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.
The campagn needs to remain credible and that means maintaining a degree of honesty. Horizontal drilling is not an oxymoron – it is a tried and long tested method of getting more borehole section through a reservoir by bending the bore from first vertical at surface to horizontal at reservoir depth. It is a common practice in tight reservoirs throughout the world and used often where there is no fracking. It has been used for decades at Witch Farm in Dorset, for example. Horizontal drilling is not a battle in itself and your use of language should not make it appear so – stay focussed on the key issue. The article accused UKOC of rhetoric, but such incorrect or misleading statements could be viewed as intentional, which is counter-productive, or demonstrate ignorance. Which is worse?