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UK Oil and Gas Investments report finding a large amount of oil in the Weald basin which covers Kent, Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire

By Claire McWethy

There could be a “world class” supply of oil underground in the Weald, according to a new discovery by an exploration firm.

UK Oil and Gas Investments (UKOG) say there could be up to 100 billion barrels of oil beneath the South of England, after analysis of a well drilled at Horse Hill near Gatwick Airport.

But the firm says the ground appears to already be fractured, meaning that extracting it by the controversial fracking method would not be necessary.

The Weald of Kent

The Weald of Kent

However, UKOG did admit that only a fraction of the oil was recoverable.

Licenses for exploratory boreholes have been granted for the western corner of Kent, starting on the outskirts of Tunbridge Wells, but the firms are entitled to apply for licences across the county.

A report published by the British Geological Society in May 2013, indicated that there was little chance of extracting shale gas in the Weald around Cranbrook and Staplehurst, because it was not sufficiently mature, but that there was oil to be had around Lamberhurst.

There are currently around a dozen oil production sites across the Weald region, which covers Kent, Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire.

There are fears fracking will come to Kent

There are fears fracking will come to Kent

The CEO of UK Oil and Gas, Stephen Sanderson, said the oil discovery had “world class potential.”

He added: “Drilling the deepest well in the basin in 30 years, together with the ability to use concepts, techniques and technology unavailable in the 1980s, has provided new cutting-edge data and interpretations to comprehensively change the understanding of the area’s potential oil resources.

“[There is] strong encouragement that these reservoirs can be successfully produced using conventional horizontal drilling and completion techniques.”

He said it was likely the firm would be able to recover between 5% and 15% of oil in the ground, which would provide up to 30% of the UK’s oil demand.

Keith Taylor Green MEP for South East England said: "This huge oil find is 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."

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