Cuadrilla has applied for permission to store and handle oil at its exploration well site at Balcombe in West Sussex.
The Environment Agency, which issues the permit, today invited public comments on the application. The consultation continues until 5 June 2018.
Cuadrilla secured a separate planning permission in January 2018 to carry out tests of the flow of oil in the well (details).
The company has said the test would last for seven days. Documents accompanying the permit application said oil produced during the test would be separated from other liquids, known as produced fluids, and stored in stock tanks. It would then be taken by tanker to a refinery.
The permit application said volatile organic compounds could be released into the air when oil is stored and handled. There could also be spills.
It said emissions to air from the storage tanks would be monitored daily. An impermeable membrane on the site would prevent spills reaching the subsoil.
The nearest home to the Balcombe site is about 350m away. Two other homes are within 500m and there are a total of 10 within 1km.
The application acknowledged that gas could be released during the flow test. This would be burned in a flare. It added:
“Due to the unknown composition, quantity and pressure of any associated gas that may be encountered during the well testing operation, a sampling programme of any associated gas encountered will be implemented by Cuadrilla.”
An assessment by the company of the impact of flaring on air quality concluded it would:
“not affect the achievement of the relative short-term air quality strategy objectives for human health.”
Another assessment said the risk of smells was low and, after mitigation, reduced to negligible.
The odour management plan in the application said:
“It is envisaged that the local community will not be familiar with some of the potential odours from the operations at the wellsite and therefore any odours emitted from the wellsite will be classed as offensive.”
It said there would be continuous monitoring of smells by site personnel. The plan said this would include sniff testing, investigation of complaints, odour diaries, emissions monitoring and sample of source emissions.
The assessment concluded:
“The modelled emissions of oxides of nitrogen and carbon monoxide from the flaring of associated gas during the proposed well test operation will not affect the achievement of the relative short-term air quality strategy objectives for human health.”
In January 2018, Cuadrilla sold a 25% stake in the Balcombe exploration licence (PEDL244) to Angus Energy.
In February, Angus Managing Director, Paul Vonk, told the web magazine London South East the Balcombe flow test would be “comfortably before the summer”. DrillOrDrop report