The Weald Basin and what the DECC, WWF, The Green Party and FoE aren’t telling us because they want to scare Middle England into a rejection of Shale Gas in support of their benefactors from the Wind Industry and their blind following of the Gods of Climate Change and their disciples of CO² reduction.
nb: From the inset photo I fail to see Fallon’s flare stacks?
Oil in Hampshire
The fact is that oil exploration is not new to Hampshire and neighbouring counties. This may have been overlooked in the recent debates concerning proposals to drill oil wells near Botley.
There are four currently producing oilfields in Hampshire and one already abandoned. Elsewhere in the South there are seven oil fields and two gas fields producing in Dorset, Surrey and West Sussex.
It may surprise some that a total of 144 production wells and 157 exploration wells have been drilled across the region between Dorset and Kent. This is why an oil exploration company would perhaps regard drilling for oil in the region as a tried and tested activity and one with which planners and regulators have considerable experience to resolve environmental and safety issues.
Permission for the exploration and extraction of oil and gas is granted across the country by Mineral Planning Authorities to the companies holding deeds of licence for the hydrocarbon rights from the Secretary of State for Industry. Each proposal is judged on its own merit in accordance with their local Development Plans and Government guidance.
An interesting fact sheet is provided by The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and available on the web. The document acknowledges the possible impact of such activities on access roads and factors such as noise and lighting from continuous operations. It also notes that any pollution should be guarded against by adequate pollution prevention facilities on site and that no productive UK onshore oil field has encountered oil under sufficient pressure to raise concerns about a major pollution event during exploration drilling. The UK’s sole blow out onshore was at the Hatfield Moors gas field near Doncaster.
The Weald Basin, part of which underlies most of Hampshire and West Sussex, contains a limited but rich source rock for oil and some gas. The oil is light and of a low sulphur content. Using the latest methods and now having access to nearly all of the data from 25 years of exploration and production in the area, Northern Petroleum has identified 4 undeveloped oil fields from previous drilling and some less well defined possibilities. The company intends to pursue these projects even though the recent application at Hedge End has now been withdrawn. Many oil discoveries were ignored in the past, but in the light of newer technologies and higher oil prices, which seem here to stay, represent a potentially significant economic mineral resource for the country. The quantity of the oil which can be extracted and the number of sites is likely to increase as oil production technologies improve and the reservoirs are better understood.
Oil companies are convinced that in this oil basin the technology for safe and environmentally acceptable oil production is well established and that the easily accessible onshore oil industry is well monitored and regulated. As corporate citizens they make the point that they too live in the wider region and wish to enjoy its amenities resenting prejudgements that they are law breakers and spoilers of the environment.
What does seem certain is that there will be further exploration and production of oil in the Hampshire and West Sussex area as the oil price responds to world supply issues and technology improves. Oil revenues will bring some wealth to the region with jobs, demand for services and payments of local taxes.
Source: Northern Petroleum Plc is an EU oil company that acquires low entry cost exploration, production and development assets and is committed to adding high value to shareholders from production and asset sales.