Why did the Weald basin oil discoverers change their tune, and leave CEO Stephen Sanderson with egg all over his face?

Well here’s a funny thing, Missus. At 09.35 BST this morning I posted this piece about the allegedly real size of the Weald Basin oil find as outlined by UKOG’s CEO Stephen Sanderson.

But then at 10.42, UKOG issued a statement ‘clarifiying’ what Sanderson had said.

Although called the CEO of UKOG, Mr Sanderson is not on the Board, as such: in other words, he has no power. He’s got the title at UKOG, I’d imagine, because he has an outstanding record of both finding oil, and estimating what it’s worth.

With over three decades of experience under his belt, Sanderson can list several notable coups in his career: He was the key player in discovering the huge Norwegian Smørbukk-Midgard field complex for ARCO (now BP); and over time, he’s spearheaded and managed the successful appraisal of oil and gas fields in the North Sea, Netherlands and Algeria. He has an appraisal and exploration track record in excess of 170 fields with asset values of up to $7 Billion on average.

So Stephen Sanderson is no slouch. In fact, on hiring the bloke last January, David Lenigas, UKOG’s Chairman, commented: “Having been the author of the technical appraisal of our recent Horse Hill discovery in the Weald Basin, Stephen will add significant technical and commercial strength to the Company’s management team here in the UK.”

But on this occasion, he appears to have mispoken: when he said “world class find”, he meant to say “worthless find”.

To be exact, the Board on which he does not sit said that the company had “not undertaken work…sufficient to comment”. But Mr Sanderson, I have established, did not announce the revised estimate of the energy find to the media without the Board’s approval.

So why the sudden change of heart? Did Downing Street panic that the gaff might be about to blow on the destruction of its austerity and fracking rationales?

Stay tuned to this story: it has all the makings of a biggie.