review

What to watch in 2023?

DrillOrDrop’s checklist of what to look out for in 2023 on UK onshore oil and gas

Fracking

  • Will the shale gas industry make a legal challenge over the reinstatement of the moratorium on fracking in England?
  • Will we see another government U-turn?
  • Will there be new scientific evidence on induced seismicity?

We’ll also be watching what happens with Northern Ireland’s overdue review into how firms get fracking licences.

Shale gas sites

Preston New Road

  • Cuadrilla’s planning permission for plugging the horizontal wells and restoring the site expires in April 2023.
  • A planning application for another two years at the site is expected soon
  • Cuadrilla also has until 30 June 2023 to develop alternative uses for the fracked wells, to the satisfaction of the regulator, the North Sea Transition Authority.

Misson

  • Nottinghamshire County Council has ordered IGas and the landowner to restore the Misson Springs site. We’ll be watching what happens.

Other planning issues

Decisions are due in 2023 on:

An appeal is due to get underway in 2023 on Egdon Resources’ appeal against refusal of another extension of planning permission at the North Kelsey site.

We’ll also be watching to see whether South Western Energy submits a revised application for Puddletown.

Legal challenges

Sarah Finch takes her long-running case on the climate impacts of oil production to the supreme court in 2023.

The government has until March 2023 to revise its net zero strategy after losing a challenge by Friends of the Earth, ClientEarth and the Good Law Project. The high court ruled that the government should outline exactly how the net zero policies will achieve emissions targets.

A decision is due early in 2023 on a challenge by Friends of the Earth against government $1.15bn funding for a liquified natural gas project in Mozambique.

Protect Dunsfold, backed by the Good Law Project, and Waverley Borough Council have sought to challenge ministerial approval of gas exploration at Dunsfold.

Climate campaigners are examining the possibility of legal challenges to the government’s approvals of a new coalmine in Cumbria and offshore oil and gas licences.

Production

Will UK onshore oil production reach 15,000 barrels per day, last exceeded in March 2020?

We’ll be following oil volumes extracted at Wressle, the UK’s newest onshore oil production site. The operator, Egdon Resources, is seeking to generate electricity from waste gases at the site and lift the current permitted limit on oil production.

We’ll also watch how Surrey oil production responds to water injection at Horse Hill and Brockham.

New gas production wells at Rathlin Energy’s West Newton-A site in East Yorkshire could be drilled in the first half of 2023, reports have suggested.

Drilling a new production sidetrack should be completed in early 2023 at Angus Energy’s gas Saltfleetby site in Lincolnshire.

But will Horse Hill Developments Limited drill any of its permitted production wells in Surrey? And will Egdon Resources use its planning permissions to drill new wells at Keddington in Lincolnshire and Waddock Cross in Dorset.

Protest

The government’s new public order measures, if approved in 2023, would have a major impact on protest, including new offences of locking-on, going equipped to lock-on and obstruction of major transport works. The police would have extended stop and search powers and could ban people from attending protests under disruption prevention orders.

Other key issues

Emissions: Will the UK government introduce new policies on reducing emissions from the production and use of fossil fuels, as recommended by the Climate Change Committee?

Divestment: Will more councils and universities halt pension fund investments in fossil fuels?

Repurposing and renewables: Will the trend continue for repurposing oil and gas sites for geothermal energy? Will research show that carbon could be stored in old wells?

Public attitudes: How will people feel about fracking for shale gas in a year’s time?

People: Lord Deben is expected to step down at chair of the Climate Change Committee in June 2023

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