Research

Latest earth tremor prompts call for release of data on oil operations

190504 BGS chart newdigate

All information on activity at a Surrey oil well should be published following another local earth tremor, residents and a community group have said.

The British Geological Survey (BGS) received more than 100 reports of a tremor early on Saturday morning (4 May 2019), centred near the village of Newdigate, about four miles from Gatwick airport.

The tremor measured 2.5 on the local magnitude scale and was one of the larger events in a swarm affecting the area in the past 13 months. Based on local reports, the BGS has updated the intensity of the latest tremor from 3 to 4.

People in the area said they were woken by “a loud bang” and shaking buildings. Others likened it to “some sort of explosion”.

Two investigations have said there is no evidence of a causal link between the earth tremors and oil and gas operations at Horse Hill, near Horley, or Brockham, near Dorking. The operators of the sites have strongly and repeatedly said their work did not cause any seismic activity.

The Brockham site has been discounted because it was considered too far away from the epicentre of the tremors. On the other site, the BGS told DrillOrDrop today:

“We conclude that the available evidence suggests that the events were not related to activities at Horse Hill.”

190503 Newdigate BGS tweet

But Brockham Oil Watch, which campaigns on unconventional hydrocarbon extraction in Surrey, released new documents this week which, it said, raised questions about this conclusion (link).

The group said it supported calls – made by residents, the local MP Crispin Blunt, MEP Keith Taylor and the Edinburgh University geologist Stuart Haszeldine – for another detailed independent examination.

Brockham Oil Watch said:

“In order for this to happen, all wellbore activity data [for the Horse Hill well] should be disclosed for the period since 1st March 2018 to present, and it should be made openly available to anyone. We also support a call for a moratorium on activities at the Horse Hill site until results of such investigation are known.”

Surrey Swarm

To date, the BGS has recorded 34 tremors in the Newdigate area in the past 13 months on its online database.

190504 BGS table Newdigate earthquakes

Source: BGS online database

Long-term Newdigate residents have said there had previously been no felt earth tremors in the area for at least 45 years. Analysis of the BGS database by DrillOrDrop shows there have been no earth tremors in this part of Surrey for at least 50 years. The recent tremors have all been relatively shallow compared with most other seismic activity in the UK.

The Newdigate swarm began on 1 April 2018 and continued until October 2018. There was then a gap until 14 February 2019. That month, the BGS recorded a total of eight tremors in a fortnight, the strongest of which was 3.1ML. Six tremors were recorded in March, three in April and two so far in May.

Many of the tremors have been tiny and were not be felt. But at least 11 were felt and assigned an intensity rating based on descriptions given by local people.

For the strongest tremor, the BGS recorded nearly 400 observations at intensity level 6, where effects included slight damage to buildings, such as fine cracks in plaster.

BGS intensity map of 3.1 tremor

Source: BGS

In response, people have organised paper and online petitions (here and here) calling for an independent inquiry and a halt to hydrocarbon operations in the area.

Investigations

DrillOrDrop has reported on the two previous investigations into the cause of the earthquakes. One was based on a workshop led by the BGS and Oil & Gas Authority (OGA); the other was a peer-reviewed paper co-authored by Dr Brian Baptie, of the BGS, Dr James Verdon, of Bristol University and Professor Julian Bommer, of Imperial College.

Both investigations concluded there was no causal link, based on the evidence available, between the seismic events and the Horse Hill site. One reason given for its exclusion was no fluid injection or flow testing work being carried out before the first earth tremor on 1 April 2018.

Extract of Horse Hill operations

Extract of Horse Hill operational summary of activity. Full document

Questions

The investigations referred to documentary evidence for Horse Hill, which showed that preparations for flow testing did not begin at the site until late June 2018, after the swarm started.

But residents and campaigners have argued that what happened at the site in the months before the flow test was more significant.

UKOG rigless well test programme

As part of the flow test preparations, the operator, Horse Hill Developments Ltd (HHD), said it planned to carry out checks on the annular pressure. This assessed the pressure exerted by fluid or hydrocarbons between two sets of casings or tubing in the well.

A document submitted by HHDL to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) also referred to an operation to “bleed off pressure and top up the annuli as required”.

The BGS/OGA workshop noted there had been an annular pressure test on 5-6 April 2018, after the start of the swarm. The test was said to be satisfactory and no pressure was detected in the annuli (the space between casing and tubing or casing and the wellbore).

James Knapp, of the campaign network, Weald Action Group, said the well pressure would have been expected to be zero only after the pressure test and bleed-off described in the HSE document.

He said:

‘We would expect there to have been pressure present in March 2018 because there had been continuous build up and venting of gas pressure during the earlier test in 2016, before the well was shut in.”

There was also work going on at Horse Hill before the annular pressure test referred to by the BGS/OGA workshop.

A partner at Horse Hill, Doriemus, reported that in the three months up to 31 March 2018 there had been a final technical review and:

“ongoing operational planning, preparation and site works in preparation for the 150 day extended flow testing programme”.

This has prompted questions about whether operations other than injection and flow testing could have induced the earth tremors. If so, could these other operations be linked to the start of the swarm in April 2018?
Brockham Oil Watch said:

“We think it is wrong that the BGS and the OGA limited their analysis to injection or pumping activities only. This leaves out other wellbore interventions, which might have the potential to cause seismicity.”

Alternative hypothesis

Another team of academics has suggested that the tremors could have been induced by rapid depressurisation of a critically-stressed fault zone below the Horse Hill site after a period of gradual pressurisation.

Professor Stuart Haszeldine, heading a team at Edinburgh University, hypothesized that annular pressure in the Horse Hill well was vented after the long period of shut-in. This changed the pressure and fluid in the fault zone, inducing shallow earth tremors, the team said. Deep gas later recharged the annulus and fault zone and the cycle repeated, it suggested.

The hypothesis was that every time a zone of the well was re-entered after a period of shut-in, the annulus was bled-off and seismic events were induced.

James Knapp said:

“The work scheduled to be done prior to operations commencing is consistent with venting that Edinburgh University said could be the trigger for the swarm. The fact that there was no pressure detected on 5-6 April 2018 also supports this, as the gas pressure would have been bled off before the start of the swarm on April 1st.

“We know workers were on site in March 2018 preparing for the arrival of the well testing package and so all the dates fit.

“There is no proof that the agreed work schedule was followed, because the work logs haven’t been released.”

Brockham Oil Watch asked the HSE for weekly reports for the period from 1 March to 15 April 2018 to find out what activity took place at Horse Hill. It wanted to know whether any gas or fluids had been bled off from the annulus.

According to the group, the HSE said no reports were provided for this period. There were also no site visits during these weeks by any regulators.

Brockham Oil Watch said:

“The regulators rely on what the operators tell them, and there seems to be little or no verification of the information provided.

“In a system where operators largely check their own homework, it seems quite possible that the Horse Hill operator opened up the well in late March 2018, and in so doing changed the fluid pressure in the well, but that they never reported it to the regulators.”

Newdigate resident, Peter Mitchell, said:

“Since the OGA workshop there have been many further earthquakes. Yet there has been no initiative on the part of the OGA to investigate these or to call for a moratorium while possible causal links are re-evaluated.

“This is particularly relevant given the current application to significantly expand the Horse Hill site to include more production wells and water re-injection.

“The OGA has a responsibility of duty of care towards the people in the region of Newdigate and our properties.”

Coincidences

Brockham Oil Watch has also pointed to two coincidences this year.

The tremors resumed on 14 February 2019 (2.4ML and 0.2ML) after a break since 19 October 2018. Four days later, on 18 February 2019, UKOG issued a statement that production had been re-established from the Portland reservoir after a six-month shut-in.

On 11 April 2019, UKOG reported that the Horse Hill well was currently shut in for a 60-hour pressure build up test. A 0.7ML tremor was recorded that day and another (-0.3ML) four days later.

Comment

Brockham Oil Watch called for a change in the regulation of pressurised fluid injections. It said:

“At the moment, there is no monitoring or reporting on pressurised injections of acid-based fluids at Horse Hill or Brockham, although such injections are permitted at both sites.”

The traffic light system, which regulates seismicity induced by fracking, applies only to shale gas sites. It does not cover oil and gas sites in southern England. There is no protocol for evaluating potential links between injections and seismicity, the group said.

Seismologist, Dr Stephen Hicks, who has been monitoring the Surrey earth tremors said today:

“Analysis of the available seismic data is ongoing, and at this stage, we are still keeping an open scientific mind.

“With the local seismic network in place and with our advanced seismological analysis techniques, we are now able to detect many more micro-seismic events than standardised operational procedures. This is to be expected as the BGS’s seismic monitoring network of five stations now provides a very low detection threshold, and we expect to detect tens of aftershocks following each magnitude 2 to 3 sized event.

“Using the waveform “fingerprint” of each seismic event, we are able to efficiently scan the database for similar events. Detecting more seismic events provides us with better information on the evolution of the swarm in space and time, and to help interpret its cause.

“It appears that most events occur in a single cluster, and there are no obvious changes in the character of the earthquakes with time. Without the local monitoring network in place, we would only have been able to consistently detect events with a magnitude of greater than 2.

“We continue to work closely with the BGS, academic colleagues, and we are also actively engaging with the operators and policymakers.”

DrillOrDrop invited UK Oil & Gas, the parent company of Horse Hill Developments Ltd, to comment. This post will be updated with any comment.

Brockham Oil Watch blog post

Categories: Research

26 replies »

  1. I have been invited by BOW to give a free public talk about the Surrey earthquakes on Saturday 18 May, 7pm, at Beare Green Village Hall. I shall try to explain in a non-technical way the background to Weald oil exploration, and why I support the Edinburgh University minority view that there is probably a causal link between Horse Hill activities and the Newdigate earthquakes. I shall welcome discussion afterwards.

    • Will you also be detailing in your ‘free public talk’ how you claimed that the geology of the Kimmeridge at Horse Hill meant that no oil would flow from that strata, yet more than 25,000 barrels have since been extracted during the well testing process at Horse Hill?

      Given the above, I’m sure you would agree that it’s important for those attending to understand your credentials and expertise in the matters of geology and seismology, not least when your view is, as you have highlighted, firmly in the minority and somewhat adrift from those who are undoubtedly more qualified and experienced in this area.

      • R8 LMX . A simple google “david smythe horsehill” will bring you to https://www.davidsmythe.org/frackland/?p=398 . If you read that article you will find that he does acknowledge that conventional oil has been found at Horsehill in both the Portland sandstone and the Kimmeridge. He even provides his estimate of the volume of oil which might be recovered from the Kimmeridge find at Horsehill- 170,000 barrels in total which, if correct, is not going to make a huge contribution to the UK’s daily consumption.

        You might not agree with his analysis, but you do owe him a public apology on this post.

        Those of us who live in the Newdigate area are grateful to David Smythe and Professor Stuart Haszeldine for helping us in our efforts to awaken the Government and the Industry to the very serious threat from the swarm of earthquakes we are experiencing. So far we have experienced 34 earthquakes since April 2018 and the constant shaking is damaging our homes. We also live in daily fear of an even bigger earthquake that could result in serious property and infrastructure damage.

        I am especially concerned about David Smythe’s suggestion that UKOG are drilling close to faults in the hope of finding pockets of conventional oil. If the fault is highly stressed this risks triggering earthquakes as is happening in Newdigate. I understand that in the USA a respect distance is defined to prevent drilling close to faults in order to prevent earthquakes being triggered. Our “Gold Standard” regulations should include this provision.

        Personally, I have no reason to doubt David Smythe’s expertise or credentials, perhaps you can be more explicit. As regards his being in the minority, of course his views are in the minority since the majority of “experts” are directly or indirectly in the pay of the Government or the Industry. I feel our situation is very much akin to that in Groningen. We are, I believe, suffering many small, shallow, damaging earthquakes due to activities at Horsehill. And, as in Groningen, the first people to suggest that these were due to production at the gas field were subject to personal attacks. NAM is a consortium comprising the Dutch Government, EXXON and Shell

        “The first officially-registered earthquake occurred in December 1986 in Assen, in the Province of
        Drenthe, to the south of Groningen (KNMI, 2013a). Dr. Meent van der Sluis, a social geographer
        and member of the Drenthe provincial council at the time, conjectured that the earthquakes were
        linked to gas production. However, NAM described his theory as being ‘laughable’, denigrated
        him by saying he was ‘a geographer, not a geologist’, and stated that ‘if there is one company that
        knows about faults and gas production, it is NAM’ (Nederlands Dagblad, 1988). The Royal
        Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), which is also the national centre for seismology,
        backed NAM by stating it was ‘impossible’ for his theory to be true (De Telegraaf, 1994). Years
        later, in 1990, the Province of Groningen asked two geophysicists from Boston’s MIT to assess the
        risks associated with subsidence. Given the controversy at the time, they also provided their view
        on the possibility of earthquakes stating that they thought the chances of significant tremors were
        very low. A worst-case scenario, they suggested, would be the equivalent to the feeling of a truck
        passing by”

        Now, 10,000 damaged homes later, and with an estimated repair bill of 1 billion euros, the Dutch Government and all the experts have accepted that the cause is extraction from the gas field and it is being closed down. We don’t want to see a similar story here in Newdigate.

        • reffolds – the 10,000 homes damaged in Groningen are mainly the result of subsidence and not seismicity. The reason why those who understand these issues reject withnotion that the activities at Horsehill caused the seismicity isn’t simply because there is no theoretical basis to support the suggestion – it’s because seismic activity predated the activities.

          • Judith Green, if you refer to p.8 of the below document including a notification dated Feb 2018 and submitted by HHDL to HSE in early March 2018, you’ll see a line reading: “The intent is to start rig-less extended well testing operations in early April 2018.” On p. 13/14, you’ll see the interventions prior to operations commencing (including bleeding off and pressure testing) to be followed by well testing operations. The regulators don’t have documents that would confirm a well intervention was carried out prior or on 1 April 2018, but the absence of documents is NOT a proof that it didn’t happen. There are questions here that need answering. https://brockhamoilwell.files.wordpress.com/2019/04/disclosure-201808357-2.pdf

            • So, Elvis really did work down the chip shop!

              No wonder this was posted at 1.30am. Conspiracy theories usually emerge at such times, when others have better things to be doing.

              But, maybe some who have genuine concerns will view and start to think just maybe there are those who wish to manufacture an issue and decide they should be careful and keep an open mind and perhaps give weight to those without their own agendas. BGS would be a good start to consider fully.

              • An open mind would be understanding that not everyone operates on the same schedule. We have given consideration to the BGS arguments, and everyone else’s for that matter. It works both ways.

          • Judith Green

            This explanation from the University of Groningen explains the geology. You are right that the trigger for the earthquakes is subsidence. But this is taking place at a depth of 3 km. The surface damage is caused by earthquakes triggered by the subsidence. The ground movements are intensified because of the clay subsoil, as is the case in the Weald. Homes like mine which is over 400 years old, has no proper foundation, and has never before experienced earthquakes, are particularly vulnerable

            Box 1.1: Geology – what causes the earthquakes?
            The natural gas of Groningen is located at 3 km deep, in a sandstone
            layer. Sandstone consists of sand that is pressed against each other
            under high pressure. When gas is pumped out of the sandstone layer, the
            pressure in this layer decreases. As the decreased pressure cannot
            support the weight of the layers on top, it results in soil subsidence that
            compresses the layers. When this compression occurs in an irregular
            way, the soil subsidence causes an earthquake. Gas-induced earthquakes
            in the sandstone layer occur at a shallow depth, compared to natural
            earthquakes that occur at 20-100 kilometres deep. As a result, the
            earthquakes induced by the gas production have a higher impact on
            buildings than natural ones. On top of that, ground movements are
            intensified because the seismic energy is transmitted by a subsoil of clay,
            sand and peat. Also, the predominant traditional construction in brick
            adds to the vulnerability of buildings (Koster & van Ommeren, 2015;
            McGarr, 1984; van Eck et al., 2006).

            • You should see the subsidence from geothermal in Germany!!

              However, IKEA is standing proud and level next to the one in Southampton.

              Maybe, UK has the ability to do things right? Hope so, Cornwall is now trying it out.

              • The dreadful experience in Staufen (and Böblingen and Rudersberg) simply goes to show that geothermal wells that have, in general, been considered safe and beneficial, can, on occasion go wrong if the geology isn’t properly understood. Exactly the situation at Horsehill. I feel sure that onshore oil and gas production can be carried out safely given the right geology. But it looks as if the geology at Horsehill isn’t right and we are experiencing our “Staufen moment”. I hope that you are not suggesting that because Staufen is suffering, we should suffer too and in silence?

                Actually, maybe the geothermal drilling disaster at Basel, Switzerland is even more pertinent. Basel, chosen because it sits on top of a fault line (as was Horsehill), suffered 3,500 earthquake events, 200 of which were magnitude 0.6 – 3.4, and 2700 damage claims were processed by the project’s insurer with an estimated cost of 7-9 million Swiss francs, £5.5-7 million. The project was cancelled. Now it seems there is a big question mark over the safety of Geothermal power.

                It also goes to show that earthquakes can be triggered in many ways, not just fracking, water re-injection, subsidence deep underground, and that Professor Haszeldine’s hypothesis that pressure changes near a critically stressed fault might just be yet another triggering mechanism.

  2. Maybe, David, you will remind your audience about the previous non technical appraisal of whether there is oil that could be extracted at HH?

    I would suspect any audience would like an up-date as to whether any inconvenience (not referring to tremors) may be balanced by direct and indirect benefits. Seems that there is a bit more evidence on that now, rather than speculation. 6% of gross revenue seems more than probable. The value of what it will be 6% of has already been speculated and to be confirmed, and where it may go may also be an area of interest.

    Meanwhile, the audience will be able to enjoy the fact that Fawley Refinery is planning an £800m expansion of diesel output mainly based around imported oil, and Gatwick Airports expansion will take more aviation fuel based upon the same oil source currently and locals will not mind paying more tax for that alternative consumption.

  3. Repeated denials by serial fracking failures Cuadrilla that their attempts to frack Preese Hall near Weeton in Lancashire caused multiple seismic events, ie earthquakes, were ultimately decreed disproved and a fracking moratorium put in place.
    At least this time round no denials were even voiced, just attempts to minimise the effects of the 50plus earthquakes they caused over last Autumn and Winter, using scuentific comparisons with melons and bags of flour for some reason.
    Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road fracking site is now deserted whilst, I’m guessing here, negotiations proceed into what happens next.
    Never forget that the concern regarding earthquake swarms are the effects on equipment, utilities and ground deep underground not on the surface.
    Also that the main issue revolving around fossil fuel extraction and combustion is climate destruction as highlighted by Sir David Attenborough.

  4. Except no fracking is taking place in the Weald, Peter!

    Only one record?

    Climate destruction as highlighted by excessive air travel by? Sir David Attenborough! And maybe sometimes via Gatwick Airport, that relies on aviation fuel produced at Fawley Refinery, refined from mainly imported oil which produces a larger carbon footprint compared to locally produced.

    Thought the UN report advocated using local resources where possible?

    What were the “effects” of the 50+ tremors around PNR? Something real, or just a bit of hysteria? At least the melons might be chilled.

    • Martin, this post by Ruth Hayhurst is about earthquakes in Newdigate. The constant shaking from the 34 earthquakes since April 2018 are causing real damage. In a submission to the APPG on Shale Gas, these damages were highlighted

      “Residents’ reports of physical damage and experience of the Newdigate Swarm of
      earthquakes
      This section summarises the range of experiences and damage caused at the time of the earthquakes
      in the area around the epicentres – the Newdigate area of East Surrey. This draws from material
      presented in Annex 1, collated by Parish Cllr, Lisa Scott.
      The most significant damage recorded was after the first earthquake on 1st April 2018 and reported
      by the Mole Valley Geological Society. The damage was, “a landslide at noon on 1 April some 10km
      from the epicentre. … The landslide was some 50 metres in length with a vertical displacement of
      some 10 metres. It removed half the garden area of three adjacent properties. The toe of the slide
      disturbed the roots of many trees causing them to tilt towards the slide and having to be removed.
      Remedial work to stabilise what is left of the 3 gardens is estimated at £600,000. The householders
      will pay the damage themselves (standard house insurance does not extend to the grounds of a
      house)
      .
      Cumulative structural damage to housing is now evident in the properties much closer to the Horse
      Hill drilling site. These were recorded in homes in Horse Hill, Hookwood, Norwood Hill and Partridge
      Lane. A by-no-means complete survey of nearby properties (see Annex 1) included the following:
      • Vertical crack on wall of property (4 houses)
      • Cracks in more than one wall of house (10 houses)
      • Vertical crack up the back of the house and up and over the roof, fractured water pipe
      • Crack on front exterior window sill
      • Panel in wooden framed skylights slipped (required replacement)
      • Glazing panels in bay windows dropping.
      • Brick arches over windows requiring repair
      • Branch came off tree and broke fence
      • 3 farm buildings damaged”

      My own property is showing more and more cracks from the earthquakes and each day we live in fear of a bigger and more damaging earthquake.

      • Peter’s post was NOT, though.

        But, if you want to refer to Ruth’s post, fine. This is the latest in a series and whilst factually correct still leaves the subject open for many to speculate, whilst many specialists have examined the data in depth and concluded there is no connection between HH and the swarm. Meanwhile, particular groups and individuals are suggesting that they know more without the ability to scrutinise the same data, and others are trying to conflate fracking elsewhere that is supposed to cause seismic events, and bog standard on shore oil extraction which is not.

        Of course, anyone living close to such a swarm would be concerned. However, that concern should be tempered with examination of the real situation rather than the one some would like to generate. Maybe just think a little about the reality of how someone not in receipt of the HH exploration data can calculate the volume of oil that might be produced!? Especially, as NO horizontal drilling has even been conducted at HH up to this moment! If that was feasible then there would be an easy route to riches!

        Sorry, I would prefer to separate science and speculation and for those local with concerns I would suggest they should try the same approach.

        • Martin Collyer. Thank you for your understanding of the concerns we have given our predicament.

          Like everyone else wanting to understand the mechanism whereby activities at Horsehill are triggering earthquakes in the Newdigate fault, I should be pleased to have access to UKOG site and well data but the company is not prepared to release this. It is happy to point to the OGA workshop conclusion that it is not causing the earthquakes, but it is not willing to release its data for public scrutiny to demonstrate this. Personally I think this is where the conspiracy comes in (your comment to Brockham Oil Watch). The OGA workshop was quite happy to conclude, with absolute certainty, that activities at Horsehill could not be causing the earthquakes. This about events taking place 1-2km underground. At least the BGS had the good grace in their input to the workshop to say that a causal link was unlikely. But that was based on saying NO to the Davis & Frohlich question “is there a well nearby” when the Horsehill well is only 3km distant. This NO was predicated on their assumption that there was no activity at the well on April 1st (I don’t believe the D&F question asks about activity, that comes in later questions). In fact there is photographic and work schedule evidence that there was significant activity taking place. Dr Luckett, who came to Newdigate to present the results of the workshop was surprised when confronted with this. He said to send the evidence to the OGA, which has been done, and no acknowledgement or re-consideration of the conclusions. I might add that the Hicks presentation to the workshop concludes that there is a causal link based on the application of two different D&F tests. Also Prof Haszeldine’s input concluded that there is a causal link, and suggested that pressure changes are the probable triggering mechanism. That ties in with all the subsequent earthquakes where pressure changes associated with shut-ins or pressure tests seem to correlate with earthquakes.
          I believe the OGA is negligent and failing in its duty of care in not calling for a proper evaluation of Professor Haszeldine’s theory, in not applying a Precautionary Principle, and also in not taking any further action given that there have now been a further 11 earthquakes since the workshop.
          I hate to go back to Groningen again, but it does seem that it is a very good case study for us residents of Newdigate. The report from the Dutch Safety Board investigation is secured so I can’t copy from it which says much for Windows security, even screen print is prevented. However you can read it https://www.dropbox.com/s/j7hied7q0mxgilv/Dutch%20Safety%20Board%20investigation%20Groningen.pdf?dl=0 and I would say that all three factors listed under Explanation, and the following paragraph, are very pertinent to the attitude of the OGA in respect of the earthquakes in Newdiagte.

          • I’m sure you would be pleased to have data from HH, as would a few others.

            However, this is still an exploration site and data from it is subject to close confines due to financial implications. The data has been shared with those investigating the swarm, who are the experts in the field and they have been satisfied-apart from a small minority.

            How will all those people at Gatwick Airport find a living if the Precautionary Principle is applied there-with much more justification? You will find a bigger minority for that to be closed based upon the nonsense of Precautionary Principle, but no more science to justify it.

            • Martin Collyer

              You are obviously a fast reader? Since we have now left earthquakes and are on to Gatwick Airport – not quite sure how or why – I assume the objections are running out. Frankly, I don’t have any confidence in a report produced by a Government body charged with promoting onshore unconventional oil & gas, and a company whose survival depends on Horsehill, unless all the facts are put in the public domain – as they would have to be if there was a fracking licence.

              In case you didn’t have the chance to read the Dutch Safety Board report, I have managed to crack the security.

              In the Dutch Safety Board’s opinion, three factors influenced how consideration was
              given to citizen safety in relation to earthquakes during the gas exploitation decision-
              making process.

              The first factor that influenced the decision-making process is the fact that safety had not
              been embedded as a separate interest in the system of responsibilities surrounding gas
              extraction. This system is primarily designed to look after significant public interests such
              as the guaranteed supply of gas and revenue optimisation. Under the current system,
              besides being a party involved in the exploitation of natural gas, the Ministry of Economic
              Affairs also serves as the guardian of all the interests at stake, including the safety
              interests of Groningen citizens. Other ministries and local and provincial authorities had
              no or barely any involvement in the gas extraction decision-making process. It is a closed,
              consensus-driven system, offering little room for opposing viewpoints.

              The second factor that influenced the decision-making process is that the parties involved
              in gas extraction had long lacked any sense of urgency to conduct research that might
              reduce the uncertainties surrounding gas extraction in the Groningen gas field.
              Knowledge of the potential impacts of gas extraction had only been developed on a
              fragmented basis until the supervisory authority issued its warning in 2013. Until 2013, no
              integral, independent scientific research programme had been initiated to chart the
              deep substratum of Groningen and the mechanisms at work underground. Furthermore,
              the parties involved were unreceptive to critical opposing viewpoints that called the
              accuracy of the assumptions into question. In the Dutch Safety Board’s opinion, the
              parties concerned should have already realised at an early stage that unknown risks
              would be inherent in a large-scale, multi-year operation such as the exploitation of the
              Groningen gas field. Uncertainty and reducing that uncertainty should have served as
              the guiding principle for their actions.

              A third and final relevant factor is the inadequate level of accountability to, and
              communication with, the Groningen population. Until 2013, the natural gas exploration
              company (NAM), the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the supervisory authority provided
              citizens with inadequate insight into the uncertainties relating to the earthquake issue.
              Communication focused primarily on the expected maximum earthquake intensity and
              the lighter material damage that could be caused by earthquakes. On account of this
              technocratic approach, insufficient consideration was given to the anxiety and safety
              concerns of the citizens in Groningen. This moreover precluded citizens and their MPs
              from acting as a countervailing power.

              Much of the prevailing dissatisfaction in Groningen is rooted in the past. The people of
              Groningen refer to the period – now almost 25 years ago – in which the exploration
              company categorically maintained that the earthquakes could not have anything to do
              with gas extraction. When a relationship with gas extraction was nonetheless found to
              exist, the first crack in NAM’s credibility became a fact. This pattern subsequently
              repeated itself. The earthquakes would only cause slight damage at the most
              – considerable damage occurred nonetheless. The severity of the earthquakes would not
              exceed 3.3 on the Richter scale – but they did nonetheless. The supervisory authority
              warned that citizen safety in the gas extraction area was at risk and recommended that
              extraction be reduced – and nonetheless in 2013 more gas was extracted from the
              Groningen gas field. The Groningen population’s confidence in both NAM and the
              central government then plunged to an all-time low. To date, the minister’s decision in
              early 2014 to curb gas extraction in some areas has failed to restore confidence.

              • Really? It was you who suggested the Precautionary Principle be applied to HH, but if the Precautionary Principle is valid why should it be selective? Do aircraft not crash-unfortunately?

                Sorry, I had many years of dealing with the Precautionary Principle within the Brussels systems where it was totally abused, but unfortunately, not to destruction. Now, often Green lead, it is somehow all cleaned up and the new science! Except it isn’t, it is the same excuse for kicking cans down the road or replacing science with speculation. The EU added protectionism to that eg. chlorine washed chicken.

                So how have you meandered off into gas extraction in Holland? There are plenty of examples of bog standard on shore oil extraction in UK but you will not find much about them, because they are all pretty lacking in real issues. Maybe that’s why you had to meander off to Holland? If you wanted to move to gas extraction, plenty of examples of that in UK, but again you will struggle to find anything to get excited about. Alternatively, you can find some references to fallen wind turbines in the EU, but I have yet to hear any suggestion UK applies a Precautionary Principle on that basis.

                I suggested you take more note of BGS. You seem to want to ignore that and claim a conspiracy, which you have a right to do.

                I will follow their information as I believe that is the most sound currently, and devoid of conspiracy theory.

                And no, I have no investment in UKOG, but I have had in the past and still take an interest. (My reason for my investment was to build funds to try out a hybrid car. I did, so I did. I should have put my profit elsewhere as the hybrid was rubbish. Tried another one, rubbish still.)

                Did enforce the message to be careful of what “information” you follow. Not that it will stop. Noticed someone from the GreenAlliance claiming yesterday the reluctance of consumers to go to electric vehicles was due largely to a 7 month waiting time! Ermm-any idea what the waiting time for most vehicles is currently? 7 months-if you are lucky. Mine ordered start of November, delivered middle May. The scientist working on the batteries for electric vehicles gave a much more scientific and accurate set of reasons on the same day. I know he is correct, because I experienced what he admits are the problems.

  5. In view of some of the misguided (and, as usual, ad hominem) comments by some of the industry-infatuated [edited by moderator] above, let me re-cap and update what I predicted about Horse Hill-1 in August 2017:
    http://www.davidsmythe.org/frackland/?m=201708
    and the linked technical analysis:http://www.davidsmythe.org/fracking/Smythe%20Horse%20Hill%20analysis%20v1.1.pdf

    There are two separate faults, Collendean and Horse Hill, not one as mapped by Magellan and UKOG. My two-fault interpretation has now been quietly adopted by UKOG, as seen in its planning application to SCC.

    UKOG placed Collendean Farm-1 in a stream 150 m NW of the correct position given by Esso’s national grid coordinates. Study of old OS maps shows that the stream has been there for at least a century. I confirmed the Esso location by discussion with a local inhabitant, who remembered where the drill rig was, in a corner of a field in 1964. So more pure incompetence by UKOG – it can’t even locate a well correctly!

    Due to a UKOGL error in labelling the old seismic line ESO-021(1) my continuation westward of the Horse Hill Fault as shown in August 2017 is no longer valid; the fault as seen on this line, since position-corrected, is indistinct and somewhat further to the north.

    I said that Horse Hill-1 would be within the fault damage zone, on the assumption that the well would only be slightly deviated to the NW as Magellan had planned. The well is in fact much more deviated than I assumed, and UKOG also states that it is within a fault zone. So my comments about good flow in the Kimmeridgian being due to the higher permeability within the fault damage zone remain valid.

    I did NOT say that there would be no production from the Kimmeridgian. In the analysis, slide 16, I said:

    “The well could conceivably drain a 1 km stretch of the fault zone, which we might assume, optimistically, to be 250 m wide. That gives 17 MMBO. If 1% of that oil in place is recoverable by free flow (i.e. no fracking) from this tight formation, then this segment of the fault zone might produce 170,000 barrels from the naturally fractured Kimmeridgian.”

    Before being shut in early February 2019 the Kimmeridgian had produced 25,000 bbl. Between November and January the flow varied between 300 and 500 bopd, but in the last month before shut-in it had dropped to 130 bopd. If that latter rate is maintained during production my prediction of 170,000 barrels might come true in another 4-5 years. But it might equally just reduce to a drip in a short time.

    So my talk will be summarising the continuing incompetence by UKOG, together with its outlandish predictions and misleading accounts of the geology. My forecasts about fault zones and production are on target.

    It is a pity that industry apologists either don’t bother to read in detail, or else misunderstand, what I have written.

  6. Well, well!

    So, “predictions” from yourself David and more “might”, whereas UKOG who are in receipt of all the information from HH are producing “outlandish predictions”. Shame they won’t share that information with you, but then, why should they?

    Without looking like an industry apologist-sorry we hit a nerve-I have discussed with you before I will await REAL data from HH rather than be swayed by more speculation within a sea of speculation. Some of that is now emerging, but of course this has yet to get to the phase of horizontal drilling into the targets now identified, so much could happen at that stage. Logically, that should be the proof of the pudding-or the cake mix which seems so desired by some in the area.

    I’m the sort of old fashioned guy who believes that if geologists were always correct there would be no need for exploration, no “dusters” and companies like UKOG would always be successful. As they obviously are not, then I fall back to REAL data, and accept speculation from both sides is just the same. (Although, when there is a large majority with one viewpoint/analyses it does move the needle for me in that direction as I am reluctant to attempt to dismiss/diminish groups by putting labels upon them.)

    I also believe one statement Greta made which was regarding “creative carbon accounting”. Not sure many at Beare Green Village Hall will have that in their minds-but perhaps they should, and simply review the numbers of ships in and out of Fawley Refinery each year-all easily checked. 6% of revenue to local causes plus satisfying some of Greta’s anxiety also seems worthy cause for consideration.

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