UKOG said this morning it had submitted a planning application for oil drilling and flow testing at Arreton on the Isle of Wight.
The company said the application was due to be published on 27 March 2020.
The application has been expected for several months. UKOG unveiled plans for Arreton, and another Isle of Wight site at Godshill, at a public meeting in December.
During that event, UKOG said it would not use fracking to extract oil on the island. It said it would use an acid wash to clean the wells but told DrillOrDrop injection of acid under pressure would not be necessary.
In a statement today, UKOG said it planned to drill a deviated borehole, to be called Arreton-3.
If short-term testing indicated this was commercially viable, the company would drill a horizontal sidetrack from it (Arreton-3z), followed by an extended well test. The work would be carried out within three years, UKOG said.
The Arreton site is close to the boundary of the Isle of Wight area of outstanding natural beauty.
Some people who attended December’s public meeting complained that the development would industrialise the countryside. UKOG said today the Arreton site had been picked because it was next to land that already had non-agricultural commercial uses, including an anaerobic digester and a quarry.
The company described Arreton as a “geological analogue” of its Horse Hill site in Surrey. There were three stacked Jurassic oil pools, UKOG said. Estimated oil in place was 127 million barrels and UKOG’s share of recoverable contingent resources was an estimated 14.9 million barrels (mid case).
Arreton is the second of two new planning applications for UKOG. It also has an application in the planning system for what it calls the Loxley site at Dunsfold in Surrey.
Company chief executive Stephen Sanderson said:
“Whilst UKOG’s primary focus will remain on maintaining continued long-term stable and profitable oil production at Horse Hill, our efforts will also continue with those actions necessary to ensure that both the Arreton oil and Loxley gas appraisal projects move forwards as swiftly as the current UK situation permits.”
The application will now be reviewed by planning officers before it was validated. Officers may go back to UKOG to verify information or ask for further material. Only then would it be published and a public consultation begin.
Call for deferral
The main group opposing the application called this morning for it to be delayed because of the covid-19 crisis:
“Frack Free Isle of Wight believes there should be motivation for the full council to take a precautionary approach and defer this application, until at least the end of this crisis, to ensure due diligence so the Council’s full focus can be given to this most important application and a decision made by our council for our community, rather than the Oil & Gas Authority or any other Government agency.”
The group added:
“Our major concern is whether this unusual situation will hinder the best efforts of the planning committee to function efficiently and whether this could result in this application being transferred from the Isle of Wight Council to the Oil & Gas Authority or Secretary of State for Communities for a decision in the light of the current crisis.”
“It therefore has implications for the efficacy of the public consultation, given the restrictions of movement and opportunities to hold large community gatherings and information meetings for the public to assist them in the consultation process, particularly since currently libraries are closed for internet access and there are those within the community who are not internet proficient.”