CONCERNS have been raised as oil production in a national park looks set to expand.
UK Oil & Gas Investments Plc has announced proposals for more drilling at its Markwells Wood site in Forestside, near Rowlands Castle.
A testing rig was built five years ago and large quantities of crude oil were struck.
UKOGI, which recently acquired the site, is now seeking advice on the drilling of up to four new wells for the production of oil for 20 years.
About 1.25m barrels of oil are likely to be under the ground.
The site is within the South Downs National Park and the park authority is considering the proposals.
The oil is part of the same reservoir extracted at Horndean.
A test station was approved off Hulbert Road, near Leigh Park, several years ago but never went into production.
Tim Dawes, from Havant Green Party, had concerns about the Portsmouth area’s water supply, which comes from the Rowlands Castle area.
He said: ‘It’s quite clear we need to cut down on our use of fossil fuels.
‘The idea that we should go after every last bit, just for a few bob, especially in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, or in this case a national park, is ridiculous. At a time when we should be investing in renewable energy, we should be moving away from it.’
A letter from UKOGI to Rowlands Castle Parish Council states: ‘The first planned well will be a horizontal sidetrack utilising the existing well bore.
‘If this well is successful then a further new horizontal well may be drilled followed by up to two further production wells.
‘The proposals will also include the provision for drilling a vertical water injection well for the disposal of produced formation water.’
The site would be restored once production ends, the letter adds.