Balcombe well test likely to come before Brockham, says Angus Energy

Wednesday 21st August 2013. Balcombe South East England, UK. Cua

Drilling at Balcombe, West Sussex, 2013. Photo: David Burr

Angus Energy has said it expects to test its newly-acquired well at Balcombe in West Sussex, before turning to Brockham in Surrey.

In an interview with the web magazine, London South East, Managing director, Paul Vonk, said “things had changed slightly” following last month’s deal, in which Angus took operation of the Balcombe licence from Cuadrilla.

He predicted testing at Balcombe would be “comfortably before the summer”.

A week before the Balcombe announcement, Angus told investors it would have four wells producing in quarter one of 2018: two at Lidsey and two at Brockham (DrillOrDrop report). The Brockham wells included a sidetrack into Kimmeridge rocks which has been the subject of a long-running planning dispute with Surrey County Council.

Yesterday, Mr Vonk told interviewer, Paul Leggatt, he now expected there would be three wells in production by March 2018:

“There’s a financial rationale to say let’s do Balcombe [testing] first and then move that same equipment and the same team to Brockham.”

West Sussex County Council gave planning permission for flow testing at Balcombe early in the new year (details here). Speaking of the Balcombe test, Mr Vonk said:

“It’s a seven day well test. So what happens is if I do Brockham first I’ve got all the good equipment stuck in Brockham and it will stay there for as long as we have the approval from the OGA to do this long-term production testing.”

He added:

“It would save us a lot of costs if we mobilised it to Balcombe to do the seven-day well test first. And then move it to Brockham because the mobilisation costs are one of the biggest costs of getting any oil field equipment in.”

Asked in the interview about the timescale of work at Balcombe and Brockham, Mr Vonk said:

“I would sincerely hope that we can do Balcombe and have Brockham properly into production both comfortably before the summer.”

Brockham planning dispute

Brockham lorry 2 Brockham Protection Camp

Delivery to the Brockham site in January 2017. Photo: Brockham Protection Camp

Angus has consistently argued that it had planning permission to drill the Brockham sidetrack in January 2017 and to produce from it in future. Surrey County Council has said there was no consent in place for either drilling or production. Both sides said they had consulted lawyers who confirmed their positions.

In December 2017, Angus submitted an application to Surrey County Council covering drilling the Brockham sidetrack. This has not yet been published and in correspondence seen by DrillOrDrop the application was described as “invalid”.

Angus currently says on its website that Surrey County Council asked on 12 January 2018 for additional details. The company said it was “pleased with the progress of the application” and that it was “working quickly and efficiently to provide SCC [Surrey County Council] with additional details and rectify any clerical errors”.

He said Angus would switch on a well producing from Portland rocks at Brockham.  Later in February, he said, the Lidsey 1 well, near Bognor Regis, would also be switched on and a new pump installed to improve flow rates from Lidsey 2.

“We’d really like Balcombe”

Speaking publicly for the first time on the Balcombe deal, Mr Vonk said Angus had approached Cuadrilla to take a 25% stake in the licence:

“We went up to them with a proposal and say ‘Hey, we’d really like that asset. It really fits in our strategy. So would you like to do a deal with us?’”

The transaction had trebled Angus’s acreage, he said.

“We were able to convince them [Cuadrilla] that this would be in the best interests of all parties. These assets don’t come available.

“We really had to work hard on this. We could have potentially waited until we, for example, switched on Brockham from the Kimmeridge but there’s no guarantee that that licence would have still been available and if it would have been available then it would not have been at the current valuation.”

“Operational issues” to blame for Broadford Bridge flow testing problems

171223 Broadford Bridge drone 3 BBAG

Broadford Bridge site, 23 December 2017. Photo: Broadford Bridge Action Group

Mr Vonk also commented on flow testing problems in the Kimmeridge formation at the West Sussex oil exploration site at Broadford Bridge.

In December last year, UK Oil and Gas, the parent company of the operator, announced that a section of the reservoir at Broadford Bridge was “unproductive” because of low permeability (more details). Since then, there have been no formal statements on the result of the flow testing, though the company said the work was due to end this month.

Angus has no stake in the Broadford Bridge well but Mr Vonk blamed the use of bentonite:

He said:

“Under a scenario where you use water based mud and you hit a fracture system in the shales then you are going to have a lot of losses. In order to stem those losses what people do, they add bentonite as an additiveto the water-based mud. And that stops the losses, it stops the losses by sealing the fracture system. Unfortunately the fracture system is what you want to get access to.”

In the testing phase, he said:

“the bentonite is still there and it seals off your fractures it is very difficult to get production from it.”

Mr Vonk said:

“From where we’re standing as outsiders it looks like operational issues with the well, which can be resolved.

“But it’s not a formation problem. And that is really key to understand. There’s not a read-through from what is happening at Broadford Bridge at the moment to what will happen at Brockham and what will happen at Balcombe.”

Updated 16 February 2018 to correct suggestion that UKOG and Angus had an information-sharing agreement and add a direct quote from Mr Vonk

7 replies »

  1. Interesting that UKOG had to add Bentonite to seal a badly drilled well and then sealing the much talked about natural fractures , PV says its fixable but didn’t say what would be needed to fix it or the extent of the ” blockage “. I remember Sanderson making a big point of the fact that he would be using water based mud instead of oil based for ecological reasons , I wonder how eco friendly the unblocking of the fractures will be and whether any further use of water based mud will be used in the Weald after this?
    Environmental and economical considerations have led to the increasing use of Water-Based drilling fluids (WBM) in applications where Oil-Based drilling fluids (OBM) have previously been preferred, including high-temperature, high pressure (HTHP) wells. In an increasing number of areas in the world environmental regulations prohibit the discharge of Oil-Based mud and cuttings containing OBM

    • Jono
      Yes, the gel drilling mud seems not to be suitable for the section in the ‘naturally fractured’ part. Hence the need for bentonite based water based mud to get through the fractured bit, but with the resulting problems.
      No sign of OBM below the aquifers yet.

      Yes, no popping OBM cuttings in the Sea now. Either grind them up and reinject into a suitable strata or ship and skip to shore for treatment.
      No piles of cuttings onshore either.

  2. Turning to Brockham, I understand that, in recent correspondence with Surrey County Council, Angus have stated that they are standing by their position that they have an extant planning permission to drill and to produce from BRX4Z. They are submitting their new planning application to comply with what Surrey have requested and on a without prejudice basis. So can we expect them to use the same argument to go straight into production without waiting for a new planning permission to produce? There will be huge protest if they do. And what about their commitment to consult with the community?

    • Ed K
      My opinion is no, as they only have permission to test the Brockham well, with no indication they think they can go straight into production. But of course, we shall see.
      I think 50/50 they get commercial quantities, and then 1 in 10 that it is more than odd tanker rumbling around the country roads.
      They should inform the community of course.

  3. These tin pot gangster outfits in the South of England think they are above the law, from where i’m watching in the North. They are acting like a terrorist organisation with zero consideration for local communities or the investors they are inevitably ripping off day in day out.

  4. They do not think they are, or operate, above the law. They have a legal authorisation to conduct their business and are seeking to do so. Yes, there is a dispute with SCC (the council who can not manage their own business) on which legal advice on both sides have given different positions and is being sorted currently.

    I think you will find it is the antis who are acting outside the law (see DOD).

    “Investors they are inevitably ripping off day in day out.” That just proves how little you know about this situation, or the company concerned. Take a look at how many shares are available to PIs first before you make comments that are so obviously false.

  5. There is no suggestion that anyone is acting outside the law. To be in breach of planning is not the same thing as being beyond the law. It is only when a developer fails to comply with a planning enforcement or stop notice and that notice is backed up with a court order or warrant that an offence has been committed.

Add a comment

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

You are commenting using your 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 )

Connecting to %s