The shale gas company, Cuadrilla, has got three more years in which to seek consent for two new wells near Blackpool in Lancashire.
Deadlines have also been extended in six other areas for companies including Aurora Energy Resources, Rathlin Energy, UK Oil & Gas plc and its subsidiary Horse Hill Developments Limited and Angus Energy.
The details are in the latest update from the industry regulator, the Oil & Gas Authority (OGA), on retention area agreements.
The document, dated last month, deals with work plans for 23 exploration licences, most issued in 2004 or 2008.
Cuadrilla: three more years
This is second time in two years that Cuadrilla has been given more time to meet its work commitments in licence area PEDL165.
In July 2018, the OGA said the company should apply for planning permission for the wells by the end of June 2021. This deadline was extended in 2019 to June 2023. The most recent update extended the time limit again to June 2026.
Under the work plan, Cuadrilla must also acquire two new sets of data in the licence area by June 2025 and submit a field development plan by June 2026. These deadlines have been extended by at least three years.
Cuadrilla drilled wells in the area in 2017 and 2018 from its site at Preston New Road. It fracked the horizontal sections in 2018 and 2019. Both fracture operations induced small earthquakes and were suspended before they were completed. In November 2019, the government ordered an immediate moratorium on fracking in England because of the earthquake risk.
Aurora: two-year extension near Formby
Aurora Energy Resources has been given two more years to drill a 3,000m well in its licence area in west Lancashire.
The deadline to meet this work commitment in licence PEDL164 has been extended from September 2020 to September 2022.
The time limit to drill a second 3,000m well has been extended by a year to the end of September 2024.
The company has also given another two years to acquire 30km2 of new 3D seismic data (until September 2022).
In July 2020, Aurora withdrew a planning application to drill and frack two wells at a site at Altcar Moss, east of Formby. The company blamed the moratorium on fracking.
Two more years for Rathlin Energy
The OGA has extended by two years the deadline for an additional well in part of Rathlin Energy’s PEDL183 licence in East Yorkshire.
The company has drilled two wells at its site at West Newton-A and is currently drilling at the nearby West Newton-B.
The OGA update says Rathlin should commit to drill a well by 30 June 2023, extended from 2021.
Extensions in the Weald
In PEDL234 in Surrey and West Sussex, UK Oil & Gas plc (UKOG) has extra time to drill and test three new wells.
One should be drilled by the end of 2021 through the Kimmeridge limestones and on trend with the Godley Bridge-1 Portland gas discovery. This deadline was extended from 2019.
A second well should be drilled through the Kimmeridge limestones by the end of 2022, extended from 2020. A third appraisal well or sidetrack should be drilled by the end of 2023, previously by 2021.
The company should also acquire and process 50km of 2D seismic data and submit a field development plan by the end of 2024.
A UKOG planning application for a gas well in PEDL234 at Dunsfold in Surrey will be decided on Friday 27 November 2020. The company’s other well in the licence area at Broadford Bridge in West Sussex is currently suspended.
The update says the Balcombe licence, PEDL244, in West Sussex has committed drill a well by the end of June 2024, extended from 2021. A well test should be completed by the end of June 2021, previously 2019.
Angus Energy, the operator of PEDL244, has applied for planning permission for an extended well test at the Balcombe site. The next scheduled planning meeting where it could be decided is in early January 2021.
Horse Hill Developments Limited (HHDL), a subsidiary of UKOG, has more time to meet its commitments in PEDL246, in Surrey. The licence area is next to PEDL137, which includes the Horse Hill site near Horley.
HHDL has committed to drill a well to test the Kimmeridge limestones by the end of June 2021 (extended from 2021). It should also acquire new 2D seismic survey data by the end of June 2022.
The OGA 2020 update no longer included PEDL126, UKOG’s Markwells Wood licence on the West Sussex-Hampshire border.
UKOG abandoned and restored the Markwells Wood site and relinquished the licence.
Other licences that were listed in 2019 but not in 2020 were those held by Third Energy in Ryedale, North Yorkshire: AL006, DL005, PL077, PL079, PL080, PL081, PEDL177.
The previous update required Third Energy to drill six wells and frack four in these licences.
Since then, Third Energy has been sold. The new owners have said they have no current plans to frack in the area. Last month, the company said it planned to challenge an official order by the OGA to plug and abandon all its wells in the Ryedale area.
The OGA online database still lists all the Ryedale licences. Most have anticipated expiry dates of 2023 or 2024.