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Dormant Nottingham oil well begins production again
Nodding donkeys
It could take six months to determine if there is sufficient oil reserves

Work has begun at an abandoned oil well to determine whether there are sufficient reserves to justify a major drilling programme.

The Dukes Wood Field, near Eakring, last produced oil in 1989 by which time it had supplied more than 47 million barrels.

Hampshire-based Egdon Resources is now drilling an appraisal well to find out if more oil can be piped from the site.

The firm wants to determine whether it is worth investing in new technology.

Martin Brooks, the company's Health, Safety and Environment manager said: "The appraisal well is an exploration well to determine if there's an undrained part of the (oil) reservoir we can tap into.

"We drill down, head to the target and then put a well on production on a test basis to see if it returns oil at economic rates."

The test phase will be concluded by the end of January 2010 after which a "nodding donkey" pump will be installed which will be in situ for between three and six months.

"Within three weeks we'll know whether there's oil there. Then it's a case of putting the production equipment in place and seeing what oil is delivered through the pump," added Mr Brooks.

Other parts of Nottinghamshire's oil field could also be exploited.

Mr Brooks said: "Production is on at Kirklington but at fairly low rates of oil. The plan is to move the drilling rig to the Kirklington site and drill there."

Sea Gem oil platform
Many Nottinghamshire oil experts went to work of the Sea gem oil platform

Leading the way

The history of oil exploration in Nottinghamshire goes back to before the Second World War.

The UK's first commercial oil well was drilled in the county with production at Eakring, between Newark and Ollerton, starting in 1939.

The Dukes Wood / Eakring operation was also instrumental in the discovery of oil and gas in the North Sea. Many people who worked there were employed on the first oil rig built in the mid-1960s.

By 1965 drilling had finished at Eakring , although production continued there until 1989 on existing wells. However, in the same year the so-called 'dash for gas' intensified.

Kevin Topham started his career at BP's research station at Eakring when the company was still known as Anglo Iranian. This was in the 1950s and Mr Topham has had an association with the oil industry ever since. Today he is curator of the Dukes Wood oil museum.

"All the trained up drilling crews from Eakring were transferred to the North Sea project," he said.

"That was the priority because the country was in dire need of money. North Sea gas and oil changed all this."

In October that year the first North Sea gas was struck followed by an oil strike in the Forties field off Aberdeen in Scotland.

Dukes Wood museum oil curator Kevin Topham
Kevin Topham has a long association with oil production at Dukes Wood

Disaster strikes

The site was the test bed for drilling rigs that went to the North Sea. Mr Topham, from Edingley near Southwell, and his colleagues did a dummy run with a drilling rig at Eakring.

They built a 200 foot derrick, which is the framework over the oil well, in Dukes Wood. This would eventually become the Sea Gem, Britain's first oil rig.

The workers from Nottinghamshire were transferred when Sea Gem was installed in the North Sea as they had the expertise in pipe work, drilling and engineering.

Mr Topham's pride at being associated with Britain's first foray into North Sea gas and oil is tempered by the horror that was to befall the Sea Gem.

He was on the oil rig on 27, December, 1965 when disaster struck.

The Sea Gem was supported by 10 steel legs but two of these gave way as it was being prepared to move to a new location and then the whole rig tilted sideways and sunk.

He was eventually rescued but 13 men died in the tragedy.


The company also runs other oil wells in the UK and France

Work begins on wartime oil field
14 Jan 10 |  Nottinghamshire


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