The leading partner behind the Horse Hill exploration site in Surrey has confirmed that operations have begun to test the flow of oil.
UK Oil & Gas Investments plc said in a statement this morning all equipment needed to test the so-called Gatwick Gusher well was now on site.
Previous tests in spring 2016 led to headlines about outstanding and unprecedented onshore flow rates. But the rates were achieved during test periods lasting only a matter of hours.
The extended well tests are expected to last about 150 days, finishing in November. According to the statement, they are expected to begin with the Portland formation, followed by two Kimmeridge Limestone zones, known as KL4 and KL3.
The statement said the tests aimed to confirm that the wellbore was connected to a commercially-viable oil volume in one or more of the zones. Data from the tests would also allow the first estimates of the reserve (technically and commercially-recoverable oil) in the Portland and Kimmeridge, the statement added.
The UKOG Executive Chairman, Stephen Sanderson, said:
“UKOG remains confident that the comprehensive long-term production testing campaign will provide the necessary data to fully assess Horse Hill’s Portland and Kimmeridge commerciality and help move the project towards timely production and positive cash flow.
“Horse Hill remains a fundamental and exciting part of the Company’s core portfolio and we look forward to a safe and positive test campaign.”
The statement said the test sequences would include:
- Short optimised rate test
- “Choked back” steady-state flow periods – to obtain data on the connected oil volume in each zone
- Long pressure build up tests
Oil produced during the tests would be sold on the “spot” oil market, UKOG said. Revenues would be used to offset the test costs.
UKOG said the tests would use for the first time in the UK what was described as a “new type of clean-burning enclosed flare”. The flare, using technology from landfill sites, had been developed by Landfill Systems, PW Well Test and UKOG. It is regarded as “best available practice” by the Environment Agency, UKOG said.
The previous flow tests at Horse Hill saw environmental protests and the establishment of a protection camp nearby.
UKOG is currently seeking an injunction against protests outside Horse Hill, another oil site at Broadford Bridge in West Sussex, and company offices in Guildford.
The injunction has been challenged by six women from Sussex and Surrey and a hearing is expected next week.