Oil firm plans to test well this year

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The company that found a major oil field near Gatwick has confirmed it intends to have its well tested this year.

Reports had highlighted UK Oil & Gas Investments (UKOG) had not applied for a licence to allow it to carry out the tests.

The company said drilling at Horse Hill, near Horley, revealed the Weald Basin had 158m barrels of oil per square mile on April 9.

A spokesman said it hoped to start oil extraction tests for the 55 square mile oil field beneath the site in the autumn.

A spokesman for the oil regulator Oil & Gas Authority (OGA) said it was ‘standard procedure’ UKOG had not yet applied for regulatory consent for the tests.

He added: “A well test requires planning permission from the Mineral Planning Authority, environmental permits from the Environment Agency, a review of well plans by the Health and Safety Executive and regulatory consent from Oil & Gas Authority.”

UKOG has applied to renew one of its two licences for the site, which allowed it to drill the well. A spokesman said: “The operator of the two licences, Horse Hill Developments Limited (HHDL), has already applied to OGA for a one year extension of the exploration period of PEDL137.

“The company will update the market on this licence extension in due course. Further, the company has been informed by the PEDL137 operator, HHDL, that it intends to conduct a flow test on Horse Hill-1 later in 2015 and that it has already submitted the applications to the authorities for their consent.”

HHDL started drilling at the site in September 2014.

The UKOG spokesman added planning approval for a flow test on Horse Hill-1 was included in planning approval from Surrey County Council. HHDL would seek to move the licence it applied to renew to a period of production working with OGA and other regulators if the tests were successful.

Brenda Pollack, Friends of the Earth’s South East Campaigner said: “When UKOG does apply to carry out further testing there will be a lot of opposition.

“Many residents don’t want the disruption that will come from extracting oil here. They may have to drill many wells - it’s unlikely to just be a few “nodding donkeys” in a field.”

A nodding donkey is a type of pump that is commonly used to extract oil.