In response to a media frenzy caused by the announcement of its oil discovery near London Gatwick – unprecedented in its size – UK Oil & Gas Investments PLC issued a statement that the find is as yet untested and the company has “not undertaken work… sufficient to comment” on the Weald Basin potential.
Last week the company announced that its Horse Hill-1 well in the Weald Basin has a total oil in place of 158 million barrels per square mile, excluding the previously reported Upper Portland Sandstone oil discovery. In an interview with the BCC, that followed the announcement, the company’s chief executive Stephen Sanderson said: “We believe we can recover between 5% and 15% of the oil in the ground, which by 2030 could mean that we produce 10% to 30% of the UK’s oil demand from within the Weald area.”
“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.
The petrochemical analysis of the find indicates that the oil deposits lie primarily within three argillaceous limestones and interbedded mudstones of the Kimmeridge, and the mudstones of the Oxford and Lias sections. Approximately 72 per cent of the oil in place, or 114 million barrels, lies within the Upper Jurassic Kimmeridge interbedded limestone and mudstone sequence.
Given that The North Sea has produced about 45 billion barrels in 40 years, the prospect of 100bn barrels of oil in the South of England is quite extraordinary, causing an understandable stir in the media and sending the company’s share price soaring.
However, the resulting excitement caused the company to put a damper on the predictions explaining that “the company has not undertaken work outside of its licence areas sufficient to comment on the possible OIP [oil in place] in either the approximate 1,100 sq miles or the whole of the Weald Basin.”
It added that “further well testing and assessment of recovery factors will be required to seek to quantify net resources in relation to the… areas and to prove its commerciality”.
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