The following texts are taken from Cuadrilla's Planning Statement for the recent November 2017 planning application
Application Number: WSCC/040/17/BA
Location: Lower Stumble Hydrocarbon Exploration Site, London Road, Balcombe, Haywards Heath, West Sussex, RH17 6JH
Proposal: Temporary permission for exploration and appraisal comprising the flow testing and monitoring of the existing hydrocarbon lateral borehole along with site security fencing, the provision of an enclosed testing flare and site restoration
"The Balcombe 2z hydrocarbon borehole was drilled into the Lower Stumble underground geological formations by Cuadrilla Balcombe Limited in 2013 under planning permission WSCC/027/10/BA. The borehole extends approximately 820 metres vertically and 520 metres laterally. The 2010 planning permission allowed the flow rates in the borehole to be tested and monitored but these works could not be completed. Therefore, Cuadrilla secured a temporary planning permission in 2014 (ref: WSCC/005/14/BA) to prepare the borehole, test and monitor the flows, plug with cement and abandon the borehole and then restore the land back to its original use as forestry storage. In 1986 Conoco drilled the Balcombe 1 exploration well."
"With the exception of an increase in the height of the workover rig from 22m to 32m, the proposed development is the same as that which was granted planning consent in 2014. Planning permission is now being sought for a temporary two-year period and the proposed work involves flow testing and pressure monitoring of the existing exploration borehole. If this testing reveals that the hydrocarbon reserves are not of sufficient quantity and/or quality to commercially extract then the existing borehole would be plugged with cement and the land restored back to its previous use as forestry storage. In the event that the borehole testing and pressure monitoring confirms that there are hydrocarbon reserves that could be commercially extracted then the existing borehole would be temporarily suspended whilst a separate planning application prepared for a future production phase. "
"As part of the proposed works, Cuadrilla is seeking to test the underground limestone rock layer which it has already been determined is (i) hydrocarbon bearing, and (ii) has a significant level of natural fracturing. As such, the proposed flow testing operations do not involve any hydraulic fracturing and for the avoidance of doubt Cuadrilla can confirm that it is not proposing to hydraulically fracture this well in the future."
"The previous drilling that has been undertaken revealed that the hydrocarbons in the borehole constitute oil and gas resources. Therefore, in the context of paragraph 091 of Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) (ref: 27-091-20140306), the borehole contains conventional hydrocarbons."
"The application site is located in PEDL area 244, which covers an approximate area of 154 square kilometres (sq km) within West Sussex, between Horsham and Haywards Heath. PEDL 244 allows for petroleum development and production to take place. Cuadrilla is a licensee of PEDL 244 and as operator will manage the exploration, appraisal and production of any viable reserves that are found in this area."
The Planning Statement can be viewed online on >West Sussex County Council's website
Timeline of Planning Applications
Temporary permission for exploration and appraisal comprising the flow testing and monitoring of the existing hydrocarbon lateral borehole along with site security fencing, the provision of an enclosed testing flare and site restoration
Amendment of condition 3 of WSCC/027/10/BA to vary the type of flare used during the testing process.
Amendment of condition 2 of WSCC/027/10/BA to allow additional time to complete the drilling and testing programme and restore the site.
To upgrade existing stoned platform and drill an exploratory borehole for oil and gas exploration.
Retention of existing borehole site for forestry products storage and improvements to existing access.
Construction of hard standing in association with exploratory drilling exercise.