Expansion and long-term production planned at East Yorkshire well site

Rathlin Energy has revealed proposals to add six new wells at its West Newton A wellsite in Holderness and seek consent for 25-years of production.

The West Newton-A well site in East Yorkshire, 2020. Photo: Used with the owner’s consent

In a short statement on its website, the company said it planned to drill, test and produce from up to six new wells. It also wanted to test, appraise and produce from the existing two wells.

Rathlin said East Riding of Yorkshire Council had ruled that the proposed expansion would not need an environmental impact assessment.

News from Rathlin Energy’s website

The company said it would carry out a public consultation on the plans “over the coming months”, before submitting a formal planning application.

Neither Rathlin nor East Yorkshire Council have published the resulting size of the expanded site if the plans were approved. But maps on the council’s planning website suggest that the area would more than double.

Maps from original West Newton A planning application (top) and screening request for the proposed expansion.
Red lines marks the site boundary.

Last year, Rathlin drilled a borehole at the nearby West Newton B site but it missed one of the target formations. A sidetrack, drilled in December 2020, was said to “exceed expectations”.

The company also said it would apply for planning permission for two other well sites in the area, to be called West Newton C and D. If these and the expansion at West Newton A were approved, there would be planning permission for 18 hydrocarbon wells in the area.

The latest news coincides with a call from Conservative leaders on East Riding of Yorkshire Council to declare a climate emergency. A report on the issue, due to be discussed by the full council next month, described the region as “at the centre of transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy”. It did not refer to the West Newton drilling sites.


West Newton A, on land off Fosham Road, High Fosham, was first granted planning permission in 2013. The duration of consent has been extended twice, in 2015 and 2018.

The first well, WNA-1, was drilled in 2013 and tested in 2014.

In 2015, the Environment Agency investigated breaches of the environmental permit at the site.

That year, Rathlin Energy described a gas discovery at West Newton A as “very encouraging”.

The second well, WNA-2, was drilled in April 2019. That year, Reabold Resources, the major shareholder in the West Newton licence, described it as “potentially UK’s largest onshore hydrocarbon discovery since 1973”.

The well test on WNA-2 was suspended after a week following an oil find. A revised well test plan was submitted last year but so far has not been implemented.


In a statement today, Stephen Williams, the co-chief executive of Reabold, welcomed plans to extend West Newton A:

“It is encouraging that activity continues behind the scenes at West Newton, with progress being made ahead of testing and eventual production on the licence.”

Campaigners against Rathlin’s activities have opposed the expansion of West Newton A. One said:

“this new climate crisis paperwork [climate emergency report] the council chucked together doesn’t mean a thing in the face of potentially six more wells, on top of the four planned for West Newton C and D.”

Link to screening opinion on East Riding of Yorkshire Council website

16 replies »

  1. No wonder the council daren’t do the decent thing and declare a climate emergency. They might have to live up to it & do the right thing – refuse permission.

  2. I have pointed out before, that one of the target formations was not missed at West Newton B.

    Missing something, and encountering something-as planned, is not the same. I recall what was encountered at one target was less than optimum.

    Perhaps the operators do really know what they are doing, do it, and then depending on what they find, report it and go from there?

  3. It is a cross party review panel that is recommending East Riding of Yorkshire Council to declare a climate emergency, not the Conservative leaders on the council as reported in this article and the previous article on DoD.

    • Dear John Thanks for pointing out that the review panel was cross-party. I’ve updated the piece to make this clear. The press release, however, quoted the deputy leader of the council (a Conservative) backing the declaration of a climate emergency. Best wishes, Ruth

  4. “Rathlin Energy has revealed proposals to add six new wells at its West Newton A well site in Holderness and seek consent for 25-years of production”. Good, it’s about time that a company is intent on ensuring the UK economy succeeds and is not wasted by the mad idea of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

    • ….or even by the mad idea of trying to secure a future by cutting polluting emissions. Thank heavens we’ve got you to put us right.

      • Or, the mad idea UK can just rely upon more interconnectors! (Vaccine supply from EU maybe suggesting other supplies might not be so secure, either.)

        So, down in the south of England some are objecting to oil from the IOW instead of imported oil, others are objecting to Aquind. Maybe a few doing both?

        And then we have those like yourself, 1720, who post about cutting polluting emissions and ALSO post about being anti HS2!

        So, if you feel you can put us right better than Vincent, you might do better with some consistency. Resorting to the something has to be done cop out does not make you sane and others mad.

  5. Since 1973 Wytch Farm in Hampshire has produced nearly 400 million barrels of oil (onshore) in the heart of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, many residents and all tourists are not aware it actually exists, along with practically the whole of the UK population.
    I am all for green energy but the thought we do not need oil & gas or green energy can replace it in the near or mid term future is unrealistic.
    The sheer volume of rules and regulations that oil companies have to adhere to are incredible and the environment is considered first , second, and third.
    I would rather have home grown natural resources that are monitored by various authorities than to import ‘blood oil’ and the added carbon footprint that is generated in it reaching us.
    Fossil Fuels can go hand in hand with green & solar energy until the latter are able to replace them in their entirety. I am sitting in an office where my keyboard, phone, printer casing, electrical wiring insulation are all made from oil ( plastics ) and many more items too numerous to mention. Solar panels and their electrical circuits are made from oil so please lets be realistic and work together.

  6. Interesting to see that in France they are having to turn OFF on shore wind turbines as local residents have complained about the noise during the lock downs, ie. the background noise has gone and it is apparent the turbines are not meeting their noise stipulations, so off they go and not able to be turned back on until they do!

    (Stick them out to sea. Much more sensible.)

    All that is Greener, is not that environmentally “sound”-if you excuse the pun.

    • It’s helpful if contributors can provide links to stories they quote.

      This helps other readers assess the reliability and significance of the story, and helps to slow the spread of “fake news”.



  7. It may be helpful Paul, and I can supply that-the Times, Wednesday, this week. Residents of Echauffour first to have their complaints upheld, although (reported) people elsewhere in France living near wind turbines regularly complain. (I believe that is not uncommon in the UK either. I do not live near any, myself, but have heard others that do in the UK have made their views known, and that includes from landowners who have had them installed.)

    Paywall on the Times, so some may have a problem accessing! But, if you do then Fabrice Ferrari, a resident, said the “infernal noise” of the turbines had “ruined our lives”, adding: “Even with the windows shut you couldn’t sleep”.

    It will not however stop the spread of fake news. I note that West Newton B has morphed from “insufficient reservoir development” FOUND, to target MISSED- (second time quoted), even though it was corrected the first time, reappeared now, and not corrected, even after being referenced. Perhaps DoD have a different source now, because the original source from the operators, reported by DoD on Nov.23rd, still seems to be that both formations were found, but one was not developed sufficiently to pursue from the site? If so, perhaps you could supply the new link? I am genuinely interested, as the “insufficient reservoir development” in one formation on site B may mean sufficient reservoir development might be found at some other locations, or might not, but still something to consider.

  8. Dear Martin
    Thanks, as always, for your comments.
    Re your final paragraph. The source for “target missed” is East Riding of Yorkshire Council in correspondence before Christmas explaining why Rathlin Energy had been given additional time to drill at West Newton B. Last week, the majority investor in the licence, Reabold Resources, also said in a statement to shareholders: “the B-1 well did not itself find a commercial reservoir”.
    Best wishes, Ruth

    • Hi Ruth – “target missed” and “none commercial reservoir” are not the same thing. Target missed implies that the geological formation the well was intending to penetrate was not present in the wellbore. None commercial reservoir means that the geological formation was present in the wellbore, but one or all of the required factors for commercial flow were not present (hydrocarbons, porosity, permeability, net pay).

  9. So, Ruth, what was missed?

    On 23 November it was reported BOTH formations were encountered, but one showed insufficient reservoir development. Nothing missed.

    Then, on 10 and 14th December it was reported the sidetrack to B1 was drilled and showed signs of “substantial hydrocarbon accumulation” in the Kirkham Abbey formation, which was the target in that case. Nothing missed.

    Quite understand that the substantial hydrocarbon accumulation needs to be further assessed, but it looks to me that the targets have been encountered, and then further refined, and explored as detailed-the sidetrack. Pretty efficient and competent (so far), is my reality. I’m sure there are others who prefer a narrative not supporting competence, but can not see it justified in this instance.

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