Companies set to drill for oil and gas near Horley

A consortium of companies known as Horse Hill Development Ltd has applied to the Environment Agency for a Mining Waste Environmental Permit to drill an exploratory well for hydrocarbons (oil and gas) at a site off Horse Hill, north-west of Horley.

Plans have changed since Magellan Petroleum was originally granted planning permission for drilling and stimulation here.  The new proposals are for a conventional well and do not involve fracking or the injection of fluids into the ground.

The proposed well is diagonal, around 2,646m (8,680 ft) deep, and the drilling operation will last for ten weeks.  If economic reserves of oil or gas are found, they will make a new application to test the well.

The applicants appear to be optimistic about striking lucky. The Chairman of Stellar, one of the companies involved, said, “The Horse Hill-1 well, one of the deepest to be drilled in the Weald Basin, has significant potential to discover oil… but the Company is particularly excited about the potential of locating significant convention (sic) gas deeper down the Horse Hill-1 well into the Triassic.”* 

Find out more and have your say

There is a public consultation, open till 15 July – you can read the documents and submit your response to the Environment Agency here: https://consult.environment-agency.gov.uk/portal/npsapp/horsehill/horse_hill_developments_limited_1

“No emissions to air…”

The documents are of course technical and it is hard for the lay person to take an informed view on the proposals. We are bringing the proposals to the attention of those who have the expertise to make an informed response.

One question which arises is that if they do find gas, what are they going to do about it?

The application documents do not mention any measures to flare or vent gas.  In fact they say, “There will be no associated emissions to air that require abatement or control. Accordingly, the potential for climate change from the Mining Waste Facility is low… The Environmental Risk Assessment has concluded any quantities of fugitive air emissions are expected to be very minor and deemed to pose a low environmental risk.”

Broader concerns

Local residents objected to the plans and have concerns about traffic and safety, noise, dust and air pollution.

Surrey Green Party has some over-riding concerns about the proposals.

Drilling for oil and gas at Horse Hill will mean a massive increase in noise, pollution and heavy traffic in this quiet rural area.

We saw in Balcombe last year how the Environment Agency and the Health & Safety Executive failed to carry out their regulatory responsibilities, so we can’t be confident that the pollution risks will be properly managed.

But even more seriously, drilling for yet more fossil fuels will worsen the threat of climate change.

Rather than pumping ever more dinosaur fuels out of the ground, we need to be shifting investment to low or zero carbon energy technologies such as tidal, wind and solar. Investment in clean energy will mean new green jobs and industries, greater energy security, and less climate-changing pollution.

*http://m.londonstockexchange.com/exchange/mobile/news/detail.html?announcementId=11881294

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2 Comments

  1. Simon
    Posted April 19, 2015 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    I Visited the Horse Hill site this weekend. Environmental impact is clearly minimal, probably no more than the nearby horse livery activities. There is currently no drilling active on site but the bunded platforms for drilling are in place for past of future drilling.

    The real impact of this type of exploratory drilling is minimal. It is entirely to our benefit to know more about what geological reserves we have. Thus there is no immediate threat or problems with such exploration.

    Based on information provided we can make informed decisions on next steps. Obviously there are serious consequences in releasing further fossil fuels. Our first priority should be in investing in a sustainable energy future with renewable sources and efficiency savings.

    There is neither an environmental nor an economic imperative for extracting oil from the weald basin at this time, it will still be there in hundreds or thousands of years in the future when we may want it and be able to safely consume it.

    Thus this is nothing to get too excited about at this time. Be vigilant to ensure that activities are properly regulated and initial impressions are that this site is well regulated. Focus your energy on transitioning to sustainable energy sources not worrying about trivial threats.

    • admin
      Posted April 19, 2015 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for your comments. Totally agree: the best course is to leave this oil in the ground and focus our efforts on reducing energy demand and providing people with locally-owned, sustainable energy.

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