Major gas and oil discovered in Surrey

An exploration firm has announced the discovery of billions of barrels of oil reserves at a site near Gatwick airport.

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Between 50 and 100 billion barrels of oil in place in the ground

UKOG has a 30% direct interest in operator Horse Hill Developments Ltd (HHDL) and a 1.32% interest via its holdings in another company, Angus Energy. HHDL owns a 65% interest in the licence for the well.

In a statement, UKOG said that 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".

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% 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.

– Mr Sanderson

David Lenigas told Sky News the discovery would mean "many thousands" of jobs. It has previously been estimated that the Weald Basin holds 4.4 billion barrels.

The figures compare with offshore oil and gas production, primarily from the North Sea, which has seen 43 billion barrels extracted to date, according to the latest estimate from Oil & Gas UK, the trade body for the offshore sector.

It estimates that between 12 billion and 23 billion barrels are left.

To gleefully rub your hands at a new fossil fuel discovery you need to turn the clock back to the 19th century and ignore everything we have learnt about climate change since.

We already have more than enough coal, oil and gas reserves to fry the planet. Dotting the English countryside with drilling rigs and pipelines to squeeze the last drop of oil out of Britain doesn't make any sense.

It's time we uncoupled our economy from the dangerous rollercoaster of fossil fuels and invested in the clean technologies that can provide safe and cheap energy for decades to come.

– Greenpeace UK chief scientist Dr Doug Parr

The prospect of dirty oil extraction in southern England will greatly alarm local communities and put fracking firmly on the region's election agenda.

Any firm proposing to drill for oil in the region knows it will face huge opposition - as happened at Balcombe, Fernhurst and Wisborough Green. Drilling proposals in Sussex have already been turned down.

The next government must end our reliance on climate-changing fossil fuels and invest in real solutions to the energy challenges we face, such as renewable power and energy efficiency.

– Friends of the Earth South East campaigner Brenda Pollack

"World class potential resource" of oil near Gatwick

An exploration firm has announced the discovery of billions of barrels of oil reserves at a site near Gatwick airport.

UK Oil & Gas Investments (UKOG) said drilling of the 55-square mile site at the Weald Basin had discovered 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". 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 3% and 15% 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."

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.

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Firm makes major Gatwick oil find

An oil rig in the North Sea Credit: Danny Lawson/PA

An exploration firm has announced the discovery of billions of barrels of oil reserves at a site near Gatwick airport.

UK Oil & Gas Investments (UKOG) said drilling of the 55-square mile site at the Weald Basin had discovered 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".

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