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David Lenigas given more time to find oil at Gatwick

UK Oil and Gas says it still requires a permit from the regulator to conduct flow testing at the Horse Hill well.

UK Oil and Gas says it still requires a permit from the regulator to conduct flow testing at the Horse Hill well.

David Lenigas and investors in the so-called "Gatwick gusher" have been given a boost after licences to explore the Horse Hill site for oil were extended until next year by the regulator.

However, the company said that it is yet to obtain approval to conduct flow testing , which is vital for the progress of the scheme.

Mr Lenigas, a Monaco-based entrepreneur, and his company UK Oil and Gas (UKOG) have claimed that billions of barrels of oil are within reach at the site in the Weald Basin near Gatwick Airport.

UKOG has been accused of exaggerating the potential of Horse Hill-1 (HH-1) after it said on April 9 that the area within its licence could contain “a total oil in place of 158m barrels per square mile”.

Subsequent statements by chief executive Stephen Sanderson and Mr Lenigas, the chairman, claimed that the field held up to 100bn barrels of crude and was “very significant” for the UK.

However, a week after its original statement the company clarified its position, emphasising that “hydrocarbon volumes estimated should not be considered as either contingent or prospective resources or reserves”.

UKOG issued another statement recently that gave a snapshot of the amount of oil that may be reachable in conventional Upper Portland sandstone under Horse Hill. This oil could be extracted using standard drilling methods instead of fracking, which UKOG denies will be necessary at the site.

According to estimates released by the company, in the best-case scenario just 30.4m barrels of oil are recoverable from the Upper Portland sandstone formation.

However, the company added: "The oil in place hydrocarbon volumes estimated should not be construed as recoverable resources or reserves. Meaningful estimates of recoverable oil within the Upper Portland can likely only be made following the proposed HH-1 flow test and a significant proportion will not be recovered during any future production regime."