The industry in the UK dates back to the 1850s
Onshore drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) are established techniques
Recent resource estimates have shown that there could be 1,329 trillion cubic feet of shale gas potential in central England.
The onshore oil and gas industry in the UK has been in existence for over 150 years. Before the First World War, the UK got almost all its oil and gas from outside the country. Oil was discovered in Scotland in 1851 followed by gas in England in 1896 during construction of Heathfield rail station in Sussex, when natural water wells were being dug. The gas discovered went on to power the lights for the station.
During both world wars the need for Britain to produce its own oil to help the war effort rather than rely on imports became of real importance to the Government and legislation was introduced to enable companies to explore for hydrocarbons more readily.
In 1973, Wytch Farm Oilfield in Eastern Dorset was opened in an area of outstanding natural beauty and today it is the largest oilfield in Western Europe. At around the same time, it is believed the first hydraulic fracture in the UK was performed.
Onshore oil and gas activity started to accelerate again after the 1979 oil crisis. As prices rose, domestic production became increasingly important.
In June 2013, The British Geological Survey (BGS) in association with the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) 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.