Keith Taylor, Green MEP for the South East, has called for the firm operating the Horse Hill drill site to 'come clean', as another earthquake rocked the Charlwood area in Surrey this morning.
The latest quake comes as a report from geoscientists from the University of Edinburgh points the finger at the Horse Hill drilling site, operated by Horse Hill Developments Ltd (HHDL), for the swarm of 13 quakes in Surrey last year.
Mr Taylor MEP, who has submitted an extensive response to HHDL's planning application for a massive expansion of the firm's drilling and production plans at the site, said:
"While the climate effects of drilling at Horse Hill have always rendered it a form of dangerous climate denial, the latest evidence clearly points to it being a seismic catastrophe too. Surrey County Council must bring this dangerous, climate and environment-destructive misadventure to an end by refusing HHDL's planning application."
In December, the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), the government-owned regulators of the oil and gas industry, ruled out a human cause for the shallow earthquake swarm in Surrey, which was without precedent in the region. The OGA excluded Horse Hill from its analysis because it said there was no activity at the site.
However, the new report, prepared by scientists at the School of GeoSciences at the University of Edinburgh for submission to Surrey County Council, said one possible cause for the quakes could be the release of pressure at the Horse Hill well site, adding:
“We infer that management of this pressure (probably by bleeding the well annulus prior to testing) likely altered the Horse Hill fault stress balance, which then impacted on the Newdigate fault, causing the earthquakes".
The Edinburgh University team's research shows that there was work on the site before the quakes started in April and "the earthquakes in August and September coincide exactly with the development of a perforation gun downhole to improve flow". The scientists have produced a timeline of activity.
"Our assessment supports the concern that Horse Hill oil exploration triggered the earthquakes. We infer that future oil exploration and production close to critically stressed faults in the Weald is likely to result in similar earthquake events”.
Read the full Further Potential for Earthquakes from Oil Exploration in the Weald report, by Dr Andrew Cavanagh, Dr Stuart Gilfillan and Professor Stuart Haszeldine, School of GeoSciences, The University of Edinburgh below
Read Keith Taylor MEP's full submission to the Horse Hill planning application below
Mr Taylor MEP is supporting campaigners the Weald Action Group's call for HHDL to 'come clean' and provide its well and site engineering logs for the relevant period. So far the firm has not provided any information.
James Knapp of the Weald Action Group said:
“The Oil and Gas Authority appears to have been less than rigorous in researching what caused these quakes. Horse Hill Developments Ltd hasn’t provided the information that’s needed for a proper assessment and what information there is available clearly points the finger at their well site.
“With plans afoot for a massive increase in oil extraction at this site, this matter needs to be thoroughly investigated before any decisions are made. We support calls for a moratorium on drilling and on decisions on planning applications which might cause quakes. They have caused a lot of concern locally and the process of analysing the cause of the quakes has been far from transparent”.