AN oil firm is planning to drill an exploratory well six miles off the coast of Studland.

Corallian Energy hopes to strike black gold at the site six kilometres east-northeast of the popular beach and nature reserve, and just south of Poole Bay's Wytch Farm oilfield - the largest onshore field in Europe.

Last year the firm took over from InfraStrata as operator of Petroleum Exploration and Development Licence area P1918, covering a large area of sea bed extending eastwards from the Purbeck peninsular - the proposed site of the rejected Navitus Bay offshore wind farm.

It holds 60 per cent equity in the licence, a partnership with another firm, Corfe Energy Limited.

A report prepared by Corallian says: "The 98/11-E well will be drilled from a Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit (MODU), with operations planned to commence sometime in early 2018, subject to regulatory consent and rig availability.

"It is anticipated that the MODU will be on location for up to 45 days. The well will not be flow tested.

"At the end of the proposed operations, the well will be plugged and abandoned."

The well would be 1,800m long, drilled vertically into an area dubbed the 'Colter Prospect'.

The report indicates the machinery used will of the 'jack-up' variety - a ship or floating platform with extendable legs to raise it above the water. Its highest point would be roughly 100m above sea level.

The company will need permission from the Crown Estate, the landowner.

Angela Pooley, of East Dorset Friends of the Earth (EDFoE), said her group would submit an objection to the plans.

"They have said if they do discover oil it will be extracted horizontally from Wytch Farm," she said.

"That is better from a visual point of view than having a rig in the bay, but we will be objecting because we should be moving away from fossil fuels. They should be left where they are.

"Especially when the wind farm was thrown out because of its impact on the coast. This is likely to go through and is slightly closer to the shore."

InfraStrata, the previous licence holder, won planning permission to drill an exploratory well into the separate 'Purbeck Prospect' at California Quarry, just south of Swanage, back in 2013.

The move sparked opposition from environmental groups such as EDFoE and Stop the Swanage Gas Rig, who argued it represented the "industrialisation" of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site.

Ultimately the plans were repeatedly delayed by the firm and were not completed before the planning permission expired.