Operators of the Broadford Bridge oil exploration site in West Sussex are seeking a third extension of planning permission – this time to allow for drilling at other sites.
UKOG (234) Ltd said it needed two more years at Broadford Bridge so that it could analyse results from wells not yet drilled or permitted at Dunsfold in Surrey.
Drilling at Horse Hill near Gatwick Airport would also help to decide the future of the Broadford Bridge site, UKOG (234) said.
The company, formerly known as Kimmeridge Oil & Gas Limited, was previously granted extensions for Broadford Bridge in 2017 and 2018.
An application, published just before Christmas, said data from Dunsfold and Horse Hill, would:
“help determine the need for further testing and appraisal at Broadford Bridge and its potential for commercial success.
“Put simply, the data is critical for the future planning of the Broadford Bridge Site.”
UKOG 234 said drilling at Horse Hill had “not progressed as quickly as originally envisaged”.
“Delays at Horse Hill and the likelihood of new information coming forward from other sites would make the restoration of Broadford Bridge on 31st March 2020 premature.”
The extension of planning permission would “provide valuable information to help inform future mineral exploration and extraction across the wider Weald basin formation”, the application said.
The Dunsfold planning application, submitted last year, is expected to be decided during 2020 after several delays.
The last time the company applied for more time at Broadford Bridge, some members of the council’s planning committee questioned the need for an extension.
Speaking in 2018, Cllr Janet Duncton said if the company came back for a further extension the committee would be “quite tough”. Cllr Simon Oakley asked: “At this point should we say you’ve had long enough?”
The Broadford Bridge site, at Wood Barn Farm, Adversane Lane, was first granted planning permission on 11 February 2011.
Progress has since been intermittent.
Site construction did not start until September 2014. Drilling was then delayed by a legal dispute over payments in 2015 between the then site partners.
Kimmeridge Oil & Gas Limted took over as operator in 2016 and drilled the well in May 2017, more than six years after planning permission was granted.
Since then the company announced cement bond problems in the wellbore and potential damage to sections of the well and surrounding formation. Part of the reservoir was declared unproductive because of low permeability.
In 2017, West Sussex County Council approved an extension of a year to 15 September 2018 to allow the well to be tested. The council approved the second extension in 2018 for 18 months, to March 2020.
If the latest request were granted, no further drilling or testing would be allowed, without an additional new planning application, KOGL said.
A public consultation is now underway on the application. The deadline for comments is 30 January 2020.
UKOG 234 has submitted a separate application to retain security fencing, gates and cabins at Broadford Bridge for another two years. The public consultation on this application also continues to 30 January 2020.
Link to main application (WSCC/079/19)
Link to fencing, gates and cabins application (WSCC/078/19)
Updated to clarify that Kimmeridge Oil & Gas Limited was renamed UKOG 234