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.