Regulation

Could Wressle inquiry be the first test for fracking U-turn?

171108 Wressle PI DoD6

Opposition placards outside the public inquiry into plans by Egdon Resources for oil production at Wressle near Scunthorpe, 8 November 2017. Photo: DrillOrDrop

A public inquiry which opens tomorrow into oil plans in north Lincolnshire could see the first examination of the government moratorium on fracking.

Egdon Resources is seeking permission to use a form of acid fracking to increase oil production at the Wressle site near Scunthorpe.

Until two days ago, the inquiry had been expected to be a fairly one-sided event.

North Lincolnshire Council withdrew its case in July, despite previously voting unanimously against the scheme.

Residents and campaign organisations have continued to oppose the application but do not have a formal role in the hearing.

So the government’s moratorium announcement, confirmed in a written statement today, may complicate the inquiry, currently scheduled for six days.

The business secretary, Andrea Leadsom, said the government would “take a presumption against issuing any further hydraulic fracturing consents”.

She said the industry regulator, the Oil & Gas Authority (OGA), could not be sure that fracking would not cause unacceptable levels of seismicity following the series of tremors from Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site. She said:

“The OGA are therefore unlikely to approve future hydraulic fracture plans unless new evidence is presented”.

2018 Wressle workover

Cross-section of site during workover of the Wressle well. Source: Egdon Resources planning application to North Lincolnshire Council

The Wressle well was drilled into sandstone, rather than shale, and there are no plans for high volume hydraulic fracturing.

One of the investors in the site, Union Jack Oil, said today the government’s change of policy on fracking would have no impact on its operations:

“The company has no intent to engage in hydraulic fracturing operations in England, neither now nor in the future”.

But Egdon Resources has said it wants to use a proppant squeeze to improve the flow of oil at Wressle.

This process injects a solution of hydrofluoric acid under pressure into the surrounding rocks and, in this case, uses ceramic beads to hold open fractures.

A revision of the environmental permit for the Wressle site has 27 references to hydraulic fracturing. WRESSLE Environment Agency Permit Consolidation and Variation

Before work could start, Egdon Resources must submit a hydraulic fracturing plan for approval to the Environment Agency and the Oil & Gas Authority.

DrillOrDrop asked the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy how the new policy would affect sites like Wressle. We have not received a response.

This is the second inquiry into oil production at Wressle. The previous hearing, held almost exactly two years ago, heard that if the plans were approved this would be the first use of proppant squeeze onshore in the UK.

The inquiry is due to open at 10am tomorrow (Tuesday 5 November) at the Hobbies Centre, Wesley Road, Scunthorpe DN16 1SA.

It will be chaired by the planning inspector, Phillip Ware. Egdon Resources has appointed Herewood Phillpot QC to present its case.

Hearings are due on Wednesday 6 November-Friday 8 November and Tuesday 12 November-Wednesday 13 November 2019.

  • The inspector at a public inquiry into Ineos shale gas plans at Woodsetts in south Yorkshire has asked the parties to submit comments on the moratorium by 12 November 2019.

8 replies »

  1. On Saturday morning Andrea Leadsom also stated that there were ample supplies of natural gas and LNG from overseas sources and energy security was not in anyway compromised by the moratorium on fracking.
    So what justification remains for any further exploration for fossil fuels in the UK?

    • A fair question, Jon. I think the point is that shale gas production is not necessary in the UK, but is, for this government at least, desirable.
      The sooner we insulate the UK housing stock and build new homes that are off the gas grid the better.

    • Please keep up Jon. This is intended to be an OIL well. You know-that stuff that produces your keyboard and is imported in vast quantities from all over the world-and, as a result, adding to pollution of the environment when transported safely, and adding a great deal more when not transported safely.

    • Just for you Jon:

      RWE, the power company, will deliver its first cargo of liquified natural gas to Britain today. The LNG will be regasified at Milford Haven, south Wales. Enough to keep Pembroke B running for a fortnight.

      IT CAME FROM USA!!

      So, good old UK, helping Donald, via taxes, to build his wall, and pay high school drop outs $60k/year as dishwashers within the fossil fuel industry.

      Meanwhile, across Lincolnshire every sizeable arable farm will have a sizeable tank to hold red diesel to enable them to produce food for the UK. That red diesel which is subsidised by UK tax payers to make the food production economic for the public.

      Goodness, the UK is a very generous country.

      Maybe, it should look at the opportunities to be “generous” within the UK where it can?

  2. There are plenty of other sources of home grown energy supplies which will become available shortly without the need for import.

    They have the ability to support local communities & the national interest, whilst giving this country a secure energy future

  3. This is not fracking. This process has been done for over 50 years without any problems in this country, and to refer to it as fracking is a distortion of the truth.

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