Horse Hill Developments

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Horse Hill Developments Ltd (“HHDL”) was set up in 2014 to drill and develop an exploratory oil and gas well at Horse Hill, a picturesque patch of Surrey countryside located in licence PEDL 137 in the Weald Basin, a few miles north of Gatwick airport in the UK.


The firm's original director David Lenigas said in 2014 that the site could yield 80 million barrels of oil and 160 billion cubic feet of gas, worth £2 billion. Esso drilled this same site back in the 1960s, finding oil but in uncommercial quantities. [1] According to their website:

HHDL originally drilled the Horse Hill-1 (HH-1) oil discovery well in 2014 and followed with flow testing in February and March 2016. HH-1 tested at a commercial aggregate stable dry oil rate of 1,688 barrels of oil per day from the Portland and two Kimmeridge Limestone reservoir horizons. The 2018 flow test programme follows the granting of planning permission by Surrey County Council in November 2017 and the subsequent discharge of their pre-commencement planning conditions in March 2018. Environment Agency approval for the full programme was granted in September 2017.

No fracking claim

David Lenigas insisted in October 2014 that he would not use fracking on the site.

I am a landowner and the farmer as well in the UK. I would not want fracking on my land and I certainly would not be doing fracking in Horley. I can absolutely guarantee that... I have publicly stated in an open forum that there will be no fracking at the Horse Hill site.

The company's website in 2018 reaffirms this statement.

the well does NOT require the use of the unconventional oil-field process of massive hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as “fracking”. [2]

Party to 2018 injunction against protestors

In early 2018 partners UKOG and Magellan Petroleum alongside Horse Hill Developments applied to the courts for a 'draconian' and wide-ranging injunction that sought to outlaw protests at three exploration sites in West Sussex and Surrey. This followed the occupation of the Horse Hill site by protestors in late November 2017.

Six environmental campaigners unsuccessfully sought to overturn this injunction attempt in the High Court in July 2018, accusing UKOG of attempting to stifle protest in a “draconian and chillingly anti-democratic” fashion. The injunction – addressed to “persons unknown” – would cover all campaigners protesting at the UKOG sites. Those breaching the injunction could be jailed, fined or have their assets seized. The campaigners included actress Sue Jameson, and altogether they crowdfunded £20,000 in public donations for their legal challenge costs. [3]

The High Court injunction against protest at the Horse HIll and Broadford Bridge exploration sites was awarded to UKOG and its partners in September 2018. [4]



HHD's former chairman David Lenigas is an Australian businessman turned serial entrepreneur. In October 2014 the Financial Times reported that a directors’ disclosure issued in 2013 by Inspirit Energy, an innovative energy technology firm where Lenigas is chairman, 'indicated he had sat on 173 company boards during the previous five years.

The list has been severely pruned more recently – and in ways that surprised many of his followers. At the end of August he resigned as chairman of the eponymous Leni Gas & Oil. It’s not often that a director’s departure necessitates a change of company name, but this Trinidadian oil producer, which spent years as a “sub-penny dreadful” before taking off this spring, will henceforth be known simply as LGO.
... Mr Lenigas took the helm at Tiny Rowland’s Lonrho conglomerate back in 2006 at a point when the business had dwindled to just one asset – the Cardoso hotel in Maputo. He rebuilt it as an Africa-focused agri-business, but in subsequently selling the company to Swiss investors last year, he fell out badly with the new owners in a row that extended to another Lenigas venture, African low-cost airline Fastjet. Right now, aside from Horse Hill, Mr Lenigas’ interests are focused on Inspirit, the energy company, and also Rare Earth Minerals, with a large interest in a potentially huge lithium deposit in Mexico. [1]

Lenigas stepped down from the board without reason in July 2015, and was replaced by UKOG chief executive Stephen Sanderson.

This followed news the previous month that UKOG's pretax net losses in the six months to 31 March 2015 were £383,000, compared with £290,000 in the same period of the preceding year. [5]




Address: The Broadgate Tower
8th Floor, 20 Primrose Street
London EC2A 2EW, United Kingdom



  1. 1.0 1.1 Paul Murphy, Surrey oil hunt picks up where Esso let go,, October 5, 2014 2:03 pm, acc 8 October 2014 .
  2. Horse Hill Developments, Horse Hill-1 Flow Test Programmes 2014 and 2016, page undated, last accessed 1 July 2019
  3. Rob Evans, Oil company's 'draconian and anti-democratic' injunction challenged, The Guardian, 2 July 2018
  4. Sealed UKOG injunction order 3 September 2018.PDF, UKOG website, 3 September 2018
  5. Terry Macalister, UK Oil & Gas chairman who wanted to drill under Gatwick steps down, the Guardian, 8 July 2015, accessed 12 July 2019
  6. Ruth Hayhurst, UKOG sets out plans for the Weald, Drill or Drop, 28 June 2019, accessed 1 July 2019