Rathlin Energy seeks three more years for E Yorks gas site – again

West Newton

Flow testing at West Newton-A. Photo: DrillOrDrop

The oil and gas company, Rathlin Energy, has applied to extend its planning permission for a well site north of Hull for the second time.

No work has been carried out at the site, called West Newton-A, since 2014. But Rathlin wants to extend the permission until 2021.

Rathlin said it needed the extension because of delays in the regulatory process and previous low oil and gas prices.


Flow testing at West Newton-A. Photo: DrillOrDrop

East Riding of Yorkshire Council first granted permission for West Newton-A in January 2013.

Site construction began almost immediately in March 2013. The first well was drilled from June-September 2013 and tested from July-November 2014. This confirmed the presence of gas, Rathlin said.

During the tests, the site breached at least 14 conditions of its environmental permit, as reported by DrillOrDrop. The breaches involved the release of gas from the well head and failures of document management, record-keeping and monitoring.

The site was suspended in November 2014, Rathlin said, until it had data from the proposed well at another local site, known as West Newton B.

In 2015, East Riding of Yorkshire Council gave West Newton-A a three-year extension of planning permission. (DrillOrDrop report)

But since then, site construction has not started at West Newton-B and West Newton-A remains suspended.

West Newton A

Testing the well at West Newton-A

In the current planning application, Rathlin said there were three reasons why it needed to extend the permission for the West Newton A site.

  • Delay in securing environmental permits for drilling and testing at West Newton B.
  • Securing revisions to the Rathlin Energy work programme in the local exploration licence area (PEDL183)
  • Turbulence in the global oil and gas markets, particularly falling prices in 2016 and 2017.

The planning statement said results from drilling and testing the West Newton A-1 well had been very encouraging.

“A further 36 months would allow for the drilling and testing of the second well at the West Newton A wellsite. The additional time would also allow the Applicant to obtain additional information during the drilling and testing of up to two exploratory wells at the West Newton B wellsite, which was granted planning permission in June 2015.

“The additional information from the West Newton B exploratory drilling and testing, together with the drilling and testing of the second well at the West Newton A wellsite will help assess whether the West Newton A discovery could be the basis for a conventional gas production development, which would be the subject of a separate planning application.”

Rathlin Energy is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Connaught Oil & Gas, a private company based in Calgary in Canada. Website

18 replies »

  1. Unable to carry out their promised plans and with a track record of environmental breaches. Only here because Connaught could not meet environmental regulations in Alberta. Surely East Riding Councillors will oppose this incompetent application before the local elections next year?

  2. Well Rathlin, that is the voice of anti democratic “reason”.

    Meanwhile, I think we are still a democracy. So, utilise your rights to see whether the majority voices support your application.

  3. They might Jon & Val, if they decide it is incompetent. Like all applications it needs to be reviewed to determine that. It should have nothing to do with local elections. If it does, then a costly Appeal is likely and more pressure exerted upon central government to take over control.

    It looks as if central government, having given local government more opportunity to access local income, is getting fed up with local government squandering such income and then campaigning for more central funding.

  4. We will need a strong presence outside and inside the East Riding council meeting that considers the application.

  5. Ahh, the true face of democracy!

    And if that forces an Appeal and the council are over turned at considerable cost, have your buckets at the ready so you can run a collection to avoid others having to pay the costs.

    • Local councillors are elected to represent the best interests of their residents and the wider community.
      East Riding is the local authority most at risk of climate change flooding.
      Existing hydrocarbon reserves need to be kept in the ground.
      Easy Riding has huge untapped potential for onshore wind stopped by Tory party planning policy.
      However, offshore wind is creating thousands of jobs around the Humber.
      What is undemocratic for calling attention to the previous irrational decisions to allow gas exploration here , especially when Rathlin has broken planning conditions?

      • Onshore wind on our peat uplands and driven grouse shooting have significantly more impact on flooding in peat moor areas than a few O & G wells.

        Existing hydrocarbon reserves need to be kept in the ground? So Val & Jon you want to go to zero oil and gas production today? Best start by practicing what you preach?

        Personally I think Rathlin are a bunch of chancers and going nowhere. But at least get your objections in order. If the above is all you have to say to your Councillors then they may refuse it but ifRathlin Appeal against a refusla on your grounds the Council will lose.

        [Typo corrected at poster’s request]

  6. Exactly Paul. I agree with you about Rathlin but this bullying approach to Councillors will be stopped and it will cost some council a great deal of money in the process.
    I suspect I could predict where that might happen shortly, but if not there, some seem determined to continue the approach so there will be more opportunities. Central Government will not turn a blind eye to it, as they are the ones who then are called upon to bale out the local areas.

    This saga of councillors ignoring the officers recommendations and then rejecting applications without being able to identify correct reasons for that rejection and then having to cobble together some fiction will not be allowed to continue. Rathlin are unlikely to be the ones to stop it, but others will.

    • No peat moors or uplands in Holderness – always best to know what you are talking about.
      We have been on solar hot water since 2006 – you?
      However a the shift to renewables needs Government strategy which is lacking – what a pity since we have huge potential for clean renewable energy in the UK – and solar and wind are now cheaper than nuclear.
      The view that independent inspectors will always side with the industry and Govt is interesting.
      The fact remains that residents are entitled to persuade Councillors and vote accordingly if they feel ignored. Peaceful lobbying outside a Council meetings is a regular feature of local democracy……

  7. No solar hot water or solar anything else here. We use electrcicity from the grid and natural gas for heating and hot water. Plus a couple of wood burners. UK can go to zero hydrocarbon usage tomorrow and it will make no difference globally – although it will cause heating problems in 20 million plus homes and blackouts across the UK. Solar and wind will not do it alone. And offshore wind is not cheaper than nuclear, at least not the Walney extension which has just been commissioned. How many offshore wind farms are UK owned?

    Holderness I am clearly not familiar with – onshore wind I am very familiar with having fought successfully (generally) against onshore windfarms on peat moorland for many years. Peat uplands are much sought after by wind farm developers as by definition they are high and windy. The difference between the anti hydrocarbon brigade and the anti wind brigade (including myself) is that the former seem to lose appeals and the latter generally won the appeals we were involved in. Fortunately the onshore wind issue has moved to Scotland and we are currently being left alone – thanks to the current Government and the previous one.

    • How many UK fracking companies are owned by UK residents who pay tax here?
      Why did this government allow Russian companies to buy North Sea assets?
      Of course all the exploration costs will be set against future profits, in other words taxpayers subsidise the oil and gas industry in addition to the £billions subsidy given for decommissioning the North Sea.
      Rathlin are only interested after 6 years because the price of oil is going up. Not because of concerns about energy security or fuel poverty.
      Onshore wind and solar offer a secure fixed price, oil prices fluctuate in a world market and make us reliant on foreign governments.

      • The biggest producer in the UK North Sea is Chinese owned. Not sure about Russian ownership. But if you are hung up on foreign ownership then take a look at utilities, railways and pretty much anything else. Any business is interested in profits. Onshore wind and solar offer a secure fixed price? Maybe if you are referring to ROCs / FITs / CFDs but the market price still fluctuates. Surely you understand that? But Solar and Wind don’t offer fixed output – as you know. You need to learn how the renewables industry really works re tax / subsidies / foreign ownership etc. Oil companies pay far more tax than any renewables company does. Fact. And they allow us to live in the manner we have become used to. Without oil and gas and living only with wind and solar the economy would crater, we would freeze to death, have nothing to wear, no homes etc etc. Back to the stone age.

        We need hydrocarbons at least through 2050; every sensible forecast shows that.

        Why shouldn’t Rathlin be interested in working when the economics look better?

        • But we need to move away from reliance on fossil fuels. You clearly do not understand climate change let alone the desperation of the oil and gas industry to make money before their assets are stranded and worthless .

          • I live in the real world. We need to adapt to climate change. You may not like it but human nature is what it is. China / India / Vietnam / Indonesia, Africa all aspire to have what we have. They are not going to U turn because someone in the UK says it’s bad for the planet. I have lived in Vietnam and saw first hand the transition from bicycles to 2 stroke motor bikes and now to cars, their addiction to Premier League football on smart TVs etc etc. That’s a million plus commuters into Ho Chi Minh every day. Please show me a realistic global energy forecast that doesn’t include a large proportion of fossil fuels past 2040. Show me one for the UK – look at National Grid’s latest FES and tell me which scenario you really think will pan out?

  8. I can’t see any desperation here. There are sites around the world uneconomic at certain prices, and then economic at higher prices. Hence the mini resurgence in the N.Sea.

    On shore wind, where developers were being paid £150k/year/turbine whether they were producing, or not, was an absolute nonsense. Fortunately, some of that is being sorted. Unfortunately, we still have some off-shore wind receiving excessive subsidies and the idea that we can build tidal lagoons at tax payers vast expense without any firm knowledge around the economics.

    We have moved away from reliance on fossil fuels, but demand for fossil fuels is still high and forecast to remain so as world population grows and more people want “things”. “Things” have a habit of requiring fossil fuels to make and deliver.

    I live in an area where there are many small oil deposits that are identified but have not been economic to extract. We have found a solution to maintaining that situation. You get a large housing development built on top of them which then means they are left alone in the future. Perhaps you could persuade the Planning Committee to go that route? However, be careful. The reality is that the local oil refinery then still looks to invest £500m to expand production of diesel utilising imported oil and tax revenue is lost to help provide those large housing developments with the infrastructure they warrant. Is that refinery bonkers? No. Drive around the country, if you can, and observe the congestion. Some of it via “protestors” driving from the SW, Scotland etc to PNR but most of it from increased traffic via two car households, pensioners being able to afford to run a car, on line shopping deliveries etc. Of course there are means to partially correct such problems, but the majority of the population are not willing to accept them. And trying to force them to, will have the opposite effect.

  9. Seeing your comment about Vietnam Paul, it reminds me of before I retired. My company looked at exporting to Vietnam. It was cheaper to send a pallet of goods to Vietnam from the Midlands than it was to send the same pallet to Cornwall!!

    This was due to the huge quantity of goods being shipped into the UK from China, including solar panels, and ships returning only partly filled. Wonder what happens with all these tankers coming into UK refineries and dumping their oil from far away places, and how far they have to chug empty before they pick up another cargo? How on earth can anyone suggest that is environmentally sound, compared to pumping the oil out in the UK? And, how many more Torrey Canyons do we risk?

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