A brief History of Oil

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Population boom and industrialization increase demand for artificial illumination
Best fuel for lamps: whale oil
Decimation of whale schools and spike in the price of whale oil
Scarcity of whale oil for illumination drives search for alternatives
1846: Abraham Gesner invents kerosene, based on from bituminous coal and oil shale
1851: Sam Kier develops kerosene from crude oil
1854: North American Gas Light Company in New York begins selling Gesner's kerosene for lighting
1859: Edwin Drake strikes oil in Pennsylvania and launches the first oil boom in the world
Main refining centers to make kerosene and other products: Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Cleveland
Technology of drilling for salt (Chinese invented)
Boom of oil driven by the need to lubricate machines
Capital intensive (private investors)
Kerosene used in lamps is a significant fire risk
1861: The Civil War increases demand for Pennsylvania's oil
1861: The first oil tanker leaves Philadelphia
1862: John Rockefeller founds a company to refine oil in Cleveland
1871: The first oil well is drilled in Baku, Caucasus, Russia
1876: First major oil well in California (near Los Angeles)
Caucasus oil is difficult to distribute (Caspian Sea + Volga river + railway to reach northern and western destinations)
1878: Ludwig Nobel introduces the first oil tanker in the Caucasus
The Nobel family builds an integrated industry of wells, pipelines, refineries, tankers, depots, railroads
1879: Edison's light bulb changes the dynamics of lighting
Oil is sold to make kerosene, heat and power
1882: John Rockefeller's Standard Oil pioneers the "trust" to control multiple companies (later the "holding company"), moving its headquarters to New York
1883: The Netherlands begins to drill for oil in Sumatra, Indonesia
1886: Alphonse Rothschild, a French Jew, forms the Black Sea Petroleum Company
1890: Rockefeller has a virtual monopoly on the oil industry
Horizontal integration: former competitors are brought under a single corporate umbrella
Standard Oil becomes the model for "trusts" (monopolies) in other industries
1890: The Sherman Anti-Trust Act
1890: The Royal Dutch Company is founded in the Netherlands for oil exploration
1891: USA oil accounts for 78% of illuminating oil exports vs 29% of Russia
1892: Edward Doheny strikes oil in Los Angeles
1892: Marcus Samuel, a British Jew, introduces an oil tanker that can sail through the Suez canal to Bangkok
1892: Edward Doheny strikes oil in Los Angeles
1900: California is the main producer of oil in the world
1897: Marcus Samuel founds the Shell Transport and Trading Company
1900: 2,300 automobiles are registered in the USA, of which 1,170 are steam-powered, 800 are electric, and 400 are gasoline-powered
1901: oil is discovered near Beaumont (Spindletop oil field, Texas) and in Oklahoma
Pennsylvania oil is top quality, Texas oil is of poor quality (not suitable for kerosene)
Texas oil marketed to railways and steamships (locomotion, not lighting)
1901: Andrew Mellon founds the Gulf Oil Company in Texas
1901: Joseph Cullinan founds the Texas Fuel Company (later Texaco)
1902: a female journalist, Ida-Minerva Tarbell, exposes Standard Oil's dubious practices
1903: Wilbur and Orville Wright fly the first airplane, powered by gasoline
1904: The Trans-Siberian Railroad is inaugurated, using Shell's oil
Since Russia has to import coal from Britain, the Russian government encourages a switch from coal to oil
1905: A huge oil field is discovered in Oklahoma (oil of Pennsylvania quality in Texas quantities)
1907: Royal Dutch and Shell merge, creating a company that controls more than 50% of shipments to Russia and Far East
1907: The first gasoline station is inaugurated in the USA
1908: Ford introduces the Model T, the first mass vehicle
1908: A British company, Anglo-Persian, discovers oil in Iran, the first oil well in the Middle East
1909: The USA forces the dissolution of Standard Oil, which creates Chevron, Mobil, Amoco, Socal, etc
1910: California produces 22% of the world's oil (more than any country in the world except the USA)
1900: The USA investor Edward Doheny strikes oil in Mexico
1911: Sales of gasoline exceed sales of kerosene
1911: Churchill switches Britain's navy from coal to oil to counter the German build-up
1911: The government dissolves Rockefeller's Standard Oil
1912: Armenian-born Calouste Gulbenkian and Anglo-Persian form the Turkish Petroleum Company (TPC) to dig oil in Iraq
1912: Royal Dutch Shell acquires Rothschild's Russian oil organization
1914: The British government purchases part of Anglo-Persian, only the second time the British government has purchased a private company
1917: the "Roaring Ranger" oil field (Eastland County, Texas)
Texas is a state of boom towns
1917: The USA accounts for 67% of the world's oil output
1918: World War I is won by oil and the internal combustion engine
1918: Oil production in Iran increases 1,000% since 1912
1920: British investor Weetman Pearson discovers the largest oil field in the world in Mexico
1921: Royal Dutch Shell discovers oil in Venezuela
1926: A second oil rush in Oklahoma
1927: Anglo-Persian and Royal Dutch Shell discover oil in Iraq
1928: Texas passes California in oil production
1929: 78% of the world's cars are in the USA
1929: Venezuela is the second world producer of oil after the USA, and Mexico is third
1929: The Turkish Petroleum Company (TPC) is renamed Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC)
1930: A second oil rush in Texas
1931: The price of oil plunges to $0.15/barrel
1932: Socal discovers oil in Bahrein
1936: Control of world reserves of oil: Britain 524 million tons, USA 93 million
1938: Mexico nationalizes USA and British oil companies (Petroleos Mexicanos)
1938: The Kuwait Oil Company (formed by Anglo-Persian and Gulf) discovers oil in Kuwait
1938: Socal discovers oil in Saudi Arabia
Hitler's oil source: Romania + synthetic oil
Japan's oil source: USA
Russia's oil source: Caucasus
Britain's oil source: USA and colonies
Jul 1941: USA oil embargo on Japan
Japan plan to invade oil-rich countries in Southeast Asia
Only one impediment: Pearl Harbor fleet (Dec 7, 1941)
Dec 1941: Japan-USA war: the first oil war
1944: Britain controls 2.2 billion tons of oil reserves, the USA controls 1.8 billion
1944: The USA discovers that Arabia, Iraq and Iran hold colossal oil reserves
1944: Socal and Texaco form Aramco
1950s: The Seven Sisters (BP, Esso, Gulf Oil, Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, SoCal and Texaco) control 85% of oil reserves
1950s: The age of Detroit's "gas guzzlers"
Worldwide economic boom fueled by cheap oil
Total world energy consumption more than triples between 1949 and 1972
Consumption of oil increases more than 500%
Motor vehicles increase from 64 million in 1949 to 281 million in 1972 (119 million in the USA alone)
1973: First oil crisis
1970s: Pressure in oil-producing countries to nationalize oil resources (Saudi Aramco, Brazil's Petrobras, Malaysia's Petronas, Russia's Gazprom, China's Sinopec, Venezuela's PDVSA)
1980s: Major oil companies outsource drilling and production to specialists (Halliburton, Schlumberger)
1985: The collapse of oil prices causes a budget deficit in the Soviet Union
1990s: Price of oil dips leading to industry consolidation
1998: "Fracking" makes natural gas cheaper than oil
2000s: Global domand for oil increases and prices skyrocket
2000s: New technologies allow oil firms to exploit new resources
2000s: Oil demand falling in the West and later in developing countries because of more fuel-efficient vehicles and conservation programs
2010s: National oil companies control over 90% of oil reserves, while the oil multinationals mainly discover, produce, refine and market the product
2013: Exxon Mobil is the second company in the world for market capitalization (after Apple), Chevron employs 62 thousand people, Dutch Shell, Total, British Petroleum
See also A Timeline of Cars.