Last week I wrote an article in The Surge about drilling for oil and gas in our national parks. I am not in favor of that since we have so many other good places (and much more accessible) to drill and keep America’s energy renaissance going. And much to my surprise, over 90 percent of the readers who commented actually agreed with me. I don’t even get that high of a percentage at home.
Anyway, it seems that the US isn’t the only country dealing with such issues.
The international chemical giant Ineos announced plans this week to drill for gas under Sherwood Forest in England. You remember, the one made famous by Robin Hood (no relation to Little Red Riding, even though they share the same last name).
Their announcement pointed out that they will first be doing seismic studies, with the eventual intent of setting up fracking operations. And the initial seismic work will take place just a few hundred yards from Major Oak, the most famous tree in Sherwood Forest, rumored to be where Robin and his merry men (and Maid Marian, I assume) slept. The 800-year old tree is one of the most popular attractions in the forest, playing host to thousands of visitors every year. Ineos stated in their news release that they would “take great care” to protect Major Oak.
Sherwood Forest sits on what the Brits refer to as National Trust land, similar to our national parks. Its locale is in what I consider one of the most beautiful parts of England. I mean, London is nice, but topographically, it’s about as flat as Houston. The Forest is almost dead center in England with lush greenery, rolling hills, and a fabled past. The closest big towns are Sheffield (about 30 miles away) and of course two of the towns that Robin made famous (or at least Kevin Costner did when playing Robin), Loxley (also 30 miles), and Nottingham (as in “the Sheriff of”, about 20 miles).
The area also has a secret history within the oil industry that goes back to World War Two.
The “Roughnecks of Sherwood Forest” were a group of 42 Oklahoma-based roughnecks who were offered to the British government by Noble Drilling to increase oil production so Britain could power their planes, boats, and tanks and hopefully win the war.
These men went to a small area within Sherwood Forest (very secretly, I might add), where an obscure oil field containing 50 wells was producing a total of about 300 barrels per day, not enough for the war machines. By the time the roughnecks were done in November of 1944, they had completed 106 new wells and upped production from 300 to 3,000 barrels a day.
The war ended nine months later, thanks in part to the roughnecks (and of course, D-Day, much of which was powered by refined fuel from these very same wells). If you’re interested in this little-known piece of oil history, I’ll be writing about it next week on The Surge, including some amazing facts about how the roughnecks and their equipment got over there, and how the “secret” mission is memorialized today in both Nottingham and Ardmore, Oklahoma.
So here we are, 73 years later, and good old Sherwood Forest and oil drillers are in the news again. This time it seems to be more about environmental issues and climate change rather than keeping the Axis powers at bay.
But from all indications, it’s a war nonetheless.