Regulation

Officials back another three years for Rathlin Energy at E Yorks gas site

West Newton

Flow testing at West Newton-A. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Council planners have recommended the West Newton-A gas exploration site in East Yorkshire should be allowed to continue until 2021.

In a report to county councillors published this afternoon, officials backed Rathlin’s Energy’s application for a second thee-year extension of planning consent at the site.

Rathlin has carried out no work at West Newton-A since 2014 when the well was tested. In four months that year there were at least 14 breaches of the environmental permit conditions at the site, including a release of gas from the well head and failures of record keeping and monitoring (see DrillOrDrop report).

If the planners’ recommendation is approved by East Riding of Yorkshire Council next week, West Newton-A will remain a well site for five years longer than had been intended in the original consent granted in January 2013. (DrillOrDrop report)

Rathlin said this latest extension of planning permission would allow it to drill a second well at West Newton-A. This had been delayed by the regulatory process and previous low oil and gas prices, it said.

The application has been opposed by parish councils at Withernwick and Ellerby. Withernwick councillors were quoted in the planners’ report as saying the application was “a cynical attempt to circumvent the planning process”. They reportedly said:

“[Rathlin] have failed to demonstrate what a further three years would achieve, given the site has been idle for greater than the past two years.

“Granting yet another extension would clearly set an unacceptable precedent, where temporary extensions would become long term and normal, thereby undermining the planning committee’s ability to exercise due control.”

There were more than 100 other objections to the application from members of the public, the planners said. Their concerns included the operational record of the company and its failure to restore the site to farmland as required under the planning permission.

The planners’ report said there were no objections or responses from all the other statutory consultees. They said there were no reasons to object to the application on the following grounds: landscape or visual amenity, groundwater protection, highway safety, residential amenity, heritage protection, nature conservation and ecology.

The report concluded:

“Whilst it’s accepted that the drilling rig, in particular, would introduce a feature generally uncharacteristic to this landscape, it would only be on site for a relatively short period of time.”

It said the relative isolation of the site would reduce any potential impact of noise and visual amenity on nearby properties.

The officers recommended 17 conditions. These included a requirement that the site be restored to farmland after 36 months from the date permission was granted. Other conditions included:

  • The drilling rig should remain on site for a maximum period of 12 weeks, unless agreed in writing by the authority.
  • The site should not be used for associated hydraulic fracturing as defined by the Infrastructure Act

The application will be discussed at a meeting starting at 2pm on 15 November at County Hall, Cross Street, Beverley, East Yorkshire.

More local delays

West Newton B trenching 1

Rathlin Energy’s West Newton-B site

The proposals for West Newton-A appear to mean more delays at Rathlin Energy’s other local site, West Newton-B.

In a letter to East Riding of Yorkshire Council this week, Rathlin said it would drill the second well at West Newton-A “without delay” if the extension of permission were approved.

It had previously indicated that it would drill first at West Newton-B. That site, granted permission in 2015, has seen no construction work or drilling.

The company’s agent wrote:

“drilling the appraisal well from the existing West Newton A wellsite offers an opportunity to prove commerciality without the additional surface disturbance associated with building the approved West Newton B site.

“Whilst Rathlin continues to believe that West Newton B represents a very good and viable site, after further evaluation, it has determined that the merits of drilling the second well from West Newton A are significant and represent the best option to move the project forward.

“If the application … is granted for West Newton A site, Rathlin is prepared to commence operations for the drilling of the second well at West Newton A without delay.”

The company said in the letter delays in securing an environmental permit at West Newton-B had contributed to the delays on the second well at West Newton-A.

New investment in licence

The investment company, Reabold Resources, announced on 5 November 2018 it had taken a £3m stake in Rathlin’s exploration licence that includes the West Newton-A well site.

Rathlin Energy said the money would fund the drilling of the second well at West Newton-A, scheduled for the first three months of 2019. The investment gives Reabold a 37.08% interest in Rathlin.

The news coincided with an announcement from Union Jack Oil plc that it had signed its farm-in agreement with Rathlin Energy. The agreement gives Union Jack and its investment partner, Humber Oil Ltd, 16.665% interest each in the licence area, PEDL183. Rathlin will remain the licence operator.

David Bramhill, executive chairman of Union Jack, said:

“The drilling of the material West Newton conventional appraisal well, where success is expected to deliver a significant onshore gas development project, will be transformational for Union Jack.”

He said the farm-in would add 5.3 million barrels of oil equivalent contingent resources to Union Jack’s existing portfolio. It also has interests in the Wressle oil site and drilling at Biscathorpe, both in Lincolnshire.

West Newton timeline

15 November 2018

Planning meeting on second application for 36-month extension

4 September 2018

Rathlin Energy application for a further 36-month extension  at West Newton-A

26 November 2015

Planning consent for West Newton-A extended for an additional 36 months (decision date 21 December 2015)

4 June 2015

Planning consent for West Newton-B site for 24 months (from start of work)

November 2014

Well testing completed at West Newton-A

July 2014

First well test at West Newton-A

September 2013

Drilling completed of well at West Newton-A

March 2013

Site construction began at West Newton-A

17 January 2013

Original planning permission for West Newton-A granted for 36 months

28 replies »

    • Of course it is, Nick, for you and your friends Cuadrilla et al…
      Remember this is just the planning departments recommendation.

        • Good question Nick. But you know, these ‘professionals’ can only go by the rulebook provided by the government at that moment in time, that’s why it can then go out to a people’s vote via the Councillors.

          On paper, many of these applications fit the criteria – but again this is general. When an individual send in an objection, it must go to council. At this point the evidence can be expanded to include things that the planning officers cannot consider.

          These decisions should be honoured, or what is the point of voting in our representatives, eh?

          • Shrwulfe, Of course the elected councillors have the democratic right to ignore the recommendations of their own planning department. This happened with PNR, even though the LLC legal department advise was that the rejection of the PNR would be challenged & the challenge would likely be successful, & would be costly to LCC. As indeed, indeed proved the case. Objections from members of the public can only be upheld if the objections are valid ones within the constraints of planning law. I found this to be the case recently where I requested that a proposed building for elderly people, that was well positioned for passive solar heating & ground source heat, should only be given planning permission subject to such heating technologies being designed into the build. My objection did gain sympathy from the councillors, however, the chair reminded us all that the planning regulations at the time meant that such conditions could not be enforced on the developer.

            • You say that the objections are not valid? I would say that they are, and that the planning department are not allowed to consider these because of the twisted agenda of the blue party.

              In addition, many of the planning ‘experts’ and so called regulatory body’s evidence was so poor, compared to that put forward at committee by the public, that it was a disgrace to call them credible

              It would be a better world if these ‘politicians’ were made up of individuals who cared about those they represented rather than the pay cheque and perks associated with the cabinet jobs [this does not include those many local Councillors, and MPs who are relegated to the back benches because they care].

              In the meantime, real people are battling against the likes of your friends to be safe; shocking.

            • Very well put

              I find it confusing that Local Councils go against their paid Professional planners and refuse on whatever personal grounds they choose on the day but are happy to invest £Billions in foreign fossil fuel industries?

  1. Rathlin always says they will proceed imediately they get planning permission.
    Their reference to low oil prices as a reason for three years delay proves that profit not any concern for security of supply is their motivation. They have repeatedly proved their inability to meet their own deadlines or environmental regulations. Meanwhile £millions are being spent on flood defences because of storm and tidal flooding in the area thanks to climate change arising from fossil fuels.
    Time for local councillors to kick out the Rathlin cowboys.

  2. They probably need to await the availability of the rig from Cornwall (“good”) to be able to drill in Yorkshire (“bad”)!!!

    One is new technology which has had problems in other countries, the other is old technology, tried and tested many times in UK.

    Or, we can just carry on importing gas from Norway and help them boost their Sovereign Wealth Fund way above the $1 trillion. However, then the tax would not be there to pay for the flood defences in the UK, but would pay for a wonderful Norwegian health service. They could send their doctors to deal with the flood victims. Hmm.

  3. Difficult for a company to produce gas at a loss in order to ensure security of supply. But interesting to hear that making a profit is not a desirable thing for a company, or indeed a person to do. Good that the tories cut back the solar subsidy, as no one fitted them in order to save the planet, they fitted them to make money ( shame on them ), plus they expect the tax payer to foot the bill when they need scrapping ( off to the tip, chuck, forget ).

    I am not sure that all the spending on flood defences is due to global warming. There are a lot of flood defences here on the trent, built prior to global warming and in need of a revamp as we continue to build on the floodplain and direct water to the river in a hurry. Lots at Sutton on sea as well ( tidal surge if anyone remembers that far back ).

    But global warming is coming along, so some work to do. Best turn off the gas, scrap the car and turn of the langaled pipeline ( which brings in all that guilt free gas we love to burn ) to show willing ( have less kids, forego the holiday abroad, scrap cruise ships, travel less, stay at home ).

    Finally, if a company does not drill for gas due to low prices, is that not a good thing? Cheap as chips renewables should undercut gas. The Stone Age did not end due to a lack of Stone, and drilling for gas globally will not end by stopping uk onshore gas development, while expecting the colonies to foot the environmental bill.

    • It is not desirable for companies to make profits without addressing the long term costs of their activities. It is the taxpayer who is subsidising the decommissioning of the North Sea. Hard to see what this has to do with our energy security or so called fuel poverty, both claimed to be justification for continued exploration for gas when existing fossil fuel resources need to be kept in the ground.

      • John and Val Mager

        I do not mind if the true environmental cost of gas production and use sits on the user. The polluter should pay, as we do for the fuel we use in our cars by a large tax grab at point of use. If we coughed up the price, we may be less inclined to use it. But so far we send all,our money abroad. Maybe Norway will spend its bloated Hydrocarbon stash on fixing UK Environmental damage caused by gas use?

        Re tax and decommissioning, decommissioning costs can be set against tax, so the taxpayer is not paying for decommissioning, the industry is. Not one penny of my tax has gone to Bp in order to de de omission the Miller platform. Unlike the coal industry in the past, though decommissioning pits these days is a good money spinner as the land is good for housing ( welbeck , Thoresby ), Solar Farms ( Welbeck ) or returned to nature making a welcome nature reserve, rather than bare fields ( Silverhill, Bevercotes ), or maybe providing local jobs and not so local jobs for Sports Direct at Shirebrook.

  4. Spoke to a neighbour today who just returned from a two week cruise down the Rhine, that was adjusted to a two week coach tour as there was too little water for a cruise!

    Perhaps we could export some gas to Germany to ease their dependence on coal and adjust their impact upon climate change, so that they can maintain their economy with Rhine cruises? And then refracktion’s BMW diesel could be manufactured with cleaner energy!

      • Very good crem

        That would be Egypt where I was working earlier this year on a gas project in the Eastern Med. Gas from that location is now being shipped as LNG into the U.K. With all the Environmental costs in Liquifying, transport and Regasification CO2 intensive and high cost to boot with no tax revenue to the U.K whatsoever…

  5. Rathlin has proved to be untrustworthy and a high-risk enterprise consent like this should only be given to a company which is beyond reproach, were it not that this fossil fuel project is in conflict with the Paris Agreement the UK has signed and ratified.

    • Wandering Dutchman

      Is it ok under the Paris agreement to source fossil fuel from abroad ( and therefore abrogate any accountability for environmental damage at point of production ), rather than produce it locally?

      I guess it is also against the agreement to shut nuclear power stations and use coal.

      Or maybe it is not against that agreement to source fossil fuel while working towards the aims of that agreement.

  6. If renewable industry is not in business to make profits as claimed by Green activists then I guess they dont need government subsidies at all.

    • Wandering Dutchman, Do you live in Holland? Are you happy that the UK buys oil and gas from Europe. How can that be economical? It’s hardly green eh? I’m sure the Paris Agreement is happy to let that happen.

  7. Hi Ruth,

    Keep up the good work, but a few people need to know what I keep hearing when I attend these environmental meeting.

    A word is mentioned at ALL these Council meetings, its a very dangerous word called “Sustainability”. It’s filtered down from the United Nations and is part of what the United Nations call Agenda 21. Maybe a few people might want to look up what that means.

    The “sustainability” word can be used to make laws at National and local levels. Laws that can be very dangerous for you and your families future. eg: How much land do you have?, sorry that’s not sustainable, we’ll take that off you. (Its already happening by the way).

    So what’s driving the “Sustainability” word? The following words “Climate Change”.

    It might be a good idea to buy the UN’s Agenda 21 manual, its available and very interesting to read. Its even better when you look at today’s society and compare it to what’s in that manual. Or you could just Google “Agenda 21 Map” and look at the US. Where is everyone going to live after Agenda 21 (and Agenda 30) That is, if your family is still around to live of course.

    These maps will cover the UK too. This 5 minute video explains just a small part of the Agenda. As Bill Gates explains, they need to remove the “P” from the equasion. That wouldn’t be any of your families would it?

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