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. Yes, PhilipP, I am up to speed with Horse Hill, it’s location, the previous exploration, the events during that previous exploration and some of the fantasy around the proposed development (no link required, look at the photographic evidence!) I suspect John is equally up to speed. (I used to live in Surrey, perhaps John does.)

    “Documentary style observation”-that is a new term for it!

    Why try and conflate oil exploration in the Weald with fracking? If you do not know the site, and it’s history, what is the point in trying to excite others around the fracking fringes? (No answer required.) I know it is a game that has been played out many times over, reference the Weald, but it has become so stale, and anyone with local knowledge will see that it is simply fake news. Others, perhaps if it follows PNR, 75% who are not locals, may be fooled.

    One dollop of Weald oil, replacing one dollop of Middle East oil equals less CO2 production, a benefit to the environment, and no risk of a Torrey Canyon repeat. (Ready made example at Wytch Farm-no link required.) No wonder it needs to be conflated.

    • Nicely side-stepped Martin. Yes documentary observation… you can actually go there and question the local land owner about the impacts on her equestrian business, her horses and her staff and clients. Then you can prepare yourself for the opportunity to confront them in a real documentary and tell them to their faces that they are lying fabricators of exaggerated nonsense – or any of the usual sort of accusations you level at O&G critics. You will be one of the first to get and invitation and I would be happy to facilitate that.

      The only conflation I have done is link the ‘keep on drilling ..its good for the economy’ statement with the emerging drive for fracking. Quite reasonable given the generalized assumption implied. More to the point it’s what you regularly do i.e. mix up your support for the onshore conventional oil industry with the far more questionable gamble on the new shale gas drive employing HVHF practices.

  2. Why would I want to do that, PhilipP?? Be just like doing the same with Mr. Skinner about seismic testing 3k away from a water pipe! How are the bats doing at KM? What about the buzzards at the other UKOG site? The water pollution from Wytch Farm!!
    Not me mixing up anything PhilipP. I am immune to such infections-see ‘photo at the top of this article! You mean the “keep on drilling..its good for the economy” which was posted for a section about oil drilling in the Weald? Where is that link to fracking? “Quite reasonable”? So, fake news is quite reasonable? Even, in the absence of real news, I beg to differ. There will be real news along soon enough.

    Anyway, have a good Christmas. Trust you are not relying upon Drax to allow you to have your goose cooked alternatively!

  3. OK, a truce for Christmas then, all the best for the Festive Season.
    PS. no intention of cooking our goose anytime soon, alternatively or otherwise.

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