The latest UKOG survey in the Weald shows that Britain is going to be self-sufficient in oil until the 22nd century. But Energy Minister Michael Fallon and the Conservative bigwigs aren’t talking about it. The Slog suggests why.
I spotted this piece at an oil investment site yesterday. The main media beyond the Mirror and the BBC largely ignored it, but they shouldn’t:
The find is in the Weald basin near Gatwick Airport. This is nothing new: the find’s been talked about for three years or so. But just under a year ago, the British Geological Study ruled out the chances of extracting any more than “a few million barrels”. It was also claimed at the time that all of it would need to be fracked out. Not a good idea.
But six days ago, that all changed when UK Oil and Gas Investments (UKOG) concluded – following 3,000 feet of exploratory drilling at Wytch Farm in the Weald Basin – that the discovery was “a world-class potential resource.”
That’s an understatement.
It’s up there with the total oil reserves of Kuwait – more than 100 billion barrels of oil.
From North Sea finds, Britain has produced 42bn barrels in the past 40 years. This discovery will, effectively, make Britain self-sufficient in energy….and according to author Andy Tully, it will be “easier to work and reach than the North Sea finds”.
Before we get over-excited, the find is not pure liquid oil: some of it sits embedded in the basin’s rock, and so the yield may only be around 10% of the total down there. But two points seem to have been missed by the mainstream media.
1. Even at 10% yield, that’s around 10 billion barrels – five times bigger than the entire North Sea supply.
2. To extract that amount would require no fracking whatsoever in the process…or indeed anywhere else in the UK. The find has been ‘naturally’ fracked by subterranean movement over millions of years.
In short, the survey before drilling from last year was wrong.
First and foremost, this is an economic and fiscal game-changer for Britain. But in the short term, the electoral ramifications are immense. At a stroke, the new conclusions wipe out:
1. The case for fracking….which was always weak; and
2. The policy of austerity in the context of a huge reduction in Britain’s debt and deficits in the future. At current usage levels, the Weald Basin well would last 150 years minimum.
Eighteen months ago, the Coalition was accused of “bigging up” the find….and as the Energy Minister is none other than Michael Libor-Fallon, one can understand the healthy scepticism. Then the British Geological Survey (BGS) produced conclusions that seemed to confirm the doubts about Mr Liar-Fallon’s command of the verité….and the Energy Secretary was suitably concerned to say the find still made fracking worth the effort.
Now the new report – infinitely more empirical and field-data based – says the potential is massive. The source is UKOG…an outfit that wants to make oil exploration seem eco-friendly in the British context: but drilling is drilling. You’d expect Fallon, Cameron and Osborne to be dancing on the tables.
But just over three weeks from now, there is a General Election. Were the find to be analysed and discussed in the media to a proper extent, there is no question it would swing opinion more behind Labour’s promises than Tory austerity and last-minute bribes. And UKip would have a stronger case for saying that the UK does not need the EU. And Alex Salmond would have a stronger case for arguing that England doesn’t need Scottish oil any longer.
Also of course – the Conservative Party having been hijacked by crooks and neoliberal fanatics over the last ten years – they would much rather carve up the find between themselves and their multinational mates than put the income to much better and broader social use.
So ironically, the fact that Britain is about to get a huge income boost is a vote-loser for the Government. Hence the odd reticence in talking about it.
Hands up all those who think the Ed Miller Band or the UKippers are smart enough to spot this?