Cuadrilla Resources has announced that it has finally begun to drill for oil in Balcombe, West Sussex, completing a 3,000ft well. Having managed to deliver its equipment past the protestors that had been obstructing all transport for more than a week, Cuadrilla were able to complete safety checks on Friday morning and then begin boring their exploratory well at around 10.30am.
A spokesman for the company confirmed that they had “commenced drilling at the Balcombe site.” Stating; “We have full planning and regulatory approval for this work from the Department for Energy and Climate Change, West Sussex County Council, the Environment Agency and the Health and Safety Executive.”
Cuadrilla’s drill site at Balcombe. (BBC)
The 3,000ft well will now be followed by a 2,500ft horizontal bore in search of oil and gas.
Environmentalists are protesting at the site, worried about the possible negative effects that any hydraulic fracturing, used to release natural gas from shale rock, could have on the local environment.
Francis Egan, Cuadrilla’s chief executive officer, told the BBC that “the community should not really notice much activity at all unless they want to walk down to the site and see it.”
He explained that his company does not really expect to find natural gas whilst drilling in West Sussex, and stated that no fracking is planned for the area. If any shale reserves were discovered that required fracking to develop them, Cuadrilla would have to apply for additional permits.
Protestors outside the Balcombe site. (RTCC)
Daniel Lee, the campaigner in charge of the protestors at the Balcombe site, explained of the police that “they seem to be getting tired and they’ve got Pride this weekend too so I think they’re trying to shift us because they are understaffed.
Ten more tents arrived today and a couple of minibuses full of protesters so our camp is definitely growing not diminishing.
So far we’ve been using obstruction as a main tactic, but now the majority of the equipment is in the site, there’ll be a switch in emphasis.
We’ll be focussing on creative demonstrations to keep the media spectacle alive to raise awareness – like a mass bike ride we have planned which will see people from London and all over join us.”
By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com