UKOG loses access rights to Markwells Wood oil site in South Downs

Markwells Wood 5 Ann Stewart

UKOG’s Markwells Wood site in the South Downs. Photo: Markwells Wood Watch

The oil exploration company, UKOG, has had no right of access for operations at its site at Markwells Wood near Rowlands Castle for eight months, DrillOrDrop has learned.

In documents seen by DrillOrDrop, the owners of a piece of land that UKOG has to cross to reach the site terminated their agreement with the company in July last year (2017).

In a statement, the owners said they took the decision because of concerns that UKOG’s proposal to extract oil at Markwells Wood represented “an unacceptable risk to the water supply and public health”.

In September 2016, the company applied for permission to the South Downs National Park Authority to drill more boreholes at the site and produce oil for 20 years. The scheme included the use of acid to improve the flow of oil. The application was withdrawn in May 2017 after many objections, including those from Portsmouth Water and the Environment Agency.

Earlier this month, the South Downs National Park Authority ordered UKOG to clear the Markwells Wood site and restore it back to woodland. There has been no planning permission in place for 18 months. DrillOrDrop report

The landowners’ statement said:

“We, as the owners of the land through which UKOG gained access to their Markwells Wood site, exercised our legal right in July 2017 to terminate the Licence Agreement that allowed UKOG access to their drilling site.

“We did this because we shared Portsmouth Water’s concern that UKOG’s plans to attempt to extract oil represented an unacceptable risk to the water supply and public health of hundreds of thousands of Portsmouth residents.”

The owners said they had offered to allow UKOG access for maintenance and restoration. The statement continued:

“Subsequently, we agreed that UKOG could be granted time-limited access to their drilling site for the sole purpose of maintenance of the site and restoration.

“In December 2017 UKOG’S representatives reacted positively to this offer of time-limited access but UKOG have so far failed to respond to this offer.”

The statement concluded:

“We wish to remain anonymous for health reasons and will be making no further comment.”


Markwells Wood location and access (marked in red). Source: Ordnance Survey

UKOG injunction

Markwells Wood is one of three oil exploration sites for which UKOG is seeking an injunction against environmental protests.

The company asked the High Court last week to confirm its draft injunction orders. But the case was adjourned to allow five women who wish to challenge the injunction to prepare their cases. The court is expected to rule on the injunction in about six weeks. (DrillOrDrop report)

180319 UKOG injunction2

Campaigners opposing UKOG’s injunction at the High Court, 19 March 2018. Photo: DrillOrDrop

According to a UKOG witness statement and a map that accompanied its case, the company appeared to be seeking to apply the injunction to the entire access route to the Markwells Wood site, as well as the site itself.

The witness statement said licences with various freehold landowners “give UKOG GB the right of occupation and effective control of the site”.

DrillOrDrop  invited UKOG to comment on the termination of the access agreement. We also asked UKOG whether it intended the injunction to apply to the entire access track, as well as the site. It has not responded. This post will be updated with any company comment.

After the withdrawal of its planning application last year, UKOG said it would scale back its plans and submit a new scheme before the end of the year (DrillOrDrop report). This has not yet been published.

Last week, UKOG issued a statement to investors about another site in West Sussex. Against the list of company assets, UKOG said for Markwells Wood: “Revised drilling and testing planning application underway”.

UKOG has made no formal statement to investors through the Regulatory News Service (RNS) about the cancellation of the access agreement.

26 replies »

  1. So UKOG are trying to get an injunction to prevent protest for a site for which they have no legal right of access?
    And this is intended to be the basis for an injunction to prevent anyone so much as talking about it?

    Aahhhh? Can someone hand me one of those Russian firefrackers? i think i fell asleep in the snow again?

  2. UKOG were obviously aware that they had no access but continued [edited by moderator] there were no problems at the site , RNS anyone ?

  3. They really do believe that they are above the law. Maybe based upon the fact that they get full security services provided free by our constabularies, but it really does does beg the question, who is the law supposed to protect?

    • Respect to the land owners who have made an informed decision based on the evidence that has come to light regarding the potential risk to water.

      Regarding the denied access. We keep hearing onshore oil and gas is big business so all UKOG have to do is squeeze some more money out of the investors and have the equipment brought in and out by helicopter. This would relieve road congestion at the same time.

      If this is to costly UKOG could sneak on under cover of dark and access the gusher the traditional way.

      • Hi John. perhaps a more appropriate stand off between UKOG and……well…..take your choice? Third and Ineos perhaps? And for getting buried resources out of the ground would be this sequence from:

        ( )

        “You see in this world there two kinds of people my friend, those with guns, and those who dig,…….you dig……”

        “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly”, of course, scored by the wonderful Ennio Morricone! Not that i would describe any of them as Clint Eastwood of course, but perhaps a no name bounty hunter only seeking profit would be appropriate?

        • And of course, A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More and Once Upon a Time in The West are rather appropriate too?

            • Hi Isla, yes, nice one, it reminded me of something i heard a while back and just remembered, its early for the Sunday song, but its Easter and therefore a long weekend.
              So this is an Easter song, unchanged:

              The Richest Man in Babylon
              By The Thievery Corporation

              There is no guidance in your kingdom
              Your wicked walk in Babylon
              There is no wisdom to your freedom
              The richest man in Babylon

              Your beggars sleep outside your doorway
              Your prophets leave to wander on
              You fall asleep at night with worry
              The saddest man in Babylon

              The wicked stench of exploitation
              Hangs in the air and lingers on
              Beneath the praise and admiration
              The weakest man in Babylon

              There is no hope left in your kingdom
              Your servants have burned all their songs
              Nobody here remembers freedom
              The richest man in Babylon

              Babylon no get rich again
              But to end up sick again and you end up weak again
              Babylon (scat)
              Babylon you run
              You better know, you better understand
              The rancher man you better hear what we say
              Babylon this is your final day
              Babylon this is your final call, read the writing that’s on the wall
              See, divided we stand and together we fall
              You never know dat; you not gon’ catch me in a rat pack
              We’re not gon’ fall away from it Jah, no way

              Featuring Notch
              Produced by Rob Garza & Eric Hilton
              Album The Richest Man in Babylon

              Have a great Easter weekend with family and friends everyone, and maybe think of the sacrifices that many have made to stop this Thievery Corporation Babylon invasion dead in its fracks.

  4. Maybe the left hand of UKOG knows not what the right hand is doing? Surely they must make a clear statement to their investors pretty soon???

    • Tim B, The truth is out there!!! …just not in the format, you would like. The industry and the Tory government has proven time and time again that neither of them can be trusted, and DoD just tell it how it is. They have nothing to benefit from telling lies.

    • Biased? Actually DrillorDrop is telling you the news that UKOG should be telling you , many times the real news is here first , just because you don’t like it doesn’t make it biased.

  5. As you all know I despise the nonsense the antis on here preach however, occasionally we do see eye to eye and in the case of UKOG I have never been a supporter. I’ve seen many pump n dump [edited by moderator] style shares on the old wild west aka the AIM to see one a mile off.
    It’s a shame as it’s generally decent middle class investors just looking to make a bit extra to pay off their kids uni debt that get stung and not some pinstripe clad London boy as the antis envisage.
    Xcite Energy was a prime example.

    • ‘It’s a shame as it’s generally decent middle class investors just looking to make a bit extra to pay off their kids uni debt that get stung and not some pinstripe clad London boy as the antis envisage.’ so now you realise this why are you still playing their game?

      Sadly, anyone who wants to make money from money is not ‘decent’. Roll up your sleeves and get involved in your own business if you want to provide for your uni kids, perpetuating this myth of something for nothing it actually putting more and more people into poverty as the banks turn to the govt for payouts which should be used for the NHS and social care….

      P.S tell your kids uni is also a scam. Get a job instead and study while you go. You will have a better chance in life with both an education and experience than three years of a mickey mouse degree which will only give you the job you would have had before ‘every one and his friend’ had a degree. £40,000 in debt before you start for a piece of paper is disgusting [which likely will never be paid off draining more money from the education and health budgets] – better off using this for a deposit on a house……

  6. I actually agree with your PS Sherwulfe. Now that’s a first!

    Too many kids being pushed into Uni. by 6th form colleges who get bonuses on how many of their throughput end up at Uni., even when the individual is unclear as to what they want to do as a career.

    Making money from money is decent. How do most people start a business? By investing money-sometimes their own, sometimes borrowed, usually both. They then expect a return on that money as the business grows. What they then do with that return is up to them. Some may expand the business further, some may treat themselves to a racehorse, or a yacht, some-like JC-may decide to support the Russians by buying a season ticket at Arsenal FC, and some may take a gamble on UKOG if they get bored with losing money on M&S. The problem arises if, as GBK indicated, anyone takes any of these options unable to manage the various degrees of risk.

    They would probably be much wiser in that respect if they had followed your advice in your PS. Universities, with their “safe spaces” etc. are inclined to churn out snowflakes that can melt quickly under the glare of the real world, and have a habit of making costly mistakes in adult life.

    • ‘Making money from money is decent’ – No Martin, you missed the point.

      To make money from a business when you roll up your sleeves and get down and dirty with your co-workers is the way. Any other in my book is ‘slavery’. These big offshore companies are ‘run’ by gaggles of investors baying at the hierarchy for more money whilst sat on their a&rs£s; if the company cannot squeeze any more by reducing the quality of the product by covering it with plastic and filling it with ‘air’ then they dump the workforce – more poverty. Whilst I support workers as shareholders, I do not agree with shareholders of this nature and indeed the ‘buying’ and ‘selling’ of these shares for lazy gains.

      Thank you for you positive comments regarding the universities; though there is a place for them for certain professions and to have a small number of ‘academics’ and researchers, they have become money pits and need to stopped. There are better ways to discover ‘who you are’ and you can have as many nights out with work friends, if that is your only purpose in going!!

      It’s time we became realistic and used the tools of the 21st century, online and flexible study, working from home [employers need to trust their co-workers] and above all a raise in status and share of the fortunes of the company, of the one person without whom there would be no business at all, and I don’t mean the owner….

  7. Yes, lets sidetrack to uni degrees, or pretend UKOG is a bad apple in an otherwise saintly industry. Lying to investors is the only way any of the operating exploration companies keep the show on the road. Look at the facts on the ground. Hostile communities, hostile landowners. Once the investors open their eyes, they will see they have been victim of a government backed Ponzi scheme. Only fools would back fracking now.

  8. No, Ian. The only fools are those who think UKOG are anything to do with fracking! What were you saying about sidetracks? Perhaps any investors in UKOG may have actually bothered to find out who they are before they invested?

    • Its all fracking, this avoidance of the word is just weak watery diversion from a word the government and the industry doesn’t like.
      Accept it, its yours.

    • …am not sure any one on this post has referred to this event as fracking; more about bad companies, sensible landowners who have seen the risk from this particular activity, perhaps?

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