Four proposed new oil wells at Horse Hill ‘could produce 500 tonnes of petroleum daily’

October 11, 2018
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The operator of the Horse Hill oil site is to commission an environmental impact assessment on drilling four new wells there.

Horse Hill Developments Ltd wants to create four new production wells, as well as converting two existing wells, so there are six of them producing hydrocarbons – oil and gas.

Each well at the site near Horley would have a surface pump under the proposals, which are in the pre-application stage.

Oil exploratory work is divided into three stages – drilling and flow testing, appraisal, and production.

Planning permission was granted to drill the existing wells in 2012, then permission was given for flow testing in 2015. The appraisal stage took place in June this year and the operator now wants to enter the production phase.

Horse Hill Developments stated in documents connected with the proposal: “Based on information acquired to date, once operational, the site could briefly produce in excess of 500 tonnes of petroleum per day for commercial purposes.”

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With the movement into this phase and the amount of petroleum expected to be produced, an environmental impact assessment is required under The Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2017.

Also planned with the proposals is the production of a new ‘produced water re-injection’ (PWRI) well. This is where water produced during oil and gas exploratory work is re-injected into the earth.

Questions have been asked by protesters, scientists and politicians about whether the recent spate of earthquakes in Surrey, which had their epicentres in Newdigate, were induced by the oil exploratory work.

A link was made to a spate of earthquakes in Oklahoma, USA which were caused by an oil operator re-injecting waste water into the earth at high pressure. However the Environment Agency says no such events have occurred in the UK.

Brian Alexander, a spokesman for UK Oil and Gas (UKOG), the firm behind the site at Horse Hill, said UKOG and Horse Hill Developments Ltd “have never injected wastewater underground at any of their well sites” in response to suggestions that activity at the site could be linked to earthquakes.

When asked whether this was likely to change with the construction of this new PWRI well, Mr Alexander said: “The simple answer is that any future water injection would be to dispose of any water we produce from the Horse Hill oil reservoir, plus surface rainwater that accumulates on the site.

“Water will be pumped at low pressure. The Environment Agency consider this to be best practice to return produced water back underground where it came from. Therefore, it is safe and standard practice.”

A Horse Hill Developments report states the water produced “may contain low levels of Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials,” hence why it has to be re-injected.

The report added: “The proposed drilling, injection and production activities, together with the handling and storage of associated materials at surface have the potential to give rise to significant effects on the groundwater and surface water environment in the absence of mitigation.”

The Horse Hill oil site pictured from the air
(Image: Grant Melton)

Also included in the proposals is for the site to increase by 0.52 of a hectare and for the “construction of an oil processing and storage area, tanker loading facilities and the placement of generator sets for the combustion of natural gas to generate electricity”.

Sarah Finch, a Green Party councillor for Redhill East on Reigate and Banstead Borough Council, said: “These plans threaten to enlarge the drill site and will mean more noise, gas flaring, and heavy traffic. This industrialisation will completely change the character of this quiet rural area.

“And all at a time when we urgently need to switch investment from fossil fuels to energy conservation and renewable energy, to avoid the worst effects of climate change. Greens will be supporting local residents to oppose these plans.”

Article source: https://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/surrey-news/four-proposed-new-oil-wells-15259557


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