Regulation

Officials give Rathlin Energy extra time for drilling at West Newton

The drilling rig at Rathlin Energy’s West Newton-B site in East Yorkshire will be allowed to stay for another two months, council officials have confirmed.

Rathlin Energy’s West Newton-B site in East Yorkshire, 2 December 2020. Photo: West Newton and Sproatley Gateway to the Gasfields

A condition of the planning permission, granted in 2015, limits the rig time onsite to two periods, each of ten weeks.

But it allows for an extension to this time, with the agreement of East Riding of Yorkshire Council:

“The drilling rig shall only remain on site for a maximum of two periods of ten weeks unless otherwise agreed in writing with the Local Planning Authority.”

Condition 2 of planning permission granted in June 2015

The rig arrived at West Newton-B on 22 September 2020 and would have been expected to leave this week, on Tuesday 1 December 2020.

But a council planner confirmed that the rig would now be on site until the end of January 2021.

The official said the extra time was needed because of the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak, the approaching Christmas holidays and the need to drill a sidetrack to the initial well.

Sidetrack drilling was announced last week after reports that one of the well’s targets, the Cadeby formation, showed “insufficient reservoir development”.

The council confirmed today:

“Whilst drilling the first well target geological formations were missed thus part of the well below approximately 950 metres has been plugged, abandoned, and redrilled known as a sidetrack.”

The applicant’s planning agent has said the sidetrack would be to the same approximate depth and target geological formations agreed in the planning permission, the council added.

DrillOrDrop asked Rathlin Energy whether it considered the sidetrack to be part of the initial well or part of a second well permitted at West Newton-B. The company did not respond to our questions.

The council told us:

“There are no changes to the agreed plans or supporting documentation approved by the planning permission because only one well will be formed.”

Work at West Newton-B was underway in early April 2020. Drilling, testing and site restoration must be completed within 24 months.

3 replies »

  1. This Council understands that their responsibility is at surface – other Councils should learn from this. Sidetracks are not an issue for planners other than time and traffic.

  2. How come the Cadeby formation was missed??

    That is not what the DoD report of 23rd November stated.

    Has there been a correction that I have missed?

  3. Thanks for the correction, Ruth.

    My assessment of the situation is that it is like dating two sisters. (Other sexes could be utilised to allow for “correctness”.) Cadeby has been found to be wanting, so concentrating on the other sister now!

    Now, time will tell if much comes from that relationship. Maybe, maybe not. This oil and gas exploration is not that scary and exciting if it is compared with normality.

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