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Is the “Gatwick Gusher” real – hell, yes!

Today’s news of the oil flow test results from Horse Hill, 1.2 miles from London’s second airport, Gatwick, is truly astonishing.

They show beyond doubt that what lies beneath the south-east of England is a strategic oil play of huge potential and of national importance for the UK.

The first of three zones to be tested gushed to the surface yesterday at a sustainable flow rate of 460 barrels of English’s finest 40 API oil through a tiny half inch hole.  For the layman – that’s fast flowing, consistent, high quality oil.

So many doubters with their poisoned pens thought the Gatwick Gusher was simply hype.  Many even penned that there would not be a chance in hell that this well would even flow.  They’re going to have to eat their hats.

The esteemed Professor Al Fraser stated Horse Hill would be lucky to return $150/day profit. How wrong he was. I’ll post him the $150.

And that great British establishment the British Geological Survey who said there is no mature oil in the Kimmeridge at Horse Hill look like kindergarten drop-outs. They used out of date data and refused to acknowledge the reality of new scientific information.

For some people vindication can take a lifetime: The Wright brothers, Galileo, Alan Turing, and Nicola Tesla.  So it is satisfying to read these results.  I can’t wait to see how big this will eventually be.

Ten months ago on April 9 a fuss erupted when my colleagues and I sought to explain to the world what the Houston-based brains at Nutech, one of the world’s leading oil assessors, had calculated what was sitting under the ground at Horse Hill. I spoke to the BBC, ITV, Sky and others about the possible implications of this new oil discovery.

Underneath the chalk, limestone and sandstone of the rolling South Downs countryside, between Surrey, Sussex, Hampshire and Kent, sits a giant sponge-like formation called the Kimmeridge Clays at about 2,000 to 3,000 feet below the surface.   Our work shows these clays stretch for miles and miles in every direction.

The experts at Nutech worked out that Horse Hill had about 158 million barrels of oil per square mile sitting in those rocks under Gatwick.

I openly admitted at the time that by no means could anyone get it all out.  But trying to make it simple for non-oil folk to understand, I made the analogy that these rocks were saturated like a massive “sponge” full of oil and we just needed to find out how much oil could actually be sucked out of it. It was early days back then.  And our expert advisers told us that Horse Hill displayed strong similarities to big oil plays in the US.

And sucking the oil out of the sponge is exactly what is happening today. But hey, to everyone’s surprise, it doesn’t need to be sucked out, it’s gushing out. The genie is now out of the bottle. Oil that has been locked in the ground for millions of years. You can now touch it and smell it.

Horse Hill bears many similarities to the massive Bakken, Eagleford and Austin Chalk oil fields in the USA. These names don’t mean much to the Brits but they have almost single headedly changed the dynamics of the global oil industry giving us all cheaper petrol and diesel at the pumps.

Now the UK can proudly say it has its own play that could power the engines of its own industry.

At this level of oil in place, it doesn’t take Stephen Hawking to extrapolate that a very large amount of oil could be hiding there under the whole 1,200 square mile Weald Basin. Some have estimated there could be between 50 and 100 billion barrels of oil in place for the whole Weald Basin.

And this is what people did. TV and newspapers picked the story up and it went viral.  Mates of mine reported seeing it on TV in Nigeria, New York, Sydney, Hong Kong and Singapore.

One of my key messages on that fateful April day last year, was at this level we were potentially looking at a very significant ‘strategic asset for the UK, something that the nation and its politicians at Whitehall ought to be taking extremely seriously, with the possibility of materially impacting the economic fortunes of the country for many years to come.

But no sooner had the BBC aired my interviews that kicked off just after 7 o’clock that morning, than the wrath of Baal descended upon my head and those of my senior team.  How dare he!  Screamed the headlines.  Who does this Aussie Oil Man think he is?! Quotes and mocked up photos of me as Dallas’s JR Ewing popped up everywhere.

The BBC to their credit did what they could to explain the implications with a proper interview, measured news reporting, and helpful graphics.  But some of the other media and business editors hated it, pouring scorn on our announcement and challenging the credibility of the Nutech experts in Houston.

What a storm!

The relentless pressures from some of the media still didn’t disappear even after Schlumberger, another of the world’s oil majors, backed up Nutech’s numbers of 158 million barrels oil in place numbers by publishing their own estimates of 255 million barrels per square mile.

Then in October last year, Nutech worked out that the whole Weald Basin could hold 124 billion barrels oil in place, making the original April story of 100 billion barrels look conservative.

Now I do not believe in raking over old coals.  I’m not in the business of gloating or point scoring, or recalling which of the well-known business editors have egg on their faces.  History provides the real facts. Take note British Geological Survey.

But there are some serious points to be drawn from the past ten months.

After all of the abuse and scorn I endured from the regulated, unregulated and unknowledgeable media, and concerted Twitter trolling, I found myself taking the considered move to step down as Chairman of UKOG in order to protect the company.

I wanted an Englishman with impeccable oil credentials to take this amazing discovery to the next level. Enter Steve Sanderson, the man responsible for many global oil discoveries. I made the right choice.

I’m an entrepreneur.  It’s what I do.  Corporate risk-taking isn’t an easy bedfellow of excessive regulation and an ill-informed media.  Being an entrepreneur involves taking risks.

The lesson I draw from the past year is that we need more, and better communication from CEOs.  Not less.  Businesses such as ours have a duty – a duty I take very seriously – to communicate.  To explain.  But the newspaper men would hate that as it challenges their cozy monopoly of information.  And Twitter and certain blog sites are simply out of control.

The newsprint ends up in the recycling bin at the end of the day.  This oil discovery won’t.

But as I said this is not a time for looking backwards or even opening old wounds.  This is a time for celebration. There is oil at Gatwick, and by all accounts, there could be a hell of a lot of it.

For the first time in a generation the UK has, out of the blue, unexpected good economic news.  If the Government allows the Weald to be properly drilled, assessed and exploited we’re looking at oil worth Billions of pounds flowing into the UK economy.  And jobs. Lots of them.

The Bakkens and Eaglefords of the US require fracking and Horse Hill doesn’t. How lucky is the UK?

The impact is going to be felt by every man, woman, and child in this green and pleasant land.  Including the greenies who use oil products in their daily lives without knowing it. This is the UK’s opportunity to secure its energy supplies, becoming self sufficient, and unshackling itself from reliance on Russia, Middle East and elsewhere.  Terrifying that Europe is now paying €1 billion a day to Russia for energy imports.

It could reduce taxes (Qataris pay zero tax thanks to their oil).  It could sort out the deficit, and the debt.  It could herald a new era of economic prosperity.

I hope the UK Government is now taking a keen interest.

February 2016 will be remembered for many reasons.  Not because David Lenigas was vindicated.  This is more important than that.  It will be remembered as the dawn of a new energy era of prosperity for the UK. 

With the shifts and shocks besetting the world economy this may have come at just the right time.

Written by David Lenigas