Angus Energy confirmed as operator of Balcombe licence – company announces


Drilling the Balcombe well in 2013 prompted three-months of anti-fracking protests. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Angus Energy has said the Oil & Gas Authority has approved its application to operate the Balcombe exploration licence, taking over from Cuadrilla.

The announcement came this morning in a statement to investors.

In January 2018, Angus announced it had bought a 25% share in the licence, which includes the oil exploration well drilled by Cuadrilla in summer 2013.

Angus said today’s approval completed the transaction.

The company also said the flow test of the Balcombe well was expected to take place between July and September this year. The statement said:

“Angus Energy will conduct an approved 7 day well test on the horizontal well at Balcombe before the end of the Q3/18.”

This timetable seems to have slipped since an interview in February 2018, when Angus Energy’s Managing Director, Paul Vonk, said itesting at Balcombe would be “comfortably before the summer”.

He also said he expected the Balcombe operation would be before flow testing at the company’s side-track well at Brockham near Dorking in Surrey.

During the interview, Mr Vonk said:

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

That now looks unlikely. A condition of the planning permission for flow testing at Balcombe requires the operator to establish a community liaison group details). DrillOrDrop understands this has not yet happened. There is no planning permission for commercial production at Balcombe.

The Brockham sidetrack, drilled in January 2017, has been at the centre of a planning dispute between Angus Energy and Surrey County Council. The company said it had planning permission to drill the well but the council said it did not.

The well is now the subject of a part-retrospective planning application which is not likely to be decided until June. It was opposed by Mole Valley District Council.

Drilling the Balcombe site, at Lower Stumble, attracted three months of anti-fracking protests in 2013. Today’s statement said:

“All operations at Balcombe will be performed through conventional production. There will no no hydraulic fracturing or fracking”.

The now former operator, Cuadrilla, had applied to the Environment Agency for a permit to store and handle oil at the site. A public consultation runs until 5 June 2018.

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