Skip to main content

World's First Oil Well

Location: Bibi-Heybat, Baku, Azerbaijan
Date: 1848
Creator(s): 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:


“I hereby authorize oil exploration in the Bibi-Eybat sector, Baku district, Caspian Sea by means of earth drills and allocate 1,000 roubles for this purpose.”


Just over a decade later, Edwin Drake finished work on the first oil well on American soil, in 1859 in Pennsylvania.

Tags: Era: 1840-1849
Innovation designated by:
Workers digging an oil well by hand at Bibi-Eibat (Azerbaijan).
Workers digging an oil well by hand at Bibi-Eibat (Azerbaijan).
Bibi-Heybat, Baku, Azerbaijan

40.3085182, 49.8205048

We hope you enjoyed this essay.

Please support America's only magazine of the history of engineering and innovation, and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to Invention & Technology.


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