Horse Hill oil site discounted in earthquake assessment – “surprising omission”

The Weald Action Group has criticised the Oil and Gas Authority for disregarding the Horse Hill oil site when deciding if 14 earthquakes in Surrey were natural.

The OGA has released a report saying that the quakes, which started on April 1st this year, were not caused by human activity.

The Newdigate Swarm of earthquakes is located on a small fault running North East from the cluster to the Horse Hill oil well, just 3 kms away, which is bored through it.

The Weald Action Group has evidence of activity at Horse Hill on April 1st, when Horse Hill Developments Ltd says there was nothing going on at the site. The assessment by the OGA is based partly on this claim.

James Knapp of the Weald Action Group said: “It speaks volumes that the only way to reach the finding that the earthquake swarm is natural, is to disregard the existence of the Horse Hill well site altogether, and this is exactly what has been done”.

An independent investigation by Edinburgh University came to the opposite conclusion, that the earthquakes are induced by exploration activity, and Edinburgh has produced a hypothesis which shows how Horse Hill well could have triggered the earthquakes.

The OGA report obscures the danger of the planned expansion at Horse Hill, from a single exploration well to seven production and injection wells. It calls for oil companies to provide more information on their activities which might link to seismic activity, which is welcomed by the Weald Action Group, but a call by workshop participants for more seismic measuring equipment was rejected on grounds of cost.

James Knapp said: “This highlights the contradiction at the heart of oil and gas regulation: how can the Oil and Gas Authority, whose job it is to maximise oil and gas production, simultaneously offer the required checks and balances of a regulator? It is hard to trust them. This flawed regulatory structure undermines public trust in the Government’s energy policy at a time when scientists tell us we have just 12 years to stop run away climate change.”


Read a longer report on Drill or Drop: Surrey earthquakes: no link to oil and gas sites, says report, but one expert disagrees


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