A British company says it’s found up to 100 billion barrels of oil at a field less than 2 miles from metro London’s Gatwick Airport, in the largest onshore oil discovery in the U.K. in 30 years. The company, U.K. Oil & Gas Investments, believes that between 5 percent and 15 percent of the oil from the Horse Hill field can be extracted and that by 2030 nearly a third of the country’s oil demand could be met just by the production of the area in question. By comparison, the entire boom-driving North American Bakken formation holds an estimated 150 billion to 900 billion barrels, while current projections estimate that 32 billion barrels can ultimately be extracted from it.
Environmental activists have questioned the wisdom of taking a bajillion barrels of oil out of the ground at a time when many countries are already trying to reduce the use of climate-altering fossil fuels. From the Guardian:
Dr Doug Parr, Greenpeace UK’s chief scientist, said: “Dotting the English countryside with drilling rigs and pipelines to squeeze the last drop of oil out of Britain doesn’t make any sense. To gleefully rub your hands at a new fossil fuel discovery you need to turn the clock back to the 19th century and ignore everything we have learned about climate change since.”
The U.K. government, however, has encouraged energy exploration in the area of the Horse Hill field, and fracking—which may or may not be required to extract oil from Horse Hill, the Guardian says—is still legal in England (but not in Scotland and Wales).