If an application to extract oil from the South Downs National Park, close to Rowlands Castle, is approved, the site may end up producing oil for the next 20 years.
UK Oil and Gas Investments plc (UKOG) has revealed that it has submitted an application to produce oil from the site, which is located at Markwells Wood, north of Forestside. The application was made for a 20-year period. However, UKOG stated that production would begin only after the initial exploratory process is completed.
The exploratory process will allow UKOG to figure out whether it would be commercially viable to extract oil from the well. If it is viable, the oil and gas contractor will seek recommendations from the South Downs National Park Authority to minimise damage to the environment.
The company was emphatic that it would not be using fracking to extract oil from the site. Also, it stated that councillors from the nearby parish of Compton have not raised any objection to the project. However, the local population has raised concerns about noise, movement of heavy vehicles and the effect that the drilling could have on the underground aquifers, which are the source of water in the region.
The Portsmouth Water Company has asked UKOG to conduct a hydrogeological risk assessment. Some local residents living close to Forestside have expressed concerns regarding the acidisation of groundwater due to the oil production process.
Meanwhile, anti-fracking campaigner Reed Paget has requested UKOG to provide details of the chemicals that will be used for oil production and the measures that would be in place should the groundwater and other water sources get contaminated.
The oil and gas contractor had commissioned Barton Willmore to produce a scoping report, which states that the storage and use of chemicals and drilling activities can pose a risk to the quality of the groundwater, but if these risks are pinpointed beforehand, safety measures can be put in place so that the risks levels are minimised.