The owners of a Surrey oil field have signed an agreement to “deliver increased production and revenues” that will allow it to focus on its Dunsfold site.
Environmental campaigners, however, are still holding out hope the Supreme Court stops the drilling.
Uk Oil & Gas (UKOG) announced to shareholders that it was to “farm out” production at Horse Hill to the US-based Pennpetro Energy.
The Texas firm is to takeover 12 kilometres at the site, just north of Gatwick Airport, at a maximum cost of £4.6m.
Announcing the tie up Stephen Sanderson UKOG’s chief executive said: “This mutually advantageous transaction will inject new activity into Horse Hill, aiming squarely to deliver increased production and revenues from the oil field.
“The farmout enables UKOG to move this asset forwards without the need to raise capital, enabling our resources to be firmly focussed upon the appraisal and development of the Loxley gas discovery, our most material petroleum asset. We look forward to a close working relationship with Pennpetro and a mutually successful future at Horse Hill.”
UKOG refers to its holdings at Dunsfold as its Loxley site and hopes to drill for £123 million of oil near the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – pending its own High Court review.
Environmental campaigners who have been fighting against oil drilling at Horse Hill are still confident that the new company’s involvement will not change things materially.
In June the Supreme Court will sit for a legal challenge against Surrey County Council’s 2019 decision to grant planning for the four extra wells at Horse Hill. The same year the county also declared a climate emergency.
The application will go before the UK’s highest court after three judges were split in their findings – that the county council’s decision to grant permission for 25 years of oil drilling and production was lawful.
According to UKOG the Horse Hill site has so far produced about 185,000 barrels of with approximately 1.362 million barrels still available.
Campaigner Sarah Finch of Redhill argues that the permission is out of touch amid the global climate crisis,
Sarah Finch said: “We are taking legal action that is going through the Supreme Court in June.
“Currently the planning is subject to a legal challenge. There is still a possibility that the Supreme Court will not give it the go ahead. There has been low level production for a while there even though they got permission for expansion in 2019. I don’t think this new company’s involvement will change anything.”
Sarah started the campaign against the drill site on climate impact grounds -not just from the impact the drilling would have in the immediate area but the wider overall effect from burning the collected oil.
She added: “It will take us away from keeping climate change within limits. Horse Hill will just make hitting those targets more difficult. I’ve been concerned about climate change for a very long time and when a new oil well was proposed near my home I was horrified and we really needed to stop it going ahead. And it’s not just me, lots of residents have been involved. There have been a series of planning applications for the site but these four new wells were agreed in 2019, such a huge ramp up. That is why I decided it needed a legal campaign.”
The Supreme Court is due to sit on June 21 after the Court of Appeal reached a split decision.