Tumblelog by Soup.io
Newer posts are loading.
You are at the newest post.
Click here to check if anything new just came in.

Is Surrey cut out to become Dallas country?

The energy company UK Oil and Gas Investments (UKOG), which holds the licences for exploration, estimates the field could hold as much as 100 billion barrels. To put that in context, around 45 billion barrels have been extracted from the North Sea since the late Seventies. An analysis of the Horse Hill well indicates that the area could hold 158 million barrels of oil per square mile which, says UKOG, means that by 2030 the Weald could produce up to 30 per cent of the country's oil demand. "We think this is a discovery of national significance," said Stephen Sanderson, the company's chief executive.

But the local response to this momentous news has been pretty lukewarm and very English. When Hillbilly Jed Clampett found Texas tea on his farm and became an instant millionaire, he packed his family into an old jalopy and headed for Hollywood. Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood, the Oscar-winning film inspired by Upton Sinclair's novel Oil!, set about destroying everyone around him in pursuit of riches. But down in Surrey, they are a bit more phlegmatic. Richard Olliver, chairman of Horley Town Council, which covers Hose Hill, said the reaction among local people was mixed. "Traffic is something people worry about," he said. "We have had an awful lot of road works in East Surrey lately and it causes disruption." Cllr Olliver said the road to Horse Hill from Horley would need to be redesigned to avoid traffic jams. Come on, councillor. You are sitting on top of Europe's biggest onshore oil field and you are fretting about redesigning the road! It's hardly J R Ewing, is it? Where's the ambition, the talk of helicopters, yachts, fast cars and even faster women? Where's the oil baron cynicism? As J R once said: "A conscience is like a boat or a car. If you feel you need one, rent it." And: "There's nothing like the smell of money to get the relatives out of the woodwork." Let's face it, that's just not very Surrey, is it?

Locations of UKOG's UK licences, Source: NOP

Yet over the centuries, the Weald basin has seen quite a lot of industrial activity. On the western edge of the Jurassic shales in Dorset, the Wytch Farm oilfield has been pumping out black gold since 1979. On the eastern edge, the Kent coalfield sustained a dozen mines at the height of production before it was shut down in the Eighties. The discovery in 1897 of natural gas while drilling for water at Heathfield railway station in Sussex provided fuel for the first natural gas lighting in the United Kingdom. Down in West Sussex, there are nodding donkeys in the field by Pulborough rugby club and oil has also been extracted from a well near Goodwood.

In East Sussex, huge quantities of gypsum were dug from Jurassic Purbeck beds and brickworks exploited the lower Cretaceous clays. During Roman times - and again in Tudor England - the Weald was the main iron-producing region in Britain. The invaders built upon a flourishing native industry with ironworks sites found all over the eastern part of the High Weald. So far from being a twee rural idyll, albeit one with an airport and motorway attached, Wealden England has been a centre for drilling and digging, and could be again. Even if a fraction of the oil can be removed, it could create thousands of jobs and trigger an economic boom in the region.

But as we saw with the anti-fracking protests in nearby Balcombe in West Sussex, such a prospect no longer attracts people but appals them. We are a post-industrial nation with the added problem that unlike in America, there is no windfall for someone sitting on top of the oil because it does not belong to them. If people aren't going to get rich from the oil discovery then they will always rather it was drilled elsewhere.

These instinctive objections are encouraged by a battalion of environmentalists, green activists and countryside campaigners. They will try to shut down the great Gatwick gusher before a drop of crude has even bubbled from the ground.

Why does our heating system decide to break down on the coldest day of the year?. I presume that it's just sod's law, but one recognised fact is that annual servicing of a gas central heating boiler will dramatically lower the chance of failure, as well as safeguarding us from the deadly dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. A new price comparison website has been launched that gives you quotes from registered "Gas Safe" engineers in your area. Click on the following link to read more about Gas Boiler Repair.


Don't be the product, buy the product!