Industry

Wressle small-scale frack successful – Egdon

A controversial operation to improve oil flow at a site in Lincolnshire has been successful, the operator said this morning.

Wressle site in North Lincolnshire, 28 January 2021. Photo: Union Jack Oil

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.

25 replies »

  1. Its NOT ‘fracking’. That’s simply not an objective headline and smacks of hysteria.

    Its a procedure to stimulate the well so that diesel is not require to pump oil.

    It was necessary due to the unlawful denial of permission to produce by the local Council which delayed the project several years.

  2. What’s controversial about a process that has been carried out successfully many times in the past on UK onshore oil and gas wells, with a large volume of historic information relating to the lack of seismic activity or environmental damage?

    • Hi Bob

      The “small scale frack” reference in the headline is a quote (hence the speech marks) from the Environment Agency permit document

      “The proposed proppant squeeze at Wressle 1 is a small scale hydraulic fracturing activity for conventional oil similar to those activities that have previously been carried out in UK to enhance the productivity of conventional wells”.

      The denial of permission by the Council was not “unlawful”, but part of the planning process. This denial was later overturned at Appeal

      • So if the council did not use lawful means to deny the planning for production, and the appeal clearly demonstrated that they had no legal right to do so, are you happy with ‘NOT LEGAL’ in lieu of ‘unlawful’ John.

        Either way it was a pointless waste of money as well as and the self-denial of revenue. The facts are that onshore O&G is SAFE and CLEAN. Facts don’t care about peoples’ feelings.

        Using hysteria to paint it as dangerous, as a cover for not liking ‘carbon’, is duplicitous. Especially when the maths of carbon favour UK onshore production over imported oil from elsewhere.

    • It has to be, John, when you have lost.

      Just like the off side rule. Controversial to some but perfectly normal to those who didn’t lose.

  3. So, Wressle should be producing oil shortly and starting to pay back to the community some of the £403k lost by the actions of a few who tried to prevent oil being produced locally, the transfer of production from further afield, and thus a decrease on transport emissions and a net gain for the environment.

    Of course, those responsible, could always crowd fund to add to Egdon’s contribution!

  4. Presumably if this process is fracking by stealth as protesters have claimed then egdon have now demonstrated fracking can be undertaken safely…….. Or am I missing something

    • Mike, In the early days the campaigners didn’t class this as true fracking which only occurred in the US. Since PNR and the moratorium they now seem to class everything as fracking, even low pressure stimulation procedures like acidising that doesn’t fracture any rocks.

      • Or, to avoid misrepresentation, John: –
        HMG redefined fracking according to the quantity of liquid used – below a certain level they don’t consider it fracking. This of course means that they can frack with gay abandon provided the volume of frack liquid is kept below the stipulated levels. They’ll only be able to frack with higher volumes of liquid when or if the moratorium is lifted, which God forbid. In the meantime there are other ways of getting round the moratorium which HMG are still happy to use, things like acidisation.
        Those opposed to fracking were particularly incensed by HMG’s duplicity as it meant that they could slip fracking in under the radar, so to speak, without needing to worry about irksome regulations to protect the public from some of the downsides. The US comes in to the picture only because most of the reports of environmental and other forms of damage originated in the US where liquid quantities were higher.
        What remains is that we still have a government anxious to appease the fossil fuel industry and careless as to the fate of the planet and the future of its own and other citizens; a government incapable of and indifferent to integrity.

        • The moratorium applies only to shale fracking as defined under the Infrastructure Act, as that is the process that has caused issues with seismicity in the UK.

          The government have made clear that the moratorium on shale fracking will only be lifted if evidence can be produced that it can be completed safely here in the UK.

          The process used yesterday at Wressle and similar processes used on other conventional onshore oil and gas wells, have been completed many times, safely and without seismicity or environmental damage. There is no need to ban something that has not caused problems or compare it to procedures operated elsewhere in the world under a different regulatory control system.

          As for using acidising as a means of circumnavigating the moratorium, there are many on here still waiting for an honest definition of how a procedure can be classed as ‘fracking’ when the pressure used is insufficient to fracture rocks, and where it has been used to bypass the ban.

        • Well, as those opposed to fracking were a minority, maybe they were incensed, but so what?

          Seems to be some who want to use any lever to pull on the anti Government stance. They were a minority too.

          The majority seem quite happy with democracy. The losers are always unhappy, or incensed. So what? (Aston Villa supporters were pretty incensed when their club was termed Aston Vanilla-the team everyone liked to lick!)

          Maybe the good folk around Wressle were not happy about losing £403k. Maybe some were incensed?

          At last, they are about to get some money returned to their community. So, less people incensed, but a few remain.

          Life is like that, but there is no obligation to be incensed. It is self inflicted. I am quite happy that production will be transferred and transport emissions reduced, as a result. If you deny the benefits of a particular situation then becoming incensed is almost guaranteed. Better to just accept the maths. and physics and be happy, otherwise the antidepressants take over.

  5. Sadly most of those against the Proppant Squeeze or any other Oil & Gas activity are not environmentalists but political activists [edited by moderator]

  6. Funny you should notice that, Jackie. Some can’t even decide what HMG is responsible for-but still protest that it is HMG’s fault, and that transport emissions will not be reduced by HS2 and that transport emissions can not be reduced by local production-if it applies to fossil fuel!

    Correct, not environmentalists.

  7. There’s much more to fracking than the actual hydraulic fracturing!
    It’s the invasion of usually peaceful yet productive countryside by stealth, propaganda and sponsorship aka bribery before any seismic testing even commences. It progresses, usually, through multiple planning procedures to local Democracy being overruled by Central Government.
    Post site preparation, pad building and failed attempts at test fracking it moves on to extended well pressure testing to avoid any site restoration for the longest time possible hoping for a change of government attitude.
    That’s where we are now at Preston New Road in Lancashire; not that many local residents are aware! Beware!

    • Peter
      I lived next to a fracked oil well site and do not agree with your comments. It was not a shale gas site.

  8. I know, Peter. It is an absolute disgrace that £5k was on offer for the best photo and crowd funding was rife. Shocking, aka bribery.

  9. I see that Desmog have found out that the majority of N.Sea oil and gas industry is not operated by bp, shell et al, but other operators. Shock horror, but if they had followed the comments of DOD they would have known this years ago. Its all a bit sad really. Will they soon discover, via an investigation, that Steam Engines are allowed to operate in the UK, and use imported coal?

    • I have to laugh when they quote France and Denmark, and Ireland as being shining examples of countries who are “leaving it in the ground” by not issuing new oil and gas licences without actually stating what these countries currently produce (very little) and noting that the geology is very unlikely to have any more commercial oil and gas reserves. No impact on tax revenue or jobs etc. I don’t see Norway, for example, stopping any time soon?

  10. And of course it is possible that home harvested oil and gas might potentially help to keep prices down by increasing local supply.

    The excellent Times energy reporters today reports that “The outlook is grim. From October, the energy bills of 15 million households will rise by about £150 a year, the biggest increase for a decade.

    Families already struggling in the wake of the pandemic will find their bills rising by as much as 13 per cent because of soaring wholesale prices.”

    So the absolutely obvious has come to pass, the vastly increasing world demand for gas especially in China has resulted in higher world prices.

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