Skip to main content

Petroleum

Workers digging an oil well by hand at Bibi-Eibat (Azerbaijan).
Society: SPEMain Category: PetroleumSub Category: ExtractionEra: 1840-1849DateCreated: 1848Bibi-HeybatState: BakuCountry: AzerbaijanWebsite: http://www.spe.org/industry/history/timeline.phpCreator: Aleveev, Major

 

On July 14, 1848 in Baku, Azerbaijan, Major Alekseev supervised the completion of a 20+ meter well, reaching a small pocket of crude oil, thus establishing the world’s very first oil well. The process used was an archaic technique known as cable-tool drilling, employed for hundreds of years in ancient China. Major Alekseev acted under the instruction of governor-general Mikhail Semyonovich Vorontsov, who in a memo wrote:

 

Image Credit: WikipediaImage Caption: Workers digging an oil well by hand at Bibi-Eibat (Azerbaijan).
Pioneer Oil Refinery California Star Oil Works
Society: ASMEMain Category: MechanicalSub Category: Minerals Extraction & RefiningEra: 1870-1879DateCreated: 187623802 Pine StreetNewhallState: CAZip: 91321Country: USAWebsite: https://www.asme.org/about-asme/who-we-are/engineering-history/landmarks/8-pioneer-oil-refinery-california-star-oil-worksCreator: California Star Oil Works

The economic situation in the whale oil business (for lighting), coupled with the increased demand for lubricants, stimulated growth in the U.S. petroleum industry. The drilling of the heavy, sulfurous, and asphaltic California crude began in the 1870s at the Pico Canyon area, using the apparatus and techniques from Titusville, Pennsylvania, developments.

YearAdded:
1975
Image Credit: Courtesy Flickr/Konrad Summers (CC BY-SA 2.0)Image Caption: Pioneer Oil Refinery California Star Oil WorksEra_date_from: 1876
Society: ASMEMain Category: MechanicalSub Category: Minerals Extraction & RefiningEra: 1850-1859DateCreated: 1859202 Museum LaneTitusvilleState: PAZip: 16354Country: USAWebsite: http://www.asme.org/about-asme/history/landmarks/topics-m-z/minerals-extraction-and-refining/-40-drake-oil-well-%281859%29Creator: Drake, Edwin
The drilling of this oil well marks the modern phase of the petroleum industry. A series of revolutionary technological changes, unforeseen even by the most prophetic, followed. Drake demonstrated practical oil recovery by applying salt-well drilling techniques, including the use of the derrick, and invented the modern method of driving iron pipe. While excavation for oil dates back to the 1500s in this area, its uses were not explored until the 1800s. It was first sold as a curative potion and then developed into a illuminant by the 1850s.
YearAdded:
1979
Image Credit: Courtesy Wikipedia/Zamoose (CC BY-SA 2.5)Image Caption: Drake Oil WellEra_date_from: 1859
Subscribe to Petroleum

We hope you enjoyed this essay.

Please support this 70-year tradition of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.

Donate

Stay informed - subscribe to our newsletter.
The subscriber's email address.