Stephen Sanderson, Chief Executive, UK Oil & Gas PLC, has written to OnTheWight in response to an open letter sent to Arreton landowners on behalf of Frack Free Isle of Wight. Ed
We have read with great interest and some astonishment a letter shared with your website by Mr Steve Davis, on behalf of Frack Free Isle of Wight (FFIOW). The letter was dated 3 May 2019 and entitled “Land owners urged to consider implications of leasing land to oil and gas exploration companies”.
UK Oil & Gas PLC (UKOG) has learned over the years to ignore this kind of ill-informed and malicious communication. However, on this occasion, in our opinion, such is the level of misleading content, designed to scare the public and cause us harm, we feel compelled to respond.
We do not frack
It is true that we hold the sole exploration licence for oil and gas on the Isle of Wight. We have had initial meetings with the Isle of Wight Council and the relevant Parish Council about our plans. In addition, we have had advanced conversations with several local landowners to reach a lease agreement.
However, it is totally false that we are fracking, acid fracking, stimulating with acid and employing other “aggressive” techniques that will pose a threat to the environment, to the water supply or the health of residents.
Operations are rigorously regulated
FFIOW should be ashamed of the malicious scaremongering they have embarked upon. Let us be absolutely clear: we do not frack, we do not need to frack, and we will not be applying for permits to frack.
Our operations are rigorously regulated by the Environment Agency (EA), Health and Safety Executive, the UK Government’s Oil and Gas Authority and, of course, the Isle of Wight Council as the mineral planning authority. We adhere fully to the strictest regulations and we have an exemplary record of employing both high operational standards and high levels of openness in our dealings with residents and stakeholders.
Targets are not “tight” reservoirs as FFIOW claims
We are solely pursuing conventional oil reservoirs, which, like our Horse Hill oil field near Gatwick Airport, we aim to flow naturally without the so called “stimulation” techniques erroneously referred to by FFIOW.
Crucially, our targets are not “tight” reservoirs as FFIOW claims, as is evident by the record-breaking natural flows at Horse Hill. Mother nature has done all the hard work over millions of years and on a far greater scale than any man-made fracturing of rocks.
Will not utilise any form of matrix acidisation
In recent times we have also published a clear statement that we will not utilise any form of matrix acidisation in our Portland and Kimmeridge wells (the same geological targets as on the Isle of Wight), due to its potentially adverse effects on the oil reservoir’s ability to flow.
FFIOW’s claims in this respect are therefore wholly erroneous and without foundation.
If we receive planning permission, we will establish a Community Liaison Group to have open and frank dialogue with residents. This will meet regularly and as required.
6% of gross revenues shared with Island
We will also ensure that residents will benefit from our success: we propose to share 6% of gross revenues (i.e. before our costs and taxes) with the Isle of Wight, comprised of Business Rates taxes and a royalty to the local community.
Site restored to original condition
And in the event of a poor result from our operations, UKOG would then swiftly restore the site to its original agricultural condition. This is a normal part of our business.
We are currently in the process of restoring one of our well sites in West Sussex.
What happens if permission granted
As we have said to both the Isle of Wight Council and the Parish Council, if we are given permission to explore for oil and gas, there will be site construction activity in the first six or eight weeks.
During the drilling campaign, a temporary phase of around 60 days, there will be a period of about 5-7 days at the start and finish where up to 10 lorries per day are needed to bring in and take out the rig.
During the remainder of drilling operations only around 1-2 lorries per day are involved. We will do our very best to minimise the impact on the local area.
Sites fully comply with EA standards
Our sites are constructed and operated in full compliance with EA standards, (indeed our Horse Hill site has set new standards). Crucially our sites are zero discharge, employing the use of impermeable membranes, which means all produced or stored fluids, even rainwater, are taken from site by road tanker.
No fluids can enter the ground underlying the site.
4-5 per tankers per day
After the rig has gone, rig-less flow testing of the well would commence for up to a few months to assess the well’s commercial viability. Any produced oil would initially be exported via road tankers, up to 4-5 per day if the well can achieve rates similar to our Horse Hill oil field. Residents will barely be aware of us since the locations we are looking at are carefully selected to minimise impacts on the local community.
We plan to hold a public engagement day soon to show you our plans and to dispel the myths and falsehoods expressed by Mr Davis and Frack Free Isle of Wight.
Image: © Oil & Gas Council