Opposition mobilises as INEOS unveils plans for second shale gas site

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INEOS has begun the planning process for a second site for shale gas exploration – this time in Rotherham borough.

The company wants to drill a 2,800m vertical well between the villages of Harthill and Thorpe Salvin to take samples and carry out tests.

Yesterday, the Harthill Against Fracking Facebook group said it had gained more than 250 members in one day. Opponents said they had notified both parish councils, the three Rotherham borough ward councillors and the MP. A public meeting is proposed soon.

INEOS has already announced it will submit a planning application to drill a similar well near the village of Marsh Lane, in north Derbyshire. Correspondence with the Forestry Commission also indicate the company is looking at sites at Thieves Wood and The Lings in the Sherwood Forest area of north Nottinghamshire.

Details of the Harthill site emerged in documents published online by Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council on Friday (10 March 2017).

In the documents, INEOS asked the council for a formal opinion on whether an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) must be submitted as part of its planning application. There is no reference to fracking at the site.

INEOS said it believed an EIA was not needed because the site would be temporary, sized between 1-2ha and would be restored to agriculture. The company said it had identified no cumulative impacts for its proposals. It said:

“Significant effects on the environment are not considered likely”.

But opponents have said there could soon be four shale gas sites in the area. Nottinghamshire County Council approved IGas’s application for Mission Springs last year and it is meeting next week to decide on IGas plans for Tinker Lane.
Rotherham Council said on Friday the public could not comment specifically on INEOS’s request for an opinion on the EIA. The council said it would issue its decision on whether an EIA was needed and thisj would be available online.

Key facts on Harthill site
The following are based on information in the INEOS documents

Location: Land next to Common Road, near Harthill

Petroleum Exploration and Development Licence: (PEDL) 304

Size of proposed site: 1.2ha plus access track

Duration of application: 5 years


Construction (stage 1): 3 months
Drilling (stage 2): 5 months
Establishment as listening well and suspension (stage 3): 1 week
Listening well (stage 4): 3 weeks
Abandonment and restoration (stage 5): 6 weeks
Distance from nearest home: 690m

Footpaths: one path runs immediately east of the site and another is close to the north

Landscape: Agricultural land, next to an area of woodland in an area of High Landscape Value

Nearest wildlife sites: Loscar Common Plantation (next to the site), Loscar Wood (500m to east), Ginny Spring Whitwell Wood SSSI (1.8km to SE), Crabtree Wood SSSI (2.2km to SW)

Nearest historic features: Grade II listed buildings 1km+ to the west on Union Street, Harthill and Thorpe Salvin Hall scheduled monument 1.6km to NE. Hartfield Conservation Area is 1km to the west and Thorpe Salvin Conservation Area 1.5km to NE.

Heavy Goods Vehicle traffic

During construction (Stage 1): 3-week period 50-60 HGV movements/day (5 per hour over a 12- hour day) to bring in aggregate. Other periods 5-10 movements/day.

Drilling, coring and pressure testing (Stage 2): 6 movements/day of vehicles over 32 tonnes during mobilisation and demobilisation of rig; 10-42 HGV movements/day for equipment mobilisation; other periods: under 10 movements/day.
Environmental impacts
The INEOS screening request gave the following details:

Materials: Site surfacing would use 9,000 tonnes of aggregate brought by road and removed after the site is abandoned and restored.

Energy: This would be provided by mobile diesel generators, on site for 6 months at any one time

Emissions and waste: Road traffic to the site would produce emissions during construction and drilling phases. No operation flaring or venting is planned. Waste water and materials would be removed by road.

Noise and vibrations: INEOS said guidelines allow construction noise to reach up to 65dB. During other phases, night-time noise would not exceed 42dB and during the day 55dB, the company said.

“Based on industry precedent and current understanding of the site, INEOS is confident that the development will meet the regulatory thresholds and therefore have no significant noise impacts.”

Vibration “is expected to be imperceptible at distances of greater than 20m from the drill rig”, the company said. It said the nearest homes were 690m away

Lighting: On-site and on the rig. INEOS said “no significant effects are anticipated”.

Contamination: The company said “There ae no anticipated significant effects”. The wellsite and access track would be lined with a geomembrane, which would prevent potential groundwater pollution from spills. A bund around the site would prevent spills contaminating the surrounding land. Chemicals, fuels and waste products would be stored in appropriate containers.

Ecology: The company said the plans “do not present a risk of significant impacts”. There would be no need to fell trees but some hedgerows may need to be removed.

Landscape: The drilling rig would be up to 60m and the workover rig and crane 32m and 35m high. The company said they would be in place for a temporary period and screened by trees. INEOS says “no significant effect on views are anticipated”.

Groundwater protection: The site is not in a source protection zone, INEOS said. Two drainage ditches are 480m away and a groundwater well is 460m away.

Details of operations
Stage 1: Site development and establishment

Estimated duration: 3 months

Working hours: 7am-7pm Monday-Friday; 7am-1pm Saturday


Surveys: Geotechnical, site investigation, road condition, environmental
Creation of access track
Site clearance , removal of top soil, soil bunds created around site perimeter
Installation of geotextile and polyethylene liners
Perimeter water storage pipe laid in ditch at foot of bunds
Cabins placed on perimeter, stacked two high
Well cellar excavated
Soil bunds seeded, lighting installed
Stage 2: Drilling, coring and testing

Estimated Duration: 5 months

Working hours: 24-hour for drilling; 7am-7pm Monday-Friday; 7am-1pm Saturday for mobilisation, deliveries and Pressure Transient Test.


Drill rig, drill pipe and water and mud pumps brought onto site
Well drilled to 2,800m with 60m rig
Cores extracted from target formations
Pressure Transient Test to establish reservoir properties
Main rig replaced by 32m workover rig
Well perforated and packer (a device to seal the borehole) lowered into well
10m3 (maximum) potassium chloride solution (2-4%) squeezed into formation at target zone at pressure
Pressure monitored for two weeks
Plug removed
Process repeated in up to two additional target zones
Workover rig and waste removed
INEOS says standard well safety equipment would be present on site during drilling, including a blow-out preventer, vent for emergency venting of gas, and methane monitoring.

An emergency plan and pollution prevention measures would be in place, the company said.

Stage 3: Establishment as listening well and suspension

Estimated duration: 1 week

Working hours: 7am-7pm Monday-Friday; 7am-1pm Saturday


Flange and well monitoring pressure gauge fitted to well
Well sealed using wellhead Christmas tree or wireline blow out preventer
Steel protector cage fitted over wellhead
Remaining cabins removed
Routine visits would check the pipework, site surface, fencing and security, drainage, wellhead structure and pressure monitoring
32m workover rig may be brought back for maintenance.

Stage 4: Listening well operations

Estimated duration: 3 weeks

Working hours: 7am-7pm Monday-Friday; 7am-1pm Saturday

This work would be carried out to undertake baseline monitoring or when another well is hydraulically fracked.


Mobilisation of wireline truck, 30 tonne mobile crane (35m maximum), mast, elevated work platform and temporary welfare facilities
Placement of geophones (small seismic receivers) on wireline inside reservoir casing
Stage 5: Abandonment and restoration

Estimated duration: 6 weeks

Working hours: 7am-7pm Monday-Friday; 7am-1pm Saturday


Plugging and abandoning the well
Wellhead removed and casing/cement cut to 3m below ground
32m workover rig required
Removal of site equipment and surfacing
Soil in bunds levelled across surface
Field drainage re-developed
Site reseeded for agriculture

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