We are pleased to report that we have received laboratory results of the first air and water samples collected around the Brockham wellsite. The levels of pollutants are in line with what one would expect in a rural location. (Please see below for more details.) The forced break in Angus Energy’s operations earlier this year due to unexpectedly finding water in their new well is allowing us the time to continue sampling and laboratory analysis to establish a robust baseline reflective of seasonal weather changes before any extraction from the unconventional Kimmeridge layers starts. Having good baseline data is necessary to provide a reference point against which to assess the future monitoring of air and water quality after oil production starts.
We are paying for this work with funds raised from the community through crowdfunding, and from grants. Unfortunately, the current regulatory regime doesn’t require any baseline monitoring. There has never been any groundwater testing at Brockham despite the fact that the risky practice of waste water reinjection underground (including from another site in Lidsey) had been allowed for a number of years. This practice was banned at Brockham in November 2018 thanks in part to our efforts and the pressure we were able to put on the Environment Agency through our petition signed by over 27,000 people. In their decision to prohibit reinjection the EA cited concerns over well integrity and Angus Energy’s operating procedures that “are not up to the required standard.” (Please note waste water was reinjected into well BRX3 drilled many years ago. The issue of injecting acid mixed with other chemicals into the new sidetrack BRX4Z remains).
To our knowledge, there has never been any air monitoring around the well either, except for the reporting by the operator of the amount of gas produced annually, which they reported as nil. It is not known whether these reports are based on estimated or actual volumes, and they are not verified by the EA (links here and here).
We commissioned H2Ogeo to provide a baseline water quality report for ground and surface waters in the vicinity of the Brockham Oil Well. A total of five sampling locations were identified consisting of three groundwater wells and two surface water points. A total of nine water samples were collected over two events and sent under appropriate chain of custody to an accredited laboratory for analysis. Quality Control procedures were used with the laboratory to provide assurance that the results were accurate and good quality data was obtained. The field and laboratory results indicated some chemical differences between major ions in surface and groundwater, but they did not identify any hydrocarbons or methane gases above the limits of detection.
We commissioned Gair Consulting to assist with the set-up of six monitoring points on three farms around the wellsite, together including six NO2 and three BTEX (Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene, Xylene) tubes. Those are changed on a regular basis and sent for analysis. We are aiming to collect c. 6 months of baseline data. Results so far are in line with average air quality in a rural location. Slight variations in hydrocarbon levels across locations were detected, but those are likely attributable to the proximity to a road. Production from the Kimmeridge layers has not started yet and so there has not been any flaring at the Brockham wellsite, or any production of gas from these strata.
If you would like to contribute to the cost of collecting baseline data and future monitoring, please donate via the crowdfunder: