The company behind the Horse Hill exploration site near Gatwick Airport has released details of plans to drill four more wells to produce oil for 20 years.
Horse Hill Developments Ltd said the scheme could take production to more than 500 tonnes of oil a day. If achieved, this would make Horse Hill the UK’s second largest onshore producing site on current figures.
The proposal would increase the size of the Horse Hill site by a quarter and increase to six the number of oil wells.
Added to this there would be: six surface mounted pumps, seven oil storage tanks, two fire water tanks, two produced water tanks, an enclosed ground flare, an oil heater with an exhaust stack, four gas-to-power electricity generators with acoustic enclosures, oil separators and above ground pipe and cable tracks.
The details are in a scoping request – the first stage of a planning application that would require an environmental impact assessment.
The document said the production proposals would increase the site from 2.08ha to 2.6ha by adding land immediately to the east of the existing well pad.
This is the third major application sought for the Horse Hill site. The original exploration well (HH-1) was approved in 2012 and drilled in 2014. It is currently undergoing long-term flow testing. A second application, granted in 2017, allowed Horse Hill Developments Ltd (HHDL) to drill another appraisal well (HH-2) and a sidetrack (HH-1z).
The new proposal is to produce oil from the site, drill the extra oil wells (HH-3 to HH-6) and water re-injection borehole and to develop hydrocarbon processing, storage and transport facilities.
The scoping request acknowledged that wells could be drilled at the site for more than a year. It also accepted that the impacts of construction on the existing well site could coincide with construction of the new area. The transport effects of drilling the wells could also be experienced at the same time as the transport effects of production.
The document variously estimated that the nearest homes were about 225m or 321m from the site. It accepted that the proposals would “significantly change the landscape” and give rise to “an adverse effect upon valued landscapes and the visual amenity of the area”. It also said that significant noise effects were expected from several phases of the work.
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