West Newton-A: Permit changes approved

191014 West Newton WNGTGF3

West Newton-A wellsite, 14 October 2019. Photo: West Newton Gateway to the Gasfields

The Environment Agency has approved changes to the rules for a well test at the West Newton-A oil and gas site in East Yorkshire, partner companies reported this morning.

Union Jack Oil and Reabold Resources, which together have a 55% stake in the project, said the changes would allow the use of a nodding donkey or pumpjack to mechanically lift oil from the well. A different flare would also be permitted during the test.

They said the decision document was received on 24 April 2020. At the time of writing, the Environment Agency had not published the document on its webpage for West Newton-A. We will update this report with any further details when the decision is published.

Rathlin applied for the variation to the permit in February 2020.

The Environment Agency described them as “minor technical changes”, which would not have the potential for “significant negative effects on humans or the environment”. There was no formal public consultation.

The well test at West Newton-A began on 22 August 2019 and had been due to last six weeks. But equipment was moved off the site on 28 August 2019. The next day Rathlin confirmed that the test had been suspended following the discovery of oil, as well as the predicted gas. The well test was redesigned to evaluate fully the oil find, Rathlin said.

In today’s statement, Union Jack said the test now had all the permissions required:

“Testing operations at West Newton will recommence once government guidance pertaining to  COVID-19 permits, the required personnel and equipment become available, and the health and continued safety of Rathlin employees, contract personnel and the community can be ensured”.

Update 20/5/2020 : The Environment Agency has added the decision document and variation notice on its West Newton A web page.


10 replies »

  1. So, they applied for a change to accommodate they had found more than they had expected! And it was readily accepted.

    Pretty pragmatic lot in Yorkshire.

  2. Quotes: ‘A different flare would also be permitted during the test.’ and ‘The Environment Agency described them as “minor technical changes”, which would not have the potential for “significant negative effects on humans or the environment”.
    As greenhouse gases are cumulative and respect no arbitrary human boundaries, I wonder how much methane this will allow to be leaked to the atmosphere?

  3. Well, apart from it being UK and not USA, nothing therefor to do with fracking, and nothing to do with the fact the USA are very lax in utilising gas from oil wells in the Permian, I suspect back here in UK the gas will either be used to generate electricity once underway, or if more substantial, will be piped away.

    I suspect the EA was very aware of that, Mike. I suspect you are as well.

    • There are two gas storage facilities very close to the West Newton site and a network of distribution pipelines running from the Dimlington terminals.

      If there is sufficient quantity, it could result in a reduction of gas imported into Dimlington from Norway, thus reducing the carbon footprint of everyone connected to the grid including those who campaign against fossil fuels but still use and benefit from them.

  4. It doesn’t matter whether it’s fracking, non-fracking, pipelines, flares, or whatever side of whatever arbitrary boundaries we humans decide on. If Methane is being leaked by the O&G industry, whether deliberately, accidentally, incompetently or knowingly, it’s contributing massively to the GHGs ‘we’ are already pumping into the atmosphere. It’s got to stop. Now. Urgently.

    • Add in livestock farming (similar to oil and gas industry in emissions quantity), rice farming, biomass burning, land fills, biofuels and natural sources (40%). Natural sources are increasing with warming – hydrates / permafrost etc. but we can’t do much about those. The anthropogenic sources are all simply a demand issue driven by population. Cut demand for oil and gas – supply goes down – emissions drop. It is happening right now. Perhaps the other anthropogenic sources are also decreasing with Covid-19 / over supply but I doubt it.

      So Mike are you advocating we give up eating meat / dairy / stop wearing wool but don’t switch to rice (or soya etc as we need to keep our forests) or petroleum based artificial fibres, shut down DRAX, and remove biofuels from our petrol (this will save some forests..)? And stop having children?

  5. Mike Potter

    It is knowingly as Methane Leakage rates are well.documented. Plus the OGA regulate venting consents ( mainly in the English SNS offshore gas industry ).

    The coal mining industry also produced methane.

    However, it would seem that the UK industry and neighbouring Norway are not the massive contributors.

    Either way, reducing consumption while using gas from countries with high environmental.standards would seem to be the best way forwards ( noting that West Newton is now flagged as an oilfield )

  6. Yes, hewes62, it would appear Mike is advocating that whilst UK uses oil and gas, it should do so from countries with high environmental standards! Not sure he started off with that intention, but that is where he has ended up. As Paul states, there are many other sources of methane, so zero is not an option.

    So, take the environmental benefits from local production and add the following, ” there is no suggestion that this proposal would increase the use of hydrocarbons, and the evidence demonstrates that the effect would be simply to transfer production to a more local source.” (From the final ruling regarding Wressle.)

    Therefore, the following are gone:

    Methane emissions. Nope-reduced. (If you want further evidence, compare and contrast UK on shore with most of the Venezuela industry.)

    Increasing use of hydrocarbons. Nope-just transferring to a local source with decent environmental standards.

    However, the antis will continue to go round the same hamster wheel because that is what it takes to excite. Attempting to claim UK environmental standards are low and that use of hydrocarbons would be increased if somehow a small quantity was produced in East Yorkshire. And hoping that there will be a few who have no idea what happens over the horizon and also believe that oil and gas are like biscuits-that if you have them close at hand you will gorge upon them. Not sure that is a very large grouping-but for the biscuit gorgers, probably larger than it should be!

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