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The first oil well in the world, in Romania, in 1857: the lesson we gave to the Americans, Russians and Arabs


Romania is a rich country in terms of its natural resources, including when it comes to oil. What few people know is the fact that our country had the first oil well in the world, in 1857.

Romania’s oil resources have been known since the time of Roman Dacia, and black gold has played a very important role in the country’s development during the modern and contemporary eras. Even though this resource brought wealth to the country, it also aroused the envy of other states.

Romania’s subsoil was rich with this natural resource, as shown by some evidence left on ceramics from the 2nd century. Oil was exploited for the first time in Romanian Dacia, being called picula. Starting with the 13th century, during the Middle Ages, it was called fuel oil.

Regarding oil extraction, Romania can boast about 150 years of experience, because in 1857, at world level, Romania established three firsts in the oil industry. Thus, our country was the first country in the world to officially register oil production. According to “The science of petroleum”, in 1938 Romania was the first country in the world to produce 275 tons of oil.

Romania was joined by countries such as the USA in 1859, Italy – 1860, Canada – 1862 and Russia in 1863. Also, the first commercial oil well in the world was built in Romania. The first such installations were found in Lucăcești, Bacău county.

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The first industrial refinery was built by the Mehedințeanu brothers, on the outskirts of Ploiești. Although the installations were quite primitive, the refining technique being similar to that of obtaining brandy, the equipment was ordered from Germany from the Moltrecht company.

The third first is the fact that Bucharest was the first city in the world to be publicly lit with oil lamps. It was produced in Ploiesti and had no color, no smell and burned with a bright and constant flame, leaving no smoke or ash. In 1857, Bucharest received lighting from 1,000 lamps.

The first oil well was installed in 1861, near the current Moinești. After 19 years, Romania ends up producing 15,900 tons of oil, and in 1895, a mining law is adopted opening the way for foreign capital to the Romanian oil industry.

The first oil probe in the world Romania

The first oil well in the world was in Romania

That’s when the first Romanian oil companies were born, the first being Steaua Romană which was established with German capital in 1985. After only two years, it built the largest and most modern refinery in Europe near Câmpina, with an initial capacity of 1,200 tons daily.

Astra Română was another big name in the Romanian oil industry, having been established in 1910. It belonged for 37 years to the Dutch trust Royal Dutch Shell, but also other companies such as Vega, Creditul Petrolier, Societatea de Petrol Franco-Romania or Compania franco – Romanian Unirea Aquila appear on the market.

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During the First World War, the Romanians, retreating from the German army, decide to burn the oil regions of Muntenia, so the Germans take control of the Romanian oil fields, restoring the production and export capacity.

During World War II, this natural resource was in high demand as Germany, Japan and Italy were short of raw materials and fuel. Throughout the war the need for oil was crucial to the advance of troops.

So, the fate of Romania in the Second World War depended on oil. If in 1939, it was neutral regarding it, in May 1940 it joined the side of Germany. According to the analyst Andreas Hillgruber, the Romanians delivered in the period 1939-1944 approximately 11,632,000 tons of oil, which represents a third of the general consumption of the Reich.

Later, between 1944 and 1945, Romanian black gold ends up being imported for the Russian offensive towards Berlin. Huge quantities of oil are sent to the Red Army, so the USSR no longer saw the need to transport it from Cuakaz. Its value was transferred to the war reparations account that Romania had to pay to the USSR according to the Armistice Convention of September 12-13, 1944.

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