This page lists Surrey locations for which Petroleum Exploration and Development Licences (PEDLs) have been issued – and you can see a map at the bottom of this page.
In this area, the target is most likely to be ‘tight oil’ and a technique called acid stimulation is likely to be used. Drilling for tight oil is likely to involve cluster drilling and multi-well pads with long laterals; radioactive flaring; radioactive waste; fluid containment issues; compressor stations; noise of drilling flaring and pumping and heavy industrialisation. Read more about acidisation in this leaflet published by Keith Taylor MEP.
This round-up is compiled by volunteers and information is presented in good faith. However we are not experts and you are advised to do your own research. If anyone has further news or information about any oil or gas drilling planned or taking place in Surrey, please contact us.
IGas was granted planning permission in July 2016 to convert this exploration site to gas production. More details.
The site is in the Green Belt and Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Yet exploration for gas has been carried out intermittently since 1987.
IGas anticipate that the well will generate about 20 tonnes of compressed natural gas per day. Gas will be compressed on site and loaded onto two tankers seven days a week and taken by road to be injected into the gas grid at Portsdown Hill (Hampshire), a facility specifically designed to allow the connection of remote gas production sites to the gas grid without the need for a physical connection.
They will also produce electricity to power the on-site processes, with any additional electricity being fed into the local network via the site’s existing connection.
The process will involve: “temporary flaring to re-establish gas flow, the installation of CNG production plant and equipment within the wellsite compound and also a tanker loading area, site office, lighting, security cameras, gas powered generator, coolers, generator control room, knock out pot and WC; and retention of a transformer unit, switch room, water tank, temporary parking area and perimeter fencing all on some 1.51 hectares for a temporary period of 15 years with restoration to commercial forestry.”
Read the planning application: http://planning.surreycc.gov.uk/planappdisp.aspx?Appno=SCC%20Ref%202015/0230
Bletchingley (King’s Farm, Tilburstow Hill Road, South Godstone, ML021)
Island Gas Energy plc (IGas) received planning permission in March 2016 for another 15 years of oil and gas production at two sites (Bletchingley Central, which produces oil, and Bletchingley-2, where gas has been found) for 15 years. Planning permission was given using delegated powers, bypassing proper local democratic scrutiny. The two sites are within half a mile of nearby homes. Full details here
In December 2018, the Environment Agency issued new permits to IGas for these operations, which set out the conditions that the site operator must comply with to ensure that the environment and local people are protected.
The permits and decision documents for each one can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/rh9-8lj-island-gas-limited-eprvp3632zjv002-environmental-permit-issued
Conventional oil extraction has been taking place at Brockham for some twenty years on a small scale. In November 2016, Angus Energy received permission from the Environment Agency to drill a sidetrack at its oil site at Brockham, licence PL 235. Angus told investors that they will increase production to 400 barrels of oil per day. Read more
In January 2017, Angus drilled a side-track (horizontal well), without gaining planning permission, despite having been told by Surrey County Council Planning Department that planning permission was required. The breach was spotted by members of the protection camp and investigated by local campaign group Brockham Oil Watch. Councillors granted retrospective permission for the sidetrack in August 2018, despite the chair of the planning committee labelling Angus the “least reliable hydrocarbon operation the council has dealt with”. Councillors also granted Angus permission for a three-year appraisal period. Campaigners were concerned that Angus will start commercial production under this permission, which is what the firm has consistently told its investors. It will be the first site in the country to attempt commercial production from the unconventional Kimmeridge rocks.
However, in June 2019, Angus announced it was looking to sell its65% interest in the Brockham license to an unnamed third party, saying “it is extremely unlikely that commercial hydrocarbon flow can be established from the Kimmeridge layer at Brockham”. This appeared to confirm what campaigners have said all along – that it will not be possible to commercially produce from the Kimmeridge without hydraulic fracturing or acid stimulation.\
Angus has applied to the Environment Agency for permission to reinject waste water, which is likely to be used to try to enable oil production (by forcing the oil out under pressure). There are concerns about contamination of the groundwater. Angus Energy was previously turned down for water reinjection over fears about competence. The company has said it will quite the site if this is not allowed.
For news and updates, see the Brockham Oil Watch website.
Dunsfold / Loxley – permission for exploratory drilling refused; UKOG appealed
In May 2019 UKOG (234) Ltd, a subsidiary of UKOG, submitted a planning application for two exploratory oil and gas wells, just outside the village of Dunsfold in a wooded and beautiful corner of south west Surrey. The site was to be accessed via High Loxley Road, a narrow, winding rural lane, lined with hedgerows and mature trees. This application was criticised for mistakes and inconsistencies, and within a week, UKOG issued a clarification statement about one policy argument it had used to support the application which was out of line with national climate policy. In July, they submitted a second “ancillary” application, with many of the same supporting documents as the first one and some new ones, and proposing accessing the site by a different route. Read a summary of the two applications on Drill or Drop
UKOG (234) Ltd has never made a profit. It posted losses of over £2M for the 2017 financial and for 2018, the latest year for which figures are available, the losses have now risen to a to just under £7M. We believe this means UKOG 234 is technically insolvent but is being propped up financially by UKOG which is currently underwriting its debts from year to year.
Waverley Borough Council held its first-ever listening panel, to hear the views of residents and organisations. The three-hour session heard from 22 people, who all objected to the scheme. They included representatives of parish councils, local businesses, community groups and residents. There were no presentations in support of the scheme; UKOG was invited but did not attend. Read a report of the Listening Panel on Drill or Drop
The plans were originally expected to be decided by Surrey County Council in August 2019, but the decision was postponed numerous times. The application finally came to the Planning Committee on 29 June 2020 – and was refused permission. In August, the decision was ruled invalid following technical problems during the committee meeting, which was conducted online. The decision was taken again on 27 November 2020 and again refused. UKOG is appealing the decision.
Holmwood/Leith Hill PEDL143
VICTORY! In October 2020, a cohort of onshore oil firms walked away from the controversial Leith Hill drilling site (formerly known as ‘Holmwood’) .
UK Oil & Gas Plc (UKOG), Angus Energy and Egdon Resources Ltd decided to relinquish the licence after concluding that “the required long-reach/shallow target-depth wells are neither technically viable or economically feasible”. If UKOG don’t want the licence, it seems unlikely any other company will take it on.
Europa Oil & Gas, who previously held the licence, withdraw in September 2018 when the then Environment Secretary, Michael Gove MP, announced that the Forestry Commission would not renew their lease to their site because of the potential impact on nearby ancient woodland. In March 2019, Europa announced it was handing over the operatorship of PEDL143 to UK Oil and Gas plc (UKOG). Europa retained its 20% interest, UKOG held 40% and other partners were Egdon Resources (18.4%), Angus Energy (12.5%), Union Jack Oil (7.5%) and Altwood Petroleum (1.6%). UKOG looked for sites to drill from outside the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which meant drilling at least 3km to access the oil.
Before these final stages, the application to drill for oil at Bury Hill Wood, Holmwood, near Leith Hill had been the subject of a long legal battle. The site is inside the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Local residents fought the plans since 2008, through many twists and turns, including two Public Inquiries, a High Court Appeal and a Court of Appeal Hearing. For the full history, see the Leith Hill Action Group website.
The second Public Inquiry found in favour of Europa. Read the Appeal decision here.
Europa then had planning permission for a 1,400 metre oil well and a 35 metre drilling tower with aircraft warning lights; gas flares would be installed and hundreds of HGV movements would take place along Coldharbour Lane, an ancient (and narrow) sunken lane. In October 2017, they received planning permission for security fencing, buildings and equipment at the site. However Europa was never able to meet all the conditions of its planning permissions, such as an acceptable Traffic Management Plan.
Local community group Leith Hill Action Group campaigned valiantly against the proposals for nearly 10 years, through the planning system and in the courts. A newer group A Voice for Leith Hill used art, music and family events to raise awareness of the drilling plans and harnessed people power to lobby the Forestry Commission about the lease. A Protection Camp was a physical embodiment of opposition and a channel for resistance, protest and protection.
Horse Hill, near Horley, PEDL 137
*For updates on Horse Hill, see news updates on the home page.*
Horse Hill is in Green Belt countryside west of Horley and north of Gatwick Airport.
Esso drilled just to the north of the current site in the 1980s. In January 2012, Magellan Petroleum (UK) Ltd was granted planning permission (ref.RE10/2089) for the exploration stage.
Test drilling was carried out in late 2014 and flow testing in February and March 2016, when Horse Hill Developments Ltd (HHDL), who had taken over the licence, tested the potential flow of oil from three layers. You can download all the documents relating to the test drilling submitted to the Environment Agency here – the Environmental Method Statement gives a summary of the methods used. Section 1 of this document gives more details of the processes involved in the 2016 flow testing.
UKOG, one of the shareholders in HHDL, claims to have flowed more than 450 barrels per day (bopd) from the Lower Kimmeridge Limestone, 900 bopd from the Upper Kimmeridge Limestone and 168 bopd from the Portland Sandstone. The Kimmeridge shale formations are an unconventional target, which require techniques such as acidisation to exploit them. Stephen Sanderson, CEO of UKOG, described the find as “significant” and said “UKOG shareholders and the UK Government should rejoice in this well”. Read UKOG’s press releases about the find
In November 2017, HHDL received planning permission to drill a sidetrack (horizontal) well and a second vertical well (HH-2) and for flow testing.
In September 2019, HHDL was granted planning permission for four more oil wells, plus one wastewater reinjection well and 20 years of full production. This decision was challenged in the High Court by a local campaigner, but her case was dismissed by a judge.
- Read a summary of the proposals on the Drill or Drop website
- You can find the application documents (all 95 of them) on the Surrey County Council website
The Horse Hill site is located near the foci of the recent and unprecedented swarm of earthquakes in Surrey. Read more about the earthquakes on the Brockham Oil Watch site
Operator: Island Gas Energy plc (IGas)
This is north of East Grinstead and includes one non-producing well site. The licence was issued in 2016 and has been extended until July 2024. IGas has not yet drilled a well here.
(Bromley, Sutton, Croydon, and includes Epsom and Ewell)
2008 – 2039
Northdown Energy Ltd. 90%
Aimwell Energy Ltd. 10%
Palmer’s Wood, Godstone
Star Energy Weald Basin Ltd was granted planning permission, subject to conditions, in August 2011 for: “Retention of two hydrocarbon wellsites, interconnecting pipeline, access roads, wells and associated infrastructure, plant, buildings and equipment until 30 September 2024; the restoration of the sites by 30 September 2025; and the removal of plant and equipment granted planning permission on 29 February 1996.”
1980 – 2030
Star Energy Weald Basin Ltd.
PEDL licences in Surrey (click image to enlarge)