The rig to drill new wells at the Horse Hill oil site in Surrey has been delivered.
The major investor in the site, UK Oil & Gas plc, confirmed in a statement to investors this morning that the rig had arrived. It said the start of drilling was “expected shortly”.
An eyewitness reported at 6.20am yesterday that a convoy of drilling equipment arrived at the site near Horley.
The Drilling rig has arrived safely on site this morning with convoy .
Fool News. pic.twitter.com/c3uyAMC7Fd
— The fool on the hill (@Adrianwfire) September 23, 2019
Planning permission limits operations (except drilling and well tests) to 8am on weekdays.
The UKOG statement said drilling would begin with the vertical HH-2 well. This would be followed by work on a 1,000m horizontal section, called HH-2z, into the Portland formation.
The drilling operation was expected to take about 60 days, UKOG said.
Stephen Sanderson, UKOG’s chief executive, said:
“The journey to long-term oil production at Horse Hill has now begun. We look forward to a safe and successful drilling campaign at our flagship asset.”
For the past five years, the Horse Hill site has had just one well, HH-1, targeting the Portland and Kimmeridge formations. This flow of oil from this well is currently being tested.
Today’s statement said tests on Kimmeridge had been temporarily postponed while the rig was installed. They would resume before drilling began and continue throughout the drilling operations.
Consent for a “deviated horizontal well”
The HH-2 well was granted planning permission in 2017. At the time, UKOG described HH-2 as a “deviated horizontal well” which would target the Portland formation.
But in June 2019, the company began referring to HH-2 as a “vertical pilot hole” that would be drilled beyond the Portland into the Kimmeridge. It also mentioned for the first time HH-2z as a sidetrack or horizontal section to HH-2.
In August 2019, in a variation to Horse Hill environmental permit, the Environment Agency also referred to the “HH-2 pilot hole” and “HH-2z sidetrack”.
This apparent change of well names and drilling proposals alarmed some people living near Horse Hill. They were concerned that UKOG was trying to drill an extra well, targeting an additional formation, without planning permission. DrillOrDrop report
UKOG told DrillOrDrop earlier this month that HH-2 was a single well “being drilled as a vertical pilot well (HH-2) and a sidetrack from HH-2 called HH-2z. This is oil industry and Oil & Gas Authority terminology”.
Surrey County Council told DrillOrDrop, also earlier this month:
“Any changes to the naming/numbering of these wells will have no effect on the scale or nature of the development that was permitted.”
- Frack Free Surrey and Horse Hill Protection Group are hosting a public meeting on oil drilling at the Horse Hill site. 8pm-10pm, Church Hall, Vicarage Lane, Horley RH6 8AR. Details
- In a separate development, 20 years of oil production at Horse Hill was approved by Surrey County Council’s planning committee on 11 September 2019. The council also approved four more production wells at the site, along with a water reinjection well and storage and tanker loading facilities. Breaking news and reaction