Fringe Box



Opinion: Yee Ha! – For Surrey Read Texas

Published on: 12 Apr, 2015
Updated on: 15 Apr, 2015

Surrey Oil 2By Martin Giles

No sooner had I stopped tapping the keyboard to express my fears for Guildford’s future than news arrived that I need not worry, the future is, in fact, peachy. Actually it is oily: it seems we are sitting on over 100 billion barrels of the stuff.

Buy a Stetson or a keffiyeh*, sit back and wait for the petro dollars to pour in.

An exploratory bore hole drilled near Gatwick has led UK Oil & Gas Investments to announce that the area could hold as much as 158 million barrels per square mile. Even with the reduced oil price that’s a lot of dosh.

Time for a regional rethink. Let’s cast those counties the wrong side of the Thames aside (surely Oxfordshire and Bucks are really in the Midlands anyway). Say ta ta to London and take a leaf from the book of those North of the Rio Grande – all right then, the Tweed.

Why should we spare out the spoils? Let’s quickly form a new party, the Southeast Oil Development Independent Territory (SODIT), get it elected, a quick referendum, declare UDI, and buy a nuclear sub from the SNP (keep it hidden in Pompey – say it is on constant patrol – who would know otherwise?). no one would dare touch us.

But don’t buy your Rolls Royces just yet, only about ten per cent of the black gold might be extractable, evidently. And then there is the unfortunate experience of one Surrey resident, a certain Mohammad Al Fayed.

Oil production in Surrey is actually nothing new. Oil has been produced onshore in the South of England for decades. There are currently around a dozen oil production sites across the Weald, a region spanning in addition to Surrey, Kent, Sussex, and Hampshire.

Al Fayed

Mr Al Fayed

Back in 1992, Mr Al Fayed on his way home, presumably after another busy day behind the counter at Harrods, noticed what seem to be a drilling rig next door to his modest fifty up, fifty down gaff in Oxted.

He instructed solicitors to investigate. They were told by the oil company that it could not reveal whether the bore hole passed under the estate for ‘reasons of commercial confidentiality’.

Mr Al Fayed went to the law and the High Court awarded the multimillionaire nine per cent (over £600,000) of the proceeds to date and the same percentage of future income.

The ruling was made after the court heard that the owners of the wells at Oxted, Surrey, did not tell Mr Al Fayed what was happening beneath his Barrow Green Court.

But before you start emailing every oil company you can think of, offering them reasonable rates for drilling access through you sub strata, read on.

Star Energy the company who had carried out the drilling and extraction appealed. The appeal court judge said that although Star Energy had committed a technical trespass they had not caused Mr al Fayed any loss. His award was reduced to £1,000, unlikely to even cover his legal team’s expenses.

You will note nothing was said about Star Energy pinching any oil that laid beneath Fayed’s property. This is because, in this country, all oil and gas deposits belong to the crown and can only be extracted under a licence granted by the government.

Oh well, as someone once said, “No news is as good or as bad as it first seems,” and that seems to apply here.

But if any oil can be brought up without too much disruption to our daily lives and without despoiling our countryside wouldn’t that be a good thing? If so, how should we divide the spoils?

There remains one chink of light for those hoping that they might still be in for a percentage. Fayed took his appeal on to the Supreme Court. The five judges there only ruled three to two against him. Maybe someone else might be luckier.

* Arab headgear

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Responses to Opinion: Yee Ha! – For Surrey Read Texas

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    April 12, 2015 at 8:03 pm

    Yee ha! No more houses for Guildford, and here’s why…

    Wisley can become the third runway for Heathrow and the second runway for Gatwick – mustn’t be Nimby’s must we – Gosden Hill can be set aside for the North tunnel entrance under Guildford, Slyfield set side for the fracking (well it is a ‘Sly’ way to extract gas) and Blackhall Farm is clearly destined for the Black gold itself.

    Housing Problem solved and still 20 days to the election – or am I 11 days late in the realisation?

    Whichever way you readers vote, they must vote and not waste it.

  2. Roland McKinney Reply

    April 19, 2015 at 11:38 am

    Oil extraction is not the only pressure on Surrey’s countryside. There will be many thousands of new dwellings and the impact of a new runway, whichever airport, Heathrow or Gatwick, is chosen. Altogether these pressures have the potential to cause a very considerable impact on Surrey.

    We already have considerable infrastructure problems in Surrey – traffic congestion, water supply, etc. These major developments will only exacerbate these problems.

    Surely all of Surrey’s MPs and councillors should be making the case that in view of this that developments in Surrey should be limited in scope and quantity. They should be focused on improving existing infrastructure problems before permitting further pressure on Surrey’s green belt and countryside.

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