The Australian businessman behind the company drilling an exploratory well at Horse Hill, near Horley, says the site could yield 80 million barrels of oil and 160 billion cubic feet of gas, worth £2 billion.
Speaking on BBC Radio Surrey this morning, David Lenigas, of Horse Hill Developments Ltd, also said he would not use fracking at the site. Despite this, a small camp of anti-fracking campaigners has set up near the drill site.
Mr Lenigas said: “I am a landowner and the farmer as well in the UK. I would not want fracking on my land and I certainly would not be doing fracking in Horley. I can absolutely guarantee that”. He added: “I have publicly stated in an open forum that there will be no fracking at the Horse Hill site.”
He added: “The geologists say the target is around about 80 million barrels of oil and about 160 billion cubic feet of gas so to put a monetary value on it, it is about £1 billion each.”
Radio Surrey also interviewed Christopher Lowe, a local resident, who said people were concerned about the current noise, dust and smell. They were also worried about whether there would fracking in future.
“If it is a single well, it is not a problem”, Mr Lowe said. “They will take the rig away and leave a nodding donkey, which you will not see. And there will be a tanker or two a week. What is a problem is if this is right across the south east and you get drill sites and nodding donkeys every mile or so along hills like this. We could get another site in two years, five years’ time. And another one a mile further on and that is a prospect that does worry me.”
Mr Lenigas said: “The concept of lots of oil and a nodding donkey every mile is not the reality of this project.” He said if the well went into production it would result in one or two tankers a week.
Esso found oil at Horley in 1964 but it was not commercially viable to extract. “There have been a lot of technological advances since then”, he said. “It was beholden on us to carry on with the new technology”.
Mr Lenigas said: “you and I will be pushing up the daisies by the time the oil comes out, if we find that much”. When pressed on this he said it would actually take two years to bring the well into commercial production.
He said the well cost £5 million to drill, money which had gone into the local economy. When asked by the interviewer how this had happened Mr Lenigas said the cost of the drill rig, staff, local accommodation and labour.
The rig has now drilled to about 4,000ft. Mr Lenigas said: “This well be the deepest ever drill in the UK history at about 8,000 ft.”
- Mr Lenigas’s comments do not appear to have reassured opponents of drilling or fracking. The Horse Hill Protection Camp has established at the junction of Horse Hill and the A217, near the Black Horse pub.
Updated at 16.55 on 7th October to include establishment of camp