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.