Search on for ‘two million barrels of oil’ beneath Newport Wetlands

TWO million barrels worth of oil could be lying under the Gwent Levels, an oil executive claimed.

Oil prospectors Sonorex yesterday won permission at a Newport council planning committee meeting to carry out exploratory drilling for oil and gas at a site near the Newport Wetlands.

Managing director David Barker said there could be a couple of million barrels under the earth and is hoping to start work on the £1.5 million project next summer.

If oil or gas is found - and the company believes there is a one in five chance that enough could be found to justify production - there could be a payback for the council in a form of a royalty.

Plans need further permission from the UK Government, but Mr Barker said that this is a formality.

Mr Barker told the Argus: "We wouldn't be looking at it if there wasn't a couple of million barrels, but we may get a dry hole.

"The reality comes when the drill bit goes down. It might be a long time before we can assess volumes."

He admitted there was a four in five chance that there could be nothing there at all.

Mr Barker said that HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) in lieu of business rates, allows for a royalty to be paid to the local authority: "In some areas of the UK its between £2 to £3 a barrel."

If oil is found then extraction wouldn't necessarily take place on the same site, and another planning application for a permanent site would be needed if Sonorex wanted to go ahead.

However Newport Friends of the Earth's David Yates said he was concerned for what would happen if recoverable reserves were found.

"The implications are not only for the local environment but wider climate change implications," he added.

A report to planning committee said the entire project would take six months to complete, from construction, operation to restoration of the site, with drilling taking place over 40 days and in operation 24 hours a day.

Councillor Paul Hannon told the committee meeting that the application couldn't be turned down for what may happen in the future.

Cllr Richard White said as long as planning conditions are adhered to there shouldn't be damage to the environment.

A majority of the committee passed the application.

Comments (7)

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3:07pm Wed 5 Sep 12

Dee-Gee says...

I'm not sure South Wales could take the impact of another boom and bust industry. We haven't recovered from the collapse of coal mining yet...
I'm not sure South Wales could take the impact of another boom and bust industry. We haven't recovered from the collapse of coal mining yet... Dee-Gee

4:21pm Wed 5 Sep 12

b3talover says...

It's a difficult one. On the one hand Newport could benefit from some extra revenue and potentially jobs. On the other hand the Wetlands needs a really thorough environmental impact assessment because it's a great habitat for some really diverse species down there.
It's a difficult one. On the one hand Newport could benefit from some extra revenue and potentially jobs. On the other hand the Wetlands needs a really thorough environmental impact assessment because it's a great habitat for some really diverse species down there. b3talover

9:30pm Wed 5 Sep 12

Katie Re-Registered says...

"Search on for ‘two million barrels of oil’ beneath Newport Wetlands"

Wonder who on earth left them down there - they could have made a fortune selling them, but surely they'll be rusty by now. Not very good business sense, that!
"Search on for ‘two million barrels of oil’ beneath Newport Wetlands" Wonder who on earth left them down there - they could have made a fortune selling them, but surely they'll be rusty by now. Not very good business sense, that! Katie Re-Registered

10:36am Fri 7 Sep 12

gadget says...

I will be interested to see how the council deal with the enviromental issues of this when the rest of us have to deal with a mountain of red tape when it comes to planning issues. no doubt the planning permission will sail through when it comes to monies for the council lot.
I will be interested to see how the council deal with the enviromental issues of this when the rest of us have to deal with a mountain of red tape when it comes to planning issues. no doubt the planning permission will sail through when it comes to monies for the council lot. gadget

9:24pm Fri 7 Sep 12

regescu72 says...

Another ‘scrupulous’ oil company doing the community a favour with the possibility of much needed revenue. Where would we all be without oil companies??
Another ‘scrupulous’ oil company doing the community a favour with the possibility of much needed revenue. Where would we all be without oil companies?? regescu72

9:42pm Fri 7 Sep 12

nodnyl says...

looks like they have been drilling for oil outside the market for months and only struck water.
looks like they have been drilling for oil outside the market for months and only struck water. nodnyl

10:33pm Fri 7 Sep 12

digispamman says...

looks like someone at the council will get a nice "back-hander", then it will be bye bye nature reserve.
looks like someone at the council will get a nice "back-hander", then it will be bye bye nature reserve. digispamman

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