West Newton target switches back to gas

Rathlin Energy is apparently no longer targeting oil at its two sites at West Newton in East Yorkshire.

Rathlin Energy’s West Newton-A site in East Yorkshire. Photo: Used with the owner’s consent

The company reportedly said this week that the target would now be gas, reversing a previous decision.

Rathlin reportedly told local residents that analysis of exploration and testing data had concluded that the company should no longer be aiming to extract oil.

It is said to have predicted that 50 million cubic feet of gas could be exported per day by pipeline into the national grid network.

Rathlin’s partner companies, Reabold Resources and Union Jack Oil, have reportedly accepted the change of focus.

Production was not expected until at least 2025 and drilling new wells would not start for some time, the company is reported to have said.

There are no gas pipelines to the West Newton sites and construction would need permissions.

The company also reportedly repeated that it would not frack at the West Newton sites.

DrillOrDrop invited Rathlin Energy to confirm the reports. The company has not responded.

This apparent U-turn is the second time Rathlin Energy has switched the target hydrocarbon at West Newton.

In 2015, Rathlin Energy described a gas discovery at West Newton-A as “very encouraging”.

In August 2019, the company was preparing to test for gas flows at the site. But it stopped the test after a week when oil was encountered.

In November 2019, Reabold Resources reported that the focus had switched to oil because volumes were greater than previously estimated.

Rathlin submitted a revised plan to the Environment Agency to test for oil and said any gas produced would be used to power wellsite generators.

In March 2022, Rathlin Energy secured planning permission for 20 years of oil production and four new wells at West Newton-A. The planning statement referred to storage facilities for 490 tonnes of crude oil on the site.

A key local objection had been tanker transport of crude oil from the site to a refinery. The company said there were no local pipelines that could be used.

At the same time, the company secured another three years at the nearby West Newton-B site. That planning application referred to the incineration of any gas produced with the oil at the site.

But in January 2022, there were already signs that the focus could be switching back to gas. Modelling by Union Jack Oil predicted that initial production from a single gas well in East Yorkshire could exceed many entire fields in the North Sea. The modelling suggested production could average 35.6 million standard cubic feet of gas per day.

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