Britain, Oil and the Fate of the Ottomans

Our news reports are naturally focused on the Balkan War, as this event was one of the proximate causes of the First World War.  However, we also will post news of interest from around the world, as the Balkan War hardly occurs in a vacuum.

Therefore we would draw the reader’s attention to the reportage on the British House of Commons, and in particular to the brief of a discussion of “Conditions of South Persia“.  That is because the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (APOC) was founded in 1908 following the discovery of a large oil field in Masjed Soleiman, Iran. It was the first company to extract petroleum from what is today Iran. Large scale production “eventually started in 1913 from a refinery built at Abadan, for its first 50 years the largest oil refinery in the world. In 1913, shortly before World War I, APOC managers negotiated with a new customer, Winston Churchill, who was then First Lord of the Admiralty. Churchill, as a part of a three-year expansion program, sought to modernize Britain’s navy by abandoning the use of coal. Furthermore, Churchill wanted to free Britain from its reliance on the Standard Oil and Royal Dutch-Shell oil companies.”*

At the time, the other big center for oil production in Europe was in Russian-controlled Baku, Azerbaijan, on the Caspian Sea.  Already by 1912 the British Empire was jockeying for position in the Persian Gulf, and this effort profoundly effected its relations with the tottering Ottoman Empire, whose now German trained armed forces were now seen as a surrogate for the extension of German imperialist influence into this region.




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