Rathlin Energy reveals scaled-back expansion plans for West Newton-A

Rathlin Energy has given more details of revised extension and production plans at its West Newton-A oil and gas site in East Yorkshire.

Rathlin Energy’s West Newton-A, 19 November 2021. Photo: Used with the owner’s consent

A major application for site enlargement, more drilling and long-term hydrocarbon production was refused planning permission in September 2021.

East Riding of Yorkshire councillors said the addition of six new wells, taking the total to eight, was not an appropriate scale for the local landscape and would be out of character. They also said the number of heavy lorries serving the site on rural roads would be unacceptable.

Last week, Rathlin Energy said it would submit a revised planning application by the end of 2021 to address councillors’ concerns.

Residents attending a meeting of the local community liaison group (CLG) yesterday said Rathlin now proposed to reduce the number of new wells from six to four.

But the company reportedly conceded that sidetrack and/or lateral wells could be drilled from each of the main existing and new boreholes.

Rathlin’s original application sought to extend West Newton-A from the current 0.9ha to 3.46ha, more than trebling the footprint. Reports from last night’s meeting said the company now proposed to scale back the extension to 2.5ha.

But according to CLG members, the company said the daily number of heavy goods vehicles expected to visit the site during the drilling phase would be unchanged.

Rathlin had previously estimated there would be 25 movements into the site and 25 out per day for eight weeks per well during mobilisation and demobilisation.

Last night, the company reportedly told the CLG this period of HGV movements would be shorter because there would be two fewer main boreholes.

Residents also reported that Rathlin still aimed to have 10 tankers exporting oil from the site each day during 20-years of production.

DrillOrDrop has asked Rathlin Energy about its plans for West Newton-A. The company’s spokesperson referred us to a statement made last month and said Rathlin would not be answering any questions.

12 replies »

  1. Let’s hope the revised planning application by the end of this year gets as short shrift as the previous one, and this time for the overriding and unanswerable reason that permission granted would be a demonstration of failure to respect climate change commitments already entered into by governments, and a readiness to embrace environmental catastrophe this century. Let no-one forget that extinction is upon us if we continue with business as usual in the short (or long) term. Planning decisions can no longer be taken without consideration of the wider picture.

  2. The wider picture, as discovered at Wressle and costing the local community £400k, was that:

    “There is no suggestion that this proposal would increase the USE of hydrocarbons, and the EVIDENCE demonstrates that the effect would be simply to TRANSFER production to a more local source.”

    So, business as usual will continue for some time in respect of oil being USED. Certainly past 2050. The question is whether there is any interest in making that use as environmentally supportive as possible. Transfer, where possible, to a local source reduces transport emissions, and plonks the production into an area where environmental standards are high. Those who protest against may have their own local reasons, but others claiming to act on behalf of climate change in these situations are incorrect. The USE of oil will not be impacted in any way whatsoever. That is the wider picture.

    The wider picture may also require some maths. to be involved. 10 lorries per day locally for the oil, and a shorter drilling phase equating to less lorries during drilling-because the drilling phase is shorter. Local planning for many projects, including housing, does consider the duration of site activity as a key element.

  3. Source your quotation, please. A planner? A judicial decision?
    BELLOWING does not do the trick. As has been said before, new local production added to existing production leads arithmetically to increased production and damage. Where is the evidence that new will replace existing? Just as new roads have been shown to increase traffic, supply often boosting demand, so will new sources of gas and oil increase and encourage the use thereof, putting off the happy day when we can dispense with both.

  4. The source has been given many times before on DoD, 1720, including from Ruth. (It came from the summary the Inspector provided after the Wressle Inquiry when he awarded costs of over £400k to Egdon and associates.)

    You continue to post something which is incorrect. It still remains incorrect. There is no proof that increasing local production of oil in UK will increase demand. (If a local Supermarket was built with a fuel station, locals may buy more of their fuel locally, but not drive miles to keep on buying from their previous source. They would not buy more.) There is also proof that Wytch Farm that used to produce over 100k barrels per day and is now down to around 15k barrels per day has not produced any sort of decline in UK consumption of oil.

    OPEC+others increase and decrease output according to demand and to adjust price. Everyone who has been watching the oil market over the last month can see that. Supply adjustment is pretty evident to anyone who wants to look, 1720. If you don’t want to look that is your choice. Your economic model disappeared for most countries in the early 1950s, certainly for oil and indeed for most other items. And, please do a bit of research regarding new sources of oil and gas over the horizon and you will see that exporting countries are not putting off any happy day. You may wish to support their endeavours at the expense of UK production, but your support will have no impact upon UK demand/use. It will just have the impact of increasing transport emissions and reducing UK taxation to fund public services, and looking at that wider picture, decreasing funding for the environment and renewables and plonking transport emissions into the atmosphere that would require more tax payer funding to deal with!

    Sorry, but I believe that economic model consigned to history, should stay there.

    • Thank you for this source. I was of course aware that it had been ‘quoted’ several times and in what connection. I was trying to ascertain to what extent, if at all, it had been misquoted, and where the direct quote originated. The information you provide has enabled me to locate the actual quotation which, apart from your capitals, is accurate.

      If, and I say if because I do not know, the Inspector’s summary is in turn a summary of the following –
      Dove J “It is in my judgment a perfectly sensible assumption, on the basis of the evidence that was before the decision-taker and, for that matter, the Court that any gas provided to the grid during the extended flow phase will simply replace gas that would otherwise be consumed by residential and industrial users supplied by the grid, and thus there is no evidence that there would actually be any increase in gas usage and or greenhouse gas emissions.” (para.128) ( from The Rôle and Relevance of Climate Change in Planning Decisions by Phillpot and Westaway) –
      then it is clearly a reference to the particular case, Wressle, as is also clear from your quotation. What it does not say, no doubt because that would be stupid, is that any new local development anywhere would replace existing developments and therefore would be climate-neutral. Nor does it say that emissions from FF production or use are climate neutral. If anything, the judgement points to the relevance to the planning application of greenhouse gas emissions – “ and thus there is no evidence that there would actually be any increase in gas usage and or greenhouse gas emissions.” Note also that the judgement refers to the lack of evidence in this particular Wressle case that there would be additional emissions. The judgement appears to have been based, unsurprisingly, on the evidence presented, inadequate to the task of presenting the wider picture. Did the court, as a matter of interest, discuss the possibility that not all of the gas produced would be supplied to the grid purely as a replacement?
      The Court’s statement has been misrepresented as an exoneration of the industry whose noble efforts to supply suffering humanity are being thwarted by those who mendaciously call out polluting emissions and the ramping up of sources.
      Your case:-
      I do not argue that the individual would buy more fuel because a second outlet (‘local ) had opened up. I do not argue that, because that would be stupid. Both outlets are clearly hoping to sell their fuel.
      Nor do I argue that a producer producing less (Wytch Farm) would ipso facto reduce demand when other producers still produce and provide. This I do not argue, because that would be stupid.
      Now that I have disposed of what you in typical time-wasting and deflecting fashion would have liked me to argue, let me clarify for you what I do argue. You could perhaps then engage with the argument.
      If for example a new fracked gas well were permitted, developed, and crucially, allowed to produce, this, I submit, would increase the quantity of gas produced overall – an arithmetical certainty unless a corresponding facility with identical production quantities were necessarily closed, something for which there can be no evidence and which is counter-intuitive, something which you however take as a given.
      I further argue that such a well would, if profitable, encourage other wells, creating further pollution and delaying the inevitable demise of FFs. No evidence of course, but the trend has form.
      I also argue that a. any continuing subsidies would encourage more wells and deny funds to alternatives to FFs, and b. that private investment in new wells would deny a potential equivalent investment in such alternatives.
      You might flatter yourself that never in the past have I had to expend so much energy in statements of the b******* obvious.
      Please stop telling me what “my choice” is. I know what it is. The workings of the market in the respect of supply and demand are, as you say, quite clear. That demand can trigger supply is of course similarly clear, and contrary to your calumnies has never been denied by me. You on the other hand have resorted to derision when I have pointed out that it is equally true that supply can also boost demand. Or did you really not understand that?
      You do not need to demonstrate your prowess in grasping existing market forces here. I suspect all of your readers are only too familiar with them. What you do not grasp is that your/ our economic model is flawed if it ignores as it does, humanity and the environment. The proponents of this continuing model do of course, as you do, pay lip service to society’s needs but only in so far as these are consistent with the requirements of the market. They flagrantly steal the arguments, or more exactly the concepts and desiderata of a caring society, in order to further their nihilistic ends. And this they do consciously.
      An instructive parallel is to be found in what is euphemistically called our ‘government’, frighteningly successful in adopting and perverting the arguments of its opponents in order to ensure the perpetuation of the status quo, inequity, inequality and privilege supported continuously by misrepresentations and lies, and by perverting and distorting the structures of society to its own nefarious ends. In a similar manner, the polluters use the arguments and concerns of caring society to achieve their own ends. Think slavery, think tobacco, think climate change, think glyphosate, think greenwashing. What matters to the market is profit. Any benefit to society is coincidental but, no doubt, useful in keeping people such as yourself in thrall. The market you seek to preserve places profit before human lives as the sole ‘common good’. You know that, but it’s “your choice”.
      Our market economy as you understand it, the sole justification for domestic FF development, is, I’m afraid, a real candidate for consignment to the dustbin of history.
      I’m sure this will raise a ‘Hmm!’

      • Laith1720, Wressle is primarily an oil well that produces a small amount of gas. The well is still undergoing flow testing and installation of equipment that will use the gas produced to generate electricity on the site.

        I believe Martin in his quotes is refering to section 33, 34 and 35 which I have cut and pasted below, of the appeal decision (ref. APP/Y2003/W/19/3221694). Held on 5 – 7 November 2019 by Phillip J G Ware BSc DipTP MRTPI an Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State.

        National energy policy, most succinctly set out in NPS EN-1 and the Framework, is aimed at reducing demand by end users, and in that way reducing both demand and consumption. It is no part of national policy to attempt to reduce emissions by restricting the production of hydrocarbons in the UK, as was implied or stated by some objectors. Nor was such an approach suggested by the Committee on Climate Change when dealing with the net zero 2050 position – and there is no policy which provides that a net zero carbon economy in 2050 would be hydrocarbon-free.

        With that background and given the continuing role of fossil fuels in providing for UK energy needs during the transition to a low carbon economy, the proposed extraction of hydrocarbons is consistent with national energy policy. Furthermore, in that context a domestic supply has obvious security advantages and reduces the need for imported gas and oil. In coming to that conclusion, I share the views of the 2018 Inspector.

        At the regional level, this approach accords with the regional strategy which is to foster the growth and diversification of the Humber chemical and energy cluster. These industries rely heavily on hydrocarbons, and a local supply has obvious transportation and sustainability benefits. There is no suggestion that this proposal would increase the use of hydrocarbons, and the evidence demonstrates that the effect would be simply to transfer production to a more local source.

        • Thank you, John, for pointing out my obvious error. I had been aware that oil was at stake and not, primarily, gas but was inadvertently thrown in my response by the Inspector’s reference to gas in the quotation which I repeated. Once embarked I duly forgot. Careless of me.
          However my argument concerns FF use rather than just gas or oil, and I stand by it, believing both the Local Plan you refer to, like the National Strategy, are both defective, the former largely determined by the latter. They simply outline policy, not the rights or wrongs of policy.
          I do not for a moment accept that it is possible to prove that, in your scenario, hydrocarbons from elsewhere freed up by transferring to locally produced hydrocarbons, would not be used. Of course it is impossible to prove that they will be used but common sense suggests this to be so. In any case the quantity of hydrocarbons produced will increase.
          Whether industry should be encouraged to continue on the basis of ‘more of the same’ and at the expense of the planet, rather than adapting and diversifying is another matter. I believe that good government would be encouraging the latter and that the further development of new sources of FFs is irrational and amounts to ecocide. Industry exists not to advance individualism and human greed but to further the advance of humanity as a whole. The last 50 or so wasted years have demonstrated the failure of the policies you support and have resulted in the frightening status quo.

          • If you feel the hydrocarbons displaced will still be used, then you are at the wrong protest, 1720!

            You really need to focus upon those countries that might use them. Except, other than resurrecting some sort of colonial influence (which would have a negative impact) it is a decision which other countries will insist is their sovereign decision.

            The quantity of hydrocarbons will increase? Yes, it will-over time. Paul has supplied you with references regarding some of what is happening over the horizon, and there is much more.
            Will it increase for UK per year? Nope-not unless demand increases. Demand for oil will not increase in UK if there was more local production. There is no shortage of oil for the UK to source on the world market, so demand is met-at a price. It really is not that difficult to grasp-unless you wish to continue with the Dead Parrot sketch. Maybe imagine two parrots and the life of one is transferred into the other. Now there is one live parrot and one dead one!

            The premise that ff investment will somehow curtail renewable investment is pure fantasy. There is absolutely no indication that this is happening but plenty of indication that much of the current investment into clean energy is actually coming from the oil and gas companies. It has been clearly stated by Shell, for example, that their funding for clean energy will be funded by their ff interests for some time to come.

            Dead parrots and killing off the Golden Goose. That will not further the advance of humanity.

          • Oil demand in the UK has reduced by 39% since 1998, production from UK onshore and offshore fields has reduced by 60% over the same period. It’s quite obvious from those figures that any increase in UK production simply reduces imports and doesn’t increase demand which is in long time decline.

            • I suspect that the UK is not the only country using fossil fuels, John.
              You point out that there is no increase in UK production, so, far from it being obvious, you are assuming that any increase will result in fewer imports. You may be right but at what expense to the planet? Those cancelled imports are likely to be used elsewhere. The decline you mention is, thank heavens, with us. Many of us would like to speed it up with a view to ensuring a future for those to follow us.
              Nor is it obvious from your figures that demand will not increase if a domestic supply is available. It is just as likely that those out for themselves – at home and abroad – will leap at the encouragement offered by government’s allowing domestic production, especially if that government is the government of the UK – a model of rectitude for some.

  5. OMG! (No hmmm.)

    Supply can also boost demand? True. In N.Korea!

    Now, I do try to avoid derision when such is suggested as applicable to oil and gas in UK. But, it is really difficult when someone who admits he/she knows little about oil and gas keeps showing they have no interest in becoming acquainted with even the basics, but simply use the excuse to protest. And frequently about other concerns you have.

    Oil and gas supplies are freely (or expensively) available upon the world market, 1720. Have been for many years for the UK. Tankers have been puffing into refineries for decades. That is a major reason why UK has refineries on the coast, and why some in the Middle East can buy football clubs for fun. Now, look out-here come the capitals!


    And create a maritime transport industry, that produces transport emissions. Maritime transport emissions are greater than the emissions from Germany, yet it is unimportant that they are not controlled, where they could be?

    You may find that a little research into valves, their purpose and their ability to increase or decrease throughput may be beneficial. And then ask yourself a simple question-when OPEC agree to increase output does that really mean that they nip out and drill new wells, and that they can do so that quickly? Just apply some common sense, and you will find the answer. (It is called a Cartel. Find out what cartels do and how.)

    By the way, sorry to suggest even more research, but if you do a bit more you will find that Wressle is a site for the commercial production of OIL!

    Or, just remain an activist, who doesn’t need to do any research, and use the “we” word to attempt to indicate there are many who also get so many basics incorrect.

    Your choice.

    But, nice to see you have not withdrawn as recently posted. Better luck with your New Year’s resolutions.

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