Regulation

Live updates: Egdon’s Wressle planning inquiry Day 3

171108 Wressle PI DoD6

Live updates from the third day of the public inquiry into plans by Egdon Resources to produce oil from its site at Wressle in Lincolnshire.

Today’s session is expected to  hear from more witnesses for Egdon Resources and more public opponents of the company’s plans.

The company is appealing against refusals of planning permission by North Lincolnshire Council in January and July 2017. The company is seeking permission for 15 years of production at Lodge Farm, Clapp Gate, Appleby. The proposals include the use of two production techniques, proppant squeeze and acidisation.

On Day 1 (click here for updates) the inquiry heard that Egdon Resources had not carried out a ground investigation before installing the site liner. On Day 2 (click here for updates) the inquiry heard that, if approved, this would be the first use of proppant squeeze in the UK onshore.

The hearing, at Grange Farm Hobbies Centre, in Scunthorpe, is expected to last until 15 November 2017.


5.20pm Inquiry closes

The inquiry resumes tomorrow at 9.30am with more evidence from James Dodds


4.30pm Egdon Resources case

James Dodds, hydrogeology and water management consultant, Envireau Water

171109 PI DoD 7

James Dodds, 9 November 2017. Photo: DrillOrDrop


Mr Dodds says no statutory consultees objected to the application on water issues. British Steel withdrew its objection to the second application.

He says the oil-bearing formations are in Carboniferous rocks at 1,600m below ground level. He says the shallowest layer contains the aquifer from which British Steel and other boreholes obtain water. He says there is no movement of groundwater between the most shallow layer and the Sherwood Sandstone Group because of an impermeable mudstone group between.

Mr Dodds says the work on the Wressle-1 production well will be done at a depth of 1,600m. This is separated by more than 700m of non-permeable clay from fresh water zones. He says the the shallow geology is considered the most important for water.

Mr Dodds talks about the difference between drillers’, geologists’, and engineers logs. He says the British Geological Survey has a library of well records, usually drillers’ logs. They are annotated by BGS geologists, which converts it to a geologists’ log. It is common practice and perfectly reasonable to use drillers’ logs to understand the geology and distribution of material across a site.

Mr Dodds says artesian conditions occurred in the area and for this to occur the Lincolnshire Limestone aquifer must act as an impermeable seal. He says within the clays there are thin limestones. The council’s geology witness disputed the process of artesian conditions. Mr Dodds draws a diagram to describe his opinion.

171109 PI Dod7

James Dodds, 9 November 2017.   Photo: DrillOrDrop


4.20pm Break

The inquiry resumes at 4.30pm with Egdon Resources witness James Dodds


4.15pm Egdon Resources case

Re-examination of Jonathan Foster

Responding to a question from Richard Glover, for Egdon Resources, Mr Foster says he thinks the Environment Agency has primary responsibility for groundwater.

The mineral planning authority did consider groundwater on the Wressle application, Mr Glover. He asks what weight should the authority to the Environment Agency view.

Mr Foster says they should have given considerable weight. No weight was given at the first meeting and some weight was given at the second meeting. But at the second meeting, the decision was quickly reached.

Mr Glover asks if the mineral planning authority came to a different view to the Environment Agency, what justification should be given. Mr Foster says this should be given in the reason for refusal (which was insufficient informatoin).

Was the decision made justified?, Mr Glover asks. Mr Foster says the decision was unjustified.


4pm Egdon Resources case

Questions from the inspector to Jonathan Foster

The inspector, Keri Williams, asks for evidence that seismicity is low risk. Mr Foster says the hydraulic fracture plan has to include evidence of the local rock stresses, seismicity and likely vibration levels.

On suitable waste disposal facilities, Mr Williams asks why this is not relevant. Mr Foster says the waste will be low volume and there are sufficient facilities available. He says the industry is seeking to avoid to name waste facilities because of sensitivities around the industry.

Mr Williams asks about wheelwashing facilities inside the site to prevent soil being brought on to the site from an unmade track. Mr Foster says it would be the first time this would be needed on a site but he didn’t see there would be a problem.


3.45pm Egdon Resources case

Cross-examination of Jonathan Foster by members of the public

Jean Turner asks Mr Foster about what the Environment Agency told the company about hydrofluoric acid. Mr Foster says the EA deals with hydrofluoric acid under a groundwater permit, rather than a standard rules permit  because it is used rarely.

Mrs Turner put it to him that the hazard from hydrofluoric acid was serious. Mr Foster said the hazard could be high but the risk low if adequately mitigated. The EA has assessed that risk and is comfortable with the level of risk, he says

Mrs Turner asks if the monitoring results are in the public domain. Mr Foster says he doesn’t believe they are public but could be obtained through Freedom of Information requests. Mrs Turner says I have failed to find anyone using hydrofluoric acid in the oil and gas. Mr Foster says no one is using it now. But it was used at Crosby Warren, he says.

Mrs Turner says hydrofluoric acid was not mentioned in any records for Crosby Warren. There is no evidence of what was used, she says. Mr Foster says he has looked into the use of hydrofluoric acid for the permit.

Eliabeth Williams asks whether the Environment Agency accepted the use of hydrofluoric acid in acid matrix stimulation without any evidence of its use in the UK onshore.

Mr Foster says the use of acid is a standard method of cleaning wells and removing skin from the casing of a borehole.

“The purpose of what we are trying to achieve is to overcome the skin damage.”

Ms Williams says Mark Abbott used the words acid matrix stimulation at the last planning meeting.

Mr Foster says what the processes are called is irrelevant.

“It is what happens is important. It has to be adequately described assessed and approved. It is now the responsibility of Egdon Resources to carry out this operation according to the permit.”

Ms Williams puts it to Mr Foster that the scale of treatment of acid matrix stimulation that is planned at Wressle is greater than skin treatment. Mr Foster says what is proposed at Wressle does not include those words used by Ms Williams.

Ms Williams asks about hydraulic fracturing consent. Mr Foster says less information may be required for small volume hydraulic fracturing. A hydraulic fracture plan and consent from the OGA is required, Mr Foster says.

“Consent will be sought for hydraulic fracturing”, he confirms.

Mr Foster says sign-off would not be needed by the Secretary of State because it was not high volume hydraulic fracturing.

Mr Foster is asked how the Health and Safety Executive can have oversight of sites from Aberdeen. Mr Foster says there will be discussions between the HSE and the company’s well management scheme. They are seeing, from a desk-based approach, the well operations. They may come to the site or to a meeting. It is all based on risk profile, he says. If it is high risk, they will intervene more. They undertake at least once to see the well. Reports go to the HSE weekly.


3pm, Egdon Resources case

Cross-examination of Jonathan Foster

171109 PI DoD6

Alan Evans (left) and Jonathan Foster (right), 9 November 2017. Photo: DrillOrDrop

In response to Alan Evans, for North Lincolnshire Council, Mr Foster confirms that he does not have a formal planning qualification.

Regulation

Mr Evans refers to paragraph 109 of the National Planning Policy Framework. This states that the planning system should protect and enhance the natural environment. This could be by preventing  “unacceptable levels of soil, air, water pollution”. Mr Foster confirms that soil and water pollution are material planning considerations.

Mr Evans refers to paragraph 122 of the NPPF says planning authorities should focus on acceptable use of land, rather than focus on processing. Other regimes should be assumed to operate effectively.   There is nothing to suggest that pollution impacts are not material impacts, Mr Evans asks.

“In the context of planning, that is correct”, Mr Foster says.  He accepts that planning practice guidance should also be referred to. This guidance identifies surface and ground water issues which mineral planning authorities should consider, Mr Evans says.

The guidance says the Environment Agency has principal responsibility for groundwater. But this may also be an issue for a mineral planning authority, Mr Evans says. The guidance says the mineral planning authority “can rely” on other regulatory body, he says. It doesn’t need to carry out its own assessment. It is entitled to do that but it doesn’t mean that it is required to do that. Mr Foster says he accepts this interpretation.

Frack Free Balcombe case

Mr Foster referred in his statement to a judicial review brought by Frack Free Balcombe Residents’ Association against West Sussex County Council.

This centred on whether the planning committee should have relied on the assessment of other regulators.

The judge in the case said matters of regulatory control could be left to statutory regulators. Mr Evans says this means that planning authorities have discretion to rely on the statutory regulator. Mr Foster agrees.

Mr Evans suggests to Mr Foster that the type and scope of material put before planning authorities is equivalent to that being submitted to environmental regulators.

“That is the case”, Mr Foster replies.

Egdon has always sought to put technical material before the mineral planning authority, Mr Evans suggests. Mr Foster agrees. The Environment Agency says issues, such as the impermeable membrane, should come before the planning committee.

Mr Foster says there is a overlap of responsibility for regulation.

Mr Evans put it to him that there are some operations on a site like Wressle which will not be within the remit of the environmental permit that would be the responsibility of the mineral planning authority. He suggests that the environmental permit doesn’t offer a complete code of control for the site. Mr Foster says it depends on the operation of the site.

Groundwater monitoring scheme

Mr Evans asks Mr Foster about the record of the sign-off for the groundwater monitoring boreholes. Mr Foster says this was not logged by the Environment Agency.

The Egdon construction quality assurance plan requires there to be a competent site supervisor to oversee the construction of the boreholes and requires logging of materials to specified standards. Mr Evans says what was supplied to the Environment Agency did not comply with the quality construction assurance and fell a very long way short of what was required.

Mr Foster says the drilling changed to rotary drilling from coring.


2.15pm Egdon Resources case

Jonathan Foster, planning, safety and environmental consultant, Zetland Group

171109 PI DoD5

Jonathan Foster, 9 November 2017. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Mr Foster tells the hearing that members who wished to refuse the first planning committee were unable to determine a reason for their decision. At the second application  meeting, several members said they had not heard anything to make them change their minds. The reason given were the same as for the first refusal, he says.

Mr Foster says:

“I do not agree that the North Lincolnshire Council planning committee members were justified in reaching a different conclusion to the planning officer in refusing the proposed development.”

He says the Environment Agency has regulatory control of emissions to land and water arising from activities which are defined as a groundwater activity or a mining waste operation.

The Environment Agency consults the Health and Safety Executive of the design and construction of onshore oil and gas wells, Mr Foster tells the inquiry. Neither body took enforcement action to prohibit to improve the drilling operation of the Wressle-1 well.

Mr Foster says operators are in contact with the Health and Safety Executive daily. The HSE takes its responsibility seriously. It makes site inspection visits.

He tells the inquiry operators are required to submit a hydraulic fracturing plan to the Environment Agency. Small volume hydraulic fractures, as is the case at Wressle, require less information, he says.

Mr Foster says the Environment Agency granted a permit on 18 May 2017. The decision document said the agency was “satisfied that potential risks to groundwater have been adequately identified and addressed through mitigation measures in the permit.”

He says the minerals planning authority can rely on the assessment of other regulators. This is set out in the National Planning Policy Framework and supported by a judgement in a judicial review brought by Frack Free Balcombe Residents Association.

Mr Foster says he was satisfied

“there was sufficient information submitted in support of the first application and second application to allay the concerns of the local planning authority with regard to ground contamination from both water run-off and the infiltration of water used in the development into water courses. If this were not the case, the council planning committee could and should have requested it.”

Mr Foster says he and his team met with specialist staff from the Environment Agency during the environmental permitting process. There is scope for the agency to request more information, he says. Issues are debated and agreed between the company and agency before the draft decision document is issued. Mr Foster says:

“There is a wealth of knowledge in the oil and gas team in Lincolnshire regulating sites in the county. The competency is very high. They are familiar with the activities.”

He says he would expect a very “tight and robust” oversight by the Environment Agency if the appeals were allowed. It had 13 site visits during drilling and testing the Wressle 1 site in 2014 and 2015.

Responding to public concerns, Mr Foster says seismic activity is not likely to happen as a result of operations at Wressle. He says the UKGEOS project aims to build on existing knowledge.

“We can’t say that we shouldn’t do this activity because we don’t have the relevant knowledge. We have an established oil and gas industry with a regulatory regime.”

On suggestions that there is lack of resources for regulation, Mr Foster says planning policy states that mineral planning authorities should assume that other regimes will operate effectively.

Mr Foster says the planning officer had enough information to satisfy himself that groundwater and water resources would be protected by both applications. The planning committee could and should have requested further information but it did not. The issue would be overseen by the Environment Agency, the relevant regulator. The planning authority should assume this regulation was satisfactory.

On groundwater monitoring, Mr Foster says the Environment Agency approved the construction of monitoring boreholes. The agency had regulatory oversight. If it had any concerns it would not have accepted the scheme, he says.


1.15pm Break

The inquiry resumes at 2.15pm to hear Egdon Resource’s next witness.


12.15pm Public speaker Elizabeth Williams

171109 PI DoD4

Mrs Williams says the definition of the proposal as small-scale and conventional has stifled debate and erroneously reassured people and agencies.

Unconventional processes

She refutes Egdon’s argument that its Wressle plans are conventional because of the range of well stimulation techniques that are proposed. The definition of conventional has become an issue of political expediency, she says. There is no universal definition but there are many factors that lead us to conclude that the Wressle-1 proposals are not conventional.

This is not high volume fracking into shale, Mrs Williams says. But she says the parameters for unconventional operations include:

  • porosity;
  • permeablity of the formation;
  • use and type of proppant – in this case ceramic bead, usually used where the formation is hotter and deeper;
  • volume of water used;
  • heath, depth and accessibility of target formation;
  • volume of flowback;
  • number and density of wells;
  • range and complexity of mechanical operations at high pressure;
  • proppant squeeze;,
  • directional drilling;
  • intensity of pressure.

Egdon plans to use a proppant squeeze, using ceramic beads and pressure applied down the well. This indicates that the operations are unconventional, Ms Williams says. The wellbore fluids list submitted to the Environment Agency reads like a shopping list for Duo-frac, she adds.

Our concerns arise from the array of hazardous operations and chemicals, possibly trade-named Duo-frac, she says. It is designed to extract oil and gas from spent or diffcult-to-access formations like Wressle.

Will Egdon need the necessary governmental hydraulic fracturing consent, Ms Williams asks. Can this reservoir be described as conventional if the reservoir will not naturally flow without a proppant squeeze. She asks Egdon to state the pressure to be used at the proppant squeeze.

Ms Williams says the use of acid in oil and gas recovery in the US has led to concerns that techniques have outstripped regulatory practices, according to a senate paper. She says the UK’s Environment Agency may not have caught up.

Acid treatments

Ms Williams refutes the suggestion that acidisation is standard practice. She asks where in the UK onshore oil and gas industry has acidisaton or acid matrix stimulation with hydrofluoric acid been used so far, she asks. Acid matrix stimulation is much more invasive than acid treatment of a skin, Ms Williams says. They are not synonymous, she says. She says acid matrix stimulation has not been used onshore, nor at Crosby Warren in the 1980s.

Where is the evidence that hydroflouric acid in acid matrix stimulation was used at Crosby Warren in the 1980?

Mrs Williams says the use of the word circa 10m3 of hydrochloric acid and circa 20m3 hydrofluroic acid is a “bit worrying”.

“I would like to know the concentration of acid, is it 75% or 70%. Where is the evidence. And what is the pressure?”

“Where has acid matrix stimulation using hydrofluoric acid been used previously onshore in the UK?”

She asks Egdon to take local people and the inspector to a wellsite where this acid and techniques have been used. Has the Environment Agency been provided with data on this use and technique is safe?, she asks.

Mrs Williams says Egdon’s documentation is now out of date. It refers to the Department of Energy and Climate Change. This is now defunct, she says, and has been replaced by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

There is an accelerating public health crisis that air quality is not meeting legal requirements in the UK. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere surged to the highest level in 800.000 years in 20116. It is outdated thinking to assume that other countries will not cooperate on reducing emissions.

There is an urgency to reduce dependency on oil and gas and cut back on plastics. On what 2017 data can the argument of national security of resources be based, Mrs Williams asks.

Planning policy

There is ample scope in local planning policy to reject the Wressle plans, Mrs Williams says. Many of us have submitted evidence on the harmful impact on air quality from the proposal, she says.

North Lincolnshire’s Burden of Disease Report seeks to create a health place that supports and values healthy living, well being, social inclusion and protects people from harm and adverse conditions. Mrs Williams says:

“Every aspect of this plan runs counter to these objectives…. More and more studies are emerging showing that we have a growing public health crisis over air quality nationally and globally.”

Health studies

Mrs Williams to an analysis of more than 1,000 peer-reviewed publications that assess health hazards of unconventional oil and gas. The study states:

“The neurotoxicity of chemical compounds that are foreign to the body is a serious though understudied public health issue … there is ample evidence that envirnmental toxicants can cause neurodevelopmental problems. Development neurotoxicity has been called a global silent pandemic.”

The study recommends a precautionary approach when permitting rules and standards for unconventional oil and gas.

The UK Nano Report concluded that industrial particulates circulate through the bloodstream and pervade every organ of the body. 40,000 people die annually in the UK from disease directly attributable to air pollution.

“Egdon dismissed air quality issues by arguing that the area is already polluted by aggrochemicals and British Steel.”

More than 100 volatile organic compounds are to be monitored at Wressle by the Environment Agency. Why add to this burden when there is a global call to reduce drastically use of plastics. There will be no alarms at Wressle to automatically signal dangerous levels of pollutants, Ms Williams says. There will be routine emissions of NOx, VOCs, methane, alcane, diesel, dust, soot and other emissions to air, along with the possibility of radon gas.

Oasis in a busy space

Ms Williams adds:

“This plan does not recognise or appreciate how important Broughton Woods are – an especially precious wild space – a small oasis of fresh air and tranquillity in an busy industrial part of the county.

A person with Aspergers Syndrome stressed how important Broughton Woods were to his mental health and wellbeing,Ms Williams says.

“Is there not an overwhelming case that petrochemical developments such as Wressle-1 well must be refused as there is a very real, and arguably greater issue of national security of resource of clean breathable air?”

Our natural environment is essential to our wellbeingg and it is outmoded to preference hazardous developments like Wressle-1 when therre are other urgent imperatives such as community health and climate change.

Mrs Williams adds that people cannot understand why an environmental impact assessment has been screened out twice. She also suggests that Egdon’s claim that the site will add to local employment is untenable.

Cross-examination

Richard Glover, for Egdon Resources, puts it to Ms Williams that an assessment by Aeocom on air quality was submitted as part of the second application. The council’s environmental health team had no objection, he says. Ms Williams said the team had no access to new reports.

Mr Glover says the Environment Agency has approved the scheme. Ms Williams says we need to see the evidence of the use of hydrofluoric acid. Mr Glover says this is in the public domain. He refers to the environmental permit. Ms Williams says there is no evidence of the use of hydrofluoric acid.

Mr Glover says there is no objection from the council’s highways department. Ms Williams says she hopes the inspector will have a chance to see the traffic routes.


11.34am Public speaker Geraldine Clayton

171109 PI DoD 3

Mrs Clayton says she runs two local businesses and lives at Howden.

Environmental protection and the EA

The safe level exposure of people to unconventional oil and gas sites is a key issue, according to new research, Mrs Clayton says. The Environment Agency (EA) does not have great  experience of this issue. Its budget has been halved. Experienced staff are leaving the agency, she says. The number of enforcement officers has fallen by a third in eight years. The organisation has not ruled out losing more staff. Centralisation could lose expertise and local knowledge. Lord Deben says the EA is less and less able to publicly criticise government. There has been an increase in pollution incidents at the same time as staff cuts.

“We have asked the EA a number of questions about the Wressle development and we have received no response.”

Emily Mott, a campaigner in the south downs, received answers on acidisation from her local team. This is relevant to Wressle, Mrs Clayton says.

Ms Mott asked how flowback fluids would be managed? The EA replied waste waters  must be stored onsite in sealed tanks and sent to a permitted treatment site. Waste from unconventional sites should not be injected into the ground as it is not a proven best available technique. Re-injection of conventional waste is accepted.

Mrs Clayton says it should be up to the applicant and the EA to prove that the Wressle development is conventional or unconventional.

Self-monitoring is the norm and companies are being able to chose their own figures for a baseline from a long period.

At Markwells Wood in Sussex, Portsmouth Water, CPRE and the EA had objected to a similar oil production application to Wressle. Mrs Clayton asks:

“Why would be people of Sussex seem to be better protected by their public bodies than the people of North Lincolnshire?”

Waste can migrate to an aquifer, Mrs Clayton says. No one can say how far the waste can travel.

Other energy sources

Onshore oil and gas is expensive to produce. Recoverable oil and gas off the coast of Scotland has increased, Mrs Clayton says. Despite government policy, which has forced a decline in North Sea production, UK Oil and Gas predicts a 15-20 years production left. Other experts forecast 100 years and growth off the Scottish west coast.

To say that oil and gas reserves are declining could not be further from the truth. There are 300 fields to be tapped properly, Mrs Clayton says. It will be a very long time before our reserves decline. It is not an ideal solution but at least offshore oil is a long way from where people live.

“I believe that the reduction of carbon emission must be our primary concern.

Up to 80% of oil, coal and gas supplies are unburnable to keep within 2 degrees C of warming.”

Carbon neutral investment could be put at risk in investment in hydroccarbons with a short-term outlook. Clean energy is important in the Lincolnshire region. The proposed Wressle operation is for 15 years, Mrs Clayton says. But in 15 years the region will be a different place. The clean energy revolution is unstoppable, she says.

Towns and cities are reclaiming control of their own energy supplies and grids, reducing their carbon footprints, Mrs Clayton says. Clean and reliable energy opportunities are endless.

Transport and traffic

Mrs Clayton asks how there can be a meaningful traffic management plan when Egdon has not identified a waste treatment location. Egdon has not been clear about the volume of waste to be stored on site and how long for, she says.

We only know there will be 2-6 tankers a day.

The proposed traffic route for Wressle coincides with the main A18 route for people living across a large areas. The road is already congested and is easily gridlocked with roadworks or accidents. Another section of the route is too narrow, winding and the road surface is unsuitable. In places two HGVs cannot pass each other, Mrs Clayton says. How can the company give assurances for the safety of other road users, she asks.

Cross-examination

Richard Glover, for Egdon Resources, says waste proposals has been submitted to the Environment Agency and covered in an environmental permit. Mrs Clayton says there were conflicting evidence in the submissions. Mr Glover says any concerns would have been raised and dealt with it.

Mr Glover says the Environment Agency’s position is that this is conventional, rather than unconventional. Mrs Clayton says the EA in the draft permit does refer to hydraulic fracturing.

Mr Glover says government projects an increase from 15-72% in imports in 15 years. Mrs Clayton says there is plenty of oil out there that is commercially recoverable.

New technologies in the renewable field are so exciting, she says. We are going to have to switch from oil and gas for environmental reasons.

Mr Glover says “We have a proven resource at Wressle ready to go”. Mrs Clayton says “there is a lot more oil offshore”. Experts suggest the shale bonanza will not materialise, she says. We have proven resources in the North Sea.


11.30am PEDL issues

Alan Evans, for North Lincolnshire Council, says the planning application statement did not refer to PEDLs. But he says any concern that this would be a breach of planning permission could be dealt with by the appeal.


11.07am Break

The inquiry resumes at 11.30am


10.30am Public speaker Andrew McLeod

171109 PI DoD2

Andrew McLeod, 9 November 2017. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Climate change

Mr McLeod says there are national and local planning considerations which justify refusing planning permission for the Wressle proposals because of the adverse climate impact. He says the UK government’s commitment under the Climate Change Act and the Paris Agreement should be taken into account in determining the appeals.

Mr McLeod says a legal action has been launched against the UK government arguing that the Paris Agreement target is an essential and absolutely minimum ambition and that the government’s failure to review and revise policy to reflect this is legally flawed.

The limit of 2 degrees of warming is not a threshold between safety and danger. It is increasingly regarded by climate scientists as the point where climate change moves from dangerous to catastrophic.

Mr McLeod refers to a study by Professor Kevin Anderson and Dr John Broderick which concluded that there was no role for bring additional fossil fuel reserves into production.

He questions whether the Wressle-1 oil will be used in the UK. Less than one third of domestic crude production is refined in the UK because UK refineries find it more economic to run lower-value imported grades. Exporting producers are very unlikely to reduce their output to compensate for Wressle-1. They will extract and process it just the same and transport it to be burned somewhere else in theworld.

Mr McLeod says

“We already have far more fossil fuels than we can afford to burn. Leaving Wressle’s oil and gas in the ground is not a sacrifice; it is an investment in the certainty and stability in our children’s future.”

Mr McLeod recommends refusal of Wressle-1 until the ESPIOS research project – now known as UKGEOS – has answered questions on how fluid injection can affect aquifers, subsidence or earthquakes.

PEDL boundaries

Mr McLeod refers to the boundary of PEDL182 and 180, the exploration licence areas held by Egdon. He asks where is the bottom of the  well in relation to the boundary? Did the planning permission granted in 2013 permit drilling the exploratory into PEDL180? Will a granted appeal give planning permission to operate in PEDL180, he asks.

He says the  planning statement of the 2013 planning application seeks permission for a well site to test the target reservoir within the boundaries of licence PEDL182. But Mr Turner says Mark Abbott, of Egdon, says the planned bottom hole location was in PEDL180. Conditions need to be imposed to ensure that all drilling and stimulation are entirely within PEDL182, Mr Turner says.

Egdon’s placing of the well bottom on the PEDL boundary must raise questions as to the lawfulness of the OGA’s acceptance that the PEDL 180 work commitment was fulfilled, he says.

Brigg fault

Mr McLeod raises the issue of the Brigg fault. “There is a considerable lack of clarity and consistency in the appellant’s documents”, he says.

Provision of 3D survey results also do not include details of the Brigg fault location. “It is impossible to verify” evidence that the well does not intersect any fault. Mr McLeod says:

“The appellant has not given sufficient or sufficiently accurate and consistent information for this groundwater risk to be properly assessed, namely that if the wellbore integrity was damaged by any movement of the fault.”

Mr McLeod says

“paragraph 144 of the National Planning POlicy Framework, which states that great weight should be given to the benefits of mineral extraction, is used to justify giving high priority to fossil fuel extraction regardless of the overwhelming evidence of the demonstrable environmental harm it causes compared with renewables.”

He says the ruling by Mrs Justice Lang in the Frack Free Ryedale-Third Energy case which said the demonstrable environmental harm of fossil fuel extraction is a material consideration for decision-makers.

Cross-examination

Richard Glover, for Egdon Resources, puts it to Mr McLeod that the oil produced at Wressle will be sent to Immingham. This will reduce emissions from importing oil and reduce the UK’s climate footprint, he says.

Mr McLeod says Wressle will not displace emissions elsewhere in the world. Global climate change is a global issue, he says. Once that CO2 is in the atmosphere it will affect the climate. It will have no benefit for global climate change.

Mr Glover says the plans are clear about which PEDL the well is in. He says the bottom of the well is in PEDL180 and the oil will be taken from both PEDL180 and 182. The PEDL licensing regime has been complied with, he says.

Mr McLeod says the maps are unclear. He asks why the applications did not refer to 180. Why would you do that if you planned to extract from both PEDLs, he asks. He says the condition do not specify the PEDL. But he says:

“My argument is they are in breach of the planning permission for drilling the well because they did not mention PEDL182 in the planning statement.”

Mr McLeod says Egdon has not taken the opportunity of showing where the Brigg Fault is, which he had asked for details on. Why is that, he asks?

Mr Glover says “The simple point is that it’s not there”.

Mr McLeod says all the diagrams he has seen show the Brigg Fault crossing the well path, just above the well bottom.

“Are you saying the fault is not there?”, Mr McLeod asks.

Mr Glover says he will ask an Egdon witness to deal with this issu.e


9.40am Public speaker: Jean Turner

171109 PI Dod1

Mrs Turner (left), 9 November 2017. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Mrs Turner says 3D seismic surveys carried out in the PEDLs held by Egdon have not been made publicly-available or seen by the planning authority.

Mrs Turner quotes questions from Emeritus Professor David Smythe about the permeability of sandstone and why there is a need for proppant squeeze in conventional strata.

She says the Environment Agency had been unable to provide details of companies that have used hydrofluoric acid in oil and gas operations.

Drinking water must be protected, Mrs Turner says. She also raises the risk of water contamination to steel production in Scunthorpe.

Mrs Turner says new oil and gas operations should be deferred until the impacts were assessed by researchers at the new ESIOS project in Cheshire.

Inverse weather conditions in the area will trap toxins in particulates from the proposed flare at Wressle. How far will the toxins from the flare travel, she asks.

At a meeting held in Broughton, Mark Abbott described the proposed operation at Wressle as a mini-frack, Mrs Turner says.

Mrs Turner says there are approximately two earthquakes a month in the area.

She says there is also a risk to banks and water quality of Ella Beck, a tributary of the River Ancholme.

Mrs Turner says there has been no cumulative impact assessment on health from oil and gas operations. There should be a moratorium on applications, she says.

Richard Glover, for Egdon Resources, put it to Mrs Turner that the company had detailed knowledge of the area and have studied the geology of Wressle for 12 years.

Mr Glover says an exploratory well at Wressle has confirmed the flow rates predicted by the company. Mrs Turner says:

“We don’t know that because we haven’t seen the 3D survey.”

Mr Glover says there was a publicly-available and independently verified reserve at Wressle. Mr Glover says the 3D survey material has been provided to a member of the public. Mrs Turner says this hasn’t answered his questions.

Mrs Turner raises the application for oil production at Markwells Wood, in West Sussex, where the Environment Agency objected. Mr Glover says Markwells Wood was a completely different situation. Mrs Turner says the the Environment Agency asked the questions that should have been asked at Wressle. The same standards should be applied across the country by the Environment Agency.

Mrs Turner says she is very concerned about the proposal to use hydrofluoric acid. Mr Glover, for Egdon Resources, says this has been dealt with by Mark Abbott, the managing director, yesterday.

Mr Glover says the flaring proposals at Wressle has been approved by the Environment Agency. Mrs Turner says particulates from flaring will travel sideways and be damaging for air quality.

Mrs Turner says there is no evidence of hydrofluoric acid being used at the nearby site at Crosby Warren. Mr Glover says there is evidence in drilling reports, publicly-accessible, of acid use at Crosby Warren.

The inspector, Keri Williams, asks Mrs Turner about a suggestion that waste would be reinjected elsewhere. This would require an environmental permit, he says.


9.30am Day 3 of inquiry opens


This report has been made possible by individual donations from DrillOrDrop readers

22 replies »

  1. Getting back to reality – let us see what today brings.
    Thanks Ruth for all your hard work on reporting this inquiry.

    [typo corrected at poster’s request]

    • a little song to start the day, it may keep things in perspective as the days inquiry progresses.
      And also triggered by the poem Sherfulfe posted this morning.

      written and sung by the wonderful and talented

      Buffy Sainte-Marie

      The Priests Of The Golden Bull
      (i have changed one word, the original is “Uranium”
      and i have changed that to acid, it is just appropriate for today)

      Who brought the bomb wrapped up in business cards
      And stained with steak?
      Who hires a maid to wash his money?
      Who keeps politicians on the take?
      Who puts outspoken third-worlders in jail
      Just to shut them down?
      Oh the lies vary from place to place but the truth is still the same,
      Even in this town

      Money junkies all over the world
      Trample us on their way to the bank
      They run in every race
      Windego

      Third-worlders see it first:
      The dynamite, the dozers, the cancer and the acid rain
      The corporate caterpillars come into our backyards
      And turn the world to pocket change
      Reservations are the nuclear frontline;
      Acid poisoning kills
      We’re starving in a handful of gluttons
      We’re drowning in their gravy spills

      Their tongues are silver forks
      There’s a lack of wisdom,
      You can hear it on their breath
      Windego

      It’s delicate confronting these priests of the golden bull
      They preach from the pulpit of the bottom line
      Their minds rustle with million dollar bills
      You say Silver burns a hole in your pocket
      And Gold burns a hole in your soul
      Well, acid burns a hole in forever
      It just gets out of control

      There was a crooked man who walked a crooked mile
      He raised a crooked sixpence to hide a crooked style
      He won a crooked vote and smiled a crooked smile
      Windego

      Their tongues are silver forks
      There’s a lack of wisdom,
      You can hear it on their breath
      Windego

      • I was going to do another break down of events today, but i think i will leave that until the decision tomorrow, it will be interesting to see if common sense and democracy prevails or whether the Priests of the Golden Bull have their way.

        I think the times we live in are a catalyst of events to come, in the end our future will depend upon whether we continue as we are doing, and we know what that leads to, or whether we have the courage and the foresight to change our direction now while we still can and start to forge a better world for our children and future generations. We owe them that much at least.

        I think the chaos we see everywhere now, is rapidly accelerating, and is an indication that change is happening anyway, whether we want it or not, in ways perhaps we are not fully aware of at the present. Though that is not as well hidden as one might expect if you look hard enough.

        So i think what we do now, at this very moment, at every moment, will have a great effect on how the next stage is set, and the next, and so on. Perhaps we either try to hang on to the old crumbling certainties, that were never really certainties at all, just illusions, and they are washing away from beneath our feet from moment to moment, and in that way make it hard to change, or see past the present crumbling uncertainties and move towards a future that benefits everyone, not just the few, and those few don’t give a damn about past present or future anyway, provided they can maintain their illusion of control. So we could not rely on those few for our future, so who do we rely on for our future? simple really, it is ourselves. We are the ones we are looking for, every second of the day, look around you, there are others just like you, lost and rudderless in today’s uncertain illusions, so help them and they will help you. We make the future better or worse, so we better try to do our best.

        As Sherwulfe said:

        “Take the hand of your neighbour
        And help them to see
        That the world’s about all of us
        Not just about ‘me’.”

        We will make it easy to change, or hard to change, but change it will, we either ride the wave that is coming, or get drowned by it.

        It really is our choice.

  2. Yes – thanks Ruth for the reporting. A hint to Mrs Turner – if she reads the pre-enquiry documentation she will find suitable answers to her questions/points. 3d Seismic requires a fair degree of computing power to interrogate it and the file for Wressle is I believe some 4gb.

    • You don’t need lots of computing power to interpret 3D seismic; you can run free software on your laptop. 4Gb is a not particularly large file and will easily fit on a modern usb stick. Having said that, I’m not sure what the person hopes to achieve by getting access to the seismic data.

  3. You realise how bad things are when you’ve got to explain to another ‘expert’ why they are talking nonsense through the use of a diagram.
    This has been one heck of a circus by the council. They made a huge error refusing especially the second application and have tried their hardest to conjure up some form of defense. The public should not have been allowed to talk at the appeal stage as its been a waste of tax payers money. If you remove them this would have lasted 2 days.

  4. It is a strange one GBK, because I have attended the same type of Inquiry, on another matter. The public were allowed to have a very short say-around 5 minutes- and were limited to a couple of individuals. It was made very clear that the purpose of the Inquiry was not to rerun the application/s but to decide whether there had been correct decisions. Seems a bit like an exam remark exercise when you can change the answers you gave in the first place!

    • Absolutely Martin. I have to say I thought there was a guidebook as to how these appeals are run but it would seem either there isn’t one or N. Lincs Council misplaced theirs.
      The issue I have with the way this is being conducted is that it gives false hope to the antis. I’d rather see stronger leadership so this type of thing doesn’t happen. At present we have a central government that is also weak and I can assure you we are the laughing stock of the world at present. I travel a lot on business and right now I’m being asked if our country is really as communistic leaning as the media is portraying. I simply have to answer we have a capitalist silent majority.
      The reason we are seeing this farce of an inquiry is due to May being pathetic and losing her majority otherwise this type of planning application would bypass councilors that are not up to the job and have their own agendas.

      • I wouldn’t worry too much, keyboard warriors? The Con is going put in changes to make shale national significant infrastructure project in due course and it will be all over for some of the nuisance backward councils hiding behind the anti frackers backs.

        • Our current society is already a socialist community. Free health care education and welfare. Next step by Labour would be pretty much close to Communism dictated by ecco warriors activists.

        • Apparently katherinemcwhirter, there are five forms of economics,only one of which is capitalism which is in fact a subset.

          http://oliverdemille.com/2012/07/types-capitalism/

          The most open system is the free market, which was what the EU free market was meant to be, but it got highjacked by oligarchism.

          The point being, i think, that there should be no favouritism of any sector, as that leads to protectionism and jealously guarded assumed “rights” to have priority over everyone else. That is what we see now in the west.

          Capitalism is no better, corporatism is worse, mercantilism is also worse, keynsianism is just another protectionist imperative.

          The only real way to take the system of economics, until we come up with something better, is the free market, but as you say, all the systems only really cater for those who have, over those who do not have.

          One day, if we survive this transitional crisis stage, we will understand that what we do has no real monetary value whatsoever, it never really did, it is all an illusion, the real reward is whether what we do benefits all, not what only benefits a few. Then maybe we will learn that together we can work miracles, but to be at each others throats we are only no better than the the most greedy of us.

  5. ‘They undertake at least once to see the well.’ (The Health & Safety Exec, that is. ‘Reports go to the HSE weekly.’ Yes, weakly reports, the industry self-monitors. I heard a representative of the HSE admit this under questioning in Westminster. At Balcombe the HSE never ever visited. They never ever had any of the meetings they were meant to have with the EA. The EA never visited unannounced, and when we needed them they took days to come, and then didn’t go where they were needed to go because they were scared of protectors/protesters. Only the foolish would rely on the say-so of these ‘regulators’, in my opinion.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s