UKOG to appeal against refusal of Loxley gas exploration plans

As expected, UK Oil & Gas plc has announced it is to appeal against the refusal of planning permission for gas exploration at its proposed Loxley well site near Dunsfold in Surrey.

View of High Billinghurst Farm, whose boundary lies less than 100m from the proposed site. Photo: High Billinghurst Farm

The county council issued a decision notice on 15 December 2020 following the refusal at a planning committee meeting on 27 November.

The grounds for refusal were concerns about highway safety and the impact on landscape amenity.

This was the second time Surrey County Council turned down the proposal to drill vertical and sidetrack wells at the Loxley site. The first decision, by the same margin of six votes to five, was rescinded because of technical problems with the online meeting in June 2020.

Both decisions had gone against the advice of planning officers, who had recommended approval. Local councils and 84% of responses to a public consultation objected to the application. 

In a statement today, UK Oil & Gas (UKOG) said it would submit an appeal early in 2021. It expected a public inquiry would be held within six-nine months.

UKOG predicted it would win the appeal, based on legal advice from a planning barrister. The company said it had argued, at both planning meetings, that a successful project at Loxley would have a role to play in the government’s low carbon hydrogen policy. Gas from the site could be turned into hydrogen, with an estimated saving of 85% in carbon emissions, UKOG said.

This assumes that UKOG would produce blue hydrogen, where the carbon released by conversion was captured and stored.

Earlier this month, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) said 85% was the top end of emissions savings from blue hydrogen and savings could be 60%.

The CCC said if blue hydrogen were “deployed in very large quantities, the emissions savings may be insufficient to meet stretching long-term emissions targets”. It also said zero-carbon options, such as electrification, were “strategically preferable to use of hydrogen”.

In today’s statement, UKOG also said domestically-produced gas had about a quarter of the carbon emissions of imported liquefied natural gas. It quoted from this week’s Energy White Paper which said the UK’s domestic oil and gas industry “had a critical role in maintaining the country’s energy security and is a major contributor to the economy”.

Weald Action Group, which opposes UKOG’s activities in southern England, rebutted this argument. It quoted the regulator, the Oil & Gas Authority, which said earlier this year that natural gas from the UK continental shelf created less than half as much greenhouse gas as imported liquified natural gas. But this was offshore gas from coastal waters, not onshore gas. Importing gas by pipeline, particularly from Norway, had a lower carbon footprint than gas from the UK continental shelf, the regulator said.

The Energy White Paper also said UK success rested on “a decisive shift away from fossil fuels to using clean energy for heat and industrial processes, as much as for electricity generation”.

Updated: A notice of strike-off against UKOG (234) Ltd, the company behind the Dunsfold development, was discontinued on 18 December 2020.

24 replies »

      • Except they were not random, Jono. Don’t blame me that you are unable to keep up. DYOR and you will be enlightened. There are other sources too.

        And as for Dianna’s question, well, that may be the case and they will make that investment if they feel it might be to the benefit of their shareholders. If little chance of success, they would not, as the shareholders would rightly then blame them for wasting their investment. Then, there are Councils who receive tax payer funding to spend upon Legal and Planning professionals, and having received that advice twice, (which appears to be the same as UKOG have received) have decision makers who ignore it, and knowingly risk more tax payers money being required!

        Then there is crowd funding, where large sums of money are wasted with little chance of success.

        And, then there is austerity.

        Hardly surprising, with so much money being wasted.

        But there is hope!

        Produce stuff in UK, instead of importing it, raise tax upon it and that may go a little way to paying for people’s costly decisions. Not sure it would sort out all of Croydon’s issues, but every little bit helps.

        • Have you actually read investor comments Martin? I don’t think they are happy with the continuing dilution and failures. This appeal will cost them a fortune, ask Europa about Leith Hill .
          Desperation stakes for the cowboys 🤠🤠🤠🤠

          • It will only cost them if they lose, Jono! DOH. So, they work out the probabilities, and decide to proceed, or not. Bit like their main business.

            No, I no longer read those “investor” comments, Jono. Usual suspects repeating usual nonsense for their usual reasons. It obviously fools some of the people some of the time, so they continue.

            Found the reference yet? Probably not, as you deflected off.

      • Reasons for refusal. ‘Highway safety and the impact on landscape amenity’. Both sound material reasons for refusal and well within the rights and judgement of Councillors to disagree with the planning officers.
        I hope UKOG keep up with their desperate Hydrogen angle. Maybe keeping their accounts in order would give some confidence to investors. The last year has not been kind on them.

        • Except, if you had observed the two meetings, you might have noticed the concerns were raised, and then dismissed with material reasons!

          Of course, they can be raised again-at vast expense-and the response will be different? Doubt it.

          Or, new reasons can be raised? Nope, that is not how it works.

  1. Surely the problem is that these rich Oil Co;s , with unlimited funding can afford the very best representation? ..Jono

    • Dianna Jones

      The issue is that out with WYF, the onshore oil and gas industry in the UK consists of poor companies who regularly go back to the market to raise funds for the next hope full stage of development.

      The rich oil companies are not involved (if you think of Shell et al) and the really rich ones (ARAMCO) are nowhere near it.

      However, they can hire the best barristers, as, at Wressle, the tax payer picks up the bill when the appeal succeeds.

      If they are advised it will not succeed, then they would not bother I guess.

      The usual clue is that the planners ( qualified civil servants – not there to represent the views of the locals ) advise it should be passed based on the legal arguments, but the councillors (who are there to represent their constituents with arguments which are not always relevant to planning law) may vote otherwise.

      As Martin has noted many a time, councillors can say no, but on appeal its a legal issue and goes through – just as lots of housing developments do – and around here, chicken farms (without chlorine baths I guess).

      So – good wheeze for barristers who will have as good as unlimited finds as the planning process is a tax payer funded slush fund that just keeps on giving?

    • But they can’t afford it Dianna , the company is almost worth less than the kit they bought from PW Well services which is due for another payment soon. I remember when it was valued at £140 odd million, now about £17 million, that’s some progress eh? .
      They still need to find the Turkey drill and pay Snake oil Steve his Xmas bonus , the pot is empty and placing imminent again. I think it’s brilliant tbh , I’ve watch them self destruct without much help from us swampies . Merry Xmas , no oil no oil .

      • Please advise if UKOG have had issues raising funding as and when required? Perhaps the delay with Loxley, means that Turkey steps up the ladder?

        The usual nonsense, then the funds are raised, then those who supply the funds, insulted.

        Seems as if the Tesla model is alive and well, and works-but on a much smaller scale.

  2. Few points:

    1) UKOGs application is not for the generation of hydrogen it is an application to explore for fossil gas. To claim otherwise is a blatant attempt to mislead the public into thinking they are doing something ‘good’ for the climate.

    2) According to the OGA UK gas does not have a quarter of the emissions compared to LNG, it has around half, and imported gas from Norway has less –,and%20Gas%20Authority%20

    • Kirsty Clough

      Re point 1, I think that the hydrogen issue is there to discuss what would happen to the gas should they find any and want to produce it, in order to address the question asked – what would you do with the gas, if you find sufficient to produce, and you go and produce it. In the past, as you note, it would just be an application to drill and test. I doubt the public would think that they are planning to generate hydrogen yet, as they do not know if they will find sufficient gas to produce it. Its part of a dance between the company and those who do not want it to happen.

      re point 2…well spotted

      UKOG say around a 1/4 of the emissions and the OGA say around 1/2. Hmmm

      What the OGA say is below. So its 37%. UKOG 12% below / OGA 13% above the about number – but UKOG should be say what it is I guess (its about a third). If they had looked at onshore gas maybe they would be closer to 1/4, but there is less data hanging around I guess.

      …From OGA Report …..Its analysis shows that gas extracted from the UKCS has an average emission intensity of 22 kg CO2e/boe, compared with an average of 59 kg CO2e/boe for imported LNG.

  3. Well, Kirsty, I can not see your concern, re point 1.

    If a company is exploring for iron, maybe it would be for manufacture of bombs, maybe for ploughs. So, most industries will look at the markets that a successful exploration will be open to them to supply locally. In the case of gas, then it is clearly defined within UK Government policy that gas is required for hydrogen production.

    If you have a problem with that, address the Government. UKOG are just identifying a market the Government has indicated it supports, and looking to supply that. It is not as if UKOG have declared a non supported market, or one that is not critical to net zero.

    And, I don’t think UK benefits from taxation upon Norwegian gas! The Norwegians do-and spend some of that generating alternative energy sources. Ironic really.

    • Maybe a market for the emulsion being produced by the Gatwick Gusher would be more of a step in the right direction for UKOG? What has been their success rate so far ? Broadford Bridge, Markwell Wood and Holmwood all duff but I guess they have got a viewing platform to show for all the cash that’s been taken from mug punters who believe Uncle Steve. UKOG must be making such a difference to UK energy security and the economy with their 100 odd barrels of sludge every week, month or whenever they aren’t doing testing on wells that are known to be worthless.

  4. I expect Brian the one man PR dept came up with the angle on hydrogen- it forms no part of the planning application so it’s irrelevant. The application is for exploration only, not production.

    Perhaps the UKOG sycophants here would like a planning condition that any gas discovered must be converted to hydrogen before it’s sold to market? Any takers? No I didn’t think so.

    Reminds me of the greener “gas to wire” system at Horse Hill that never materialised. Still burning gas off in the flare when it is working. Another bit of marketing BS?

  5. Well, Dorkinian, so it is only for exploration!

    So, why all the twaddle about not needing any more gas?

    Another bit of marketing BS?

    Love the way you antis always get to the point where you contradict your own “arguments”. Good job there are not a lot of you, otherwise it would just be a muddle of disparate and desperate comments.

  6. I wouldn’t bet too much on Turkey. 7 fields and only 5 producing giving them about 150 bopd. East Sadak with numerous wells, not all producing, is the best giving them just over 100 bopd for the field.

    • I understand your point, Mike. Except some will, as success to date doesn’t necessarily determine success in the future.

      Reminds me a bit of dating! Hope springs eternal.

  7. And you have been answered before, 1720. If you repeat the question, when you have had the answer, what is the point?

    But, in the Christmas spirit:

    Anti the replacement of imported goods with UK goods. Perfectly legitimate view-if you are an exporter to UK or an investor in such. There seem to be some around.

    However, I have empathy with my kids, and their age group, that their taxes will reflect the folly of that being imposed upon them, in addition to the costs of Covid. Industry pays less, the individual pays more. And, many of them 1720, can do the maths. of what that means when you add up each tax year, and don’t get confused with a one off cost.

    But, interesting you are also anti HS2. Extra rail capacity needed north to south in UK. No question about that. Take passengers off the roads and planes. No doubt about that.
    So, a new line required. No doubt about that.

    Then, the question remains. Should it be high speed? Well, if it is to maximise the removal of air and road journeys, it needs to be.

    And, the air quality-just like Newbury-will be vastly improved. And, just like Newbury the trees will be replaced in greater numbers, the wildlife that is disturbed will return in greater numbers, and some “rare” plants or animals will be relocated and found subsequently not to be rare! Or, tourists can just nip over to France use the TGV and return moaning “why did the UK not invest in such effective, clean, technology?” And hear the reply:

    “Oh, it was the cacophony of antis.”

    A fairly accurate collective noun, but all Greek to the majority.

    Merry Christmas.

  8. Ps.

    A fun game to play over Christmas:

    What is 1720 famous for?

    The South Sea Bubble!!

    Demonstrated “irrational exuberance” in trying to make a quick buck.

    Anyone foolish enough, to take part?

    Yes, Sir Isaac Newton!

    Goodness, these mug punters have been around a long time. But, shouldn’t be surprised that what goes up may come down, or vice versa.

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