The number of onshore oil and gas wells drilled in the UK in 2018 was a 68-year low for the industry.
Data from the Oil & Gas Authority showed that in 2018 operators spudded (began drilling) just three wells.
The last time fewer wells were spudded in a year was in 1950, when the number was two. In the past 100 years, there have been just five years when three or fewer wells were drilled.
This latest data continues a trend of single-figure drilling after 2014.
The 2018 wells were drilled by Cuadrilla and IGas in Lancashire, Surrey and Nottinghamshire and all three appear to be linked to some problems for the companies.
Cuadrilla began fracking the Preston New Road well on 15 October 2018. The company confirmed it was moving equipment off the site on 18 December 2018. Between those two dates, there were 57 recorded fracking-induced earth tremors. The largest, at 1.5ML (local magnitude) and 1.1ML, were felt locally.
IGas announced in December 2018 that the Tinker Lane well failed to encounter the Bowland Shale target formation.
“the side-track of a water injection well, although successfully drilled, encountered greater than anticipated reservoir connectivity and consequently the well has been abandoned”.
Permission to drill at four other sites across the UK failed to be translated into operations in 2018.
IGas has yet to spud its two consented wells at Misson Springs in Nottinghamshire. Nor have UKOG and its partners at Horse Hill in Surrey. Rathlin Energy has postponed work at its West Newton-B site in East Yorkshire. And Europa abandoned plans for Leith Hill near Dorking in Surrey when the environment secretary, Michael Gove, refused to renew the lease.
In 2017, the industry drilled six wells at four sites. These included a well that was washed out at the Broadford Bridge site in West Sussex and a sidetrack drilled to it. The other wells were at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site (2), Brockham in Surrey (1) and Lidsey in West Sussex (1).
For a review of potential operations in the next 12 months, why not visit our post What to watch in 2019