Who drilled where in 2017? Data shows another low for UK onshore oil and gas

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Drilling rig at Broadford Bridge, West Sussex, 14 June 2017. Photo: DrillOrDrop

The number of onshore oil and gas wells drilled in the UK in 2017 was another 50-year low for the industry.

According to data from the Oil & Gas Authority, 2017 saw six wells drilled at four sites, in West Sussex, Surrey and Lancashire. But this figure included a well that was washed out and a sidetrack drilled to it.

The 2017 data indicates that the low level of onshore oil and gas drilling has continued. The annual drilling figures have been below average since 2011.

1967-2017 onshore wells spudded

In 2016, five wells were drilled at four sites, all within a 40-mile area of Lincolnshire. Eight wells were drilled in four counties in 2015 and 19 wells in eight counties in 2014.

The last time five wells were drilled in a year was in 1967 and 1968. The last time six wells were drilled in a year was in 1969.

Over the past 50 years, the average number of wells drilled per year was 25.5.


The 2017 wells were drilled by three main companies: Cuadrilla, Angus Energy and Kimmeridge Oil & Gas (a subsidiary of UKOG).

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Cuadrilla’s drilling rig at Preston New Road, 26 December 2017. Photo: Ros Wills

Two of the wells were at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site near Blackpool in Lancashire. They were the vertical sections of what are expected to be the first horizontal shale gas wells in the UK.

Two of the wells, including the washed-out borehole and sidetrack, were at the Kimmeridge Oil & Gas site at Broadford Bridge in West Sussex.

Angus Energy drilled a sidetrack well at its Lidsey site near Bognor Regis, also in West Sussex. It also drilled the BRX4Z sidetrack at Brockham, near Dorking in Surrey. This has been the subject of a planning dispute with the county council. Angus said it had planning permission for the well but the county council disagreed. The council said the company had submitted a planning application before Christmas for the Brockham sidetrack.

Will 2018 see an increase in drilling?

Several oil and gas companies have planning permission to drill onshore wells:

  • IGas is expected to begin site construction this month at shale gas exploration sites at Springs Road, Misson, and Tinker Lane, near Blyth, both in north Nottinghamshire
  • Horse Hill Developments Ltd has permission to drill and test a sidetrack to the existing well at Horse Hill, in Surrey, along with a second well at the site.
  • Rathlin Energy has said it is now ready to start work on its West Newton B oil exploration site in East Riding of Yorkshire.
  • Europa Oil & Gas is awaiting a decision on its traffic management plan before beginning work at its oil exploration site at Bury Hill Wood near Dorking in Surrey.

Companies have also submitted planning applications or are preparing bids to drill wells at:

  • Bramleymoor Lane, Derbyshire (INEOS)
  • Woodsetts and Harthill, south Yorkshire (INEOS)
  • Ince Marshes, Cheshire (IGas)
  • PEDL234, West Sussex (UKOG)

Who drilled where in 2016

Who drilled where in 2015?

Who drilled where in 2014?

Who drilled where in 2013?


9 replies »

  1. That’s just how it should be for an industry that MUST be phased out in order to at least slow the catastrophic effects of anthropogenic global warming. Now we humans have converted millions of years worth of stored carbon into atmospheric CO2 within a couple of hundred years, the chickens are rapidly coming home to roost. Some of us are making the effort to reverse the process. Others are still trying to advance the process to squeeze out the last gasps of monetary gain. I wonder if the graph of investment into hydrocarbons is following the same trajectory. Just a pity that the wise, sage and highly paid financial experts in our government and Barclays Bank don’t seem to have picked up the scent of coffee yet.

    Thanks to you Ruth and Paul for the excellent job you’re doing and a Happy low(er) carbon 2018 to all.

  2. Another graphic datapoint underlining the need to get drilling in the UK. Importing to meet needs isn’t smart, productive, or good for the environment. Exploit shale gas to keep energy prices low, create jobs, create tax revenue, lower overall GHG emissions, increase energy security, increase foreign diplomacy flexibility, and protect the landscape from the serious blight of wind and solar which would take 1,000x the land to generate the same amount of energy.

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