An irrepressible David Lenigas was upbeat following the extended well test of the Horse Hill well, also known as the Gatwick Gusher.
He revelled in his John the Baptist role after an initial batch of results assessing the potential of the Portland limestone came in better than expected.
The highest observed hourly rate was equivalent to 352 barrels of oil per day, but flows have not yet been optimised for maximum sustainable rates.
“To open up the well and have clean oil come to surface with no water meant the Gatwick Gusher gushed again – a lot earlier than we thought,” Lenigas said in an exclusive interview with Proactive Investors’ Andrew Scott.
“I didn’t think we would get oil gushing to surface under its own steam until we hit the Kimmeridge. The Portland is just the side play….the main play is still to come.”
The lower-lying Kimmeridge horizon was the main contributor to the 2016 flow test, in which Horse Hill flowed at a daily rate of almost 1,700 barrels.
Lenigas, as well as helping find the funding for the early exploration of the Weald Basin, is executive chairman of Doriemus PLC (LON:DOR), which is part of the consortium helping develop the onshore play.
In the Proactive interview, he said he thinks early estimates of the potential of the Weald, an area south of London that stretches south and east towards the coast, could prove conservative.
Independent reports have suggested the area may have multi-billion barrel potential, though nobody knows exactly how much of it can be economically extracted.
While Portland is a well-understood conventional play, expert opinion on the Kimmeridge is split.
If the oil and gas within the Kimmeridge are referred to as ‘tight’, then natural recoveries are likely to be low and may require further engineering or stimulation to produce economically.
However, Lenigas believes the presence of natural fractures may support significantly higher rates.
Politics rather than geology is likely to be the major impediment to progress, the Australian entrepreneur said with work to date taking far longer than it would in other jurisdictions.
Sign-off from the local authorities, protests and a “viperish” press have all played their part in holding back Horse Hill, according to Lenigas.
“It’s almost like Britain doesn’t want to find oil. It’s like they want to be reliant on imports,” Lenigas said.
“There have been a whole lot of challenges and road bumps with this play.”