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Europa Oil & Gas's Holmwood venture frustrated as it is forced to withdraw planning application

The Holmwood disappointment comes amid rising tensions between UK onshore oil firms and environmental protesters
oil and gas operations
New locations for a Holmwood well will now be assessed

Europa Oil & Gas Holdings PLC (LON:EOG) has suffered a new disappointment in its efforts to test the Holmwood prospect, in Surrey, onshore UK.

The company, in a statement, told investors that the authorities have decided not to renew the lease for the proposed operations site at Bury Hill Wood, Coldharbour Lane. It said it was informed by the Head of Estates at the Forestry Commission, who relayed the decision made by the Minister for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

READ: UKOG acquires Solo Oil’s Horse Hill stake

Accordingly, the company has now had to withdraw its planning application for the project.

Bury Hill was the planned location of the proposed Holmwood well, which, by targeting the Portland sandstone reservoir and also testing deeper Kimmeridge zones, would’ve effectively been a follow-on or ‘copy cat’ of the nearby Horse Hill discovery.

Europa is the operator at Holmwood, holding a 20% stake in the project. UK Oil & Gas Investments PLC (LON:UKOG) is the main London-listed stakeholder in Horse Hill, and, it also holds a substantial interest in Holmwood.

AIM-peers Egdon Resources PLC (LON:EDR), Angus Energy PLC (LON:ANGS) and Union Jack Oil PLC (LON:UJO) are also partners in the venture.

Europa’s disappointment comes as ongoing well testing operations at Horse Hill continue to encounter issues with environmental protesters at the gates of its operations site.

UK High Court intervenes at Horse Hill

Yesterday, the UK High Court granted an interim injunction against ‘unlawful protest activity’ at UKOG’s operations sites, including the Horse Hill and Broadford Bridge projects.

It specifically prohibited protesters from entering and remaining on the sites, blocking the public highway (by ‘slow walking’), climbing on vehicles (‘lorry surfing’), obstructing the public highway, obstructing the site entrance and the intimidation and/or assault of UKOG staff, contractors and supply chain.

High Court judge John Male QC found that "there is a good reason to believe the Horse Hill site is under a real and imminent threat".

UKOG chief executive Stephen Sanderson said: “The judgement clearly rules that trespass on UKOG's sites, interference with access to UKOG sites, obstruction of the highway (including by slow-walking, lock-ons and lorry surfing), and obstructing or interfering with our suppliers, does not constitute peaceful protest.

“Such actions are deemed unlawful and should cease to be employed by activists forthwith.”

New sites to be reviewed for Holmwood well

In its statement on Tuesday, Europa noted that its government-issued licence to operate the PEDL 143 area, which hosts the Holmwood project, was recently extended to September 2020 and, said that it now intends to undertake a full evaluation of alternative sites from which to target the Holmwood prospect.

“The minister’s decision not to renew the lease at Bury Hill Wood is disappointing, however, we intend to continue to work closely with our partners to determine how best to take the licence forward. 

“As well as PEDL143, Europa holds a multistage portfolio of licences which includes production and appraisal projects onshore UK and an industry leading licence position in the Irish Atlantic Margin.

“Various work streams are underway across our asset base to advance all our licences and in the process expose our shareholders to high impact drilling activity. With this in mind, I look forward to providing further updates on our progress.”

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