Energy business seeks to power up commercial oil and gas production

©Rathlin Energy
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Rathlin Energy has applied to the Environment Agency for permission to put its exploratory oil and gas drill site at West Newton into commercial production.

The company has operated at West Newton in East Yorkshire since 2013 under the conditions of an environmental permit.

It now wants to vary that permit to allow for the creation of six additional wells, the relocation of oil storage facilities and the installation of gas engines that will produce electricity for export to the National Grid.

The business has previously applied to East Riding of Yorkshire Council for planning consent for the proposed production, but was refused.

The company has confirmed today it is working on a revised planning application for the site.

The Environment Agency says it must determine the environmental permit variation application separately to planning, but explains the company is required to have both planning and environmental permitting approved before operations can begin.

Kathryn Richardson, area environment manager at the Environment Agency, said: “We know the community has strong feelings about the potential for oil and gas drilling in West Newton, so we are seeking their views as part of our consultation and offering them an opportunity to learn more at a virtual drop-in session.

“In assessing this permit variation, we will undertake a detailed and rigorous assessment of Rathlin Energy’s application.

“We will ensure the operating techniques and control measures at the proposed facility comply with the legal requirements of the Environment Permitting Regulations. We do not permit activities that pose an unacceptable risk.

“Our regulatory controls for the onshore oil and gas industry are in place to protect people and the environment.

“We may only refuse a permit application if it does not meet one or more of the legal requirements under environmental legislation, including if it will have an unacceptable impact on the environment or harm human health.

“If all the requirements are met, we are legally obliged to issue a permit.”

A Rathlin Energy spokesman said the company is also working on a revised planning application for the scheme, following the rejection of its proposals by East Riding of Yorkshire Council.

He said: “Having received the decision document explaining the reasons for refusal, we are working on a revised approach for the proposed development, in line with comments made by council representatives.

“Taking on board concerns regarding the scale of the development, and other points raised by the community, we intend to submit a new application, with the intent of addressing the scale of the development by reducing the site footprint and reducing the number of wells to be drilled.

“We will also be providing a more detailed landscape and planting proposal to enhance the screening of the site.

“At West Newton B our current planning permission has a condition that requires operations to be completed by April 2022.

“Despite our continued operational efforts since site construction was initiated, it is unlikely the originally proposed work scope will be finished before the expiration date. We therefore we will be applying to the East Riding of Yorkshire Council to vary this condition.

“The original development was approved to allow for two wells to be drilled and tested, and after the encouraging results from the West Newton B1z well, as well as the A site wells, we are requesting further time to drill and test the second well at the site.

“Hydrocarbons will continue to play an ongoing and essential role in UK, for both energy supply and as a raw material, now and for the next generation of East Riding of Yorkshire residents and businesses.

“Over the next 25 years there will be a co-ordinated and concerted effort to reduce emissions and we are committed to supporting the UK Government in this transition phase.

“Using locally sourced resources will not only help reduce the risks associated with being a net hydrocarbon importer, but will also act as a more environmentally friendly stepping-stone to support the evolution to a more sustainable future.”