Residents call for block on “controversial” new oil extraction at Surrey site

Brockham night working Brockham Protection Camp

Night working on the Brockham sidetrack, January 2017. Photo: Brockham Protection Camp

More than 20,000 people have signed a petition launched yesterday demanding a stop on shale oil production at Angus Energy’s Brockham site in Surrey.

The site operates under an old-style environmental permit and the petition says production from the Kimmeridge shale oil layers, expected to begin soon, would be “neither properly regulated or monitored”.

It says a modern environmental permit must be put in place before production can start. It also calls for:

  • baseline monitoring of air and water quality before oil extraction begins at the site
  • full disclosure of the type and quantity of chemicals, including acids, that can be used in the well
181025 Brockham petition at 16.30

Extract from 38 Degrees petition on Brockham oil production showing signatures at 4.30pm on 25 October 2018.

The petition, hosted by 38-degrees, says the Brockham site, near Dorking, is “about to be subject to a new and controversial type of oil extraction and production”. It says:

“This involves the use of chemicals, acids, reinjected waste fluids and gas flaring which can release toxins into our air and water sources. These risk harm to our health and environment.”

DrillOrDrop has previously reported about the regulatory loopholes of an old-style environmental permit. At the Brockham site, the Environment Agency has said it does not require monitoring of air or water quality and there are no restrictions on the volume or concentration of acid that can be used in the well.

The Environment Agency has been working on a modern permit for the site for the past two years but there is no information on when this process will be completed. Under the regulations, site operators can continue to work under the old terms while the new permit is being prepared.

Side-track well

The Kimmeridge shale oil will be extracted using a side-track well, which Surrey County Council said was drilled without planning permission. The council granted retrospective consent in August 2018 for both drilling and appraisal of the well.

Angus Energy reported to shareholders it would carry out a seven-day well test at another site, at Balcombe in West Sussex, before starting work on the Brockham well.

The Balcombe test was completed at the beginning of this month (October 2018) and Angus said in statement it would

“take our next steps towards producing from the Kimmeridge layers in the near future at the Brockham Field”.

The company said production at Brockham would not use “hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking’”.

But the campaign group, Brockham Oil Watch, which launched the petition yesterday, said:

“Brockham will be amongst the first sites in the country to attempt commercial production from shale rock. The target Jurassic Kimmeridge layer has been compared by the authorities to the Bakken Formation in North Dakota, where the use of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling brought about mass industrialisation and thousands of wells.”

The group said:

“Angus Energy now have carte blanche to commence extraction from unconventional geology using new methods that are neither properly regulated or monitored.

“In the interests of people’s health and the environment this new activity should not be allowed, at the very least until a new Environmental Permit with stricter modern regulation and control is in place.

“We simply seek to properly respect and protect our health and environment and are asking the Environment Agency and Government to do the same.”

Fluid reinjection

The Brockham site has been used to reinject fluid produced from rock formations during oil extraction.

The petition also calls for:

  • A halt to the reinjection of fluid at Brockham
  • Details of what fluid is being reinjected at the site

DrillOrDrop invited Angus Energy to comment to the points made in petition. The company has not responded to our invitation but it has posted a frequently asked questions section on its website

47 replies »

  1. I am simply repeating the conflicting statements you and your colleague have typed. No extrapolation. I don’t do Dorking and Dakota-now, that is mega extrapolation.

    This is not a unique site in the UK. It is to you because it is in your back yard. It is your side of the debate who have tried repeatedly to make out it is unique to magnify your argument. Doesn’t look as if it is getting any traction, even with petitions, outside of those who will be excited by the classic Nimby approach. Suggest you fit in a visit to Wytch Farm. Not Dakota but a lovely unspoilt part of the world, next to nature reserves and very close to some of the most expensive housing areas outside of London and just happens to be Europe’s largest on shore oil field-currently. There are other choices a bit closer to home for you as well, but probably even more difficult to locate.

    Before you revert to the “not needed” fall back, please consider why Southampton, Gatwick and Heathrow Airports have plans to increase capacity and Fawley Refinery has a £500m investment plan to increase production. Maybe you are content to add oil spills to plastic in the ocean? I’m not.

  2. Dear Mr Collyer,

    1) You appear to be straying off topic. I thought we are debating the benefits of environmental monitoring of drilling and exploration sites. It seems to me to be eminently sensible and reasonable.

    2) You suggest that Ms Heywood an I are colleagues. I’m pretty sure that we have never even met.

    3) I suggest that you reread both the petition and the article. I don’t think there is any conflict. If there is I suggest that you take it up with the appropriate people.

    4) I still don’t understand why you think that concern and pride in you local environment and area is a bad thing. You charge of NImbyism suggests a blind rejection of everything without consideration. That isn’t the case and is an ill-considered argument.

    5) I have visited Wytch Farm. It isn’t North Dakota. Can you advise what sort of environmental monitoring is in place there?

    6) I am also aware of other oil wells closer to my home, which I have also visited over the years.

    7) I cannot revert back to a fall back that I have never stated. You are very good at making up straw man arguments.

    8) Finally as I know that you wont be able to resist replying to this, lets go a little off topic. I understand that you used to be in PR. Do you think that the local oil companies public relations have been well managed over the last few years and what would you recommend the companies do to win the hearts and minds of the concerned public?

  3. Your understanding is incorrect, but no surprise there. I did work in marketing, and part of that included PR. No, I would not feel the exploration companies PR has been ideal, but equally would point out that much of what they have attempted has been thrown back at them, twisted to suit a minority. ( Mind you, exactly the same has been attempted regarding Market Research, so there is a consistency, of sorts. Changing facts to fiction.) That minority has been so good at it’s own PR it is having to deal with a number of injunctions and arrests.

    I did not make any suggestion about who you are colleagues with.

    What I did, quite clearly state, is that the petition is quite clearly being utilised to attempt to stop production, whilst you state it isn’t.

    You seem to have difficulty understanding what I post, but that is not a problem. You only have to read your own comments plus those of other antis supporting the petition. I did actually give you that information, but read it yourself if you prefer. Then, maybe, you will see where the PR is lacking, or more accurately, contradictory.

  4. Sorry, I did mean to answer your last point, but was interrupted.

    What the oil companies should do is demonstrate significant oil can be produced safely and economically from the wells, and replace some of the millions of tonnes of oil currently being shipped from the other side of the world into Fawley Refinery. Once having done that, to produce a local programme to return some of that income to benefit the local community, in addition to the taxation that would benefit the country as a whole. Similar suggestions have been made regarding shale gas but at the moment they are only suggestions as obviously it is a chicken and egg situation. Whilst security costs are far greater than sales income it will not happen, with such benefits instead being handed to communities in far off countries, whilst services are curtailed in Surrey.

    I recognise some in Surrey would reject that as a matter of principle, it could be that many-seeing the current financial state of SCC-would feel their hearts and minds were okay with it.

  5. Just to add a piece of factual stuff.

    HHDL are in discussions to provide 6% of revenue to the local community, including business rates to SCC. As this is a scheme being discussed with the industry body and HMRC, I would expect Angus may get involved at some time in the future.

    Normally, in such schemes a local committee judges how and where the funds should be spent.

    I know that implies that locals will be influenced by such. Well, they will. It is only human nature to look at the benefits as well as the other side.

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