‘Significant’ oil discovery near Gatwick airport announced

UK Oil and Gas

Oil and gas exploration, development and production group, UK Oil & Gas Investments (UKOG), has today announced that it has discovered somewhere in the region of 100 billion barrels of oil at Horse Hill near Gatwick airport in West Sussex.

The group, which undertook drilling in the oil-rich Weald basin region in South East England last year, claimed in a statement released today that the region could hold a potential 158million barrels per square mile. However, when compared with areas with similar geology in the US and Siberia, UKOG estimates that only 3% to 15% of that amount could actually be recovered.

Stephen Sanderson, UKOG’s CEO, commented, “Drilling the deepest well in the basin in 30 years… has provided new cutting-edge data and interpretations to comprehensively change the understanding of the area’s potential oil resources.”

The significance of the discovery comes amidst the slowdown of oil production in the North Sea and a drop in production forecasts – Scotland’s North Sea oil industry has produced only about 45 billion barrels in the past 40 years, and the average oil output in 2013 from the North Sea clocked its lowest level since 1977.

The sheer size of the discovery could mean an increase in jobs in the UK oil and gas industry and a greater amount of the nation’s oil demand can be produced in the Weald area.

Experts believe that the Weald region is one that will require the highly controversial method of fracking to liberate the oil present in the region in commercial viable quantities. The region has seen campaigns and protests against bringing hydraulic fracturing the region, spawning the Frack Free Surrey movement and the establishment of a camp at Horse Hill last year to protect a potential fracking site.

UKOG contends that the recent oil finds sit in naturally fractured rocks so fracking may well be unnecessary and more conventional drilling methods can be used.

The company states that further drilling and analysis will be necessary before the full commercial impact of the discovery can be confirmed, but these initial results seem like a promising find for the UK’s petroleum industry and the economy overall.

What are your thoughts on today’s announcement? Do you think the UK has struck oil? Or do we risk celebrating too soon? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or join the conversation with us on Twitter or our new Facebook page.

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