Regulation

Villagers seek funds for monitoring at Brockham oil site

Brockham well Brockham Protection Site

Drilling at Brockham in 2017. Photo: Brockham Protection Camp

A local campaign group is raising money to pay for air and water monitoring at an oil site in the Surrey greenbelt because it says the work is not being done by the environmental regulator.

Brockham Oil Watch has been following activity at the Angus Energy site near Dorking for about two years.

The site, on the edge of the village of Brockham, operates under an old-style environmental permit. The Environment Agency has confirmed there has been no air or water quality monitoring.

Angus Energy is not required, under the old-style permit, to collect or maintain details on fluid reinjection. The company also does not have to notify the Environment Agency if it stimulates the rocks surrounding an oil well at the site, providing the volumes of liquid used are below those specified in the Infrastructure Act. The permit has no restrictions on how much acid could be used in a well or at what concentration.

Brockham Oil Watch is now looking to raise £9,000 to pay for independent hydrogeologists and specialist air quality monitoring.

The group said:

“We need to raise funds to cover the cost of equipment, advice and analysis so that the monitoring methodology is robust.”

It has set up a crowdfunding website. Link here

Well tests due

The Brockham site had been at the centre of a long-running planning dispute with Surrey County Council. Angus Energy drilled a sidetrack well there in January 2017. The company said it had planning permission for the work but the county council disagreed.

In August 2018, the council granted retrospective permission for drilling and testing the sidetrack, known as BRX4Z. Angus Energy is expected to begin tests in the next three months on the flow of oil in the Kimmeridge Limestone rocks targeted by the sidetrack.

“No monitoring or disclosure”

Brockham Oil Watch said it was concerned about the risks of operations at the site to the quality of local groundwater and air.

The group said gas released from the well during the tests would be burned in a flare or a generator, releasing nitrogen dioxide, volatile organic compounds and possibly hydrogen sulphide.

“Brockham will be the first site in the country to attempt commercial production from the Jurassic Kimmeridge. This will involve the use of chemicals, acids, reinjected waste fluids, and gas flaring which can release toxins into our air and water sources.

“Astonishingly, no statutory body is monitoring air or water quality, nor required disclosure of the type and quantities of chemicals to be used.

“This is because the site is being allowed to operate under an old-style environmental permit appropriate for a simple nodding donkey type pump – not the new technique about to be deployed.

“Therefore, Brockham Oil Watch, with the help of accredited experts, plan to monitor air and water quality to hold Angus Energy to account for risks to local people’s health and the environment.”

DrillOrDrop reported in June 2018 on the old-style permit at Brockham. The Environment Agency carried out a public consultation on the application for a new-style permit in July-September 2017. It asked for more information from Angus Energy in the summer of 2018. Since then there has been no announcement that the new permit has been granted.

20 replies »

  1. Weren’t we told that these get out of jail free “old style permits” were being replaced with so called “new style permits” in July this year?

    Why are Angus Energy at Brockham still operating under an old style permit after 3 months, and why are they still not required to record or notify or declare any activities on site?

    Where is the evidence for the use of chemicals, acids, reinjected waste fluids, and gas flaring, if no one is either required to keep records and is not required notify anyone of anything that occurs on site if they do use any of these measures?

    How many other sites still operate under these “old style permits” and why havent the EA and OGA all ready overwritten the permits?

    Apologies for copying and pasting from your text Ruth and Paul:

    “DrillOrDrop reported in June 2018 on the old-style permit at Brockham. The Environment Agency carried out a public consultation on the application for a new-style permit in July-September 2017. It asked for more information from Angus Energy in the summer of 2018. Since then there has been no announcement that the new permit has been granted.”

    Perhaps the EA or Natascha Engel in her new appointment as shale gas commissioner should provide an updated list of the sites that still operate under this old style permit conditions, or rather non conditions, and inform us how can we know what has, and what has not been done on these sites in her official capacity?

    Once again, lots of noise about world class gold standard regulations, but just scratch the surface below the rhetoric, and there is nothing there at all, just a void of empty words and rhetorical promises that never actually materialise in any tangible way whatsoever.

    I recommend we support Brockham Oil Watch which is now looking to raise £9,000 to pay for independent hydrogeologists and specialist air quality monitoring, because neither Angus Energy or the EA are going to do anything about it in a hurry.

    What about it Angus Energy, are you going to monitor water and air quality off your own initiative in spite of the “old permit” non conditions?

  2. Who is we? Happy for you to send them a cheque Phil C but don’t include me thank you.

    Why don’t you write to the EA / Angus / Natascha Engel / whoever and express your concern. The EA will update you on the situation.

    With regards to down hole activity the HSE is informed.

    • We: Plural pronoun, possessive our or ours, objective us.Nominative plural of I.

      IE Anyone who gives a damn Paul, Oh, yes i see, sorry that doesn’t include you does it? However i must say i am not in the least surprised.

  3. Not me, either Paul. Austerity is such a drag, together with energy poverty.

    I will soon be unable to afford the razor blades and the hair-dressers myself. But home grown seems to offer some slight mitigation.

    • Never mind the EA, (exclusive to oil and gas vested interests) universal unlimited credit, (non repayable except by the tax payer), will still be available for those on the “old sycophant permits” no records required, no permission required, no questions asked, and no answers given.

      And there will be plenty of clear cut and soon to be depopulated beauty spot sacrifice zones for very deep wine cellars and the new privatised corporate police stations.

      The only questions asked will be “how deep do you want it?” and “Fracked or proppant squeezed?” All for free except to the tax payer who will pay and pay and pay and pay….All under “Permitted Re-Development” and “Nationally Significant Greed”

      Again no permissions asked for or wanted, no records kept and definately no questions asked and no answers given.
      No press allowed except under the new Guantanamo “viewing box” clause.

      But there will be no monitoring of toxic waste however unless the few surviving local tax paying residents pay for it?

      Or perhaps the chief propaganda mouthpiece could be asked to provide a loan for a begging letter to SHJ and maybe the next book will be dedicated to the dwindling band of loyal acolyte’s?

      “The AllConArtist” or “How i Stopped Worrying and came to Love the smell of Toxic Waste in the morning”.

    • Flat cats are also present. As are plastic suits. This is Haw Haw

      Can sometimes try to justify poisoning Badger setts with mustard gas, cheered on by invisible friends…

  4. We understand that the delay in issuing the EA permit is because of the operator not supplying the required information in a timely manner. Angus have been extremely opaque from the start, both towards the local community and towards the regulators. The SCC decision meeting was delayed 3 times due in part to insufficient information. Angus have not engaged with the local community. But they did take out an injunction against peaceful protest that covers miles of local roads.

    • Thank you Brockham Oil Watch, someone intelligent to speak to at last, so Angus Energy are at fault again? Can the EA not impose the new permit regulations after such such a obfuscation and time wasting?

      There must be a time limit on such decisions surely? This does not bode well for the future, but there again, that is the position of all of them.

      • Write and ask the EA Phil C. They respond to e-mails fairly quickly. Brokham Oil Watch are as impartial as Paul Vonk….

        • Done it before you suggested it, we will see?

          Why dont you write to the EA as you are obviously so impartial Paul Tresto? Oh yes, but of course its about giving a damn isnt it?

          i keep forgetting that the ohandgee industry like the non accountability, (shades of Third Enemy), just fine the way it is?

          Plenty of get out of jail free cards to be had if no records are to be kept and self regulation is all the law?

          • Any way didn’t you say you dont understand anything i write? So how did you understand what i write here? Not that i believe that either of course?

  5. What new techniques are about to be employed during the testing OG the sidetrack ( as noted above ).
    Ie, given the current well testing of the kimmeridge by UKOG, what will Angus do differently when testing their well?
    What new techniques will be used that would remove the need for a nodding donkey ( or downhole pump ). Ie, why does the visibility of a pump at surface determine or not any complexity of the activities carried out in the well?
    Is it reasonable to assume that any form of fracking would be allowed under old permit rules?
    Just a few questions based on the content of the report above.
    I think that monitoring is a good idea if you have concerns.

    I have read reports by D.Smythe

    • i really dont see what your point is hewes, the pollution comes from below ground and its about the measurement of the effects on air and water.

      The “old permits” dont require that any records are kept, let alone notified or activities permitted, so it is impossible for anyone to find out what goes on in such sites.

      So the argument that no fracking or indeed any other activity has taken place in such sites and is therefore patently unprovable, since there are no records required to be kept one way or the other of any activity.

      Pauls comment that:

      “With regards to down hole activity the HSE is informed.”

      Is equally unprovable for the same reasons. Who notifies who? No records are required to be kept, or activities are required to be notified to anybody, so who knows what is done, or is not being done?

      And then you get the hoary old subject of toxic waste reinjection and even nuclear waste dumping in sites under the non existent auspices of get out of jail free “old permits”, no records, who can say what goes on one way or the other?

      Try to prove that doesn’t happen, you cant because no records are required to be kept, no notifications are required and apparently no gives a flying frack what goes on, or what does not go on in such sites.

      Impeccable logic or illogic isnt it?

      • Phil C
        The points relate to points as laid out in the DOD report, which I can expand upon later. I have asked the EA for the present Waste Petmit so more on that as well.

        I have audited well sites, health safety and environmentally, and can say that, for all I audited ( be it uk, Vietnam, Turkmenistan and so on), all had lots of records. A well is a large investment and has quite a number of legal requirements re records.

        I would look at the last EA visit for Brockham to see what records the EA expect to see ( or a selection ) on document being the list of hazardous chemicals used on site.

        However, somewhere on the globe, a person or company may well be drilling a hole without anyone else knowing about it, in secret, and without any records. But I have not yet come across that in any country I have worked in. I guess it would be a black swan event.

        I also worked for British Coal and never came across an operation where no one cared about what went on in the mine. Be it what came out and what went in. Plus there was a lot of record keeping.

        • Well hewes62, if you get any information, please share it and perhaps forward it to Drill Or Drop?

          Perhaps you can also discover what other sites still operate under the old permits and when, or if, they will be upgraded to the new permits?

          The pertinent question is though, how reliable will be the records as neither the EA, or the OGA, or the HSE, seems either interested or maybe even have enough staff to check any such records that do exist, if any, against activities on site to date?

          No reply from them yet.

          • Phil C
            I will have a good look at what turns up and ( after checking any caveats ) will share what I can. They give themselves 20 days to reply.

            Re other sites on old style permits…. I will have a look.

            Re records, well …yes. Records can be unreliable, missing, incomplete, falsified, and so on as any auditor will know. But also the converse of the above. Falsification is unusual, it stands out.

            Records and documents form the base of any inspection, backed up by the site visit. So the records are of gripping interest, as are the various processes and procedures.

            Whether there are sufficient inspectors is a cause of concern I see on DOD.

            But if you want to see how anyone complies with a permit requirement ( for example ) you can ask

            ‘How do you comply with this requirement’

            And it flows from there ( and you can ask questions you do not know the answer to, and those you do ).

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