150 years of oil in Romania » History
“Who will have the oil will have the domination”, Henry Berenger wrote in a diplomatic note for Clemenceau at 12 December 1919, in the eve of the French-British Conference from London, regarding the Western Europe and the Asia Minor future: “The domination of the seas through oil, the domination of the air through light gasoline, of the continents through gasoline and kerosene, the domination of the world through financial power …. the nation that will be the owner of this precious fuel will see billions.”
The beginnings of oil industry in Romania
Oil exploitation in our country has a long history. The first attestation dates from the II century a.H. and continues in the next centuries, being proven by the numerous potteries with marks of crude oil on them, dated in the II-XVI centuries.
In all this time, Romania and Romanians have gathered up an experience envied by many states of the world even the ones with o modern civilization.
As a natural consequence of our country concern for oil exploitation was that Romania has decisive contributed at the achievement of 3 oil world premieres in 1857:
- The first country in the world with a petroleum production officially registered in the international statistics
„The Science of Petroleum” certifies in 1938 the fact that Romania was the first country in the world with an oil production of 275 tones officially registered in the international statistics. It was followed by the United States in 1859, Italy in 1860, Canada in 1862 and Russia in 1863.
- The world’s first refinery
In our country the first processing equipments of petroleum are considered the “oil pumps” from Lucacesti-Bacau, belonging to N Choss in 1840 and M. Heimsohn in 1844. This were only simple handmade workshops, equipped with rudimentary methods which were using for refining a system similar to the one for obtaining “tuica” in a rustic boiler.
Distillation on industrial way starts with the refinery built by Mehedinteanu brothers at the periphery of Ploiesti city, near the South Station, on 174, Buna Vestire Street.
The refinery installations were quite primitive, all the equipment being build up from iron or raw iron cylindrical vessels, warmed up directly with wood fire. This equipment was ordered in Germany from Moltrecht company which was building boilers for bituminous shale distillation, and in December 1856 starts the construction of the gas factory from Ploiesti, on the name of Marin Mehedinteanu.
- Bucharest, the world’s first city public illuminated with kerosene
The oil offered by Mehedinteanu brothers for public illumination had incontestable properties: colorless and with no smell, burning with a light flame, with a constant intensity and shape, without smoke and without ash or resinous compounds in the wick. This important properties of the product as well as the offer of 335 lei per year for each street lamp had practically excluded all the competition, the other offers which proposed as a fuel the rape or nut oil were taking the costs up to 600 lei per year.
Teodor Mehedinteanu’s offer was approved on the 8-th October 1856 and so Bucharest would have been illuminated with 1000 street lamps. At 1-st April 1857- the date for coming into operation of the contract for the capital illumination - everything was ready and working perfectly.
The main oil companies of that time
The bases of important oil companies were set up during the 150 years of oil industry in Romania: Steaua Română, Româno-Americana, Vega, Astra Română, Concordia, Creditul Minier.
This strong companies have been thrown into relief through the extraction, processing and commercialization activities from a number of 104 existing societies in 1914. As a matter of fact, these companies will be the ones that will promote the Romanian oil production growth, from 275 tones in 1857, to 15.900 tones in 1880, date until which only Romania and USA were registered in the oil producers’ countries statistics. The production will grow at 250.000 tones in 1900 and will reach 1.783.947 tones in 1914.
Outstanding personalities from the oil history
In our country the oil history remembers remarcable names:
- ing. Virgiliu Tacit - patented the blow-out preventer
- ing. Andrei Dragulanescu - the one that have drawn up and experimented the unique column oil well tubing
- dr. ing. Ion Basgan the one that using the sonicity principle have licensed in 1934 in Romania and USA a new drilling system: “Method for improving the efficiency and perfecting the rotative drilling through percussive rotation and hydrodynamic pressure absorption.” Basgan procedure had made a fulminant carrier in USA being used in Romania too after 1944 without its merits being recognized.
- Lazar Edeleanu elaborated a method of kerosene refining and later other oil products too, through selective refinement, using liquid sulphur dioxide.
Other important personalities from the oil industry history were: Gogu Constantinescu, Victor Dumitrescu, Ludovic Mrazec, Petru Poni, Valeriu Patriciu, Constantin I. Istrati, Constantin Alimăneştianu.
- The deepest oil well drilled in Romania
The company’s Creditul Minier oil well number 1, at Chitorani, had reached a depth of 3300 m (1934), taking the second place in the world, being at a distance of 158 meters from General Petroleum Corporation’s oil well from California, oil well with a record depth of 3458 meters. (“The world’s deepest oil wells“, article from Moniteur du Petrole Roumain, nr. 17/1938, page 1085)
- The world’s first School of Driller Foreman
In 1904, the first school in the world of driller foreman was set up in Campina, diversified later for training the distiller foreman. The school has given to the Romanian oil industry high professional preparation foreman, asked even from 1914 to work abroad.
- Romania was the first country in the world which exported gasoline from 1900
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