A controversial operation to improve oil flow at a site in Lincolnshire has been successful, the operator said this morning.
Egdon Resources reported that the proppant squeeze at its Wressle site near Scunthorpe had been “completed safely and successfully”.
Regulators regard the operation as small-scale fracking because it aims to fracture rocks to release larger volumes of oil or gas.
But proppant squeeze is not covered by the moratorium on fracking in England because it does not meet the legal definition of associated hydraulic fracturing.
Opponents on onshore oil and gas operations have campaigned against the proppant squeeze at Wressle since 2016. They described it as “fracking by stealth because it uses hydraulic fracturing techniques but avoids the controls in legislation.
Egdon said in a statement today it had injected 146 cubic metres of gelled fluid and 17.3 tonnes of ceramic proppant into the Ashover Grit formation at Wressle. This was about 15% of the 1,000m3 per stage used to define associated hydraulic fracturing in the Infrastructure Act.
The injection operations last a total of 90 minutes over a period of two days, the company added. Last year, Egdon told DrillOrDrop it planned to carry out a single proppant squeeze operation at Wressle.
The proppant squeeze needed a hydraulic fracturing plan (HFP), which outlines what an operator would do to minimise the risk of earth tremors. It also states how the process would be monitored and controlled.
The HFP must be approved independently by the Environment Agency and the Oil & Gas Authority. DrillOrDrop reported in May 2021 that consent had been granted for the Wressle proppant squeeze. See below for the document.
Today Egdon said:
“There were no health, safety, environmental or security issues experienced during the operations; and as predicted, real time monitoring confirmed there was no induced seismicity and that the noise levels were well within the permitted limits.
“The operation was subject to a pre-operational inspection by the Health and Safety Executive and active monitoring by the Environment Agency. Ground and surface water monitoring has continued in accordance with the requirements of the Environmental Permit.”
Egdon said all equipment and personnel involved in the proppant squeeze have now moved off the site.
It said the production tubing would now been cleaned to bring the well into production. Modelling has concluded that the Wressle well would produce 500 barrels of oil per day.
Egdon’s managing director, Mark Abbott, said:
“I am pleased to report on the safe and successful completion of the proppant squeeze operations at Wressle. I would like to thank our team of contractors and staff for the highly professional way in which the operations were undertaken with no adverse impact on the environment or the amenity of our neighbours.”
The Wressle site received planning permission in January 2020 for the proppant squeeze, a further sidetrack well and 15 years of oil production. North Lincolnshire Council had refused consent three times, most recently in November 2018, despite recommendations for planning officers to approve.
The scheme was considered at two planning inquiries. In the decision on the second hearing, the planning inspector accused North Lincolnshire of “unreasonable” behaviour” and an “inadequate case”. The council was ordered to pay costs of £403,000 to Egdon and its partners.