Angus Energy reported this morning it has withdrawn a planning application to test its oil well at Balcombe in West Sussex.
In a statement to shareholders, the company said it intended to submit an updated application for a shorter test within six weeks.
In March 2020, council planners had recommended the application for a three-year test be refused.
They said the proposal would “establish a continued presence of industry which is not appropriate to the area”.
They also said the application did not pass tougher planning hurdles required for a major development in an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB).
The planners said:
“On balance, it is concluded that although there may be a need for onshore oil and gas development to contribute to national energy security, the need is not such that it represents exceptional circumstances, or that it is in the public interest for the proposed major development to be located in the High Weald AONB.”
The recommendation was welcomed by some villagers who opposed Angus Energy’s operations in Balcombe.
A day after the planners’ recommendation, West Sussex County Council cancelled the committee at which the decision would be made because of the coronavirus outbreak. A new date for the decision had not been set.
Today’s statement from Angus Energy said:
“We have noted the concerns raised by the Planning Officers regarding the application, however we are strongly of the view that energy security and supply in the UK, together with the manifestly lower carbon cost of locally produced hydrocarbon, remain arguments convincingly in favour of continued onshore production, particularly when the footprint can be crafted to be as small as it is expected to be at Balcombe.”
The statement said the revised application would propose a shorter test and make what were described as “stronger arguments regarding national and local socio-economic benefits”. It would also make “some additional environmental enhancement measures”, the statement said:
Angus Energy’s managing director, George Lucan, said:
“I would remind shareholders that, even on our modest estimates, Balcombe is a very valuable prospect to Angus and could at pre-crisis oil prices justify on its own the market capitalisation. We won’t give up on it.”
The company also gave updates this morning on its operations at the Saltfleetby gas field and at oil sites at Brockham and Lidsey. See separate DrillOrDrop report here and more coming soon.
An Angus investor conference call is planned for Tuesday 5 May at 5pm. A recording will be available on the company’s website.