Drilling of Sidetrack BR-X4Z

NEWS UPDATE 9 March 2017: BBC Video Report on ‘Unauthorised’ drilling

Side track BR-X4Z

Angus Energy’s investor communications and press coverage during Q4 2016 clearly suggest the main element of the works from mid Dec 2016 to 31 Jan 2017 was to drill a new sidetrack BR-X4Z. 

However, after concerns were raised with the Surrey County Council about lack of any kind of consultation, they clarified in an email on 5 January that any extensions of existing well bores or drilling of new wells had to have both planning permission and a different permit from the Environment Agency.  He continued that there was no planning application with the County Planning authority at that moment although they have had limited pre-planning discussions with Angus Energy which they might be progressing at some point later this year.

On 13 January SCC Planning clarified further that Angus Energy had a ‘work-over’ rig.  This carried out maintenance activities on an existing well bore drilled by BP in the 1980s as permitted through the 2007 planning permissions. They went on to state that Angus Energy had confirmed the ‘work-over’ rig had not been used to extend the existing well bore either horizontally or vertically.  The Environment Agency had visited the site in December and confirmed this.

On 18 January, Angus’s statement refers to work on an existing well, not drilling of a new sidetrack:

“…we anticipate the re-entry of the original Brockham-X1 well being completed within the week with the work to complete and case the well taking 2 to 3 days thereafter. The Group will update the market once the well is complete and then make a further announcement when it is in a position to fully evaluate the results of the geological evaluation assessment, expected to be 3 weeks thereafter.”

And according to their Jan 26 statement, Angus Energy decided to rename the original Brockham-X1 well to BR-X4Z -the name of the planned new side-track.

“The well will now, upon OGA confirmation, be renamed BR-X4Z.”

On 3 March Angus energy announced BR-X4Z drilling results and said that once the necessary OGA approval is granted, they intend to “produce from the Kimmeridge at Brockham’s production facility” as soon as Spring/Summer 2016.

On 3 March Surrey County Council stated that Angus Energy appeared to have admitted drilling a new side-track without gaining planning permission. They continued that before site-work began the County Planning Authority had given clear advice more than once to Angus Energy that any new sidetrack would require planning permission. They confirmed that this was a breach of planning control and the CPA would be discussing this with Angus as a matter of urgency. They also clarified that proposals for appraisal and production would require separate planning applications.

Angus Energy issued a statement on 10 March saying it is of the firm opinion that the drilling of the BR-X4Z well did not constitute a breach of the planning consents.

On 15 March, a freedom of information request to Surrey County Council was answered revealing two letters sent to Angus Energy on 14 Sept & 12 Dec 2016 informing the company that no drilling was allowed.

BOW understands from an email sent on 21 March by Helyn Clack, County Councilor for Dorking Rural, that SCC are seeking legal advice on this matter and that the Chairman of the Planning and Regulatory committee is writing to Government for assurance that their regulations are supporting the Council’s planning policies.

According to comments from Angus’ AGM on 29 March, the company remained adamant that it had done nothing wrong and said it would not apply for retrospective planning permission.