Oil and gas – guidance

Oil and gas: onshore exploration and production

Publications, guidance and data including mapping, seismic activity, wells, and licensing and regulation for onshore oil and gas.

On 1st April 2015 certain functions passed from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) a newly created Executive Agency of DECC


Information, publications, guidance and data relating to onshore exploration and production, including mapping, seismic activity, wells, and licensing and regulation.

Policy information on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and shale gas can be found on the Developing Shale Gas and Oil in the UK page

14th Landward Licensing Round

On 18 August 2015, The Oil & Gas Authority (OGA) – the UK’s oil and gas regulator –announced that 27 onshore blocks from the 14th Onshore Oil and Gas Licensing Round will be formally offered to companies.

A second group of 132 further blocks has been subjected to detailed assessment under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010, the findings of which are now out for consultation.

Subject to the outcome of that consultation, the OGA will announce offers for the second group of licence blocks later in the year. The licences for all offered blocks will then be granted after the terms and conditions have been finalised. .


Onshore reports



Seismic and wells




Oil and gas well discoveries since 1982

Extended well tests and Hydraulic Fracture Plan

Resumption of shale gas exploration

Hydraulic fracturing operations for shale gas in the UK have been suspended since May 2011, pending the investigation of two seismic tremors experienced near Preese Hall, Lancashire during fracking operations.

In the light of the recommendations of a panel of independent experts, of comments received in response to a public consultation, and of the recommendations of an authoritative review of the scientific and engineering evidence on shale gas extraction made by the UK’s science and engineering academies, the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Secretary of State for Energy has announced the introduction of new regulatory requirements to ensure that seismic risks are effectively mitigated.

Read the Secretary of State’s statement to Parliament . Subject to these new requirements, DECC is prepared in principle to consider new applications for consent to such operations, and the suspension is therefore lifted. As before, final consent to any well or well operations is dependent on confirmation that all other necessary permits and consents have been obtained. A wide range of other issues were raised in the responses to the public consultation, and DECC together with other relevant bodies has prepared a full Q&A brief on these issues, which can be found below.

The full Government response to the recommendations made on the scientific and engineering evidence by the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering can be found below:


On 1 April and 27 May 2011 two earthquakes with magnitudes 2.3 and 1.5 were felt in the Blackpool area. These earthquakes were suspected to be linked to hydraulic fracture treatments at the Preese Hall well operated by Cuadrilla Resources Ltd. The hydraulic fracture treatments were carried out during exploration of a shale gas reservoir in the Bowland basin. As a result of the earthquakes, operations were suspended at Preese Hall and Cuadrilla Resources Ltd were requested to undertake a full technical study into the relationship between the earthquakes and their operations.

Cuadrilla submitted to DECC a synthesis report with a number of technical appendices on 2 November 2011, and published this material on their website. These reports examine seismological and geomechanical aspects of the seismicity in relation to the hydraulic fracture treatments, along with detailed background material on the regional geology and rock physics. They also estimated future seismic hazard and proposed recommendations for future operations to mitigate seismic risk.

To assist DECC in evaluating these studies and recommendations, DECC asked three leading experts in the fields of seismology, induced seismicity and hydraulic fracturing to make an independent assessment of the Cuadrilla-funded studies; Dr Brian Baptie, BGS; Professor Peter Styles, Keele University and Dr Christopher A. Green, GFRAC.

Further information supplied by Cuadrilla in the course of this assessment is available as Annexes below. The independent experts have now made recommendations to DECC for mitigating the risk of induced seismicity resulting from continued hydraulic fracturing at Preese Hall, Lancashire and elsewhere in Great Britain.

See UK Onshore Operators Group’s

for description of the Hydraulic Fracturing Programme (HFP), the detailed risk assessment now required as part of the OGA frac consent that also describes the control and mitigation measures for fracture containment and for any potential induced seismicity.

Background material for general public

Non-specialist readers may find the following material helpful:


Onshore environmental regulations

Legislation, further information and guidance on environmental regulation that affects onshore operators.

Please direct all enquries to:

Toni Harvey
Email: toni.harvey@oga.gsi.gov.uk
Telephone: 0300 068 6037