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. That can’t help themselves can they, R8.

    By repeating the same false twaddle they may encourage the Times to repeat it, and then have to make a retraction, but over time merely identify the weakness of their case. There are wells in the Weald that appear to be contradicting their twaddle at the moment, but under a testing regime. Let them use up their twaddle supply now as when these tests go to full production there will be a written record to show how misrepresentation was used to try and fool the public. Public don’t like being fooled.

  2. 20k votes? Funny that. Brockaham has population not bigger than 3000 🙂

    And again. There will be NO FRACKING at Brockham. Get your facts right.

  3. It seems perfectly reasonable to demand that the company comply with rigorous environmental monitoring requirements as they expand the existing well site and extend the drilling under Dorking and surrounding areas.
    After all, what have they got to lose? I would have thought that a considerate company would jump at the chance of providing information and data to reassure the locals and wider public.
    Nothing creates fear and mistrust more than a company which cannot be open and truthful about its operations and intentions, and Angus and its partners have a very long way to go to gain the trust of many people around here.

  4. Yes, that is reasonable LH. But it is for those with the knowledge and responsibility to demand it ie. the appropriate authorities, and then in conjunction with the company to let the public have the information.

    Whether that is enough for everyone is always the case, but what is different here is that are many who only want that information to manipulate it to worry people even further with such conflation as Dorking and Dakota.

    • Under the old-style Environmental Permit, as set out in the petition text, there is no requirement for the appropriate authority (in this case the Environment Agency) to require disclosure of quantity of type of chemicals to be used or to require water and air monitoring. It is a loophole as modern permits do require this. For you to allege that anyone is seeking to “manipulate” data is disengenous. There simply isn’t any data. As concerned local residents we just want appropriate disclosure to properly evaluate. As things stand this information is simply missing. You cannot say otherwise.

  5. Mr Collyer,

    I’m sure that you have read the petition but for those who may not have here are the headline demands;

    “We urgently call on the Environment Agency to:

    1. Stop shale oil production and waste fluid reinjection at Brockham in Surrey’s Green Belt, until a modern Environmental Permit is in place.

    2. Require proper baseline monitoring of air and water quality before shale oil extraction is allowed on the site, with ongoing monitoring from day 1 of these operations.

    3. Require full disclosure of the type and quantity of acids and other chemicals to be used, along with details of waste fluid reinjection before shale oil extraction starts.

    Brockham is operating in an environmental loophole which must be urgently closed.”

    It’s just a call by local residents to ensure that their environment and homes are safeguarded. It’s not calling for a stop to production or even wastewater injection; just that its should be properly monitored. i.e. Gold Standard

    Lets face it, there are many areas around the world that have suffered from poorly regulated oil and gas exploration and production, and it would be foolish of us not to take heed of this to prevent similar damage in our green and pleasant land.

    I do not agree with your contention that local residents should not ask for reasonable measures to protect their families and homes.

    • A block to further activity until a new permit is in place and baseline data has been gathered is surely sensible. If there are issues with the process and there’s no baseline data, there’s nothing to compare against. Martin, I don’t understand what it is about this that seems unreasonable to you.

      • And than what? Another block after this new permit? Just because you does not like it?
        There is a way in law how to keep up with all regulation and updated regulations and let Environmental Agency deal with it.
        All what you are planing to is to slow it down, to create financial loss mainly for private investors. Not nice.

  6. Dear Mr Collyer ,

    I can’t speak for Ms Hayhurst, but i refer you to item 1 of the petition and paragraph 3 of the D&D article.

    I’m sure you are capable of debating this issue with a level of seriousness and balance. The petition does seem fairly straightforward and reasonable.

  7. “It’s not calling for a stop to production”.

    “A block to further activity”.

    You can’t even agree between yourselves what you want, so why should anyone else take notice of such mixed messages? Where is the seriousness and balance in that?

    But whilst you continue to try and produce such fog, it looks as if the process is continuing as authorised and will be subject to the conditions already permitted whilst the new permit is finalised.

    Of course, no one realises that when it has been stated numerous times on DoD the intention is to delay and cost money for the operating companies to force them out of the Weald, that was your idea of seriousness and balance? Oh yes they do.

  8. Dear Mr Collyer,

    You appear to be extrapolating conclusions from incomplete sentences that you have selected to justify your response.

    The petition and its requests are quite clear.

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