You may have seen the article on page 7 of the Dorking Advertiser yesterday that bore the headline “Earthquakes NOT linked to oil drilling in the county”.
Whilst the article is factually correct, it omits many things that were said, and the headline is totally misleading.
The article fails to point out that the planning case officer said:
“we’ve had a response back from the OGA (the Oil and Gas Authority) and they have confirmed that they have consulted with the BGS (the British Gelological Survey), and academic experts and at this stage, they find it very difficult to see how the resumption of small volume production and water reinjection at the Brockham field could have triggered the recent seismic events.”
“the OGA have said they will be auditing the records for the Brockham field regarding the reporting of production and injection volumes, and (…) if they see any evidence that operations at the Brockham field have resulted in seismicity, then they will instruct Angus to change their planned activity.”
This account suggests that a causal link cannot be ruled out at this stage, and is at odds with the statement made by the Deputy Development Planning Team Manager, Stephen Jenkins, which was reported in the Dorking Advertiser. Mr Jenkins said:
“but they” (the OGA) “are preparing a statement along those lines, that there is no causal link between the earthquakes and particularly Brockham. It’s the distance and the low levels of volumes that are important here.”
Mr Jenkins also said, concerning the Oil and Gas Authority:
“We’ve just got an initial email, and they haven’t made a formal statement, but that is coming.”
But the Dorking Advertiser reporter quoted a spokeswoman for the OGA that
“no statement to the public about the earthquakes had been planned”
“Based on the evidence it is difficult to see how oil and gas activities in the area could be linked to these seismic events.”
So, according to the spokesperson, the OGA are not ruling out a causal link based on available evidence.
We would also like to refer you to a letter sent by four eminent academic geologists to the Secretary of State, Greg Clark, and the Chief Executives of Surrey County Council, the Oil and Gas Authority, the Environment Agency and the Health and Safety Executive. Its shorter version, copied below, was published in the Times on 6th August 2018. The letter calls for a moratorium on all drilling, re-injection and flow testing until the records of fluid injection and local faulting activity have been comprehensively surveyed and interpreted, and the triggering mechanism for this quake cluster properly understood. One of the signatories is none other than Prof Richard Selley, a resident of Brockham Park.
In the light of this, are you reassured by the statement of Mr Jenkins? Or do you, like us, the BGS and several prominent scientists, think that a causal link is possible and more analysis is needed?