WEST Sussex could be sitting on millions of pounds worth of oil and a firm has begun scoping the Horsham district looking for the valuable hydrocarbon.
Celtique Energie Weald, an oil and gas exploration company, laid geophysical seismic equipment predominantly near highways around Horsham on July 20 as part of a survey which will last six weeks.
The survey will determine whether or not Horsham and the surrounding areas are resting on top of oil worth hundreds of millions of pounds.
Celtique will do this by identifying and mapping subsurface geological structures of the earth.
Inland oil reserves have been searched for in the South East for the last 30 years but it had long been thought uneconomical to drill. But with the cost of crude rising unabated and energy security a new international priority the prospect of drilling in the region has increased.
The small village of Forestside near Chichester is sitting on top of an oil field worth an estimated £300 million, North Petroleum said it was as much as five million barrels worth.
The news broke in January and the company says it plans to begin extracting soon.
Around Horsham Celtique have commissioned a firm known as Tesla-IMC International to carry out the search for oil.
They will measure vibration frequency signals generated from small metal plates hydraulically lowered onto the ground from special tractor units.
Readings will then be taken and recorded via cables laid on the ground.
Areas where the search is taking place include North Horsham, Rudgwick, Rusper, Warnham, Billingshurst, Broadbridge Heath, Colgate, Itchingfield, Southwater, Slinfold, West Grinstead, Nuthurst, Cowfold, Shipley, Thakeham, West Chiltington, Pulborough, Wisborough Green, Loxwood, Plaistow and Ifold.
Licences for the work have been granted by the Department of Energy and Climate Change to Celtique and its partner Magellan Petroleum UK.
These licences are located for work in what is known as the ‘Weald Basin of Southern England’ - one of three large scale oil and gas exploration bases across the country.
The Weald Basin covers an area of 1000 sq kms in and around West Sussex.
Their website explains that ‘a series of oil and gas discoveries have been made in the area in shallow horizons, however Celtique have now identified several large deeper Triassic prospects and leads’.
A spokesperson for Tesla said: “Tesla would kindly ask for your patience and co-operation during the survey, and apologises in advance for any inconvenience these works might cause.
“All properties fronting and falling adjacent to each traverse line will receive an information leaflet prior to cable laying operations commencing.
“Close daily liaison will be maintained throughout the survey with the County Council, police, and owners and occupiers affected.”