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Geoscientist Online

History of the European Oil and Gas Industry

Craig European history oilThis fascinating volume is the outcome of a meeting jointly convened by the Geological Society’s Petroleum and History of Geology Groups, together with the Petroleum History Institute of North America.  It offers an insightful set of papers with a mix of technical, commercial and regional perspectives complemented by a fascinating biographically focussed final section on some of Europe’s early petroleum geologists whose work has influenced and shaped the upstream industry. 

Jonathan Craig and his editorial team should be congratulated on putting together a diverse set of papers that offer an insight into the history of this important aspect of our industrial heritage.  It is a weighty tome of almost 500 pages.  Some papers are a little dense and whilst being well written and readable, could have been improved using more illustrations and photographs to illustrate key points.  The editors opening paper offers an excellent overview and summary, as well as an introduction to the volume.  Knowing a little about the UK and North Sea, I found the early papers well written and informative.  They also serve to remind the reader of the influence and impact that James ‘Parafin’ Young had on the wider industry beyond the UK.  I was a little disappointed that the Netherlands Groningen Field receives little mention, given its significance and role in opening the Southern Gas Basin and through that, the rest of the North Sea. 

The papers on the Italian oil and gas industry are standouts, being easy to read, interesting and well-illustrated.  The quality of these and their illustrations, draws further attention to a sense that in some other papers more could have been made by accessing extensive illustrations, photographs and figures held in corporate and other archives; this would have, in my opinion, added further to the volume.  One offer that I think would have enhanced the publication is an overview of the history and evolution of the North Sea basin, particularly if offered from a technology perspective, given that this has been one of the most significant and influential hydrocarbon provinces of the late twentieth century to recent years.

Overall this is an excellent volume, particularly for those of us interested in the history and evolution of an industry that has so much shaped and influenced our lives and society.  It offers excellent insight and is an informative read that I recommend.  It is good to see the Geological Society putting together such a special publication.

Review by Mike Bowman

HISTORY OF THE EUROPEAN OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY by J. Craig, F. Gerali, F. MacAulay & R. Sorkhabi (eds) 2018. Published by The Geological Society of London, SP 465, 472 pp. (hbk.) ISBN: 978-1-78620-363-2 List Price: £125.00 Fellow's Price: £62.50 W: