The number of onshore oil and gas wells drilled in the UK in 2020 fell to a 70-year low.
During this year, operators spudded (began drilling) one, or possibly two wells, depending on how you count your wells. This compares with five in 2019.
This year’s fall may reflect the moratorium on fracking in England, announced by the UK government in November 2019. Since then, shale gas companies have scaled back their operations. The Covid-19 outbreak may also have stalled some planned work.
Data from the Oil & Gas Authority up to today (31 December 2020) lists two wells drilled in 2020. Both were by Rathlin Energy at its West Newton B site in East Yorkshire. Rathlin and the local planning authority regarded them as a single well.
The first, West Newton-B1, was spudded on 4 October 2020. It missed one of its targets, according to East Riding of Yorkshire Council.
A sidetrack, West Newton B1z, spudded on 23 November 2020, was described as “exceeding expectations” with a “substantial hydrocarbon accumulation”.
Six years of single-figure drilling
This is the sixth consecutive year of single-figure oil and gas drilling onshore in the UK. This has not happened before in the past 100 years.
The last times there were just two onshore wells drilled in a year were 1950 and 1931.
According to the data, the largest number of wells drilled in a year was 162 in 1943. That was the only time in the past 100 years when the number topped 100.
Many onshore oil and gas drilling projects stalled in 2020.
Aurora Energy Resources withdrew its planning application to drill and frack at Altcar Moss in Lancashire.
A proposal by UK Oil & Gas (UKOG) for a vertical and a sidetrack well at Dunsfold in Surrey was refused consent last month.
UKOG’s application for oil drilling at Arreton on the Isle of Wight and South Western Energy’s proposals for Dorset have not yet come before a planning committee.
In Lincolnshire, Egdon Resources failed to drill at North Kelsey or submit an application for a sidetrack at Biscathorpe.
No work was carried out at Ineos shale gas sites in south Yorkshire and Derbyshire. IGas did not drill the permitted second shale gas well at Misson in Nottinghamshire.
UKOG surrendered its licence for PEDL143 in Surrey, despite telling investors in June 2019 that it was making good progresses in finding drilling locations.
Cuadrilla Resources, the shale gas company behind the Preston New Road fracking site in Lancashire, described itself this year as “largely non-operational”.
For more information, see DrillorDrop’s Review of 2020
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