Campaigners have urged planners to drop their support for more time at an oil exploration site in West Sussex.
They say recent developments at other sites in the Weald region should be taken into account and the request by a subsidiary of UK Oil & Gas plc for two more years at Broadford Bridge should be refused.
In March 2020, a report by the county council’s planning department recommended approval of the extension. But the next day, the meeting at which the decision would have been made was postponed by the coronavirus outbreak.
The application is now due to be decided tomorrow (Tuesday 7 July).
In a letter to planning officers, Broadford Bridge Action Group said today there had been “a change to a material condition” since the report was written. Broadford Bridge Action Group letter
UKOG justified the extension in its application by saying that data from its sites at Horse Hill and Dunsfold in Surrey would:
“help determine the need for further testing and appraisal at Broadford Bridge and its potential for commercial success.
“Put simply, the data [from other sites] is critical for the future planning of the Broadford Bridge Site.”
Broadford Bridge Action Group (BBAG), which has campaigned against operations at the site, said:
“There is no need to wait to review and evaluate data from these two sites given recent developments in Surrey.”
At Horse Hill, the group said interim results from UKOG, also last week, showed that the site was “beset by water problems.”
The company said the proportion of formation water produced by the second well (HH-2z) had increased. The cost of disposing of this water outweighed oil revenues from the well. UKOG said it was now considering stimulation, sidetracking or converting the well into a reinjector.
UKOG said it was also planning to reperforate the first well (HH-1)this summer. It said “the current completion and perforation scheme is less than optimal for both pump efficiency and oil inflow”.
“UKOG say that HH-l had produced more than 300 barrels of oil per day. This is not a level of production which would justify further work at Broadford Bridge.”
Third extension request
If approved, this would be the third time extension of time at Broadford Bridge.
The site was first approved in February 2013. A condition of the original permission required the site to be restored within three years of the start of work.
The first extension application, in 2017, was for an extra year until 15 September 2018. It was granted unanimously.
The second application for extension was granted by eight votes to two for an additional 18 months. One councillor at the decision meeting warned that if the company came back for a further extension the committee would be “quite tough”.
- Tomorrow’s committee is a virtual meeting with restricted public access because of the coronavirus outbreak . The meeting begins at 10.30am and is due to be webcast. DrillOrDrop will be reporting on the discussions.