Back in 1987 BP, one of the great global oil majors, found oil at the base of the Surrey Hills just outside the M25.  The nodding donkeys at the Brockham X1 oil well have been quietly pumping Portland oil for the UK economy for 14 years now.

But did they miss something?  I think so.

Brockham X1 is a deep well. Nearly 7,000 feet. BP drilled straight through the the Kimmeridge limestones that were the secret to this year’s spectacular success at Horse Hill, only five miles away near Gatwick Airport.

Horse Hill was fondly nicknamed the “Gatwick gusher.”  That’s pretty accurate because it really did gush.

Nearly 1,700 barrels of Britain’s finest black gold gushed to surface at Horse Hill. Open up the choke to full bore and it’s anyone’s guess what it would have gushed. The biggest oil hit for a single well in British onshore history.

At 41 API, it’s an even better brew than North Sea Brent at 38 API. That means (for the non oil folk amongst us) better quality and better price.

And it wasn’t just BP who may have missed the potential of this extraordinary deposit.  That other global major Esso actually drilled not one but two wells at Horse Hill in the 1960’s and didn’t realise the potential of the Kimmeridge limestones either. They never even tested the limestones!

Cock up?  Or conspiracy?  There is indeed an argument for both.