The company behind rejected oil production plans in the Lincolnshire Wolds has now applied to extend the life of another site for a third time.
The company is seeking another 12 months of consent at the site, first approved seven years ago. It also wants to change the route of the exploration well because it said the original proposal could miss the oil target.
The North Kelsey application can now be read online. A public consultation is expected to begin soon but at the time of writing there were no details.
Seven years of permission but no progress
Egdon Resources was first granted consent to explore for oil at North Kelsey in December 2014. But apart from a short section of access track, no work has been carried out on the site.
This is the third extension of permission sought by the company. Lincolnshire County Council previously granted more time in May 2018 and September 2020. The current consent expires on 31 December 2021.
Egdon has blamed its lack of progress on low oil prices, Covid 19, the withdrawal of a partner and delays at another site.
In the latest application (PL/0167/21), the company said:
“Owing largely to the restriction of movements arising from the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic only being fully lifted from July 2021, and the resultant operational constraints there has been insufficient time for the Site to be constructed, the well to be drilled and tested and for the Site to be restored by 31st December 2021.”
“After the gradual lifting of restrictions, there has been an inevitable ‘catch-up’ period with the supply chain, materials and contractor availability all adversely impacted. All phases (site construction, drilling, testing and site restoration – the latter including for decommissioning of the borehole) have been affected as a consequence of the impact of COVID-19 upon contractors and the supply chain. The knock-on effect is that as the economic outlook has improved, contractors are experiencing issues with material and personnel availability and as such it was not prudent or possible to undertake and conclude all operational phases before the end of 2021 as had been planned.
“Egdon therefore requires a further period of 12 months beyond the current operational end date for operations specified by the conditions to enable the construction of the wellsite to be completed, drilling operations to be undertaken, production testing and site restoration.”
The company said it was aware that local residents were concerned about delays at North Kelsey. But it said:
“An extension of time by 12 months would not cause greater impacts than those already considered acceptable.”
It said the planning balance was “strongly in favour of granting planning permission”.
In accounts for the year ending July 2021, Egdon said drilling the North Kelsey well was partly dependent on whether it was able to farm out the work. The farm out process was underway, the company said.
“Vertical well could miss oil target”
Egdon originally planned to drill a vertical well at North Kelsey.
But the new planning application proposes a deviated well. If approved, this would mean that the end of the well, known as the bottom hole target location, would be about 700m away from the wellhead.
Egdon said the change in well trajectory followed a re-evaluation of 3D seismic data of the area. It said this had shown that a vertical well was not the best way to test oil in the target Ashover Grit reservoir:
“In simple terms, a vertical well from the existing Site could miss the primary target. This re-evaluation has therefore identified that a change to the proposed bottom hole target location is required and that the proposed North Kelsey exploration well needs to be drilled directionally from the existing surface location to a bottom hole location approximately 700m in a north -west direction.”
The planning statement, which accompanied the application, did not refer to any change in the amount of time needed to drill the deviated well.
Data from the UK Onshore Geophysical Library indicates that 3D seismic surveys in the North Kelsey area were carried out in 1997.
“Need for hydrocarbon production”
Egdon said the principle of hydrocarbon exploration at North Kelsey had been accepted because Lincolnshire County Council had previously granted planning permission for the site.
The company referred to government thinking on the need for hydrocarbon production by quoting from the nine-year-old Energy Security Strategy (2012), which pre-dated the Paris Agreement on climate change.
The company said there was no national policy to reduce carbon emissions by restricting the exploration of hydrocarbons in the UK and this had not suggested by the government’s advisor, the Climate Change Committee.
Egdon also said there was no evidence that increasing indigenous oil and gas production would lead to higher levels of oil and gas consumption.
Earlier this year, the International Energy Agency said development of new oil and gas fields must stop in 2021 if the world was to meet its goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
At the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow last month, the UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, said the UK wanted to move beyond oil and gas completely as fast as possible.
In June 2021, the CCC’s annual progress report said it wanted to see strong decarbonisation in the UK, with as little fossil fuel consumption as possible. Meeting the net zero target would involve transitioning almost entirely (95%) away from the unabated use of fossil fuels. (Link to download) Reducing demand for fossil fuels was among key ways to limit the impact on global greenhouse gas emissions, the CCC said.
The most recent official data (August 2021) showed that onshore oil represented 1.8% of total UK oil production.
No change to rig height, equipment and working hours
Egdon said it still expected to use a 50m high MDF18 rig at North Kelsey. The site would still also need other equipment, it said, including toolpusher cabin, toolhouse, generators, fuel tanks, matting boards, blow out preventers and manifold, plus 12 security and welfare cabins and five 1,000 litre water tanks.
The application said there would be no change to the access track, delivery or operating hours, site drainage, waste management, heavy goods vehicle (HGV) movements, transport assessments or restoration plans.
It said there would be no significant effect on road safety, air quality or flood risk and no unacceptable adverse impact on the natural and historic environment or cultural heritage.
The project did not conflict with national or local policies or the council’s development plan, the application said.
Egdon said it expected to employ 20 people during drilling operations. The project would also support local businesses such as road hauliers, restaurants, cafes, pubs, food stores and petrol stations, it said.
- The North Kelsey application is currently listed to be decided by planning officers under delegated powers. DrillOrDrop will report on the planning process, consultation responses and the decision.