The History of onshore oil and gas extraction in the UK dates back to the 1850’s. Before the First World War in 1914, the UK got most of its oil and gas from abroad. Oil was first discovered in Scotland in 1851. During the construction of Heathfield rail station in Sussex in 1896, gas was discovered when natural water wells were being dug, which then went on to power the lights for the station.
During both the First and Second World Wars, Britain needed to produce its own oil to help the war effort, rather than rely on imports. It was of huge importance to the Government for the UK to be able to do this; therefore legislation was introduced to enable companies to explore for hydrocarbons more easily.
Onshore Drilling and Hydraulic Fracturing
1973 saw Wytch Farm Oilfield in Eastern Dorset opeing, which is now the largest oilfield in western Europe. It is thought that the first hydraulic fracture in the UK was performed at around this time. After the 1979 oil crisis, onshore oil and gas activity rose again to meet the price increase, making production even more important.
In June 2013, The British Geological Survey (BGS) in association with The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) estimated that the area between Wrexham and Blackpool in the west and Nottingham and Scarborough in the east contained 1,329 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of shale gas compared to the annual consumption of natural gas in the UK of just over 3 tcf.
Onshore Oil Wells in the UK
Around 2,000 wells have now been drilled onshore in the UK with about 10% of them having been hydraulically fractured. There are currently around 120 producing sites with c.300 operating wells producing in excess of 20,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day or about 1% of the UK’s consumption.
Surface Technology for the Oil and Gas Industries
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