to Cheshire West and Chester Council on Ellesmere Port well (pdf)
The company, through its agent Zetland Group Ltd, said the planning statement, submitted as part of the planning application in 2009, proposed two boreholes drilled to an estimated minimum depth of 900m.
The letter said:
“For further clarity, the planning statement made no reference to the maximum depth of the boreholes”.
The planning permission was granted in 2010 and was subject to a condition requiring the development to follow a set of plans and diagrams, including an indicative well profile showing the borehole reaching a depth of 900m. Opponents of IGas have argued that the application clearly stated an average depth of 900m.
IGas drilled one of the two proposed wells, which became known as EP-1, in 2014 to a depth of 1,945m below ground level.
The letter released today said:
“I can confirm that our client did drill the EP-1 well under the extant planning consent, to a depth exceeding 900m, therefore, consistent with the minimum depth of 900m stated within the planning statement and officers report.”
“It is also worth noting that, prior to drilling the EP-1 well in 2014, our client met with representatives of CW&CC and advised those present of its intention to drill the well beyond 900m”.
The planning application was for the exploration of coal bed methane but the letter to the council said the objective was to target the Dinantian limestone within the upper limit of the Lower Carboniferous geological series.
It also added that the environmental permit for the site, issued in 2014, indicated that the well would be drilled to more than 900m. The letter continued:
“The [permit] application was subject to public consultation prior to the Environment Agency determining the application.
“Both the OGA [Oil & Gas Authority] and Environment Agency consented to the drilling of the EP-1 well.”
In a separate development, the Health and Safety Executive told DrillOrDrop today:
“HSE is content requirements of the health and safety regulations were complied with and that the depth of the well is consistent with the information supplied in the notification provided, both before the well was drilled and in the weekly operations reports provided during drilling. Officials from Cheshire West and Chester council have been made aware of this.
“HSE will continue to work with other regulators and local authorities to regulate the onshore oil and gas industry in a robust and proportionate way.”
The apparent disparity about the depths came to light when IGas submitted a new application to test the EP-1 well. DrillOrDrop will follow the application’s progress through the planning system. We will publish a review of the application proposals and comments from the scheme’s opponents.
- The application to carry out flow testing at EP-1 is on the CWAC planning website: https://pa.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk/online-applications/ use the reference 17/03213/MIN. The public consultation runs until 28 August 2017.