Horse Hill Developments Ltd (HHDL) held a public information event today to tell local residents about their plans for further oil flow testing at Horse Hill.
Exhibition panels gave an overview of the plans, and staff from UKOG (which has a 42% stake in HHDL) and consultants specialising in planning, transport, ecology and health and safety were on hand to answer questions (or, in some cases, refuse to).
Tests in two phases, and two new wells
HHDL will shortly be applying for planning application to carry out further testing at the site, in two phases.
- If approved, the first phase will be four extended well tests on the existing well, which was drilled in 2014 and tested earlier this year. Each test will involve flowing continuously for up to 90 days.
- The second phase will involve drilling a horizontal well off the existing one, extending 1km to the East, and a second vertical well. These would also be tested for up to 90 days each.
Acid would be used to stimulate the flow of oil. The exhibition board said “This is typically a 15% hydrochloric acid solution”, and, when pressed, the health and safety consultant said that concentrations would never be higher than 15%, and that hydrofluoric acid would not be used.
A process called ‘hot oil washing’ would be used to remove waxes in the crude oil. This involves circulating heated oil back down the well.
The company say they will not carry out hydraulic fracturing, and that the oil they are targeting flows without the need for stimulation other than acid.
The exhibition played down local impacts, saying “we do not expect any noise impact on nearby properties” and not mentioning emissions to air, liquid or solid waste, or visual or ecological impacts.
Throughout the periods of 24/7 drilling, the site will be lit by six to eight lighting towers. Estimates of truck movements range from six (three in and three out) during flow testing to twenty (ten in and ten out) while the site is prepared. There will be ‘small spikes’ of heavier traffic when rigs are being mobilised and demobilised.
Astonishingly, climate didn’t get a single mention in the exhibition. While it was acknowledged that “technological advances, electric vehicles, increased energy efficiency and energy from renewables will all affect the way energy is produced and used”, this is dismissed as “unlikely to have any significant impact on the UK’s energy mix”.
There was no mention of the government’s commitment made in Paris last year to move to net zero carbon emissions.
What about the longer term?
The consultants refused to speculate on what could follow the test drilling.
And UKOG CEO Stephen Sanderson refused to discuss his hopes for the vast amounts of oil waiting to be extracted from the Weald area.
UKOG has estimated there are 124 billion barrels of oil under the Weald, which extends over 1,200 square miles or more. When questioned about how much of this could potentially be extracted, and how many wells would be needed to do so, Mr Sanderson simply walked away.
This was disappointing as many residents were concerned about his past predictions for the industrialisation of the area.
In this video of clips from interviews Mr Sanderson says, “this type of oil deposit very much depends on being able to drill your wells almost back to back so it becomes very much like an industrialised process … Generally you have to drill a lot wells close to each other so you can maintain a certain level of production.”
A planning application will be submitted to Surrey County Council – they said this will happen in mid-September.
If permission is given, the company will have to meet conditions and apply for various licences before it can start work. The consultants estimated it could be up to two years before work starts.
The website the company promoted on the leaflets isn’t very useful: www.horsehill.dev.co.uk
We’ll keep an eye open for the planning application and post links here when it’s submitted.