Thursday 16 July 2015

Baku oil production

  • THE OIL FIELDS IN BAKU. When Alfred, Ludvig, and Robert Nobel founded the oil company BRANOBEL in Baku, Georgia, the town was part Arabian Nights and part Byzantine boom town of baksheesh and brutality. Until then the Nobels had been purveyors of military equipment to the Tsar. In 1873 Robert Nobel had gone to Baku to buy walnut wood for gun barrels. He ended up buying several parcels of oil-rich land and a refinery.
  • BAKU 'SLUDGE'. The thick water that burned is first mentioned in the Bible and was used for centuries in the rites of fire-worshipping followers of Zoroaster at the temple of Artech-Gah near Baku.
  • THE FIRST PIPELINE.The stinking black mass, long regarded as worthless, became a valuable resource only in the 19th century. Baku oil was moved from the wells to the refineries by drivers in hand-carts until Ludvig Nobel started building pipelines. This was a first for Russia, and to many people the method seemed as mysterious as it was impractical, maybe even dangerous. The first seven-inch pipe, laid in a six-foot deep trench, was built in 1877. The work was frequently interrupted by protesting cart drivers afraid of losing their jobs. But they couldn’t stop the future. The completed pipeline generated enormous savings for the Nobels. A second line was therefore built from the refinery to the port of Baku. By 1889, 42 miles of pipelines were completed. Four hundred tons of dynamite -- Alfred Nobel’s invention – were used in the process.
  • THE COMPETITION. The success of the Nobels attracted competition from the French Rothchilds and from Standard Oil. All three companies rushed to establish European bridgeheads, a move that was necessitated by the growing supplies of the refined product from Rockefeller’s refineries.
(Source: Robert Tolf, The Russian Rockefellers. The Saga of the Nobel Family and the Russian Oil Industry. Image:

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