Council confirms Angus oil production scheme at Brockham does not have planning permission

Brockham well Brockham Protection Site

Brockham oil site in Surrey, 2017. Photo: Brockham Protection Camp

Surrey County Council is standing by its position that Angus Energy does not have planning permission for oil production from a well at its Brockham site, despite an announcement of “final go-ahead” this morning.

Angus told shareholders at 7am that it had received official approval from the Oil and Gas Authority to produce from a sidetrack well, drilled in January 2017. (DrillOrDrop report).

It said:

“This OGA approval is the final regulatory consent needed for the Company to begin production from the Kimmeridge layers in well BR-X4Z”.

The company said it intended to begin production once it had installed a connection to the national grid to distribute electricity generated on site.

The BR-X4Z sidetrack has been the subject of a 10-month planning dispute. Surrey County Council told the OGA that neither drilling the well nor production from it was covered by existing planning permissions. Surrey also said it had advised Angus Energy that it should apply for retrospective planning permission.

A spokesperson for the council told DrillOrDrop today:

“Our position is unchanged.

“We are in ongoing discussions with Angus Energy”.

DrillOrDrop asked the council to confirm what action it would take if Angus began oil production. We’ll update this post with any response.

The council’s powers include enforcement action against operations where there is no planning permission. Actions could include an enforcement notice, a stop notice or a planning enforcement injunction.

We also asked the council if the Brockham site has planning permission for electricity generation. This post will be updated with any response.

Brockham lorry1 Brockham Protection Camp

Drill pipes on their way to Brockham, winter 2017. Photo: Brockham Protection Camp

“Complete disregard for local planning authority”

A local campaign group, Brockham Oil Watch, criticised the OGA for granting the approval:

“The Surrey County planning authority could not have been clearer in their consultation response directly to the OGA that there was no planning permission to drill BRX4Z in January this year, and that there is no permission to produce from it now, so today’s news demonstrates a complete disregard for and a snub to the local planning authority.

“It suggests that the OGA listens to the industry and its advisors and favours their view when it suits them, rather than to the local planning authority.

“It also shows a complete disregard, by the OGA, to the views of local people who have had no opportunity to be consulted on Angus’ current proposals.”

Angus repeated today that it had no plans to hydraulically fracture BR-X4Z.

But Brockham Oil Watch said the Kimmeridge formation was an unconventional shale oil play containing tight oil, that would “almost certainly would require stimulation through acidisation or hydraulic fracturing”.

The group said:

“The British Geological Survey, in a report commissioned by the OGA themselves (as a division of DECC in 2014) compared  the Kimmeridge to a “hybrid Bakken-type shale play” in the USA.

“Thousands of wells have been drilled into the Bakken and fracked.

“But because of the artificially high threshold of water used in the definition of fracking in the UK Infrastructure Act, Angus can get away with calling their operations “conventional”, whilst leaving the door open to future non-conventional stimulation techniques, such as acidisation and hydraulic fracturing.”

“Slap in the face for residents”

Keith Taylor 170720 Jono Houston

MEP Keith Taylor at the Broadford Bridge oil site in West Sussex, 20 July 2017. Photo: Weald Oil Watch

The Green Party MEP for south east England, Keith Taylor, said it was “wholly inappropriate” for the OGA to give approval before the planning dispute had been resolved. He said:

“It’s a decision that reveals the Government’s claims about so-called ‘Gold Standards’ for oil and gas extraction are little more than an inside joke shared between the Government and its oil and gas industry backers.

“Giving the go-ahead for oil production to a firm that has breached the terms of its environmental and planning permissions and drilled a side-track well without any permission is a slap in the face for the local residents being asked to trust that Angus Energy will treat them and their local environment with respect.”

Mr Taylor added:

“A great number of my constituents living in and around Brockham are quite rightly very concerned about the dangers posed by increased oil production at this site, carried out by a company that has already proved it cannot be trusted.

“Allowing this damaging application to go ahead not only flies in the face of local public opinion but poses a serious threat to the environment and public health.

“Ultimately, the decision runs counter to our legally binding climate targets under the Paris Agreement and the UK’s own Climate Change Act – which obliges the UK to reduce, not increase, its reliance on fossil fuels.”

Share price response

Investors, writing online, were initially excited this morning by the announcement.

But later comments turned to surprise that there had not been a bigger increase in the value of Angus shares. The company, listed on the junior AIM stockmarket, ended the day 2.25% or 0.75p higher.

Edited to remove online comments on investor boards following requests from original posters

41 replies »

  1. Companies have to go through years of applications to obtain permissions to conduct their operations. Those permissions are granted (or not) by “civilised society”. Why should one small part of society think they have a right to stop those authorisations being carried out? Certainly not a civilised society as I understand it, more like mob rule. I do not accept you are more civilised than someone who disagrees with your view.
    If you tried the same tactics against a housing development after planning approval, you might see what harsh comments and aggressive behaviour really look like. Why do you feel the O&G companies and the police should have to accept it?

    • Unless they bypass the permissions and cut corners , Angus Energy are known for this and have breached section 106 legal agreement at Lidsey on several occasions , if they cut corners its only a matter of time before someone gets hurt . #goldstandardregulations are a joke with these people.

  2. Thank you Drill or Drop for your coverage here. There is NOTHING in main-stream media about this important matter. As a very local resident I have been alarmed at the actions of Angus Energy and I’m very worried about the long-term implications of acidisation for ‘tight oil’. I suggest that anyone who supports drilling for oil should watch ‘Before the Flood’ and do everything they can to cut down on their use of oil and its derivatives. Hurricanes, fires, floods, famines are all increasing in number and intensity; if we can’t look beyond lining a few pockets we face a disaster-filled world. German studies recently highlighted the decline in insects, for example. When was the last time you had to clean insects off the front of your car? This might seem irrelevant to this debate but my point is that everything is interlinked. Why should humanity suffer to make a few people richer? That’s if the whole process doesn’t collapse around the drillers’ ears…

    • Acidisation is nothing to worry about. it’s a well established technique and has been used on dozens of UK onshore wells and innumerable offshore wells. The world is going to rely on oil & gas for a long time so we might as well produce as much of our own as we can rather than import it. As you mention Germany, i suggest you do some research & find out how much of their power is generated by coal.

      • What planet are you actually from to say that we need to rely on oil and gas for years to come, utter nonsense. If you look at other countries, such as China and Germany you’ll see that they are embracing renewable technologies much more than our country. There had been a lot of investment into renewables especially in China in the last five years. We are lagging behind and lying to the british public about the need for oil and gas from the uk. The reason is simply good old fashoond greed so that a few wealthy people can make even more money. We have skme of the smartest people on the planet in the UK ans this government should be and should have been investing vast amounts of money into the future renewable technologies a long time ago.

        • I’m interested in energy supply and am supportive of any new technology that is reliable and cost effective.( Really like Combined Heat & power- which requires gas & Hydrogen which also requires a base energy source such as gas) If you were to do some proper research you would see that ” renewables” ( in italics as there is no such thing as a true renewable other than a wood fire as wind turbines & solar panels have a limited life and are dependent on mining) account for a very small proportion of the world’s energy. You quote Germany & China -Their ” renewable” spin is a pure PR exercise as they are both heavily dependent on coal to provide their energy requirements – just do some research & find out how many new coal power stations China ( & other countries)are building. I’m from the realistic planet earth but you appear to be from planet Zog. This planet will eventually run out of resources but until we reduce the population, we need to rely on oil & gas to provide us with the energy we require to support the lifestyles we have become accustomed to( Or maybe you’d rather see the old & poor die of hypothermia as is already happening to some due to fuel poverty – partially caused by the subsidies being applied to renewables and added to energy bills) If you need a blanket statement then I would conclude that our future energy requirements need to rely on nuclear power.

    • Yes, as safe as many of the other industrial processes which contribute to enhancing our daily lives,. Your link is to an article produced by a “wine writer” ( which I must admit does cover the basics, presumably gathered by lots of ” googling ” but without the intricate knowledge of engineers, chemists & geologists) lacking any true understanding. I could spend pages explaining but can simplify by the following: 2HCL + CaCO3 = CO2 +H2O + CaC12.

      • Den, if acidising is safe then why nearly nearly 80 counties and cities have passed ordinances to ban or oppose this method (as of Feb 2016, so probably many more now) and a bill with bi-partisan support is proposed in the state legislature (the only reason it was not enacted is due to legislative inertia in the state of FL). This is in the USA, which is soooo far behind the UK in terms of regulatory standards according to people like you. Here is the link to NYT coverage of this as I’m sure you don’t believe it:

        • liuseniuk ( what does that actually mean?) The acidising in Florida is totally different and designed to clean out well bores although I really can’t see much of problem with that. The acidising in the UK is designed to open up Calcium Carbonate zones resulting in the acid being neutralised as per my equation.

          • Your argument makes no sense. With all due respect, who cares what your opinion is ? It matters that this practice is being banned by so many cities and counties. That doesn’t happen without reason, and definitely not in the US.

            • With all due respect, my comment does not make sense to you because you don’t understand the science/engineering so it’s not an opinion but a fact. You’ve “googled” something and believe you’ve stumbled across a revelation when in fact it’s a half truth as it only relates to Florida and is still under discussion.

  3. So Martin are you saying if I peacefully protested against a housing development someone might try and run me over with a transit van?

  4. Depends on your definition of peaceful Paula. Which of course you know.

    If you tried to block the entrance of a building site to prevent workmen, many self employed, from going about their lawful business and preventing them from earning you would not get a bunch of flowers. I suspect your safe space just might be invaded. It’s terrible, I know but that is reality. You could counter with a snowflake attitude, but if you try it-good luck.

  5. I wasn’t blocking the person in question, I conduct myself to the workers with respect. I do not damage people or property. I do not lie. Cameras tell the truth, I will not be bullied away from peaceful protest. Are you aware that Lidsey is in an area which has seen earthquake activity in the past. Any oil or gas exploration has an impact on seismic activity look up USGS Induced Earthquakes, it’s free for all to see and is a US Government agency.

  6. Thank you Drill or Drop for journalism with integrity, the amount of hype and outright lies that are associated with this industry is beyond belief, it’s incredible how people are falling for it, avarice does terrible things, a sapping of Humanity it would seem! Your articles are always backed with firm evidence and facts, which I believe will eventually lead to the truth of what is really going on here.

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