Just three onshore wells were drilled in 2022, despite record oil and gas prices.
Official data from the industry regulator showed that wells were spudded (began drilling) at two onshore sites, in Dorset and Lincolnshire, between 1 January and 31 December 2022.
In the same period, 59 wells were drilled offshore in the UK, the database confirms.
2022 is the eighth year of single-figure well drilling onshore in the UK.
The number of wells drilled in 2022 was higher than in 2021 (no wells drilled) or 2020 (two wells). But the total drilled in 2022 was the third lowest in the past 22 years.
Since 1918, only five years have seen a lower number of onshore wells in a year than in 2022 (2021, 1918, 1924, 1931, 1950 and 2020.
1943 saw the largest number of onshore wells drilled: a total of 162. This was the only calendar year in more than 100 years when total onshore drilling topped 100 wells. 70 or more wells were drilled in a year in 1939, 1985 and 1986.
2022 data from the North Sea Transition Authority public wellbore search listed two sidetrack wells at Perenco’s Wareham oil field and one sidetrack at Angus Energy’s Saltfleetby gas site.
The Wareham wells, in licence area PL89, were spudded on 3 May (L97/10-C10) and 25 May 2022 (L97/10-C11).
The Saltfleetby sidetrack (L47/16- 11x), in PEDL0005, was spudded on 28 October.
Despite the prospect of increased profits from oil and gas production, some predicted onshore projects stalled again in 2022.
Horse Hill, Surrey: Plans for two production wells, previously expected to be drilled in 2021, were put on hold again in 2022 because of UK Oil & Gas operations in Turkey. The Horse Hill site is the subject of a legal challenge due to go to the supreme court in 2023.
Biscathorpe, Lincolnshire: Egdon Resources was refused planning permission in November 2021 for a new sidetrack well. An appeal was heard in October 2022. The decision is expected in early 2023.
North Kelsey, Lincolnshire: Egdon Resources was refused planning permission in 2022 for a production well. The company has appealed.
Waddock Cross, Dorset and Keddington, Lincolnshire: Egdon Resources has planning permission for wells at both these sites but neither were drilled during 2022.
Woodsetts, south Yorkshire: Government refused planning permission to Ineos Upstream for this exploratory shale gas well. The company has not appealed.
2022 saw a 49-day lifting of the moratorium on fracking in England by the Liz Truss government. But the moratorium was swiftly reinstated by her replacement as prime minister, Rishi Sunak.
We’ll be watching for any legal challenge by the shale gas industry against the government in 2023.There are no current planning permissions or applications for onshore shale gas development in the UK.