AN EXPLORATION firm says it has discovered billions of barrels of oil reserves at a site near London’s Gatwick airport.
UK Oil & Gas Investments (UKOG) said drilling of the 55-sq mile site at the Weald Basin had found 158 million barrels per square mile.
Chief executive Stephen Sanderson said the Horse Hill-1 well required appraisal and testing to prove its commercial viability but that it had “the potential for significant daily oil production”.
Together with another discovery, Portland Sandstone, it was a “possible world-class potential resource”.
Asked about the oil find during a General Election campaign visit near Edinburgh, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “I think its a really interesting development, potentially a very significant development.
“I think it remains to be seen how much of that potential reserve is able to be extracted. If it can be extracted responsibly, then it’s a potentially very significant development.
“My advice would be to steward that resource… much better than they (the UK government) have stewarded the North Sea oil and gas fund, and if they set up an oil fund, in the way that they didn’t for Scotland, than that would be a good thing to do.”
Mr Sanderson said: “We think we’ve found a very significant discovery here, probably the largest [onshore in the UK] in the last 30 years, and we think it has national significance.”
He added: “Drilling the deepest well in the basin in 30 years, together with the ability to use concepts, techniques and technology unavailable in the 1980s, has provided new cutting-edge data and interpretations to comprehensively change the understanding of the area’s potential oil resources.”
UKOG has an interest of just over a fifth in the Horse Hill site. Shares in the company initially more than quadrupled in value on the announcement.
In a statement yesterday, UKOG said in order to establish estimates of total oil in place within the licence area, the “semi-regional resource potential of the Weald Basin’s eastern footprint is the subject of ongoing analysis”.
Mr Sanderson said: “Based on what we’ve found here, we’re looking at between 50 and 100 billion barrels of oil in place in the ground. We believe we can recover between 5 per cent and 15 per cent of the oil in the ground, which by 2030 could mean we produce 10 per cent to 30 per cent of the UK’s oil demand from within the Weald area.”
UKOG chairman David Lenigas tweeted: “The Weald Basin is 1,110 sq miles and this discovery is very significant for UK. Very significant.” He said the discovery would mean “many thousands” of jobs.
It has been estimated that the Weald Basin holds 4.4 billion barrels of oil.
Offshore oil and gas production, primarily from the North Sea, has seen 43 billion barrels extracted to date, according to the latest estimate from industry body Oil & Gas UK.
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND MOBILE APPS