• 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.


Around 2,000 wells have now been drilled in the UK

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.

200 wells have been hydraulically fractured 

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 the UK today, there are 120 sites with 250 operating wells producing between 20,000 and 25,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day

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.


first production of onshore oil



first production of onshore gas



Europe’s largest onshore oil field comes on stream at Wytch Farm, Dorset