Dear BOW Followers,
After several delays, the Surrey planners have now confirmed that the decision over Brockham (part retrospective) application for unauthorized sidetrack BRX4Z (drilled over 1.5 years ago!), its appraisal, and the retention of donor well (which should have been plugged years ago) is on the agenda for Surrey County Council Planning and Regulatory Committee meeting on 8th August at 10:30am at County Hall, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey KT1 2DN. (Link to Drill Or Drop Report).
Officers are recommending APPROVAL for the entire period of 3 years, which we are particularly worried will allow Angus to move into commercial production under the benefit of this appraisal permission (if granted). Angus have clearly and consistently confirmed this plan to investors via official channels, and we have pointed it out to the officers, but they seem to have ignored it.
So, if granted, this application will allow for the first very long-term testing/commercial production from the unconventional Kimmeridge rocks in the Weald Basin. These rocks have never been produced from anywhere.
This is concerning because, according to expert opinion from David Smythe, Emeritus Professor of Geophysics in the University of Glasgow, these rocks can only be produced with the use of acid stimulation or fracking.
What’s even more concerning is that the Brockham site is operating under an old-style environmental permit (read article on this here), which neither regulates nor monitors many of the activities associated with production from the rocks: gas flaring and operation of an enormous generator*, well stimulation treatments, and also the ongoing practice of water re-injection, which has created so much concern as a potential cause of the recent swarm of earthquakes in Surrey.
The old style permit will be in place for as long as Angus take to provide the Environment Agency with all the information needed to assess the issue of a new permit (this process has already taken well over a year and there is no end in sight). In the meantime, operations at Brockham are allowed to continue, including the new type of processes required when extracting oil an entirely new, tight geology. We think that this is nothing short of shocking.
The officers failed to mention any of this in their report, even though they received Prof Smythe’s expert opinion, and we made them aware of the risk the approval of this application creates for Brockham whilst it operates under an old-style environmental permit.
So we’d like to urge you to comment if you have not yet done so. You can read more about the issues above here (includes instructions) and here. You can also find our very popular blog on earthquakes and oil & gas operations here.
And if you are planning on attending the meeting on Wednesday, 8th August, please get in touch with Val on 01737 844013 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*We are very grateful to Frack Free Balcombe Residents Association for their expert submission to SCC regarding emissions to air at Brockham. Angus submitted the relevant technical assessments only in mid-June, at the 11th hour in the assessment of this application. FFBRA point out that the assessments show potential significant impacts of releases of nitrogen dioxide, volatile organic compounds (ex. Benzene, a carcinogen) and H2S (Hydrogen Sulphide), and that a detailed assessment is needed. Testing of the composition of gas from the Kimmeridge is also needed as much of the assessments are based on entirely unsupported assumptions.
On Wednesday evening, 25th July, we gave a presentation to a crowded Brockham Village Hall Bar concerning this current application as well as recent earthquakes and potential connections with oil & gas activities at Brockham and Horse Hill. Until the British Geological Survey results are known then no-one can say definitely that the earthquakes were caused by the oil companies activities but there is wider evidence linking oil and gas activities with increased seismicity.