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A Brief History of the Oil Industry

Many could argue that oil is what makes the world go ‘round. That’s why we at Rose & Associates specialize in play analysis software. We provide oil companies with the tools needed to make efficient exploration and drilling decisions, which in turn allows those companies to provide the rest of the world with the oil that we need to run. But have you ever wondered about the history of such an integral resource? Read more for a brief rundown on a few of the major points from oil’s history.

The history of oil began about 40,000 years ago, likely in the Middle East. Ancient cultures were able to use the oil that naturally made its way to the Earth’s surface in “oil seeps.” In its early beginnings, oil was used by the Indus community of Mehrgarh to waterproof crop baskets, by the Ancient Egyptians in their mummification processes, by the Babylonians to build roads and architecture, and by the Chinese to create salt. In the United States, circa Revolutionary War era, Native Americans taught George Washington how to use oil to treat frostbite.

In 1859 came the birth of the first oil well in the United States. The Pennsylvania Rock Oil Company contracted a man named Edwin L. Drake to drill in a local oil seep. He struck oil about 70 feet below the surface. The first known off-shore oil well was drilled in Summerland, California at the end of a wharf. In 1901 came the start of the first “boomtown” in Beaumont, Texas, thanks to an oil field that “gushed” 100,000 barrels of oil a day. In 1938, the largest source of petroleum in the world was discovered in Saudi Arabia.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (otherwise known as OPEC) was formed in 1960. In 1973, a member of OPEC declared an oil embargo on the countries that supported Israel during the Yom Kippur War, causing a major energy crisis around the world. However, OPEC’s influence on world oil prices began to decline in the mid 1980s as other major oil resources were discovered in non-OPEC countries.

Today, oil is used for more than many people realize. Sure, it’s used for transportation and energy for our homes and offices. But did you know that oil is also used to make chewing gum, guitar strings, makeup, asphalt, cleaning products, and even medicine?

Oil truly has a rich history. While we wish we could write a book on all of the major events that have occurred in oil’s past, we hope you enjoyed learning a few brief points about how the oil industry came to be.


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