UKOG unveils plans for exploration site at Dunsfold, Surrey

Dunsfold Google Maps small

Location (marked in white) of UKOG’s Dunsfold site and access track, based on information in the company’s leaflet. Image source: Google Maps

The oil exploration company, UK Oil & Gas plc, has revealed details of its proposed new drilling site in a village near Guildford in Surrey.

Material distributed at an information meeting in Dunsfold yesterday identified the site next to woodland, north of the aerodrome that has been used as a test track for Top Gear.


The meeting coincided with the largest earthquake so far in a swarm that started on 1 April 2018.

UKOG said in an information leaflet

“we are NOT CAUSING EARTHQUAKES” [UKOG’s capitals].

It described the seismic activity as “low magnitude tremors”, entirely natural and centred on movements of a seismically active fault”.

Yesterday’s 3.1 magnitude tremor woke people up and was reportedly felt from London to the south coast. Some people contacted the emergency services because they thought there had been an explosion at Gatwick or a major accident.

The British Geological Survey has said that before the current swarm, there were no earthquakes in Surrey in more than 50 years.

Tranquil landscape

190228 High Loxley Road Dunsfold

High Loxley Road, Dunsfold. Image: Google Earth

UKOG described the wellsite location as “a discreet field” in “tranquil landscape”. It is off High Loxley Road, a “narrow, winding rural lane, lined with hedgerows and mature trees”.

The company said in the leaflet it had agreed a land lease and would shortly submit a full planning application to Surrey County Council. If successful, it hoped to begin work late this year or early in 2020.

UKOG said the proposed wellsite and site access would be screened by woodland. It said there was “small linear area of ancient woodland lies to the north of the site”. It was proximity of proposed oil drilling to ancient woodland which prompted the Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, to decide not to renew a lease on Forestry Commission land last year for an exploration site near Leith Hill, also in Surrey.

There are 13 listed buildings within 1km of the site. Land immediately to the north of the site is designated as an Area of High Archaeological Potential. There is evidence of a buried Roman settlement 500m south of the site, UKOG says.

Dunsfold Google Maps large

Location (marked in white) of UKOG’s Dunsfold site and access track, based on information in the company’s leaflet. Image source: Google Maps


UKOG has said it did not need to frack the well because the rock was naturally fractured. It said it may use an acid wash to clean the fractures after drilling. This would use acetic acid, the acid contained in vinegar, the company said.

Single well and/or sidetrack

One section of the leaflet said UKOG was seeking initial permission just to drill and flow test one well, “on a limited size well pad”.

But details of working hours and lorry movements referred to drilling an additional side-track, or horizontal well.

Another section of the leaflet said the purpose of the drilling was to “to find much-needed oil and gas for the UK’s energy security”. The leaflet also said if the operation were successful, the local community could benefit by up to £1m a year in benefits paid by the company in business rates and royalties.

On the depth of the well, UKOG gave no more details that “about ¾ mile”. In material seen by DrillOrDrop, it did not identify the target formation was. It did say that three wells had been drilled locally in 1980s and it aimed to assess their commercial viability.

A drilling rig, said to be up to 37m, would be on site for no more than 60 days. The rest of the equipment was described as low rise and low visual, the leaflet said.

The village of Dunsfold has no street lighting. But UKOG said the well site would be lit. It said:

“We will continual monitor the lighting arrangements to ensure we avoid any unacceptable light pollution”

New road junction

The company said it would need to build a new junction in High Loxley Road and what it described as minor highway improvements at the junction of Dunsfold Road and High Loxley Road.

Two trees would need to be removed where the access track met the public highway to make space for the junction, UKOG said.

The scheme would include a 1km compacted stone access track from the road to the well site.

The site itself would be built from compacted stone, surrounded by containment ditches and security fencing with entrance gates, the company said.

Air quality

UKOG conceded that it would use diesel-fuelled plant and machinery and that gas from the well may be flared. The company said:

“These operations will result in the release of pollutants to atmosphere and greenhouse gas emissions with a consequential air quality impact.”

The planning application would include an air quality assessment with modelling to show the impact on people and wildlife nearby.

Subsidiary company

According to the leaflet, the operation would be through a UKOG subsidiary, UKOG (234) Ltd.

This is named after PEDL234, the exploration licence area in which the site is based. The PEDL also includes UKOG’s Broadford Bridge well site.

Accounts for the year ending December 2017 reported a loss of £2.76m, compared with a loss of £76,000 for the year before.

Proposed operations, timings and lorry movements

According to the leaflet, UKOG proposes the following work at Dunsfold if granted planning permission:

Phase 1

Access and wellsite construction: 14 weeks, 7am-7pm Monday-Friday; 9am-1pm Saturday, up to 10 heavy goods vehicles (HGV)/day

Phase 2

Drilling mobilisation: 3 weeks, 7am-7pm Monday-Friday; 9am-1pm Saturday, up to 10 heavy goods vehicles (HGV)/day

Drilling: 12 weeks, 24 hours, every day, up to 10 heavy goods vehicles (HGV)/day

Drilling demobilisation: 3 weeks, 7am-7pm Monday-Friday; 9am-1pm Saturday, up to 10 heavy goods vehicles (HGV)/day

Well testing: 26 weeks, 24 hours, every day, up to 5 heavy goods vehicles (HGV)/day

Sidetrack drilling: 12 weeks, 24 hours, every day, up to 10 heavy goods vehicles (HGV)/day

Maintenance workover: 4 weeks, 24 hours, every day, up to 10 heavy goods vehicles (HGV)/day

Phase 3

Plugging and abandonment: 3 weeks, 24 hours, every day, up to 10 heavy goods vehicles (HGV)/day

Removal of surface equipment: 2 weeks, 7am-7pm Monday-Friday; 9am-1pm Saturday, up to 5 heavy goods vehicles (HGV)/day

Phase 4

Site restoration: 5 weeks, 7am-7pm Monday-Friday; 9am-1pm Saturday, up to 10 heavy goods vehicles (HGV)/day

Or Site retention: 26 weeks, no working hours given, no lorry movements given, to allow for further application for additional work or production.

Lorry movements, though not stated, are presumed to be two-way.

Public reaction

Online video footage showed that some people seeking to attend the information meeting were not allowed in. Some people complained that the writing in the information leaflet was too small to read easily.

There was also disappointment that the leaflet was no available online or in digital format for people who had been unable to attend the meeting. The leaflet is now available here

UKOG distributed a questionnaire at the meeting and DrillOrDrop will ask the company for the analysis of the results.


Surrey County Council ruled on 28 February 2019 that the UKOG proposals for Dunsfold do not need an environmental impact assessment.

Details of the application for a screening request (SO/2019/0002) are on the Waverley Borough Council planning website (search by the request reference)


12 replies »

  1. Please stop this malign industry from progressing. It is apposed to the interests with regard to the continuance and health of humans and other living things on our fragile planet.

  2. Seems a great plan – minimal disruption and a totally safe drilling and completions plan – job well done UKOG

    • Is everyone Totally Ignorant to whats happening to our local infrastructure?? Let Alone THE ENVIRONMENT And OUR DYING PLANET! THIS IS UTTER MADNESS…GREEDY MADNESS!

  3. Well said Graham. Supporters of fracking are mad, all the more so if they have chidren or grandchildren. A reminder (tho one shouldn’t be needed if the supporters had an ounce of intelligence or objectivity) – there is no Planet B.

  4. They may be, or not, Ryor, but those who post the wrong thing in the wrong place, should be categorised with them! Read the leaflet, read DoD-NO FRACKING.

    I read the leaflet on-line yesterday. Strange that some couldn’t/wouldn’t find it. On-line, you can increase the size of the print if you have some eye problems. (Helpful hints for the day.)

    Looks a good site. Away from the village but not too far off roadways. Building 1km of track to get there.

  5. Dunsfold residents have the benefit of being pre warned about this and are really ahead of the game when it comes to this dirty industry , there are no fools in Dunsfold , they know that life there wont be the same if they allow UKOG to get its drill in the ground. Meanwhile the mug punters are still being fleeced while Sanderson takes his 600K a year .

  6. I guarantee they wont drill Dunsfold , the locals are far too clued up and are passionate about their village , its only the mug punters who want UKOG there to try to recover the huge losses they have made.

    • You are wrong Jono, the planning process will grant permission if they apply. Don’t forget the score is antis 0 (unless you count Roseacre) oil companies everything they apply for.

  7. Ahh, if you say it twice it will not happen!

    Seem to have heard all of that many times over. Never mind Jono, just because you were excluded doesn’t mean you will not get a chance to misinform somewhere along the line. Mug punters is a good start. Does that include those who have made a good return from UKOG share price movement? Perhaps there are also some in and around Dunsfold who might welcome £1m/year estimated, and think it is a good way to keep further housing from their doorsteps?

    How much does Mr. Musk take per year? A little more than Mr. Sanderson.

    • Martin – of course the noise and traffic from a small oil operation will be insignificant compared to having the Dunsfold airfield so close by, which also doubles as a race track, Top Gears key location etc etc.

  8. Seems quite appropriate really. All that using of fossil fuel within Dunsfold, only fair some should be produced as well! Then we have the same at Gatwick, and of course there is Horse Hill. A natural balance between consumption and production.

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