There are reports that a major oil field has been found below the Surrey countryside near Gatwick Airport.
UK Oil & Gas Investments (UKOG) has confirmed this morning (April 9) that there could be as much as 100billion barrels of oil beneath Horse Hill north of Horley.
The company’s chief executive Stephen Sanderson said this morning that it meant The Weald area could yield ten to 30 per cent of the UK’s oil demand.
While Horse Hill-1 well required appraisal and testing to prove its commercial viability, it had ‘the potential for significant daily oil production’.
Together with another discovery, Portland Sandstone, it was a “possible world class potential resource”.
Mr Sanderson told the BBC: “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.”
Similar wells in the US had seen “estimated recovery factors” of between three and 15 per cent of the oil in place, he added.
He said: “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.”
The company has said the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, where chemicals and water are blasted into the rocks to release shale oil and gas, would not be needed. Instead traditional wells could be used.
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.
It comes after attempts by other companies to drill elsewhere in the Weald Basin. Cuadrilla faced heated protests when it carried out exploratory drilling near Balcombe last year. There were fears fracking could be used there in future, but the company has since said it has no plans to do that.
Celtique Energie meanwhile has permission to carry out only traditional drilling in Bradford Bridge near Billingshurst.