100th Anniversary of the first UK oil well spud
It may come as some surprise to learn that the UK oil industry is a lot older than you think. 100 years old to be precise. Whilst the first recorded oil exploration well was drilled as long ago as 1902, at Heathfield in East Sussex, the first successful oil discovery well was spudded on 15th October 1918 at Hardstoft, in Derbyshire.
As the first World War drew to a close, the Government of the day realised how dependent the country had become on security of supply when the Royal Navy had switched from coal to oil fired steam turbines early in the conflict. So, in partnership with the d’Arcy Oil Company (fore runner to BP), HMG decided to drill a number of exploratory oil wells in East Derbyshire including Hardstoft, Brimington, Ironville, and Renishaw.
The first of these, Hardstoft-1, was a success with it being reported that “Oil in quantity was struck in May 27th, 1919” (Wade, 1928). The well was subsequently completed and produced around 7bbls/day for many years before a work-over doubled the production rate to about 14 bbls/day (Craig et al, 2015). The well was suspended in July 1945 and finally capped in 1952.
Wade, A., 1928, The oil well and later developments at Hardstoft, Derbyshire: Journal of the Institute of Petroleum Technologists, v. 14, p. 357-387
Craig, J., Gluyas, J., Laing, C., Schofield, P., Britain’s First Oil Field, presented at the History of Petroleum Geology Forum, 2015 AAPG Convention & Exhibition, Denver, Colorado, May 31, 2015