'Biggest gas and oil discovery in half a century' made in East Yorkshire

The largest gas and oil discovery in the UK since 1973 may have been found in East Yorkshire, according to test results.

Developer Rathlin Energy (UK) Ltd was given a three-year extension in November to drill a second well at West Newton, near Burton Constable Hall, to explore oil and gas reserves.

Preliminary data suggests the well could hold at least 189 billion cubic feet of gas, or 31.3 million barrels of oil.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The site has seen repeated protests since the beginning of the year with police there on a daily basis and a number of arrests.

Reabold Resources, which holds a 37 per cent interest in Rathlin, saw shares surge after announcing that "WestNewton is potentially the largest UK onshore gas field and potentially the largest hydrocarbon discovery onshore UK since 1973, subject to further testing."

Joint chief executive Sachin Oza said the results had exceeded expectation and "also shown a significant liquid hydrocarbon volume which has increased our excitement and the future value of the field materially."

In a further tweet the company stated: "From its onshore location near Hull and with nearby infrastructure available, we anticipate that West Newton can provide material volumes of hydrocarbons for the UK’s energy needs at low cost and in the near term."

Protestors say they are going to ramp up the pressure on Rathlin and will be demonstrating ahead of a full council meeting in Beverley on Wednesday, when Coun Andy Walker of the Yorkshire Party, will be calling for fellow councillors to declare a climate emergency.

Protestors at the site earlier this year

Harry Clark, a local resident, and retired managing director of Beverley-based tech firm KTP, said: "I think people should be very concerned that the process of drilling wells to exploit this field if it exists will destroy roads with the large number of HGVs required and seriously pollute and harm the environment."

At community liasion meetings he has been told there could be up to five well pads required to exploit the field, each with six wells - which he fears will see the countryside industrialised.

But he sounded a note of caution over today's figures as to the size of the field, saying: "It may well be that shareholders in the oil exploration company are promoting their own interests."

Rathlin said they had reached a depth of just over 2,000 metres at the West Newton A-2 well.

A statement said initital results were "encouraging" with core samples being taken from the Kirkham Abbey reservoir formation, as well as wireline logs, lowered into the borehole.

It added: "Over the next week the drilling rig and associated equipment will be demobilised from site.

"The information acquired while drilling will now be analysed to inform a potential well testing programme. Planning permission is in place for an extended well test."