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.
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).
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)