FAQs: Balcombe Field Discovery
1. What is happening at the Balcombe Field Discovery this Autumn?
The field’s operator, Angus Energy, is conducting a ‘flow test’ to examine production capability and the quality of any oil that may be produced from an existing oil well. The test will be performed and completed over 7 consecutive days without any extensions.
2. Does it involve any drilling?
No. The well is already in place. It was drilled in 2013.
3. Will there be any fracking?
4. What will you do?
The existing oil well is ready to simply be turned on, similar to turning on a faucet. Except, while there is a tap, there is no pressure. An inert gas will be utilised to displace the fluids in the well. Acting as a “pumping” mechanism, it will push the contents of the well to the surface. The fluids produced will be stored in the on-site storage facility. After the completion of the 7-day test, all of the fluids are removed from the site.
5. Will a tower or a large ‘rig’ be constructed, or heavy machinery be used?
There will be no ‘rigs’ utilised for the purposes of the actual test or on site.
If you have ever seen ‘rigs’ and /or towers utilised, they are always temporary over short periods as compared to construction sites for example. Therefore, in the main, oil fields do not create an unusual or industrial visual presence during routine operations.
The largest piece of heavy machinery we will use (all temporary) is called a Coiled Tubing Unit. It is a very large spool of narrow tubing which is approximately 2 inches in diameter. A lifting crane will also be used to position the various equipment on site.
6. Will there be a flare on the site?
There is a flare, however you will not see any flame or illumination as it is covered by protective cladding. The flare mechanism is a safety device used to eliminate any gas that may be produced from this Oil Well during the test.
7. Will there be seismic monitoring?
No. As mentioned above, there will be no drilling during this test and there never will be fracking at Balcombe. Some campaigners suggested recent seismic activity in Surrey was attributable to oil production, however there is no factual evidence to suggest this could be possible. In fact, the BBC reported that the Oil & Gas Authority (“OGA”) said ‘based on evidence’ it was difficult to see how there are any links.
8. Do you use acid as part of this process?
Yes. The process and technique used is exactly the same method for cleaning water wells. We use the very same diluted acid to clean the well bore to eliminate impurities such as lime-scale and fine particles. Any acid used during the process for cleaning the well bore will be fully reacted or neutralised and removed from the well. Fluids produced from the well will be stored on site until it is removed for disposal at an appropriate facility.
Campaigners have recently amplified its use, even though the same method for conventional oil production has been used for water wells for over 100 years. According to a January 2018 publication by the UK Environmental Agency (“EA”), they have received recent enquiries that “have been focused on oil and gas exploration and production sites in the Weald Basin in south-east England.” Per the EA, “The use of acid has been, and is still frequently used by the water supply …. It is also used during the lifetime of water abstraction wells to dissolve scale and fine particles that may have built up over years of use.”
The EA is very clear, it does not consider this process used in conventional oil & gas to be a form of stimulation. And it explains that the ‘spent acid’ is neutralised and brought back to the surface.
9. Will we see your equipment from the road?
If you are walking along London Road, you will notice the Balcombe Field Discovery is screened off by foliage. Drivers and cyclists will have difficulty seeing the field and our equipment. On the other side is British Rail, it is camouflaged by the foliage as well.
10. Will other trucks enter the area?
Yes. Prior to and at the conclusion of the 7-day test, Heavy Goods Vehicles (“HGV”) will travel to the site.
These HGV movements are regulated by the company’s Traffic Management Plan for this test. It has been approved by West Sussex County Council (“WSCC”). We operate under these strict guidelines and regulations to ensure the trucks are brought on-sight safely with the least amount of local disruption.
For example, the vehicles will not be operating on London Road, during the morning hours when Balcombe Primary School pupils are to be dropped off and/or during dismissal hours in the afternoon.
It is reasonable to expect, that you will not notice these movements unless you are specifically looking to do so.
The truck’s operators are all briefed and instructed in order to ensure strict compliance with the approved Traffic Management Plan. And as a matter of course, this will be monitored by the company.
11. Will there be noise?
Like the HGV movements, our surface activities are regulated by the West Sussex County Council (“WSCC”). We operate under their strict guidance and regulations.
As a practical matter, no extraneous noise from the Balcombe Field will be heard by our closest neighbour.
12. What happens to the Balcombe Field Discovery, after the Company completes the 7-Day flow test?
All of the equipment is removed with the exception of monitoring equipment. The site’s appearance does not change. The company monitors the pressure of the “shut-in” well for two months to measure the rate of pressure recovery and any residual pressure depletion seen in the well. At the end of this period, the monitoring equipment is then removed.
If Balcombe residents have additional questions, please call or email the Company at the following:
Balcombe Email: [email protected]
Balcombe Tel: 0203 974 2991
Thank you for your interest.