West Newton drilling set for autumn 2023

A horizontal gas well at an East Yorkshire site is due to be drilled this autumn, the operator said today.

West Newton-B, December 2020. Photo: West Newton Gateway to the Gasfields.

Rathlin Energy told local people work on the new well at the West Newton-B site was scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2023.

The well, to be called WN B-2, already has planning permission, granted originally in 2015 and extended in March 2022.

Planning conditions, including biodiversity and wildlife enhancement plans, were “currently being prepared to be discharged”, Rathlin said today.

But the company said the start date for the well depended on the availability of a rig and permit approval.

Rathlin wants to use oil-based drilling muds at West Newton-B and needs to vary its existing environmental permit.

“Good well productivity”

Reabold Resources, a partner in the West Newton-B plans, said today “the specific, optimised well path for WN B-2” had been agreed.

Data had already confirmed WN B-2 was likely to intersect “good reservoir quality” and was expected to “deliver good well productivity”, the company said.

Stephen Williams, Reabold’s co-chief executive, said:

“The ongoing technical work related to West Newton has given the JV [joint venture] a high level of confidence in the planned location for the upcoming B-2 horizontal well.”

The company added:

“It is envisaged that WN B-2 will be followed by a multi-well development programme based on a 50 Mscf/d gas facility.”

West Newton-A “on hold”

Rathlin said today that operations at its other East Yorkshire site, West Newton-A, were “currently on hold” awaiting environmental permits.

The company has planning permission for four new wells and long-term production at West Newton-A. But it needs new environmental permits to start work.

A public consultation on extra information required from Rathlin by the Environment Agency is expected to start after the local elections on 5 May 2023.

Rathlin said trees had been planted in the field to the north of West Newton-A. They include a mixture of “fast-growing evergreens and slower maturing hardwoods”, the company said:

“The plan is that the trees will grow to create a visual and sound barrier from works at the site and that the land may be opened as a permissive right of way during operations where HGVs will use Fosham Road to access the site.”

Rathlin’s interest

Today’s statements suggested that Rathlin Energy wanted to reduce its 66.67% working interest in the licence area, PEDL183, which includes West Newton A and B.

In its account to the West Newton community liaison meeting, Rathlin said:

“Given the scope of the potential West Newton development, including other opportunities in PEDL 183, and consistent with prudent risk management, Rathlin Energy (UK) Limited has decided to pursue additional strategic industry partnerships for the upcoming drilling programme and subsequent development at West Newton.”

In its statement, Reabold Resources said:

“Rathlin has decided to reduce its significant working interest position in PEDL 183 with the aim of potentially bringing in an industry partner to participate in drilling on PEDL183.”

Reabold said if Rathlin was unable to reduce its interest as far as it wished, then Reabold could provide extra funding. This would allow WN B-2 to be drilled at the earliest opportunity, Reabold added.

Reabold is selling the offshore Victory gas project, west of Shetland, to Shell. Reabold also revealed today plans to drill at Crawberry Hill, abandoned for commercial reasons by Rathlin Energy in 2014.

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