Oil company to seek consent for production and extra wells at Horse Hill


Initial flow testing at Horse Hill, Surrey, 3 February 2016. Photo: Eddie Mitchell

A planning application for oil production at the Horse Hill exploration site near Gatwick Airport will be submitted in spring 2018, according to UK Oil and Gas, one of the leading companies behind the project.

In a statement to investors this morning, UKOG said a second phase of drilling at the site was also being planned.

UKOG Executive Chairman, Stephen Sanderson, described 2018 as a “key step” towards commercial production and significant cash flow from Horse Hill.

But the Green Party MEP, Keith Taylor, said the news would get a “frosty reception” from campaigners and residents. He vowed to oppose what he described as “UKOG’s climate-destructive proposals to industrialise our countryside”.

Production plans

The Horse Hill site, nicknamed the Gatwick Gusher in 2016 after unexpected flow tests, is operated by Horse Hill Developments Ltd (HHDL).

It received planning permission from Surrey County Council in October 2017 for extended flow testing of the existing exploration well HH-1 and drilling two new wells to be called HH-1z and HH-2. DrillOrDrop report

UKOG said this morning:

“To achieve its goal of stable, long-term Horse Hill oil production by Spring 2019, HHDL now plans to submit a further production planning application to SCC [Surrey County Council] in late Spring 2018.

“This application will seek consent to produce oil initially from HH-1 & 1z, and HH-2, together with further production wells in a second contingent drilling phase.”

DrillOrDrop asked UKOG how many wells were proposed in this second drilling phase and whether they would be included in the planning application due in the spring. This post will be updated with any response.

Testing programme

UKOG said HHDL had funding and contracts in place for the programme to test the HH-1 well and drill HH-1z and HH-2.

The work would begin when planning conditions had been met, expected by the end of the winter, UKOG said. The site has an environmental permit for the work, issued in September 2017.

The production tests will investigate whether there are commercially-viable volumes of oil in the Portland and two zones of Kimmeridge limestone, called KL3 and KL4. Each test is planned to last 30-40 days.

UKOG said there may also be a short-term test of a deeper, untested Kimmeridge zone.

Horse Hill leaflet

Publicity from summer 2016 about testing and drilling plans. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Drilling timetable

If the results were successful, drilling would begin on the HH-2 well in Summer 2018, UKOG said.

This well was intended to produce oil from the Portland but there was an option to drill deeper into the Kimmeridge to collect data. It could also deviate north to access oil from the adjacent Collendean Farm fault, UKOG said.

The HH-1z sidetrack into the Kimmeridge was now planned to be drilled in 2019, UKOG added. This will follow development of a Kimmeridge reservoir model based on data from HH-1 and HH-2, as well as that from the Broadford Bridge site in West Sussex.

“Key step”

Executive chairman, Stephen Sanderson, said:

“The 2018 Horse Hill programme is a key step towards delivering UKOG’s goal of commercial production and significant cash flow by early 2019. The programme, geared to provide data to support a declaration of commerciality, will benefit greatly from the many significant Kimmeridge and operational learnings gained at our Broadford Bridge discovery.

“Horse Hill remains a fundamental part of the Company’s core portfolio and we therefore look forward to returning to the birthplace of the Kimmeridge Limestone oil play. “


natalie bennett at Horse Hill.2jpg

Keith Taylor with the then Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett, at Horse Hill, 13 February 2016. Photo: Jon O’Houston

Keith Taylor, Green Party MEP for South East England, said this morning:

“This news will get a frosty reception from campaigners and residents alike this Yuletide. And I will join them in opposing UKOG’s climate-destructive proposals to industrialise our countryside. Surrey County Council must reject any application the firm sees fit to submit. More drilling in Surrey is on nobody’s Christmas list.”

“The government-backed unconventional oil and gas rush across the UK will not only despoil Surrey’s Outstanding Area of Natural Beauty it will ensure the UK fails to meet its legally-binding climate change targets under the Climate Change Act and Paris Agreement.”

“The scientific consensus on the climate breakdown has never been greater. The best chance we have of averting climate catastrophe is by keeping fossil fuel reserves in the ground.”

“Instead of investing, quite literally in too many cases, in the dirty oil and gas industry, Ministers must make it their New Year’s Resolution to finally act on the overwhelming public support for renewables and build a clean energy future – in Surrey and across the UK.”


UKOG said security had been increased at Horse Hill after protesters occupied the site on Thursday 30 November.

UKOG said a 42-team including High Court bailiffs and a specialist protester-removal company evicted the protesters on Saturday 2 December. The company said it was “pursuing all available legal means to seek recourse”. DrillOrDrop report

32 replies »

  1. The old bleeding hearts argument. [Edited by moderator] Desperate attempts to save the fossil fuel juggernaut (whilst crashing in slow motion) require desperate measures in debate.

  2. Same here hewes62. A small residual left after top slicing, so the little left is for free. Top slice doing nicely elsewhere (mainly lithium) and new Hybrid on the drive.
    Actually, the main reason I have a small residual left is to prompt me to keep researching what is going on in the Weald. Interesting exercise, as it continues to show many of the antis posting around this do not, but maintain their posts as if they do. Hence pictures of “Don’t frack our future” etc. etc.

  3. [Edited by moderator] Perhaps you will ignore desperate migrants drowning in the Med. because they have had to migrate from African countries that are rich in resources but are not being harnessed for their own local benefit? [Edited by moderator]

    • Martin. A significant number of those migrants are from areas affected by drought and climate change. Piling artificial fertilisers onto soils might seem like a simple solution but it’s not. The long range effects are now hitting the west too not only through the degradation of topsoil but through the pollution and deoxygenation of waterways through runoff. Africa is a very resource rich continent but with diverse problems and needs. I certainly don’t think O&G is going offer any kind of simple fix through artificial fertilisers.

      [Typo corrected at poster’s request]

  4. I say there is no clean energy future,

    Does hybrid car production waste offset hybrid benefits?

    Environmental problems that batteries cause

    Nickel mining: the hidden environmental cost of electric cars

    …The manufacturing process for both solar and wind leave behind a trail of pollution…This leads to extraction of the precious rare earth metals, however what is left behind is waste which is deadly to humans and non humans alike. The land nearby also becomes infertile due to the toxic waste which leads to the destruction of the livelihoods of many villagers who depend on growing food for income…

    Fracking that occurs on US Soil under the strict (and getting stricter) guidance of the EPA is by no means worse than maintaining the status quo of our supply of rare earths for renewable energy

    Germany’s massive push into renewable energy has a dark side. As green policies drive up the cost of power, entire industries are shrinking.

    In a 2013 report, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Design for the Environment program concluded that batteries using nickel and cobalt, like lithium-ion batteries, have the “highest potential for environmental impacts”. It cited negative consequences like mining, global warming, environmental pollution and human health impacts.

  5. Good job that you don’t think, and therefore it is, PhilipP. Those of us who know something about certain African countries and their agriculture, and what they are attempting to achieve currently don’t rely on thinking, but on facts and local contacts. [Edited by moderator]
    The World Bank decision may be a problem to them, not in the Weald, as was suggested by posters who seemed unaware that Horse Hill is funded, and that UKOG have had no problems raising funds as and when required. Meanwhile, funding in Africa is most likely to come from China, but that comes with many strings and local development is not a priority.

    • Which African countries are you referring to Martin? You’ve got me wondering if natural gas is good for any fertilizer products other than nitrogen fixing ones (via the Haber Bosch process). What about phosphates?

      The politics of these things are never straight forward. The leaders want the votes of the rural poor through things like fertilizer subsidies, but they also want a share in any O&G revenues. I doubt if you can rationalise any of this down to charity.

    • Africa is complex. It was divided spoils between those countries in Europe and then later the US who have oppressed and taken over in the name of ‘civilization’, collapsed the indigenous way of life and left those who remain, when they withdrew, to scrabble and fight over the parched and barren wasteland; ring any bells anyone….

  6. Most people in Surrey / Sussex support oil production so we should carry on . Its only a minority that object !

  7. John D. Without a doubt we’re looking at an end-game now between economic growth powered by fossil fuel exploitation and the ability of the planet to cope with all that that entails. Atmospheric and climate science show that tipping points have been reached (with CO2 and methane levels) pointing to runaway feedbacks and catastrophic climate breakdown in the decades ahead. We’re seeing signs of this already. Then there’s ocean level rise from polar and glacial melting which is accelerating at an alarming rate, not to mention ocean acidification etc. Believing we can win the battle against nature, even with the extra wealth that ongoing oil and gas development could bring is both naive and dangerous especially so for the next generation but also for the remainder of this one. This is not alarmism it is science, now well established. People must heed the wake up call or face a planet that will become progressively uninhabitable.

  8. Well done John, a few short sentences and you can see the confirmation of the small (uninformed) minority. The usual twaddle about global warming reasons, yet Horse Hill production (if it came) would simply replace oil being imported into Fawley Refinery from other countries-just the same as Wytch Farm does currently. UK is signed up to CO2 reduction and is achieving targets. Oil production would still be within those targets, but would be secure and outside of OPEC cartel/price fixing, if push came to shove.

    Like debating whether our water should come from the South Downs or should we bring it to the UK in tankers. In the case of water we know we will continue to use it for the foreseeable future, and oil and gas is just the same. With both, we will use (hopefully) in a more controlled way, and maybe even for different purposes, but whilst alternatives will come (and go, in some instances) replacement is a long way off, and will be delayed even further if revenue is not generated from existing forms of energy to fund the development of good alternatives.

    PhilipP-if you bother to check Horse Hill you might just find some pointers towards Africa and fertilizer! Cryptic I know, but that’s as far as I will go as thinking with any logic about this-why should I help you to demonstrate that you are knowledgeable about Horse Hill, so you can encourage others? You are on your own on this one. Self learning is good for us oldies-it keeps the little grey cells active. I have provided a clue, to get started.

  9. John . As you were putting the general case – i.e. ‘keep on drilling ..its good for the economy’ I was putting the general answer. I don’t have a particular issue with low scale conventional onshore production. A far bigger issue is the development of a whole new industry esp. around shale fracking. Some blinkered people, Times readers included, just won’t get it, but the writing is on the wall for those who are trying to think big about onshore O&G (unconventional gas in particular). There are better ways of funding good alternatives and any gains would be only short term while quickly becoming insignificant in the face of the long term deficits, jeopardizing water and air quality and boosting greenhouse gas emissions.

    Martin , regarding Horse Hill, have you visited that site? First you might want to consider the local issues like the staff and animal health issues arising from the surface works – at the nearby Lomond Equestrian Centre – which will be as nothing compared to what neighbors to fracking sites will have to contend with. So please consider cutting to the chase, bypassing all your fancy footwork and cryptic references and try some documentary style observation.

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