Balcombe villagers protest against oil tests


Protest outside Angus Energy oil site at Balcombe, West Sussex, 18 September 2018. Photo: DrillorDrop

About 50 people from the West Sussex village of Balcombe joined a protest this morning against imminent tests at a nearby oil site.
They walked to the site at Lower Stumble to demonstrate their opposition to renewed oil operations in the village, they said.

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Protest against Angus Energy flow test at Balcombe, West Sussex, 18 September 2018. Photo: DrillOrDrop

The oil well has been suspended since it was drilled by Cuadrilla in 2013.

Angus Energy, which took over operation of the site in May 2018, has been bringing equipment on to the site for the past few days. A seven-day test of the flow rate of oil in the well is due start next week, Angus has said.


Delivery lorry leaving Angus Energy’s oil site at Balcombe, 18 September 2018. Photo: DrillOrDrop

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Equipment arriving at Angus Energy’s oil site at Balcombe, 18 September 2018. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Helen Savage, of Frack Free Balcombe Residents Association (FFBRA), said this morning:

“We wanted to come down here to remind Angus, and local and wider politicians that this work is not welcome here. We said no. We do not want it here and we do not think it should be done anywhere.

“We signed up to climate agreements. If local government agrees to these operations how are we going to reduce our carbon emissions?

“The government is prioritising oil and gas over renewables. The future is going to be in renewables. Why is the government not investing in them.”

FFBRA is particularly concerned about the impact of flaring at the Lower Stumble site on local air quality. Helen Savage said:

“If this industry takes off and this site and others go into production, we will have more wells drilled, more traffic movements and more effects on air quality, from here to the Isle of Wight. Where are we going to find clean air?”

The Green Party MEP, Keith Taylor, backed the villagers. In a statement he said:

“I want to extent my solidarity to campaigners and residents in Balcombe. I and fellow Greens will continue to stand with you in your fight – as we did five years ago. And, as in 2013, our strength in numbers and unity will prevail once again. more power to your elbows.”

Last night, four village representatives were voted onto the community liaison group, established as a condition of planning permission for the Balcombe flow test. They join four parish councillors and representatives of Mid Sussex District and West Sussex County Councils. The first full meeting of the group is on Thursday (20 September 2018).

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Last week, Angus Energy secured an interim High Court injunction. It seeks to outlaw trespass and what are described as unlawful protests at the Balcombe site and a nearby four mile section of road. The injunction also covers another Angus Energy oil site at Brockham in Surrey.

A second High Court hearing on the injunction has been set for 2 October 2018. People who wish to be challenge the order should file evidence with the court and serve it on Angus Energy by 24 September 2018.

DrillOrDrop invited Angus Energy to comment on today’s protest. This post will be updated with any response.

Reporting on this event was made possible by individual donations to DrillOrDrop

65 replies »

  1. Apologies if everyone is aware of the linked document “Clancy SA, Worrall F, Davies RJ, Gluyas JG. An assessment of the footprint and carrying capacity of oil and gas well sites: The implications for limiting hydrocarbon reserves”

    The conclusion at the end states “The carrying capacity of the land surface, as predicted by this approach, would limit the technically recoverable gas reserves for the Bowland Basin from the predicted 8.5 × 10power11 to only 2.21 × 10power11 m3.

    Worth discussion on this BB? A 75% reduction in recoverable gas due to surface site limitations. Of course the assumptions must be scrutinised – including the horizontal lengths – common in the US to drill>3,000m, even>5,000m now. And approaching 10,000m at Wytch farm in UK.

    Click to access 94ADA826-1ADC-4E3F-A422-A72199F33AAE.pdf

    More interesting (and relevant) than a few dog walkers……

    No one identified what is on the trucks? I thought everyone was an “expert”?

    • Paul I am aware of this study too. And I believe this is a significant issue. I think from memory they established that the average distance of existing conventional, wells was around 400m plus from property. When they applied a similar setback distance across licence areas and also took account of fixed surface development it considerably reduced land available for shale development. Other recent studies have concluded that fracking should not take place closer than 850m from any faults and that former mining areas are more problematic and associated with a higher risk of triggering a seismic event. I also understand that Prof Styles has stated that faults not all faults can be seen on the 3D surveys but are still relevant. So this could limit sub surface development. Whilst I am openly opposed to fracking I cannot help thinking that as as much of this research was financed by industry and the authors are experts (some even ex industry and supportive) surely the industry should be concerned?

  2. And what on earth is an acid frack? Forty years in the oil industry and I’ve never come across one or even heard the term other than from Antis.

    • Acid frack is basically where the fracture pressure of the rock (limestone or possibly dolomite) is exceeded hydraulically and acid pumped into the induced and or natural fractures to etch out the fractures so that when the hydraulic pressure is taken off the fracture remains open. I have managed several but none in UK offshore or onshore. Usually the bigger the better. Limited by logistics and pump horse power. Very effective if carried out correctly. No proppant used. And no big deal either – although the antis get in a mega fluster and meltdown when the word “acid” is mentioned.

  3. Extraordinary vitriol coming from certain people in the pro camp. We all have to rapidly reduce fossil fuel use, the pros are desperately trying with smears: we are either NIMBYs or protestors: NO we are all campaigning to stop fracking everywhere, not just in one place. But we do talk to each other, swap notes, find out what tricks and lies the industry use elsewhere. Now that coal has pretty much disappeared from energy production gas use will reduce as renewables people pick up. We don’t need fracking for energy security. Sun, wind, tidal, and other renewables will give us energy security both before and long after fossil fuels have wrought their havoc. Fracking is a bridge to nowhere nice.

    • As you parents gran parents protestors drop your darlings off at school in your 4×4 diesel petrol cars jeeps And electric car need a huge amount of oil to produce and run .Or does electric come out of thin air A thought No Fracking in the Weald basin.So Don,t use FFBRA anymore.Fake news .Use Not on my doorstep residents association NOMDRA .YES NO FRACKING IN West Sussex or anywhere in the Weald basin

    • https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/sep/17/coal-comeback-could-drive-up-annual-uk-energy-emissions-report

      “Coal plants have become more economic to run than their gas counterparts in the past month because wholesale gas prices have hit 10-year highs. A report by Imperial College London said the extra coal-burning had increased emissions by 15% in September, equivalent to an extra 1,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per hour.”

      If our renewables are so good why turn on the coal? Just ramp up the wind and the sun?

      But even if we don’t use coal in the UK what do you propose to do about the Germany and the rest of the world?

  4. Ian-when someone starts to refer as an individual to “we”, then I turn off. I learned a long time ago that my opinions are my own, and others may have a totally different view, and they have every right to it. That is especially true if my own opinion was a minority point of view.

    The pros are not trying any more smears than the antis (I see the Bots were programmed to attack the pro’s use of the English language in the last few days. Other weeks the Bots are programmed to the investor narrative only interested in money.) I think you will find many of the pro comments are correcting false statements and fake news from certain antis who see their role as deliberately using that tactic to excite a few.

    Meanwhile-perhaps you could explain how to make tidal generation economic? The current view from some quarters is it doesn’t have to be as emotion will generate a “tidal” flow of tax payers willing to fund. Most like the concept, but like many such concepts, it needs to be shown to be economical first.

  5. What is the big deal about 50 protesters? About 10 of them are kids who are just follow their parents and dont understand the real issue. The rest are tired looking old people who problem do not care about jobs for young people or the wider economy of the community.
    Obviously we respect their rights to express their views bit it seems they are not the
    mass of the community.

  6. And then there is the cobalt production in the DRC. Young children who should be in school now mining a carcinogenic material and suffering the terrible consequences.

    But not to worry. Already trials underway to mine the ocean floors to grab more of these materials. That will make plastic in the oceans look like a side show.

    • Perhaps Martin, the solution is simple – the super yacht non-tax paying owners who own the companies should provide their workers with proper protective equipment instead of buying another yacht? Or you could give up your computer/phone? Actions always speak louder than empty words; Kishy will tell you this…….

  7. Demand for lithium mining gor renewables battery storage and electric car are forced upon these poor Tibetian. The pollution fron Chinese mining projects is killing the fish stock and river water. Villages are forced to give up their traditional ways of life and relocated to make way for lithium mining.
    Well done. Nimby hypocrites with your renewable extreme.

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