Massive Gatwick oil find – a reality check

“On 10th April it was widely reported that a small oil company claims to have found up to 100 billion barrels of oil below the Weald region of southern England.  They estimate that up to 15 billion barrels is recoverable, about as much as Brazil’s proved reserves. They base this on a single drill site with no flow measurements. For anyone who knows anything at all about geology, this is beyond ludicrous.”

Earth scientist and and renewable energy entrepreneur Dr Jeremy Leggett pours cold water on the ‘Gatwick oil boom’ – and points out that that no major oil and gas company has a significant investment in UK shale – in this blog post


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Black Gold in the Weald – UKOG’s Alarming Discovery

The promise of black gold beneath the Weald has been one of today’s big stories in the national media.

UK Oil and Gas Investments (UKOG) has announced that it estimates there to be up to 100 billion barrels of extractable oil since completing exploratory drilling at the Horse Hill site.

This significant find will supposedly be obtainable from conventional methods of extraction. The fact that this is “tight” oil, which will more than likely require stimulation from hydraulic fracturing seems to be something the mainstream press isn’t questioning.

UKOG claims in a BBC article that the oil at Horse Hill is in rocks that are naturally fractured, giving “strong encouragement that these reservoirs can be successfully produced using conventional horizontal drilling and completion techniques”. The Beeb is evidently happy to publish an oxymoron (horizontal drilling) as truth.

Rob Basto a local resident and key Frack Free Surrey member has been facing the media today and reminding them that the depth of this resource means that it lies in layers “where you would need to use fracking, which is a much more dangerous process”.

Another voice of reason and sense amidst talk of a bonanza comes from Keith Taylor, Green MEP for south-east England, who sees this discovery as providing “the perfect opportunity for us to have an important national debate about keeping fossil fuels in the ground. The scientific consensus on climate change has never been greater and we have been told that the only way we have a chance of averting catastrophe is by leaving large reserves of oil in the ground”.

In the coming weeks, as we are swept in election fever and the media will almost certainly avert its gaze from this issue, it will be important to keep a close eye on the developments at the Horse Hill site. Fortunately, Rob and other members of Frack Free Surrey are ready to scrutinise and counter UKOG’s rhetoric. Such willingness to stand up for our countryside and against the fossil fuel industry will be vital.


Read more:

Horse Hill: Is the Kimmeridge a game changer?

On Monday 2 February, David Lenigas, Chairman of Horse Hill Developments Ltd, and the UKOG CEO/geologist made a presentation to an investment club in London.

The geologist spoke about the results from Horse Hill, and about the prospects for oil exploration from the M25 to the Isle of Wight.

The talk was filmed and you can watch it on Youtube:


Press release from the Select Committee Media Officer, Energy and Climate Change, Environmental Audit, EFRA, Science & Technology, House of Commons


Shale fracking should be put on hold in the UK because it is incompatible with our climate change targets and could pose significant localised environmental risks to public health. That is the conclusion of MPs on the cross-party Environmental Audit Committee who will attempt to amend the Government’s Infrastructure Bill in Parliament today.

Committee Chair Joan Walley MP:
“Ultimately fracking cannot be compatible with our long-term commitments to cut climate changing emissions unless full-scale carbon capture and storage technology is rolled out rapidly, which currently looks unlikely. There are also huge uncertainties around the impact that fracking could have on water supplies, air quality and public health.” 
“We cannot allow Britain’s national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty to be developed into oil and gas fields. Even if a national moratorium on shale drilling in the UK is not accepted there should be an outright ban on fracking in such special sites.” 
“The Government is trying to rush through changes to the trespass laws that would allow companies to frack under people’s homes without permission. This is profoundly undemocratic and Parliament should protect the rights of citizens by throwing these changes out when they are debated later today.”
The report warns that only a very small fraction of our shale reserves can be safely burned if we are to keep global temperatures below 2 degrees. And that considerable uncertainties remain about the hazards fracking poses to groundwater quality, air quality, health and biodiversity. It points out that continually tightening carbon budgets under the Climate Change Act will have significantly curtailed the scope for fossil fuel energy by the time shale gas is likely to be commercially viable on a large scale.
Infrastructure Bill
The Committee is also calling for other changes to the Infrastructure Bill. Proposed changes to trespass law that would grant companies automatic right of access to land at depth should be removed from the Bill because they seriously undermine citizens’ rights and are not supported by the public. Fracking should also be prohibited outright in nationally important areas such as National Parks, the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, SSIs, ancient woodland.
The Committee is also insisting that:
•                    Licences and permits must not be issued if commercial operators cannot demonstrate sufficient resources and insurances to cover full liability in event of pollution incidents.
•                    Venting of methane emissions is unacceptable. Full containment of methane must be mandated in all fracking permits and permissions.
•                    To protect groundwater a minimum separation distance – between the shales being fracked and underground aquifers – should be defined and mandated.
Monitoring and transparency
Current plans to allow fracking companies to handle the safety monitoring for fracking wells are also unacceptable, the report concludes. Independent monitoring must be conducted to ensure the public can have confidence in the results. Regulators must also conduct regular unannounced spot checks and audits of all fracking sites, and facilitate clear and accessible public disclosure of all monitoring data. Companies must be made to disclose – in an accessible way – all of the chemicals used in shale gas exploration and production, and the potential risks they pose. It is unacceptable that there are currently no monitoring requirements for decommissioned or abandoned wells.
Eight MPs on the Committee have put forward an amendment to introduce a moratoriums, linked to the Bill’s clauses aimed at setting a strategy to maximise fossil fuel extraction [Amendments 68 and 69 at]
Some MPs have also used the opportunity to also put down amendments to give the Strategic Highways Company an explicit legal duty to address air pollution in its work, to reflect a recommendation in another of the Committee’s reports — Action on Air Quality [Amendment 70 at ].]
The Infrastructure Bill11 includes provisions for the Government to produce a strategy for “maximising the economic recovery of UK petroleum” (which includes oil and gas). It also includes provisions “to introduce a right to use deep-level land” for “petroleum or deep geothermal energy”, including fracking, which will ease the planning difficulties that energy companies would otherwise face in getting access rights to shale deposits under landowners’ properties. At present, a drilling company must reach agreement with each landowner to obtain rights of access. The new provisions follow a Government consultation in 2014 on its Proposal for Underground Access for the Extraction of Gas, Oil or Geothermal Energy. That consultation included a voluntary community payment of £20,000 for each horizontal well, previously agreed with the industry, and the Bill includes provisions allowing the Government to impose such community payments (paragraph 5).
Nicholas Davies | Select Committee Media Officer
Energy and Climate Change | Environmental Audit | EFRA | Science & Technology
House of Commons

The Frack Stops Here: free travel from Surrey

On Wednesday and Thursday 28 and 29 January, Lancashire County Council will be deciding whether or not to approve two of the biggest fracking tests ever contemplated in the UK.

If allowed to happen, each site would have four horizontal wells, producing tens of millions of gallons and radioactive and toxic waste and opening the door to thousands more wells to be drilled across Lancashire and the rest of the UK.

On both days, concerned communities from around the UK will travel to Lancashire County Hall in Preston for a peaceful show of solidarity and resistance.

This is a  great chance to showcase the strength and solidarity of the of the UK anti-fracking movement.

We have been able to arrange free coach travel from Surrey, leaving on Tuesday 27 January.  The Big Lemon Bus will pick up at 5pm at Guildford railway station and 6pm at Heathrow Terminal 5 (pick up/drop off point).

It will return on the evening of January 28th, dropping off at the same two points around 10-11pm.

Places are limited so please RSVP to


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Frack Free Surrey objects to exploratory drilling at Leith Hill

Local residents have been fighting proposals to drill for oil at Leith Hill since 2008, when a planning application on behalf of Europa Oil and Gas. Residents formed the Leith Hill Action Group and submitted a 44-page response to Surrey County Council in April 2009.

The plans have been through many twists and turns, including a Public Inquiry, a High Court Appeal and a Court of Appeal Hearing. A new Public Inquiry into Surrey County Council’s refusal to give Europa planning permission is scheduled to start on Wednesday 22 April 2015.

Meanwhile, Europa has submitted a new application, MO/2014/1006, for a horizontal borehole. Frack Free Surrey has formally objected, on the following grounds:
• impacts on Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
• lorry traffic
• danger to aquifers,
• wildlife impacts
• climate change.

Download the submission here.

For updates and to support the local campaign, contact the Leith Hill Action Group.

The Frack Free Sussex (and beyond!) benefit album

What do the singer of a No 1 smash hit club anthem and the world famous composer of ‘The Snowman’ have in common?
What a great way to help fund raise, spread the Frack Free message and do some Christmas shopping!!! Our friendly elves at Frack Free Sussex are ready and waiting to get the orders out! See the second link below for how to buy these CDs and all the offers.

Fracking: Facts, Figures and Falsehoods: Guildford, 25 November

On Tuesday 25, November, members of Frack Free Surrey are organising a free event to provide information on unconventional gas development, known colloquially as ‘fracking’.

Dr Damien Short, Chilworth resident and a founding member of Frack Free Surrey, will chair the event, at the Friends Meeting House (3 Ward St, Guildford) at 7pm. All are welcome. Read the rest of this entry >>

Horse Hill drill site test results shows that fracking is likely

In a recent interview on Tip TV (promoted on the Daily Mail‘s website), David Lenigas, Chairman of Horse Hill Developments Ltd, discussed the finds at the Horse Hill 1 site, near Horley. Lenigas said “the big surprise of the well” was that they have what looks like a big find of hydrocarbons in the Kimmeridge Clay layers.

Analysis of the logs and cores are still in progress, with full results available in the next few weeks. Mr Lenigas says that they could be applying for the appropriate licences to proceed with testing early next year. They may also drill a second well at the site.

“It seems we’ve been proved right”
Read the rest of this entry >>

Two Upcoming Meetings in November

Horley – The New Dallas? – This coming Monday 10th November, 7:30 pm

Come and find out what is happening at the Horse Hill drilling site and protest camp, and is Horley likely to be the new oil capital of the UK as suggested in the press! There will also be a presentation on the problems associated with gas and oil exploitation, plus what steps we can take to safeguard the area.

Empire Hall, Victoria Road, Horley RH6 7AW. Opposite the Air Balloon pub car park, next to Raffles stationers.

Free entry – Refreshments

Free information meeting in Guildford, Tuesday 25 November

All are welcome at a free information evening with environmental consultant Paul Mobbs and Kathryn McWhirter of Frack Free Balcombe Residents Association.

Dr Damien Short, University of London, will chair the meeting.

When: Tuesday 25 November, 7pm– 8.30pm

Where: Friends Meeting House, 3 Ward Street, Guildford. GU1 4LH