Fire at Horse Hill oil site

191026 HH Well site DoD

Horse Hill well site, 26 October 2019. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Fire fighters were called to the Horse Hill oil site near Horley in Surrey this morning (3/11/2019).

The fire was in the rig engine at the site, known as the Gatwick Gusher. There were no casualties.

Surrey Fire and Rescue got a call at 10.03am. Two appliances went to the site. They left at 11.20am.

A resident who passed the site this morning said there was a smell of burning plastic. There was still a smell of smoke at midday, the resident said.

The fire service described the fire as accidental. It said oil was present in the fire and there was damage to the area where the fire started.

A spokesperson for UK Oil & Gas, the major investor at Horse Hill, said the fire started at 10am and was put out by hand-held fire extinguishers. He said:

“The fire brigade arrived at 10:15am and confirmed that the fire was safely extinguished.”

He added:

“There was no oil burnt, only diesel. Oil isn’t anywhere near the rig engine”.

UKOG is currently drilling a new horizontal well at Horse Hill, known as HH-2, as well as testing oil flows in the first well, HH-1.

The company spokesperson said:

“The incident had no effect upon the safety of the HH-2z well or test production from HH-1.

“UKOG is now investigating the cause of the fire before resuming normal operations.”

In September, Surrey County Council granted planning permission for 20 years of oil production at Horse Hill. The decision is being challenged by a local woman on behalf of the campaign network, Weald Action Group.

Oil operations at Horse Hill have been linked by some scientists to a series of earth tremors in Surrey, which started on 1 April 2018.

UKOG has consistently dismissed any connection between its work and the tremors, which the British Geological Survey (BGS) online database now says total 57. A recent scientific review said there was no evidence that operations at Horse Hill had caused the tremors. But local people have called on UKOG to release records of its site activities when the tremors occurred.

The most recent tremor, which measured 0.8ML, was recorded by the BGS at 7.25pm on 31 October 2019.

9 replies »

  1. So the earthquake we experienced in Horley (the first in 23 years of residence here) was purely coincidence and nothing to do with drilling at Horse Hill. Yeh, sure.

    • Yes, you are absolutely right. Spot on. The earthquake (best call it a tremor) “was purely coincidence and nothing to do with drilling at Horse Hill”. At least UKOG and the authorities use science and not cynicism. UKOG were not drilling at the time – a matter of public record but don’t let facts distract you from your prejudice. Neither do UKOG frack.

      According to the British Geological Survey there are some 20 to 30 earth tremors that can be felt by people every year and several hundred that can’t. The planet is a living organism and is moving continuously hence the reason for tremors. It is a natural phenomenon.

  2. Yes, Colin. Repeating the same post may still excite yourself, but as Gary states the situation has been scientifically examined and cleared regarding any connection to HH.

    Rig engine being replaced currently.

    • When it comes to “Matters of scientific record” the BGS appear to hold the conch.

      On their database of geological events which is a bit of a bear to search in the 35 years since 1985 in the 50 to 51 latitude and -1 to +1 longitude, there have been 85 earthquakes. 29 of them were not at Newdigate, so two-thirds of the earthquakes in the area were at Newdigate and all of those two-thirds happened in the past 20 months since April 1st 2018
      Since the first earthquake at Newdigate, there have been 62 events of which 4 (6%) have not been at Newdigate so 94% of the seismicity in the surrounding 12,000 miles has been at Newdigate. Without Newdigate, on the books, the seismicity of the area looks about normal,

      Newdigate is a big statistical outlier.

      While I try to keep an open mind, the fact that Newdigate is less than 2 miles from Horse Hill and has suddenly become the most active “naturally” seismic spot in the surrounding 12,000 square miles is a concern.

      At best one must question the wisdom of drilling for fossil fuels in an area very close to a spot that has recently developed significant “Natural” seismicity.

      Taking a dismissive attitude in this discussion is akin to aping the popular view of King Canute – however, King Canute was wise enough to perform his unsuccessful attempt to resist the force of nature to prove to his sycophants that he was NOT all-powerful, though few give him credit for that.

      In this case, the argument is only going one way – the government u-turn on fracking was because we just do not know enough about seismicity to be sure about anything.

      Science works in paradigms and scientists work to prove new truths – nobody got a Nobel prize for proving everything is as we think it is. So even the scientists efforts will be going into proving you wrong. They have found no evidence to prove that drilling caused the seismicity at Newdigate – yet – but they cannot prove that it did not either.

      The scientists just do not know enough about it – and if these AIM adventurers were to spend the money they are supposed to on shooting 3D seismic surveys we might learn a bit more but as it is that is not going to happen as the “carpet slipper” Private Investors will only pay for exciting speculative drilling of wells.

  3. Oh, private investors can pay for loads of things, pd. In many cases there will be Nimbys suggesting such things should not happen.

    The one constant, hopefully, is that they make their decisions based upon the weight of evidence, and that is what the appropriate authorities also do. Not a question of dismissing, but looking at the weight of evidence-just as you do when you cross the road. If you go with the fact there is a road and that means vehicles, rather than slow walkers, and that stops you crossing because science has not proven one will not suddenly appear, all it means is you will fail to catch your ‘plane at Gatwick!

    Investors could alternatively do the lottery, or walkers could play Russian Roulette with HGVs, but I think both might be better off weighing up evidence.

  4. wow!

    I am not sure I get your point but thanks for making it.

    I think my point – in your paradigm – every day that passes in the short and medium term when there is no earthquake proves nothing.
    to get back to the “background” average seismicity for this 12,000 squ mile area there needs to be no more earthquakes in this block until 19/03/2090 not a single one – that is the science from the BGS who know about this stuff.
    if there are more then we need to ask ourselves why are we having so many earthquakes and is it a good idea to drill for fossil fuels through ground that is so unstable?

    • Very illuminating Rachel!

      And the meaning of life is….??????

      (Careful-unless you have proof that is close to actionable.)

  5. Every day you cross the road and you survive proves nothing!?

    Every day that a seismic event happens in Shropshire it proves they happen quite frequently in areas of the UK-with or without UKOG.

    I recognise that you wish to “protect”, but would gently suggest-from my experience of Planning issues-that chasing scare stories which have been dismissed following full scientific appraisal might excite a few supporters but will cause the opposite reaction by those responsible for assessing such matters. If that is your aim, fine.

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