History of Oil Development and Predictions of Reserves
Natural Gas
Global Warming
In order to give a perspective on the developments that have led to the dominance of oil in our global economy, here we have gathered links to a number of articles about the history of oil available on the Web which we feel will be of interest to our readers.

First, a little irreverence: Robert Newman's History of oil [2006 May 26]

Robert Newman gets to grips with the wars and politics of the last hundred years - but rather than adhering to the history we were fed at school, he places oil centre stage as the cause of all commotion. This innovative history programme is based around Robert Newman's stand-up act and supported by resourceful archive sequences and stills with satirical impersonations of historical figures from Mayan priests to Archduke Ferdinand. Quirky details such as a bicycle powered street lamp on the stage brings home the pertinent question of just how we are going to survive when the world's oil supplies are finally exhausted.

"... that he may bring forth ... out of the earth ... oil to make a cheerful countenance..." [Psalms 104:14, 15]

Next, something about the predecessor of oil.

Price Trends Over A Complete Hubbert Cycle: The Case of the American Whaling Industry in the 19th Century, by Ugo Bardi [2004 September 13]

"[Bardi] examines the price trends for a historical case of a non-recyclable resource which went through a complete Hubbert cycle: whales in the 19th century. The results show that the main trend that takes place after the peak is a strong increase in the amplitude of price oscillations."
  • The remarkable history of oil has been presented on the World Wide Web by Samuel T. Pees, President of the Drake Well Foundation, Past Chairman of the GSA History of Geology Division, and Chairman of the AAPG Standing Committee on The History of Petroleum Geology.

  • Hand-colored post card from the turn of last century when Baku was an oil boom town. Courtesy of Yakub Karimov
  • We are told that oil was discovered in 1859 by Colonel Drake in Titusville, Pennsylvania. The following report gives a slightly less parochial view.

    The History of Oil in Azerbaijan. Natig Aliyev tells about an oil well built somewhere outside the USA in 1847:

    "The history of Azerbaijan and its capital Baku is indissolubly connected with oil from the earliest days. In ancient manuscripts, written prior to the time of Christ, references are made to oil extraction from wells and its utilization in life, construction, medicine and the military. Baku is referred to in these documents."

  • Peter Wilson (left) Local Druggist, Colonel Edwin L Drake (right), 1861
  • Nonetheless, we do want to hear the story of Colonel Drake also. Check out the Early Days Of Oil, "a Pictorial History of the Beginnings of the Industry in Pennsylvania," This 9 page article, regarding the early history of oil, was written by Paul H. Giddens in 1948.
  • Historical Tour of Oklahoma's Oil & Gas Industry. The first recorded oil well in what is now Oklahoma was completed in 1859, the same year that Colonel Edwin Drake ushered in the age of oil at Titusville, Pennsylvania. Although Oklahoma's first oil find was accidental - the driller was seeking saltwater - other oil men quickly invaded the Indian Territory in search of "black gold." Their efforts were hampered severely by governmental regulation, inadequate transportation facilities and the lack of a readily accessible market. Nevertheless, on April 15, 1897, a shot of nitroglycerin brought in the Nellie Johnstone No. 1 - The first commercial oil well in Oklahoma. Just before Indian Territory and Oklahoma Territory were united in single statehood in 1907, a fantastic oil-boom era begin in the region. Its immense oil riches ignited a mineral rush that would ebb and flow across the twin territories and the state for more than thirty years and would rival all previous quests for hidden wealth in the American West.

  • Capture the sense of excitement in a report from the time when oil was discovered in California and Texas, in the July, 1901 issue of National Geographic

  • Early on, there were perceptive individuals, who, like Hubbert, were concerned about the possibility that humanity would begin over-extending itself, and lose track of the value that oil would have to future generations. Here are references to several early articles which expressed a concern which is just as valid today as it was 100 years ago:

  • in the February, 1920 issue of
    National Geographic.
    by George Otis Smith
    Director of the US Geological Survey

    Please take careful note of the solution proposed in 1920 by Mr. Smith for "America."

    Taking a look at more recent events, here you can read a history of the oil crisis which occurred in the 1970s.

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