Crawberry Hill

Please See:

Crawberry Hill

Crawberry Hill well site is just west of Beverley between Walkington and Bishop Burton.
Address: Walkington Heads, Beverley, HU17 8RU

Map and exact location here.

Well depth: 2,700m

Planning Permission

Planning Permission for testing was granted in 2012, with a 'no fracking' condition.  
The full applications, comments & associated documents including water report can be viewed here.

Planning permission Notice of Decision - Condition 15 - no fracking

They originally applied in Sep 2011, and although this application was Approved, Rathlin failed to agree the lease on the land.
They therefore moved slightly down the road to a different land owner and submitted a very similar planning application in Jun 2012.
A planning extension was granted in October 2014.  For links to those documents, see the Frack Free East Yorkshire page.

Environment Agency (EA) Permit

The EA issued the newly required (Mining Waste) Permit in May 2014.

View the permit and decision Document
View the application & comments on the EA website

This application describes a 'mini fall off test', aka a mini-frac, which involves injecting liquid in to shale rock "pressured up to the point where the rock would begin to fracture".  Rathlin admit they plan to inject liquid at pressure into the shale rock.

This surprised many of the locals who fought so hard for the 'no fracking' condition back in 2011, as it seemed to breach the spirit of the condition.  Taking a common sense definition: hydraulic = pressurised liquid, fracturing = cracking; this test sounds to many people like a form of fracking.

However, East Riding of Yorkshire Council state:

"The Government's planning guidance states: 'Hydraulic fracturing or 'fracking' involves the injection of water, sand and chemicals at high pressure into horizontally drilled boreholes. 

...[In Rathlin's test] there will be no horizontal drilling and no gas recovery...

... the Health & Safety Executive well inspector and the Department for Energy and Climate Change ... do not consider the testing to be a hydraulic fracturing activity. As such, it is not considered that there has been, or will be, a breach of the above planning consent. 

"The council is aware that members of the group are conducting a peaceful demonstration on the side of the highway and will continue to monitor the situation closely but has no plans to move them along at this time." 

Testing for fracking

Rathlin are clearly testing for possible High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing (HVHF) in future, and even state this in the EA Permit Application (see highlighted extract below).

Yet Rathlin have repeatedly and categorically stated they are not planning to frack.
But all they mean by this is no immediate plans to frack, or no plans to frack these wells, or not by them.

Despite claiming to only be interested in conventional reserves they drilled way deeper, right down to the Bowland shale formation.  They will have taken samples of shale rock when they drilled the wells, and tested the samples in the lab.  We can assume the tests were promising as they plan to return to site to conduct a minifrac test on the shale rock in May 2014.

Gas can only be extracted from shale by fracking.

Rathlin have stated that they plan to abandon the bottom section of the well after the mini fall off test and that these wells are not capable of fracking.  They are suitable for conventional extraction.

They admit that if the conventional reserves are not commercially viable, but the shale gas is, then they would consider exploiting it.

High volume fracking would require new planning permission.

Rathlin Energy's Crawberry Hill webpage

Extracts from EA Permit Applicaiton

Website for Rathlin Energy's Environment Agency's permit application for the management of extractive mining waste, management of naturally occurring radioactive material and flaring of gas.

Rathiln Energy's B9 application - see page 12 point 9.4.5 Mini Fall-Off Test within Upper Visean/Lower Namurian
A mini fall-off test is a short duration formation test designed to gather reservoir engineering data (characteristics and properties of the reservoir rock formation). The test is carried out to establish the pressure at which injection of fluid occurs into the formation and analyses how the pressure permeates through the formation over a given period of time (usually 14 days). For clarity, the intention of the mini fall-off test is not to fracture the formation but to establish if and at what pressure the formation becomes permeable. The information gathered during the mini fall-off test will help determine whether the formation is capable of being hydraulically fractured. Hydraulic fracturing is not being considered as part of the application which this plan supports.

The mini fall-off test is being performed ... at a depth of 2,677m. 

The wellbore will be perforated to provide a flow-path to the formation. The wellbore above the perforated interval will then be sealed using a retrievable packer. Water weighted with non- hazardous Potassium Chloride (KCI) will then be pumped into the wellbore until injection occurs. Fluid is pumped for 5 – 10 minutes, during which 5m3 to 10m3 of fluid is injected. When pumping is complete, the residual pressure within the tubing is shut in and monitored for 14 days to analyse how the residual pressure permeates through the formation."

from: EA Permit Application,  03 EPRA - Crawberry Hill - Non Technical Summary, p12

Rathlin's Description

9. Does Rathlin accept that the mini fall-off test is also known in the industry as a “mini frac”?
This test is referred to by a number of different names/acronyms. Rathlin is simply testing the formation integrity. ‘Frac’ or ‘mini-frac’ are terms that appear to be used interchangeably by some organisations without clear definition. This is Rathlin’s description of the mini fall off test: The well will be pressured up to the point where the rock would begin to fracture and then will be shut in to monitor the pressure fall off. No hydrocarbons or other formation fluids be will recovered during this test. Once the test has been completed the zone will be plugged and abandoned.
from Rathlin's Official Statement