Derbyshire’s oil and refining history: the James ‘Paraffin’ Young connection
Following an adventitious oil flow into a coal mine in 1847 in the Riddings area of the county of Derbyshire in the English Midlands, the young Scottish chemist James Young carried out seminal work into the development of oil refining technology. In Derbyshire, by the end of 1848, he set up an early refinery to exploit this oil commercially by distillation, producing both lighting and lubrication fractions which he sold directly to end customers. His findings in Derbyshire led him to move on to investigate production and refining of oil from coal by destructive distillation, technology for which he gained his global reputation; Young’s patented technology was adopted by the commercial refineries that were to follow in many countries as the world’s oil fields sprang to life.
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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.