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Vertical axis in chart corresponds to 000s of bbls of oil equivalent per day.

Oil -  fossil oil from on and offshore reservoirs, including tight sands/shales; and liquids extracted from gas.

Gas - sales gas from on and offshore reservoirs, including tight sands/shales and coal beds.

Full breakdowns are available in datafiles.

Vertical axis in chart corresponds to number of wells spudded in year including stand-alone sidetracks.

Wells in chart include those drilled in exploratory and development categories for oil and gas, but excluding CBM.

Full breakdowns are available in datafiles.

Exploration and Production

Early history

In development

Oil and Gas in Shales - Oil and gas were first discovered in naturally fractured Kimmeridgian shale beds in the Netherfield-1 stratigraphic well in 1875 within the Weald Basin in the English county of Sussex. Over the years since 1919 some oil has been produced from similar beds in England in other locations in addition to that produced from conventional reservoirs.

However, it was not until 1987 that dedicated research into the shale gas potential of the Lower Carboniferous in the English Midlands was conducted, followed by similar work in 2005 on Jurassic oil and gas shales of the Weald Basin. Growth of the USA shale gas industry during the 2000s using artificial fracturing led to the 13th Round of UK Onshore Licensing which released blocks in both regions for shale exploration.

From 2010 several reports by the British Geological Survey (BGS) identified numerous potential producing horizons in Carboniferous Bowland Shales of the Midlands, in Jurassic Shales of the Weald and Wessex area, and Carboniferous Shales of the Midland Valley in Scotland.

Early attempts at fracturing carried out on the Bowland Shales in Lancashire ceased in 2011 following a minor earth tremor associated with a nearby well. Subsequent reports by the Royal Society and Academy of Engineering in 2012 determined that, with proper constraints, fracturing is safe.

A 14th Onshore Round in 2015 saw the remaining blocks licensed and permission was also given for fracturing of a well at the producing Kirby Misperton gas field in 2016 although this has not yet been carried out (in 2018). Significant natural flows of oil were also achieved from fractured limestones within the Kimmeridge at the Horse Hill well in the Weald.

Despite this, environmental opposition to drilling and fracturing is intense and the challenge for the oil industry is still to persuade the public that activities are safe. Until this happens a proper estimate of potential resources in the UK can not be determined as many drilling tests are required.

Modern history

In development

For recent events see News Briefs.


In development

Oil and gas forecasts

In development

Northwestern Europe

United Kingdom


E and P

News Briefs

United  Kingdom Datafiles

Excel files - low-cost histories and forecasts of production and wells in any category for all countries and regions