THE largest onshore oil discovery in 30 years could be big enough to make the UK self-sufficient in oil production, experts are claiming.
The site last year had been the scene for angry anti-fracking campaigners but now oil explorers believe there is so much oil there that conventional drilling techniques will suffice to extract it.
BBC News reports that there could be up to 100Bn barrels of oil onshore beneath the South of England, says exploration firm UK Oil & Gas Investments (UKOG).
The North Sea has produced about 45Bn barrels in 40 years
The company discovered the oil reserves at Horse Hill, near Horley, just two miles from Gatwick Airport on the Surrey/Sussex border.
Initial analysis of the well suggests the local area could hold 158M barrels of oil per square mile.
But only a fraction of the 100Bn total would be recovered, UKOG admits. The North Sea has produced about 45Bn barrels in 40 years.
“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,” Stephen Sanderson, UKOG’s chief executive told the BBC.
UKOG says that the majority of the oil lies within the Upper Jurassic Kimmeridge formation at a depth of between 2,500ft and 3,000ft.
It describes this as a “world class potential resource” and that the well has the “potential for significant daily oil production”.
Compared with similar geology in the US and West Siberia, it estimates that 3%-to-15% of the oil could be recovered.
Oil has been produced onshore in the South of England for decades. There are currently around a dozen oil production sites across the Weald, a region spanning Kent, Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire.
Last year, a report for the government by the British Geological Survey estimated that the region may have shale oil resources in the range of 2.2-to-8.5Bn barrels, with a central estimate of 4.4Bn barrels of oil.