Cuadrilla say they are “unlikely” to go into production at site, as other areas have better transport and infrastructure links
By Sophie Yeo
Cuadrilla has said it is “unlikely” to go into full production of oil in Balcombe, due to poor transport and infrastructure.
The company has said that the site is excellent for exploration due to the existing well drilled by the energy company Conoco in 1986, but that there are likely to be places with better infrastructure and transport links within the licence area.
Cuadrilla indicated that these are “likely to be more suitable sites for production”.
The energy company started drilling at the West Sussex site, half a mile outside the small village of Balcombe, on the 2 August. Their work has been disrupted by protesters at the site, hailing from both Balcombe and further afield, who object to the drilling.
While some protesters have seen this as a change of heart in the face of the opposition, a Cuadrilla spokesman said that the transport issue was not new.
They told RTCC, “Transport and infrastructure hasn’t recently become an issue – Balcombe is an exploration site.”
But while Cuadrilla has said that full production is “unlikely”, the test drilling is currently still proceeding.
More disruptions are expected when a five day action camp by the No Dash for Gas activists descend on the village on the 16 August. The Balcombe Parish Council has issued a statement saying that the group is “not wanted in Balcombe” if it intends to break the law.
Other sites more suitable
Cuadrilla also said that, although other areas could be more suitable for production, they “have no plans at present for any other sites in the area”.
Cuadrilla has held licence for a large amount of land in the West Sussex in what geologists call the central Weald Basin since February 2009, when it bought the company Bolney Resources Ltd.
Bolney Resources Ltd was awarded a Petroleum Exploration & Development Licence to explore for oil and gas within Petroleum Exploration and Development Licence 244 by the Department for Energy and Climate Change(DECC) in 2008.
Geological studies and geophysical data indicate that there may be significant untapped reserves of hydrocarbons, most likely oil, in the area.
Specifically, licencing maps issued by DECC show that there have been oil discoveries in Balcombe, and gas discoveries in the neighbouring village of Bolney, which also lies within the Cuadrilla licence area.
Cuadrilla is currently licenced to maintain drilling operations in the area until 28 September, although it has submitted an application to extend its permission to remain until March. This amendment will be considered by the West Sussex Council Council Planning Committee on 19 September.