Sussex Driller Celtique Energie is preparing to test for shale gas and oil at two new sites in Sussex, even as it tells the public it’s not doing so.
Thousands of wells, hydraulic fracturing, horizontal drilling and massive volumes of water, chemicals and sand (silica) are inevitably required to extract oil and gas from shale.
Indeed, the company has tried hard to distance itself from “fracking”. They certainly seem to have convinced West Sussex County Council, who granted the company a license to drill a test well at Woodbarn Farm, Broadford Bridge near Billingshurst in February this year.
In an exhibit to locals Celtique said: “The target reservoir is the Triassic Sherwood Sandstone, anticipated to be 2.5km below the surface…No hydraulic fracturing techniques (or “fracking” as it is known) will be used at Woodbarn Farm”.
Yet closer examination of the exhibit also reveals that the Trassic Sherwood Sandstone actually sits below the level of shale rock (known as Liassic rock – see Celtique explaining it via a now deleted webpage here, p4).
The company’s PR men are well aware of the controversies surrounding fracking; the above ruse allows the company to circumvent this by claiming to examine one layer of rock – while offering the opportunity to explore another.
The exhibition board (p17 of link) shows that the Liassic (shale) rock sits at a depth of between 6000 and 7500 feet. Meanwhile the same item shows Sherwood Sandstone sits at around 8500 feet, some 1000 feet lower.
Celtique has gone to extraordinary lengths to deny it’s interest in shale (or ‘unconventional’) fuels. The company’s current website almost entirely omits mention of the word.
Yet Celtique’s partner, Magellan Petroleum, is telling its shareholders something completely different. Three days ago, in a letter to shareholders detailing the company’s plans for Sussex, Magellan noted: “In the UK, we have a promising unconventional play (industry speak for a shale prospect) …together with our partner Celtique Energie, we plan to drill one or two evaluation wells at the end of 2013.”
The second site at Wiseborough Green is at Northup Copse, which is in the parish of Kirdford. The company has written to locals informing them of its intention to apply for planning permission. Again there are display boards but no mention of fracking or the 6700 wells that would be needed to fulfill their promises to shareholders.
Another site is proposed at Fernhurst and a consultation event was held on 5th and 8th June.
Celtique have previously admitted they are looking for shale. Their deleted webpage states: “Several material size conventional prospects and major shale oil and shale gas unconventional resource potential have been established within the boundaries of (our) licences.”
By muddying the waters around what it is drilling for, Celtique have been able to obscure the truth: that their Sussex drilling programme includes provision for fracking, hidden under the guise of less controversial methods.