The manufactured gas industry was one of the great technological innovations of the industrial revolution. Whilst it was developed in Great Britain, this was not in isolation, and required the input of many European engineers, scientists and entrepreneurs for its success. Although the innovation of making inflammable gas for lighting may now seem quite simple, it brought considerable change to society. Initially, gas was used for lighting, replacing candles and oil lamps, greatly improving safety within factories by reducing the occurrence of fires. The concerns over street crime and the potential benefits of brighter gas street lights were key factors in its wider uptake. Lighting was its primary use for the first 70 years. As competition emerged from electricity, the gas industry found new markets in heat and power. Gas manufacturing also produced a range of by-products which were later found to have some very useful properties and became important feedstocks to the chemical industry. Manufactured gas was the first integrated utility energy network and its success in Britain led to a rapid spread across Europe. Since its demise and replacement by natural gas, it has left a shared but unique legacy in each country.
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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.