“Demonstratable need” for more greenbelt oil production at Brockham – Surrey council planners

Council officials have supported plans for more oil production at a small site in the Surrey greenbelt, saying it would help meet a “growing demand” for hydrocarbons.

Brockham oil site. Photo: from Surrey County Council report

In a report for county councillors published today, planners said there was a “demonstratable need” for the proposal.

The site, near Dorking, has extracted no oil for more than three years. When it was in production, it contributed less than a quarter of one per cent to UK onshore oil volumes.

The site operator, Angus Energy, has applied for permission to produce from the site’s BRX4 well until 2036. It also wants to reperforate a section of the well in the Portland sandstone formation.

A decision by Surrey County Council’s planning committee is expected next week.

In their report, council planners concluded that the development was needed to address the “ongoing demand for oil”. They said:

“The Government recognises there is a need to maintain a stable and reliable supply of indigenous energy sources and this would include onshore oil and gas into the future.

“It is therefore appropriate that such indigenous supplies of natural gas and oil, regardless of how small in scale, are properly husbanded to make a valuable contribution by maximising energy recovery of indigenous supplies and contribute to the energy sector.”

But opponents of the application, including Mole Valley District Council, Brockham Parish Council, local campaign groups and residents, have questioned the need for the application.

Weald Action Group said:

“There is no Government energy policy that supports a view that there is a strategic need for further exploration of conventional onshore fossil fuel reserves.”

Brockham Oil Watch said:

“Restarting long-term oil production from a field which has been unproductive for years goes against the policy direction to reduce climate change impacts.

“Contrary to the applicant’s assertions, there is no mention of the strategic importance or need for further onshore conventional oil and gas exploration in current Government energy policy.”

According to official data, Brockham first began oil production in 2002. Since then, the site contributed 0.13% of total UK onshore oil production. In the same period, UK onshore oil was 2.02% of total UK oil production.

Brockham extracted no oil in 77 of the months since production began, the equivalent of almost 6 ½ years.

Weald Action Group has also rejected Angus Energy’s claims that oil extraction would reduce the need for imported resources. It said:

“This is misleading and a deliberate red herring. There is no evidence that increasing domestic oil production will reduce imports.”

“Appropriate development”

The planners described the application as “appropriate development in the Green Belt”. They said it would not harm residential amenity, heritage assets, flood risk, or ground water.

They also rejected arguments that the application should be refused on climate change grounds, despite local and national declarations of a climate emergency. They said:

“Officers consider that the proposed development would not be in conflict with the Government’s climate change agenda.”

Their report recommended that permission should be subject to the views of the Environment Agency, which has not yet responded to a consultation.

There should also be a legal agreement preventing lorries reaching the site through Brockham village, they said.

Last month, the Environment Agency granted a permit allowing Angus Energy to reinject waste water from Brockham into an old oil well at the site. This would cut the cost of waste disposal and help to improve the flow of oil from the reservoir.

The company has said it wanted to bring in waste water from other sites in southern England. The council report said Angus Energy would need a separate planning permission to do this. A permit covering radioactive substances would also be needed from the Environment Agency.

  • DrillOrDrop will report from the planning committee meeting at 10.30am on Wednesday 27 April 2022, at Surrey County Council offices at Woodhatch Place, 11 Cockshot Hill, Reigate, Surrey, RH2 8EF. Link to agenda

12 replies »

  1. You mean they know what they are talking about, Dorkinian?

    Now, call me old fashioned, but whilst there are those who wish to use plastic and energy around midnight there will be a need for energy to be supplied. Create a demand and supply will be provided.

    Meanwhile, there are many in this country who are going to their beds when daylight moves to darkness as they can not afford the cost of lighting, or other consumption of energy, and require support to remedy that. That support comes from UK taxation, it does not come from taxation upon oversea sources of imported oil and gas. Some of that taxation is spent on things that are detrimental to the UK that then requires more taxation spending in UK to balance. Support recently from some for a daft windfall tax in UK. I am still waiting to see how such could be applied to imported oil/gas.

    With Wytch Farm being the largest on shore oil field in Europe, other sites will be small in comparison. That is fact. I do find it interesting that the antis have now moved on to trying the insignificant card. Well, if an individual site is so insignificant, then what is the problem? And, since when has an individual wind turbine been significant, or solar panels upon an individual roof? Careful, the direction of travel might be to suggest that numerous individual sites should be rushed through to make them add up to a larger total! Once again, arithmetic has to be abandoned when trying to get things to add up on DoD. Sorry, but without considering the arithmetic then adding up is doomed.

  2. The supply of energy for those like yourself, Martin, who use their plastic after darkness falls does not need to be from fossil fuels although improved energy storage and a change in personal habits are indeed desiderata. As you all too frequently forget, plastics are what we have, so we and presumably you use them. Were other materials available then the supply of fossil-fuel derived materials would cease to feed a demand. So it is with nuclear weapons, the supply creates the demand in a perpetual cycle which threatens to culminate in planetary disaster.
    Greater control of both plastics and nuclear weapons is long overdue. Both threaten our planet, albeit in different ways.
    A “daft windfall tax” would go a little way towards meeting the need you identify to provide relief for those impoverished by the system, a need inadequately met by central government. At the same time, the injustice of a system which favours the exploitation of the impoverished to create wealth for the few would be made manifest.
    An economic system which favours the few rather than the many existing on crumbs from their table is evil.
    Just as one extra wind farm will not solve our energy problems, nor will one extra polluting well destroy the planet. Both however send a clear message of encouragement. Renewables empowered by diversion of subsidies and massive investment will save the planet, successful supply must continue to create demand; the one extra well will encourage the polluters in their quest for profit to enrich themselves, not therefore engendering alternatives at sufficient scale to rescue the harm they, and we via our dependence, have done.
    This tendency towards proliferation needs no demonstration. It is apparent all around us as well as in every pro-fossil fuel decision arrived at by fossil fuel industry sympathetic, or simply ignorant local planners.
    The curious nature of your individual version of arithmetic dependent upon ‘replacement theory’, (that eccentric theory which argues for example that no additional (note the word) source of energy is able to be created without axiomatically replacing rather than adding to an existing one), is clear. I suggest, not for the first time, that you abandon this absurd theory, thereby saving the point of a vital arithmetic.
    All this has been pointed out to you many times. Adding up, Martin, is arithmetic. Stop wielding the word as though you alone understood it.
    Once more, might I preempt an expression of your dislike of the English word ‘we’ and related words by reminding you that it is an inclusive plural form of ‘I’. It would be tedious always to qualify it by such expressions as “we who believe that climate change is anthropogenic”.

    • You are confused with someone else, 1720. You need to identify who I am first, and then check “facts” in the OED. Then, perhaps, you could start on arithmetic. Heaven knows when you might move on to valves that can be turned up or down depending on demand, that are the subject of repeated OPEC meetings. One recent one was begged by Biden to turn them up further, whilst he made threats to those in USA who would not drill quick enough! Boris has tried with OPEC as well, now the EU is having a go.
      Then, perhaps you have a need to actually identify what subsidies go towards renewables currently and why there has been so much need to pay out excessive money to provide a level of high profit to those who want to profit from them, and then no return of that money when they fail to deliver.

      I have never said I am against fossil fuels, or against the products that are derived from them, or the many benefits that also come from them. Therefore, as a happy user, why should I follow? I am not a follower of your dogma, but I still do try and cut down on my energy use as I have better ways to spend my money-including assisting my close family who do have more difficulty cutting back on their energy use. And, those better ways, would prefer more of the oil and gas used in UK to come from UK so taxes from here also help not only my close family, but others, even if exported.
      If “we” are such a strong advocate of man made climate change, why do “we” want to make it worse by adding to transport emissions and cutting back on funds available for development of alternative energy sources? “We” appear to have more problems than arithmetic. “We” sound more like a group of exporters unhappy to lose even a little of their export revenue, and hang the consequences. “We” have pretty busy at Fawley Refinery recently. Did “we” not notice where the ships had come from?

      Jono and Mike have a point. The volumes are unlikely to be great, but “we” are told every little helps, so whether individuals want to spend their pennies supporting a little help or spend their pennies clogging the courts is their choice as the pennies are theirs to spend.

      • Dear me, we have got it in for ‘we’, haven’t we? I think I’ll continue to resist your attempts to limit my use of English and render it more akin to your own impenetrable prose. I’ll even comment on your attempts to own the word ‘dogma’, construed by yourself in an exclusively negative sense, and on your rather weird suggestion that I, and no doubt others, “advocate” man-made climate change. I note that you are a “happy user” of FFs and their derivatives. I also note that you have decided to ignore both my agreement that humanity has profited from FFs, and my suggestion that their day is now over as their deleterious consequences become increasingly apparent. Of such small oversights is misrepresentation constructed.
        However, setting such oddities aside, let me clarify for you why we might appear to you and those like you, prone to deliberate misrepresentation, to go easy on transport emissions. As you know as well as anyone else, I sincerely hope, but choose for your own reasons to ignore, this is because such emissions sadly are a natural corollary for the moment of eschewing the much more serious problem of emissions from a new domestic fossil fuel industry which by its nefarious example would encourage other countries, similarly without a moral compass, to follow. The results you are happy to ignore in favour of those short-term tax gains you promote to support your specious arguments. Such methods are all too common in the corrupt system thus promoted.
        So, I need to identify who you are, do I? I can’t imagine why when you are constantly telling us. Which “facts” should I check in the OED? Last time I looked, the OED was a source for the meanings and usage of English words, rather than for facts,except as related to the aforesaid.

        • What a poor memory you have, 1720.

          You previously tried to demonstrate your knowledge of English by declaring that a fact could only be a fact if it had already occurred. Now, you wish to forget that. I can understand your wish to do so, but the truth is there in the OED. Once again, you were just plain wrong, incorrect, outside of reality. As with many English words, there is more than a single definition, and “we” will all die. It is true, a fact, but in the future. Perhaps you should be investigated for misleading the House of DoD?

          So, UK drilling a very small oil well would encourage someone else to do the same, now! Ermm, if they were without a moral compass, then they would not be influenced one way or another. Somewhere within your word typing you fail to determine that the sentence constructed makes any sense.

          Well, plastic use is okay as you have not been provided with anything else, and transport emissions are okay if you apply nonsense arithmetic. Goodness, that man made climate change doesn’t stand a chance. And, where has the cost of living increase come from if FFs days are over? Sherlock Holmes would not be too taxed to determine that the evidence to the contrary is there for all to see, apart from yourself. Perhaps with all such attempts to mislead, then you should start thinking about resigning rather than blame the “we’s”?

          • PS

            I have wondered why anyone would chose 1720 as a tag to identify with. Not a good year for getting decisions right, or those related to reality. 1720 only really known for one major event, so why focus upon irrational exuberance?

            Why not 1837? The year when HCA wrote about the Emperor’s New Clothes, and those who were not “we”, were stupid or ignorant and could not see the magnificent truth being supplied by the “teacher”! (Wonder who has previously suggested just that?)

            Now there is the modern Internet version of the same story. It has all been done before and the original was entertaining, although HCA was not the original. Now it is just a formulaic parody. Not original, more than 500 years old.

            The reality is it is wee, and should not be given the light of day, and if we think it should, then we have been hoodwinked.

            • Reluctantly, Martin, I have to concede that you are correct in attributing more than one meaning to the word ‘fact’. I was relying on the etymological sense but your example proves me wrong in asserting that mine was the only sense of the word. I apologise.
              I wish I could be as ready in conceding sense to the rest of your posts.

              • Thanks for that, 1720. Quite a few more issues to resolve, but a long journey starts with a small step-especially if “we” have a shortage of fossil fuel, or can’t afford the cost of it due to demand being higher than supply and elevating the price!

                Looking at the latest headline, then it would appear that there is more than one demonstration, and not just the province of the antis.

                I do still wonder who may have now been excited to follow the example re-set by Angus, and why they would have waited for this event to do so. I suppose the answer will be somewhere within the mist of why when an oil site is decommissioned, then others around the world are likely to follow! Or, just plain cobras.

  3. Arithmetic Martin? What’s 77 months x 0 bopd ? I would call it less than insignificant, it’s just another lifestyle company scam initiated by Lenigas , Vonk , Tidwell and Carlos Dos Santos Fernandes who seems to have a finger in everything , then the cherry on top , that well known and trusted Lord Lucan.
    You can go on all you like about producing oil and gas , Brockham has done neither and 8 years on , the great Gatwick Gusher’s “ Billions of Barrels of oil “Horse Hill is now a 50 bopd dribble and Sanderson is nowhere to be seen, much to the upset of the punters. Actually the focus seems to be on Turkish exploration, maybe time UKOG had a name change?

  4. Brockham has only produced just over 200,000 barrels of oil since 1998. HH has nearly produced that much in 2 years of production. Neither is of National Significance imo so why do they bother? Must be something to do with getting highly paid for doing nothing.

  5. Perhaps council planners should check out government stats on oil, for in 2020 the UK was a net exporter of crude oil. Or perhaps this planner decided that the demonstrable need was for more exports.

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