Oil and Gas development in Hampshire

Oil and gas includes both conventional and unconventional hydrocarbons. Hampshire has a number of areas of conventional onshore oil and gas production which are the result of considerable exploration activity in the last 30 years. There are currently three active oil field located in the County, Horndean, Stockbridge and Humbly Grove.  The oil is either transferred to the Fawley oil refinery by pipeline or by train from the Holybourne rail terminal.  There is currently no unconventional oil or gas development in Hampshire.  Hampshire County Council are the responsible planning authority in this regard.

Hydraulic fracturing

Hydraulic fracturing or fracking as it is more commonly known has become controversial, largely due to side-affects resulting from lightly regulated drilling.  Although the technology dates from the 1920s, it has never been financially viable while conventional supplies have been available.  Regulation was therefore not developed since there were so few active wells around the world.  However, following the global financial crash of 2008, when oil prices rocketed, fracking became very viable with many wells being started in the USA.  Whether vas a result of the competition or otherwise, the OPEC group decided to open up their conventional supplies, which drastically reduced the price of crude oil from around $140 a barrel to around £34 a barrel in 2016.  In effect killing off fracking at a stroke.

Some fracking facts;-

  • A typical fracking site will occupy around 1 hectare of land.  In order to extract the shale gas or oil, a mixture of water and sand comprising 97.5% of the total of the aggregate is forced under high pressure down the drill pipe
  • Steel casing around drill protects aquifers
  • Drilling is carried out at significant depths
  • Regulation in the UK is very different to that of the USA where it varies from State to State, largely due to density of population
  • Earth tremor in Blackpool resulted in UK legislation being strengthened
  • Renewable energy in the future will be so cheap that metering will not be necessary, leading to the demise of fracking
  • Offshore fracking in Kimmeridge Bay has been in place for the last 20 years with little or no adverse incidences
  • Some shale oil is known to exist in Hampshire, but as yet no shale gas has been discovered

Planning Permission

Planning permission is required for oil and gas extraction at each of three phases;-

  • Exploration
  • Appraisal
  • Production

In addition to planning permission, a licence is needed.  Licences are issued by the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA).  Underground minerals belong to the State, which is part of the resaon for issuing a licence.  The State will enforce 63% taxation on the mineral extractor.

Adopted (2013) Mineral & Waste Plan

Information relating to the Hampshire County Council mineral & waste plan can be found on their website.

Contact e-mail address is planning@hants.gov.uk