Horse Hill anti-fracking protesters set up camp

Horse Hill
Image caption The protesters have set up camp near the site at Horse Hill, which was cleared to allow exploration to begin

Anti-fracking campaigners have set up a camp in woodland where oil has been discovered in an exploration well.

Horse Hill Developments has been drilling at Horse Hill, near Horley, few miles from Gatwick Airport on the Surrey/Sussex border.

The company has said it guarantees the fracking technique would not be used to extract the oil.

But, Frack Free Surrey said it fears the company is "checking out" the site for potential fracking in the future.

Public meeting

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a technique designed to recover gas and oil from shale rock.

Horse Hill Developments is linked to Angus Energy, which already operates wells at Brockham in Surrey and Lidsey in West Sussex.

Drilling has been carried out by Magellan Petroleum Corporation.

Frack Free Surrey spokesman Rob Basto said about half a dozen protesters had been camping close to the Horse Hill site, off the A217, for just over a week.

A public meeting on Monday was attended by about 90 people.

"They might be drilling for conventional oil but we believe Magellan is looking for shale gas, and although they are not fracking there, they are checking it out and it's quite likely they could come back and frack in the future," said Mr Basto.

'Conventional drilling'

David Lenigas, chairman of Horse Hill Developments has said geologists suggested the oil and gas reserves there could be worth about £2bn, with production beginning in about two years.

A company spokesman said the well will be drilled to a depth of 8,680ft to test a number of conventional oil and gas targets.

"The licence holder and operator, Horse Hill Developments Limited, confirms that this is a conventional drilling project and none of the other partners have any interest in exploring unconventional opportunities," said the spokesman.

"There are no unconventional shale targets."

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