I love America.  And I’m a fan of Obama.

He’s in his last 8 months and he’s working seriously on his legacy.

Cuba’s been on the naughty step for 55 years. It’s cost them a trillion dollars.  America hasn’t always been behaved brilliantly towards her neighbour.  In fact, the relationship has been soured by all sorts of hiccups – Russian nukes, Guantanamo Bay, the Bay of Pigs fiasco (when American-trained Cuban exiles tried to overthrow Fidel Castro’s government), lots of finger wagging, and the embargo.

But this week Obama was man enough to accept that this hasn’t worked and that the time has come for US policy on Cuba to change. “A policy of isolation designed for the Cold War makes little sense in the 21st Century.

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Like a good pint of Guinness on St Patrick’s day, Monday’s news from the Gatwick Gusher was worth waiting for.

Some people think that because the initial test results are out, then that’s the end of the story for now. ‘Pack your kit bag and move on.’


This is just the beginning of the story, as UKOG and its pioneering partners move to make Horse Hill and the Weald Basin a big success. Even BP started as little tiddler way back in 1908.  Look what happened to them.

(If you don’t know, BP was founded in 1908 as the Anglo-Persian Oil Company following the discovery of its large oil field in Masjed Soleiman, Iran. It was the first company to extract petroleum from there.)

Now back to Horse Hill, a subset of Nutech’s 124 billion barrel (P50) potential of the UK’s Weald Basin.

The final Horse Hill 1 Portland test blew the lid off expectations.  323 barrels of oil per day, double the previous rate, made it the highest stable dry oil flow rate from any onshore UK Portland sandstone formation well.  Thanks to good old Mother Nature, and a bigger pump.  An even bigger pump would have given even more flow, but alas I don’t think they could find one in time. Pity.

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Obama’s Cuba visit is more than an historic moment.  For Obama it’s personal.  Mark my word, we’re in for some big words this week.

It is nearly 90 years since a US President has visited Cuba (Calvin Coolidge was the last, in 1928).

And it’s over half a century since relations soured following Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution.  Pointing nukes at the Americans in 1962 went down very very badly (I don’t recommend it.)

As recently as 1996 the US imposed the Helms-Burton Act penalising companies investing in Cuba.

So when President Obama stepped off Air Force One yesterday, flanked by the First Lady, daughters Sasha and Malia, and even the First Mother-In-Law Marian Robinson, the sense of history was in the air.

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In tomorrow’s budget Chancellor George Osborne is going to greenlight the £33Bn Crossrail 2 project.  He reckons that Crossrail is a top priority scheme for London.  He’s right.

London is the world’s second greatest city (after Brisbane of course).  And I’m pleased London is taking its infrastructure seriously.

So, George – I have some good news for you.  I might be able to help you pay for it.  You see, there’s a damn good chance that there’s oil under London.  Probably quite a lot of it!

The recent Gatwick Gusher oil discovery at Horse Hill, a mere 6 miles south of the M25, proved that those big thick juicy limestones in the Kimmeridge Clays, sitting only half a mile beneath the picturesque Surrey countryside, are full of the black stuff.

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Remember my friend James?  He’s the strange Brit who I’ve bumped into a couple of times on the plane into Cuba.  Nice chap, looks like the Tom Hiddleston character in the Night Manager.  Probably a spook.

Well last week was the 18th Habanos Cigar Festival in Havana and I bumped into James at the gala dinner.  It was cigar paradise, and very very smoky.

We got chatting about the state of this year’s crop.

Cuban tobacco growers have had a difficult couple of years.  A good tobacco year is when the cool months of January, February and March are rain free.  But last year there was a drought and this year it was raining cats and dogs, when it was supposed to be the cool and dry.

But despite the bad weather, sales of Cuban hand-rolled cigars are on the up worldwide. Cuba makes 100 million cigars a year and there’s no shortage of demand.

The Unites States is the world’s largest cigar market, but because of the trade embargo, it can’t import Cuban cigars.  So the improving relations with the US has producers eyeing up more profits.  As and when the US embargo is lifted the market for Cuban cigars is going to skyrocket.

James briefed me on a rumour about a secret stash of 45 million cigars. Apparently this stash has been squirrelled away ready for the day that the embargo is lifted.  It’s guarded by an elite unit of the Cuban military, and only 8 people know about it.  Well a few more than that, now.

Well it might make sense.  Good Cuban tobacco leaf doesn’t go off, and it actually gets better with age if stored correctly.

It’s not just the Americans who love a good cigar.  David Tang was in town (my company InCloud9 hosted a party for him and 200 guests).  He owns the Pacific Cigar Company, and exports 10 million a year to Asia.  And my mate Gordon Mott, editor of Cigar Aficionado, introduced me to Max the Mexican cigar distributor.  Same story – they simply can’t get enough.

I’d love to get may hands on those 45 million Cuban cigars.  Would be a great investment.  And also you just know there’ll be some fantastic mellow smokes in there.

So, James, time for an answer.  Where’s that secret stash?




Last Sunday’s Oscars was the usual glitzy parade of silly grins, gushing speeches and fakery.

Because that’s what acting is – faking it on the screen, with those best at the Hollywood make-believe game walking off with the gongs, cash and fame.

That sounds a bit unfair.  I actually love the movies as much as anybody, and thought it was a great travesty that the incomparable Cate Blanchett missed out on a gong for Carol.

So, fair play to Leonardo and the gang, but the only drama I’m interested in right now is watching so-called experts eat their words.

But that’s another story.

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History has a habit of repeating itself and I couldn’t help feeling a spot of déjà vu as the trucks started rolling out of Horse Hill laden with oil again. Second time in a fortnight!

It’s now gushing at over twice the rate as last time.  900 plus barrels a day no less. Add that to the 463 barrels a day from the other week, and that’s a lot of oil. Each tanker is nearly 200 barrels, so that 7 tankers a day at for both oil zones. That’s a lot of full petrol tanks.

And hopefully more oil to come from the next test zone.

Horse Hill is beginning to look like a game-changer for the UK oil industry.  Horse Hill is now flowing better than the Wytch Farm discovery well, currently the biggest onshore oil field in Western Europe.

Which got me thinking.

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Oil be dammed! It’s been a rather hectic two weeks in Lenigas-land.

The well has “gushed” in style. (By the way, gusher is a proper oil dude term if you care to look it up).

Do you remember some of those headlines from back in 2015?

‘New Gatwick Oil Gusher Means Nothing Says Expert’ (June 2015). Pah!  Critchlow at The Telegraph, and so called ‘expert’ Matthew Jurecky, of GlobalData – time to eat your words!

And what about this – ‘Gatwick oil gusher claims ‘wildly optimistic’ warns expert’ (Apr 2015).  Oh that will be Critchlow again, and his gloomy sidekick Jurecky. Critchlow no longer works at the Telegraph.

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When the BBC’s energy correspondence John Moylan, announced at 7.03 am on April 9 last year, that there could be 100 billion barrels of oil in the Weald Basin south of London there was uproar.

Not celebration.  Not thanks.  A kind of un-British scorn, cynicism and disbelief.

The BBC came up with the 100 billion barrel headline for the whole Weald by chatting with Steve Sanderson, and thumbnail sketched the ultimate potential of the Basin by using the Horse Hill numbers extending over a much bigger area.

Wells in the Weald have been producing oil for decades (you’ve probably put some of it in your car).  But you’d be forgiven for not noticing – the nodding donkeys are so well hidden it’s like keyhole surgery.

What was different was that our advisers Nutech, the world’s leading reservoir analysts, had conducted state of the art drilling, electronic logging, and detailed analysis using techniques that had simply not been available a generation ago. Nutech are leaders in their field, and one of a handful of authorised companies to hold all the UK onshore drilling data for Her Majesty’s Government.

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In case anybody is in any doubt the hero of today’s news from Horse Hill is the incredible oil man, and gentleman, Steve Sanderson.

Steve made this discovery possible and I owe him an enormous debt of gratitude.  I’m good at what I do best – taking a project of size, resourcing it, and bringing in the right management.

Steve identified the potential of the Kimmeridge and agreed to front the company in the face of doom-mongers and naysayers.  He stepped up to the plate, first as a consultant, then as CEO, and then Chairman, after I stepped down.

Steve agreed to become Chairman at my request, and in doing so staked his own reputation on Horse Hill coming good.  Today he has been proved right.

So, why did we find the oil and no one else?

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