The regulator of the oil and gas industry has criticised Angus Energy over its operation at Brockham near Dorking.
Angus has been involved in a planning dispute with Surrey County Council over a sidetrack well drilled at the site in January 2017. The company has also admitted mixing up wellheads at Brockham.
The Oil and Gas Authority said in an email to Angus Energy’s chair, Jonathan Tidswell Pretorius:
“I think it is fair to say that the drilling operations suffered from a lack of clarity in their execution”.
The email, dated 2 August 2017 and released today in response to a freedom of information request, raises concerns about Angus Energy’s procedures at Brockham.
It reveals that Angus mistakenly thought the wellhead of the X3 well was the wellhead for the X4 well because a 7” casing hanger was missing.
The author of the email, the OGA’s director of regulation, Tom Wheeler, said:
“The error over the identity of the wellhead could have been avoided had Angus undertaken more analysis.”
He said the mistake would have been spotted if Angus had reviewed final well reports of the X3 and X4 wells or looked at well data on the OGA website and traced the evolution of the well site using Google Earth.
“Relied on recollection”
The email also revealed concerns about Angus’s management procedures.
The OGA and Angus met three times between March and July 2017 to discuss operations at Brockham. Mr Wheeler said:
“Our discussions relied on your recollections rather than a formal (documented) management of change”.
Mr Wheeler also raised concerns about Angus Energy’s access to useful documents:
“There is technical material, both in the public domain and probably held privately, that Angus does not have or in some cases were not aware of, but which would aid the efficient operation of Brockham were it held.”
Mr Wheeler also said that Angus had been “slow” in reporting progress on the sidetrack well, though he acknowledged this was partly because a member of staff had been seriously ill.
The correspondence revealed that the OGA has required Angus Energy to:
- Undertake a structured search for information held privately and publically relating to its licences and, where practical, secure this material;
- Review all the information available on the three Brockham wells and those on its licences and provide to the OGA for each a report detailing their history and status;
- For all Angus licences, review management of change and general decision-making processes to ensure best practice.
According to the correspondence, Angus agreed to complete this work by the beginning of November.
Funding and insurance
In a separate letter, sent on 28 June, also released today, the OGA required Angus to confirm it had funding in place to produce oil from the Brockham sidetrack BR-X4Z.
The OGA also asked for a statement from the company that it had insurance cover and funding to cover unexpected events.
Angus Energy replied on 17 July that the funds and insurance was in place.
Another letter from Angus Energy to the OGA, also sent on 17 July, repeats the company’s frequently-stated view that it had planning permission to drill and produce oil from the BR-X4Z sidetrack. Surrey County Council has consistently disagreed.
Angus said in the letter it had received no detailed response from the county council dispute the company’s position. This must, it said:
“indicate that the County Council now accepts our analysis of the legal position.”
Since then, Angus Energy has made a statement to investors that the council has asked it to submit a planning application for operations at Brockham associated with the BR-X4Z side track. The company said it would submit a “normalisation application”.
DrillOrDrop has asked Angus Energy to comment on the correspondence. This post will be updated with any response.