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History of the European Oil and Gas Industry

Product Code: SP465
Series: GSL Special Publications - print copy
Author/Editor: Edited by J. Craig, F. Gerali , F. MacAulauy and R. Sorkhabi
Publication Date: 05 September 2018
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Special Publication 465

The history of the European oil and gas industry reflects local as well as global political events, economic constraints and the personal endeavours of individual petroleum geoscientists as much as it does the development of technologies and the underlying geology of the region. The first commercial oil wells in Europe were drilled in Poland in 1853, Romania in 1857, Germany in 1859 and Italy in 1860. The 23 papers in this volume focus on the history and heritage of the oil and gas industry in the key European oil-producing countries from the earliest onshore drilling to its development into the modern industry that we know today. The contributors chronicle the main events and some of the major players that shaped the industry in Europe. The volume also marks several important anniversaries, including 150 years of oil exploration in Poland and Romania, the centenary of the drilling of the first oil well in the UK and 50 years of oil production from onshore Spain.

Published online 19/07/2018. Print copies available from 05/09/2018.

Other Societies rate: please see the Bookshop Help Page for a list of qualifying membership organisations.

Type: Book
Ten Digit ISBN:
Thirteen Digit ISBN: 978-1-78620-363-2
Publisher: GSL
Binding: Hardback
Pages: 472
Weight: 1.2 kg



Craig, J., Gerali, F., MacAulay, F. & Sorkhabi, R. The history of the European oil and gas industry (1600s–2000s)

History of the UK oil and gas industry

Ritson, N. H., Byrne, I. & Cohen, D. A. UK petrol retailing: competitive rivalry and the decline of the oil majors in the twentieth century

Corfield, S. M. The first oil exploration campaign in the UK, 1918–22

Dean, G. The Scottish oil-shale industry from the viewpoint of the modern-day shale-gas industry

Lea, C. Derbyshire’s oil and refining history: the James ‘Paraffin’ Young connection

Gluyas, J., Tang, L. & Jones, S. Argyll Field: the first oil field to be developed on the UK Continental Shelf

Bunce, J. The history of exploration and development of the Liverpool Bay fields and the East Irish Sea Basin

Haarhoff, M. Q., Hughes, F., Heath-Clarke, M., Harrison, D., Taylor, C., Ware, D. L., Emms, G. G. & Mortimer, A. The history of hydrocarbon exploration and development in North Yorkshire

Thomas, R. The development of the manufactured gas industry in Europe

History of the oil and gas industry in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union

Krzywiec, P. The birth and development of the oil and gas industry in the Northern Carpathians (up until 1939)

Tulucan, A. D., Soveja-Iacob, L.-E. & Krezsek, C. History of the oil and gas industry in Romania

Cantoni, R. Second Galicia? Poland’s shale gas rush through historical lenses

History of the oil and gas industry in Western Europe

Jakobsson, K. H. A history of exploration offshore Norway: the Barents Sea

Cazzini, F. F. The history of the upstream oil and gas industry in Italy

Gerali, F. & Lipparini, L. Maiella, an oil massif in the Central Apennines ridge of Italy: exploration, production and innovation in the oil fields of Abruzzo across the nineteenth and twentieth centuries

Gerali, F., Macini, P. & Mesini, E. Historical study of geosciences and engineering in the oilfields of the Emilia-Romagna region in the socio-economic context of post-Unitarian Italy (1861–1914)

Navarro Comet, J. Ayoluengo’s history – Spain’s only onshore oil field

Navarro Comet, J. & Puche Riart, O. A century of hydrocarbon exploration and production in Spain (1860–1960)

History of the petroleum industry and petroleum geologists

Gisler, M. Entangled between worlds: Swiss petroleum geologists, c. 1900–50

Spencer, J. & Furcuta, M. Myron Kinley and the ‘Torch of Moreni’

Wannier, M. M. A. ‘Uniformity in Geological Reports’ (1917) by Josef Theodor Erb, petroleum geologist and manager (1874–1934)

Kölbl-Ebert, M. German petroleum geologists and World War II

Tari, G. & Bérczi, I. Simon Papp, a prominent Hungarian petroleum geologist: how to run exploration projects from a prison cell

Sorkhabi, R. Sir Thomas Boverton Redwood (1846–1919): a watershed in the British oil industry

Bibliography of additional selected key publications on the history of the European oil and gas industry

Gazetteer of oil and gas museums in Europe



Mike Bowman

This 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.

William R. Brice

Those of us in the United States are usually not well acquainted with the international side of the history of the oil and gas industry for several reasons, not the least of which is the language barrier, for often the sources are not in English. This book goes a long way to solving that problem as it provides a good overview, in English, of this history across the entire region, from the United Kingdom to Russia, with many stops in between. This volume grew out of the European Oil and Gas Industry Conference held in London March 2016.

The volume begins with an overview of the European oil and gas industry from the 1600s to the 2000s prepared by the editors of the book which sets the stage for what follows. The rest of the articles are arranged by geography: “History of the UK oil and gas industry;” History of the oil and gas industry in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union;” and “History of the oil and gas industry in Western Europe.” The last section of the book is devoted to the “History of the petroleum industry and petroleum geologists.” The articles are all very well illustrated, many of which are in full color, with historic photographs, charts, maps, portraits of the key players, etc. In addition, the editors have added a very welcome “Bibliography of key publications on the history of the European oil and gas industry” and a “Gazetteer of oil and gas museums in Europe.” This volume is highly recommended as an introduction to the development of the oil and gas industry on the other side of the “Pond.” The articles are all well written, very well illustrated, and provide a wealth of bibliographic information. It should be on the book self of anyone with the slightest interest in how our current oil and gas industry got to where it is today

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