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Title: Petroleum
Author: Lidgett, Albert
Language: English
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[Transcriber's Note:

Bold text delimited by equal signs, italics by underscores.]



  The Wallsend Slipway & Engineering

  WALLSEND-ON-TYNE      Company, Ltd.

  MARINE ENGINE & BOILER BUILDERS & SHIP REPAIRERS


  _Manufacturers of Installations for_

  BURNING LIQUID FUEL


[Illustration: Installation mounted on a Tray]


=Horse Power= of Boilers for which Installations have been supplied by
the Company exceeds =3,000,000 h.p.=


  Head Office and Works--     WALLSEND-ON-TYNE
  Telegraphic Address--       “WALL,” NEWCASTLE-ON-TYNE
  London Office--             30 GREAT ST. HELENS. E C. 3



[Illustration]

ANGLO-MEXICAN PETROLEUM CO., LTD.

    Exporters and marketers of the products of the Mexican Eagle
    Oil Co., Ltd., including Mexican Fuel Oil and Diesel Oil,
    Mexphalte, Fluxphalte, Mexican Eagle Bitumen, Lubricants, Gas
    Oil, Kerosene and Motor Spirit.

EAGLE OIL TRANSPORT COMPANY, LIMITED.

    Owners of the fleet of modern Oil Tank Steamers engaged in the
    transport of the above products.

BOWRING PETROLEUM COMPANY, LIMITED.

    Marketing Agents in the United Kingdom for Mex Motor Spirit and
    Kerosene, etc.

  _Head Offices_:
  16. FINSBURY CIRCUS.
  --LONDON. E.C. 2--

  _Telephone:
  LONDON WALL 1200 (Twenty Lines)_



[Illustration: Oil Well Supply Co]

_Oil and “OILWELL” have grown up together. The oldest and largest
manufacturers of well drilling tools._


DRILLING PLANT of every description

PUMPING OUTFITS for every service

PIPE-LINES and STORAGE TANKS

[Illustration]

TRADE “OILWELL” MARK

Dashwood House, LONDON, E.C. 2



ANGLO-AMERICAN OIL COMPANY LIMITED


_Importers, Refiners and Distributors_


=_REFINED PETROLEUM OILS_=

    WHITE ROSE (Water White), ROYAL DAYLIGHT and

    CROWN DIAMOND--for Household use.

    ANGLO’S VAPORISING OIL--for Oil Engines, Agricultural Tractors,
    etc.


=_MOTOR SPIRIT_=

    PRATT’S AVIATION--Refined to super-excellence for Aeroplanes
    and Motor Cars.

    PRATT’S PERFECTION--for all classes of Motor Cars.

    TAXIBUS--for Commercial Vehicles.

    ANGLO’S BENZOL--for Motor Cars and Commercial Vehicles.

    ANGLO’S VICTORY SPIRIT--a perfect Petrol-Benzol blend.

FUEL OIL--for Diesel Engines, Furnaces, Ships’ Bunkers, etc.

GAS OIL--for Gas-making.

LUBRICATING OILS AND GREASES, PARAFFIN WAX AND SCALE.

NUJOL--Finest Medicinal Oil.


HEAD OFFICE:

36 QUEEN ANNE’S GATE, WESTMINSTER, S.W.1

_Branches and Depots throughout the United Kingdom._



_The Largest Makers of_

OIL STORAGE TANKS

_Tanks of Any Size Supplied and Erected Anywhere._


[Illustration: _WHESSOE FOUNDRY CO., LTD.,_

DARLINGTON, ENGLAND

Established 1790]


PETROLEUM REFINERY PLANTS


Telegrams--

    “WHESSOE, LONDON.” “WHESSOE, DARLINGTON.”

London Office:--

    106 CANNON STREET, E.C.4

[Illustration: ENGLAND’S FIRST OIL WELL IN DERBYSHIRE

(Drilled under Government authority and brought into production in
June, 1919)

  _Frontispiece_]



  PITMAN’S COMMON COMMODITIES
  AND INDUSTRIES


  PETROLEUM

  BY

  ALBERT LIDGETT

  EDITOR OF THE “PETROLEUM TIMES”
  LATE EDITOR OF THE “PETROLEUM REVIEW”


  LONDON

  SIR ISAAC PITMAN & SONS, LTD., 1 AMEN CORNER, E.C.4
  BATH, MELBOURNE AND NEW YORK



  PRINTED BY SIR ISAAC PITMAN
  & SONS, LTD., LONDON, BATH,
  MELBOURNE AND NEW YORK



PREFACE


Although numerous volumes have been written upon petroleum, and some
very educational works on this important subject are to be found in
technological literature, it is strange that prior to the appearance
of this little book, it has been impossible to turn to any publication
which deals with this Common Commodity of Commerce in a popular manner.

Of a truth, we to-day live in an age of Oil, for the products of
petroleum are inseparable from our daily life. Refined petroleum
breathes the breath of power to the internal combustion engine which
claims a realm of its own on land and sea, in the air, and under ocean
waters; it also gives artificial light to countless millions in all
corners of the world under a variety of circumstances and dissimilar
conditions, while the wheels of industry unceasingly revolve consequent
upon oil lubrication.

And in no sphere of commercial and industrial activity has greater
progress been made during the past few decades than in regard to the
multiplication in the uses of the products of petroleum. The avenues
for advantageous consumption are constantly increasing, and this to
such an extent that the production of crude petroleum--enormous though
this is--has been outstripped by the demands for the refined product.

In the following pages I have striven to deal with the chief phases of
the petroleum industry in a manner which, I have reason to believe,
will be acceptable to the general reader, and the fact that the volume
is written in language free from technicalities, will, I trust, render
it particularly interesting to those who would know something of that
immense class of commercial products covered by the name “Petroleum.”

  ALBERT LIDGETT.

  ROYAL AUTOMOBILE CLUB,
  PALL MALL,
  LONDON, S.W.1.



CONTENTS


  CHAP.                                       PAGE

  PREFACE                                      iii
  I. PETROLEUM AND ITS ORIGIN                    1
  II. THE OIL-FIELDS OF THE WORLD                6
  III. HOW PETROLEUM IS PRODUCED                41
  IV. THE REFINING OF PETROLEUM                 51
  V. TRANSPORT BY LAND AND SEA                  63
  VI. PETROLEUM AS FUEL                         76
  VII. PETROLEUM AS A LIGHTING AGENT            89
  VIII. INTERNAL COMBUSTION ENGINES             95
  IX. PETROLEUM IN ENGLAND                     104
  X. PETROLEUM IN THE BRITISH EMPIRE           114
  XI. PETROLEUM’S PART IN THE GREAT WAR        123
  XII. THE SCOTTISH SHALE-OIL INDUSTRY         132
  XIII. A FEW NOTABLE PETROLEUM ENTERPRISES    148
  XIV. STATISTICAL                             158
  INDEX                                        165



[Illustration:

    Taken from an actual photo of a trip spear with mechanic
    alongside for comparison of size. This is for 21 inch O.D.
    drive pipe. We have facilities for producing the heaviest tools
    required.]


The OIL WELL ENGINEERING CO., LTD.

_Works_:

CHEADLE HEATH, STOCKPORT

The largest Manufacturers of Oil Well Drilling Plant and oil Well
Supplies in the British Empire



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


                                                        PAGE

  ENGLAND’S FIRST OIL WELL                    _Frontispiece_
  THE GLEN POOL                                           11
  GEOLOGICAL SECTION SHOWING OIL SANDS                    13
  A GUSHER UNDER CONTROL                                  15
  DERRICK OF AN AMERICAN OIL WELL                         17
  ROUMANIAN HAND-DUG WELLS                                27
  BUSTENARI--THE ROUMANIAN OIL REGION                     31
  EARLY BURMESE OIL PRODUCTION METHODS                    34
  EARLY JAPANESE DRILLING METHOD                          35
  VIEW IN THE GALICIAN FIELDS                             37
  “OILWELL” HEAVY ROTARY OUTFIT                           47
  PRIMITIVE METHOD OF TRANSPORT                           65
  OIL PIPE-LINE CONNECTIONS                               67
  A MAMMOTH TANKER                                        73
  TAKING OIL FUEL ABOARD                                  81
  LIQUID FUEL BURNERS                                     83
  OIL FUEL FOR MARINE PURPOSES                            85
  THE “SCARAB” OIL BURNER                                 87
  AN OIL COOKER                                           93
  VICKERS’ NEW ENGINE (FRONT VIEW)                        99
  VICKERS’ NEW ENGINE (REAR VIEW)                         99
  HIGH DUTY ENGINE FOR LIGHT CRAFT                       101
  LOW DUTY MARINE ENGINE                                 101
  THE PUMPHERSTON OIL SHALE WORKS                        138
  SOME BURMAH PRODUCERS                                  154



THE

PETROLEUM TIMES

  PUBLISHED WEEKLY       PRICE 6d.


The International

Petroleum Journal


“The Petroleum Times” is Edited by ALBERT LIDGETT and is the most
influential and widely circulated petroleum journal printed in the
United Kingdom.

_The fact that you are reading this advertisement suggests that it has
some interest to you. Then write for a specimen copy which will gladly
be sent._


_Editorial and Publishing Offices_:

BROAD STREET PLACE,

LONDON, E.C.2



PETROLEUM



CHAPTER I

PETROLEUM AND ITS ORIGIN


In dealing with the question of petroleum and its origin, the subject
can well be defined under two headings: one, the origin of the word
“petroleum”; the other, the origin of the mineral itself. As to the
former, this is a matter of historical interest; of the latter, the
question is still in doubt--and the doubt becomes even the more
doubtful, the more the question is debated.

Let us, therefore, take first the word “petroleum” as we know it
to-day. It covers a multitude of products derived from the refining of
crude oil, though the word does not suggest any of them. It is quite
a generic term, and in a general way represents the whole of that
ever-increasing family of hydrocarbons--the refined products of crude
oil. There is no doubt that it derives its name from the Latin _petra
oleum_, which, literally, is rock oil, and equivalents of the name are
found in all languages. Even in modern practice we use the word, though
not in a specific sense, while our own Government usually refers to
“petroleum oil,” which, of course, involves tautology. Crude petroleum
is known throughout the oil-fields of the world as denoting the crude
oil coming from the wells: then we have petroleum spirit, otherwise the
lightest form of refined oil; we have petroleum distillate, designating
an illuminating oil; but, “petroleum oil” is, it is to be regretted,
generally used as suggesting some form of petroleum product.

Though the petroleum industry--in its commercial sense--only goes back
some sixty years, the use of petroleum can be traced to Biblical times,
for was it not the great Prophet Elisha who told the widow to “Go, sell
the oil and pay thy debts and live”?

Job also speaks of the rock which poured him out rivers of oil; in
Maccabees we find that the priests hid the fire which they took from
the altar in a deep pit without water; while Nehemiah called the liquid
which burst into flame and kindled a great fire by the name “Nephthar,
which is as much as to say, a cleansing; but many call it Nephai.” And
so, in many parts of the Old as well as in the New Testament, oil is
clearly referred to, and, in Biblical times, as much later, was looked
upon as a sacred fire.

Many ancient authors make extensive reference to oil, prominent among
them being Herodotus, who described the methods adopted at the pits of
Kirab for the raising of the oil, which liquid “gives off a very strong
odour.”

Petroleum, as known in Biblical times, and as so widely known to-day,
occurs in greater or less quantity throughout the world, and it is
found in the whole range of strata of the earth’s crust, from the
Laurentian rocks to the most recent members of the Quaternary period,
though it is found in commercial quantities almost wholly in the
comparatively old Devonian and Carboniferous formations on the one hand
or in the various divisions of the comparatively young Tertiary rocks
on the other.

The problem of the origin of petroleum has been the subject of
considerable scientific controversy for many years. Not a few of the
leading scientists hold to the theory that petroleum is derived from
metallic carbides lying far beneath the porous strata in which the oil
is stored by Nature, and that even at the present time the process is
in operation. This idea, which may be termed the inorganic theory of
petroleum origin, was considered to have received substantial support
when it was found that the action of water on the carbides of certain
metals resulted in the liberation of hydrocarbons.

The view that petroleum is of organic origin is to-day almost
universally accepted, although there is no general agreement either
as to whether petroleum is derived from vegetable or animal matter,
or as to the forms of life that provided for its genesis. In certain
places in the world--notably on the eastern side of the Caspian Sea
and also near the Mediterranean--there is some conversion of organic
matter into petroleum actually to be seen to-day. It is not difficult,
as the late Sir Boverton Redwood, Bart., pointed out in an address
before the Royal Institution of Great Britain in 1918, to account for
the formation of adequate deposits of the necessary material. In the
comparatively deep and quiescent water along the margin of the land in
past ages, there would be abundant opportunity for the deposition not
only of the remains of marine animals and plants, but also of vegetable
matter brought down to the coast by the water courses, and the changes
which the earth has undergone would result in the burial of these
substances under sedimentary mineral matter, the deposits thus formed
being ultimately, as the result of further alterations in the earth’s
surface, frequently found occupying positions far removed from the sea,
and sometimes beneath immense thicknesses of subsequent deposits.

That vegetable matter may be the source of certain petroleums is an
opinion that has found increasing evidence to support it. There are two
kinds of vegetable matter which are possible, terrestrial and aquatic,
and in the deltaic conditions that characterize so many oil-fields,
either could be equally well appealed to as a source of accumulation.
The extensive coal and lignite deposits in many geological periods
bear eloquent testimony to the presence of carbonaceous matter far
in excess of that required to provide proved supplies of petroleum.
Every important coal-field demonstrates the fact that vegetable matter
can be partially converted into bituminous compounds or hydrocarbons
by natural processes. Marsh gases often occur in great quantities in
faulted zones in the coal measures, though the bituminous substances
found in coal are not true bitumens that dissolve in the usual
solvents, while the tars derived from the destructive distillation of
coal in no way resemble natural petroleums or the products of oil-shale
distillation.

In spite, however, of the outstanding differences between petroleum,
oil-shales and coal, I might here point out in favour of the vegetable
theory of origin, that actual petroleum and true bitumens have been
found in some coals, though in small quantities, while solid paraffins
have been extracted by means of pyridine and chloroform. Again, low
temperature distillations have yielded petroleum hydrocarbons, all
of which appear to indicate that even when coal was the overwhelming
product, at certain times and places the conditions were merging into
those which could yield petroleum. There is no doubt that each of the
various views expressed as to the organic origin of petroleum contains
elements of truth, and it is reasonable to assume that a substance so
varied in its physical and chemical properties as petroleum has not in
all cases been created under precisely the same conditions, or from an
exactly similar source.

Summing up the whole question of origin, however, the balance of
opinion points to its being the result of organic action, and that the
petroleum which we now find in the Palaeozoic and Tertiary rocks is
substantially of the same geological age as the rocks themselves.

Volumes of technological literature have been written upon this complex
question of petroleum origin, and though these may be of intense
interest to the student of geology, the brief references which I have
already given to the question are sufficient for the purpose of this
little publication.

The geographical distribution of petroleum throughout the two
hemispheres is no less wide than the geological. The deposits mainly
occur along well-defined lines, often associated with the mountain
ranges. This is chiefly due to the formation, in the elevatory process,
of minor folds which have arrested and collected the oil in richly
productive belts.



CHAPTER II

THE OIL-FIELDS OF THE WORLD


Ever since petroleum and its products entered the realm of commercial
commodities, there has been a ceaseless search throughout the two
hemispheres for crude oil, and to-day there are comparatively few
countries in the world where the presence of petroleum has not been
proved. The ever-expanding uses of petroleum, which in their train
have called for a continually increasing demand for crude oil, have
given an impetus to the search for commercially productive oil-fields,
which, in mining history, has no parallel. On the one hand, we have
those important oil-producing regions which embrace enormous regions of
the United States, Mexico, Russia, Roumania, the Dutch Indies, India,
and Galicia; on the other, we find comparatively recent enterprise
which is bringing into prominence the newer oil-producing regions of
Egypt, Trinidad, Canada, the Argentine, Algeria, and various parts
of Australia and Japan, though in several of these latter mentioned
countries, the production of petroleum has been carried on by private
means for not only many years, but even for centuries.

It naturally follows that, with the constant withdrawal of large
supplies of crude oil from Mother Earth, Nature’s stores must be
growing less, and it is not surprising, therefore, to hear, with
persistent regularity, alarming rumours of the coming dearth of crude
oil. Experts have devoted considerable time and thought in an endeavour
to arrive at a conclusion as to the length of time it will take for the
withdrawal of practically the whole of the crude oil from the known
deposits in the more developed fields: their conclusions, however, are
widely different, for while some assert that in the United States, for
instance, the known fields will cease to be commercially productive
within forty years, others there are who declare that centuries must
elapse before the question of a failing supply need call for serious
consideration.

But there is one point which must not be overlooked in this connection,
and that is the fact that, while thus far very few thoroughly developed
oil-fields have shown signs of permanent decay, there are numerous
others which, while having already furnished conclusive proof of their
productivity, have, for the most part, been but slightly developed.
Each passing year registers the incoming of fresh oil-producing areas,
while numerous regions in practically every part of the world, giving
much promise of the success of ultimate oil developments, are as yet
virgin territory.

The cry of possible shortage of supply was, fortunately, made at the
opportune moment: it was a word of warning, and was taken to heart
especially by those associated with the development of the older
producing oil-fields. In these fields--whether we look to America or
Russia--there has always been considerable waste of crude oil, mostly
in regard to furnishing power for oil-field operations, while the
natural gases which exude from the wells themselves, and to which
reference is made in another chapter, have, in times past, been
allowed to pass uncontrolled into the atmosphere. To-day, however,
we see conservation in every direction--thanks to the application
of scientific and engineering knowledge, combined with the exercise
of care--and there is no doubt that this new factor will tend in a
greater degree than may at first be imagined toward the preservation of
Nature’s stores of crude oil for unlimited time.

With these few general remarks, let us proceed to briefly survey the
principal oil-fields of the world, leaving those which are in the
process of development or exploitation to later consideration.

THE UNITED STATES.--In no other country has such continuous progress
been recorded in connection with the production of petroleum as in
the case of the United States. Quite recently, the U.S. Geological
Survey estimated that there are no less than 9,000 square miles of
oil-bearing territory in the States, yet the petroleum industry was
not commercially established until the early sixties of the last
century. It was in Pennsylvania that the industry had its birth,
and the troubles which beset Drake, the pioneer, have filled many
pages of early oil literature. His first well, which produced quite
a modest yield of crude oil, was at Titusville, Pa., which spot soon
became a thriving town. And as Pennsylvania was the scene of the early
successes, it also became the pivot round which the petroleum industry
of the States prospered for many years. Until 1885, the Pennsylvanian
fields furnished over 98 per cent. of the production of crude oil: then
a gradual decline set in, until, at the present time, Pennsylvanian
regions do not produce 10 per cent. of the oil output of the United
States. No sooner had the petroleum industry been firmly established in
Pennsylvania than an active search was made for the precious fluid in
various parts of the States, and one by one new oil regions were opened
up, but it is interesting to recall the fact that, even in the first
developed oil-producing region, no district has been entirely abandoned
as exhausted of oil, for to-day wells are being pumped quite close to
Drake’s first well and the scene of the birth of the American petroleum
industry. In the zenith of its prosperity, the Pennsylvanian field
produced nearly 5,000,000 tons of crude oil per annum, but to-day the
output has fallen off nearly 40 per cent.

When it is mentioned that the output of crude petroleum from the
various fields of the United States last year was over 40,000,000 tons,
the magnitude of America’s oil industry will at once be apparent.
The regions known as the Mid-Continent fields--and which embrace the
extensive oil-producing regions of Kansas and Oklahoma--are responsible
for a very large portion of this output. Each field has its various
“pools,” the most famous of this part, perhaps, being the Cushing pool,
which came into prominence but a few years ago. Toward the end of 1914,
it was estimated that the daily output of Cushing was 35,000 tons of
crude oil. Cushing, like all other prolific oil districts, has many
interesting stories associated with its rapid rise as an oil-producing
centre, and there are instances on record where, in the course of a few
days, land values have increased tenfold.

The rise of the Californian fields, too, is an example of the rapidity
with which oil regions can be developed. California’s output in 1919
was, roughly, 120,000,000 barrels of crude oil, or over 14,000,000
tons. It possesses nearly 900 square miles of oil-lands, and though at
one time a great difficulty was experienced in disposing of the crude
oil production, since it was of a somewhat low grade, the position has
now been reversed, and the consumption of petroleum products is greater
than the supply. With the improvement of the methods of drilling, and
the debut of the rotary system, it has been possible not only to drill
to much greater depths, but to considerably reduce the time requisite
for drilling a well to the oil sands. Californian records for quick
drilling with the rotary machine show that wells have been got down
to the producing sands, in some fields nearly 4,000 feet below the
surface, within one month. This deep drilling policy, which is now
much in vogue among Californian oil operators, has proved the existence
at the greater depth of larger volume of oil of far better quality
than that met with in the shallow strata, and it is to the discovery
and consequent development of the deeper oil horizons that much of
California’s recent advance is due.

Though but of small significance, the oil-wells in Summerland, Cal.,
call for mention for the reason that these are drilled in the sea at
quite a distance from the coast. The encroachment of sea-water to the
wells themselves is prevented by the continuance of the tubes in the
wells to a height above the level of high-water mark, the produced oil
being piped to the mainland.

There is no doubt that a wonderful future awaits California in regard
to its oil export trade. The Far East is largely drawing upon the
State for crude oil for treatment in the Far Eastern refineries: the
oil-burning vessels of the Pacific rely upon Californian fuel oil
for their supplies, while the opening of the Panama Canal, and the
establishment of oil storage depots there, has brought California
within easy transport distance of the European markets. During the past
few years several cargoes of Californian refined oil have, in fact,
come upon the English market.

The oil-fields of Texas have, perhaps, witnessed more “boom” periods
than any other oil regions of the States. The Gulf coastal fields which
embrace Texas and Louisiana, came into prominence some seventeen years
ago, and they were not long in recording an output of over 5,000,000
tons in a single twelve months. The prolific districts of Spindle Top,
Sour Lake, Humble, etc., attracted rapid attention, and the speculator
in oil lands became immensely rich. But these boom periods cannot be
said to be of much real value to the oil industry, for they are
always followed by times of depression, when fortunes are lost almost
as quickly as they have been made. To-day, the Gulf coast fields have
settled down to a period of steady expansion; systematic development is
taking place in every field, and, as in California, the policy of deep
drilling has been eminently successful.

[Illustration: THE GLEN POOL--ONE OF AMERICA’S OIL PRODUCING CENTRES]

Space forbids my entering into details respecting the more recently
developed or partially exploited fields of America, but it is safe to
say that there is scarcely a single State that does not hold out hope
for profitable oil development: this is evidenced by the large amounts
of new capital which are to-day finding employment in regions which are
only commencing their oil-field history.

There is no other oil-producing country in the world where the
petroleum industry has reached such a highly organized state as in
the United States. Each producing field is connected by means of
underground pipe-lines with the trunk pipe-line system, by which it
is possible to pump oil from the most distant fields direct to the
Atlantic seaboard. Some of the principal lines are hundreds of miles
in length. In another chapter I deal with this wonderful system of oil
transportation: it is, therefore, unnecessary here to more than mention
it _en passant_. The oil-refining branch of the American petroleum
industry is also particularly well organized and up to date, but with
this subject, too, I deal at length elsewhere.

[Illustration: A TYPICAL GEOLOGICAL SECTION SHOWING THE OIL SANDS]

MEXICO.--The oil-fields of Mexico can claim to have leapt into
prominence at a far more rapid rate than any other oil-field of
importance in the world. Their development has been phenomenal, and
from being practically unknown sixteen years ago, they now rank as
the third largest producing regions, coming but next to the United
States and Russia. My object in dealing with the Mexican fields prior
to referring to the Russian petroleum industry is that they may be said
to form an integral part of the fields of the New Continent, and, from
many points of view, are linked up with the petroleum industry of the
United States. Indeed, there are several authorities who are now urging
that it is to Mexico that the United States Government must look if it
is to be in a position to furnish the major portion of the petroleum
products required for the markets of the world. Another reason for my
dealing with Mexico at the moment is that, when development operations
are carried a little further, and when ocean transport facilities are
available for adequately dealing with the flood of Mexican petroleum,
there is not the slightest doubt that Mexico will rank as the second
largest country of petroleum production. Its annual output of crude
oil is, approximately, 8,000,000 tons, but even this figure in no way
represents the productivity of its prolific oil-producing regions,
for according to the official statement of the Mexican Government the
production in 1918 represented only 10 per cent. of that possible. The
Mexican wells have no parallel in the world, large as have been some of
the oil-fountains in Russia.

It will be of great interest here to refer briefly to these, and though
it would be impossible to detail all those Mexican wells which have
ranked quite outside the limits of ordinary producers, I will touch
only upon two of these remarkable oil gushers. They both were drilled
on the properties owned by the well-known English firm of Pearsons, the
operating company being the “Aguila” (Mexican Eagle) Company. It was in
1906 when the Company commenced active drilling operations in Northern
Vera Cruz, and though these were very successful from the start, it
was two years later that the famous “Dos Bocas” well came in. A heavy
gas pressure developed when the rotary drill was down just over 1,800
feet, and in a few minutes the internal pressure manifested itself by
bursting the wire-wrapped hose connected with the drilling apparatus.
The oil then commenced to come to the surface in an immense stream, and
in twenty minutes the well was beyond control. Fissures began to appear
in the ground at considerable distance from the well, and through
these came oil and gas. One of these fissures opened directly under
the boilers, and though the fires had been drawn, the gas ignited. The
position was well-nigh hopeless from the start, the well itself was
throwing out an 8-inch column of oil hundreds of feet in the air. The
force of the volume of oil below ground flung the heavy English drill
pipe out of the well, and soon it became impossible to approach within
300 feet of the “mad gusher.” The flames of fire are said to have
reached 1,000 feet in height, and inasmuch as all ground round the well
had fallen into the cavity caused, they were over 50 feet in diameter.
And for 58 days did this gusher burn with all the fury imaginable, its
glare being seen far out at sea. Anything approaching an approximate
production of oil from this well will never be made: it can safely be
recorded, however, that its mad flow of oil ran into many millions of
barrels, and it is placed on record that nearly 2,000,000 tons of solid
earth were carried away by the force of the oil from the well’s mouth,
for a crater of nearly 120,000 square metres was formed round the well.

[Illustration: A GUSHER OF THE MEXICAN EAGLE CO. UNDER CONTROL--A DOME
BUILT OVER THE MOUTH]

Toward the end of 1910 another surprise was in store for those in
charge of drilling operations for the Company, for it was then that the
world famous “Protero del Llano” gusher came in. This well ranks as one
of the largest, if not the largest, ever associated with the petroleum
industry. Its estimated daily flow was over 125,000 barrels, and within
three months the well had produced over 8,000,000 barrels of crude oil.

During November, 1919, a new field at Naranjos was developed by the
Mexican Eagle Co., and the first three wells to come into production,
commenced to yield over 30,000 tons daily.

It says much for the enterprise of the Pearson (Lord Cowdray) interests
that they have been able to build up such a remarkable business in
Mexico’s oil industry in so comparatively a short space of time. The
production of crude oil, as everyone knows, is but the first link in
a long chain of commercial oil operations. To-day, the Mexican Eagle
Oil Company owns considerably over 250 miles of pipe-line (mostly
of 8-inch capacity), possess several miniature railways, and on the
fields of production has bulk oil storage accommodation for several
million barrels of crude oil. It has also two large refineries--one
at Minatitlan and another at Tampico, which together are capable of
handling over 5,000 tons (about 35,000 barrels) of crude oil daily, and
turning the same into a complete range of high-grade products--motor
spirit, illuminating oils, lubricants, fuel oil, paraffin wax, and an
asphalt for road-making.

An interesting equipment of this Company in Mexico is that of its
sea-loading pipe-lines at Tuxpam. Here, the water inside the bar is
too shallow to allow the gigantic bulk oil-carriers of the Company’s
associated concern--the Eagle Oil Transport Company, Ltd.--to come
alongside and load. Pipe-lines have accordingly been laid on the
bed of the sea reaching out to a loading terminal a mile and a half
out at sea. Here, the pipe-lines are connected with the steamers by
means of flexible hose, and three or four tank vessels can be loaded
simultaneously from the storage tanks on shore. In one recent twelve
months alone over 200 oil tankers were so loaded in this way, and on
the average, each was loaded and dispatched within 2½ days, for the
pipe-line facilities permit of 10,000 tons of oil being pumped into the
vessel’s tanks every 24 hours.

[Illustration: INSIDE THE DERRICK OF AN AMERICAN OIL WELL]

There are several large amalgamations of capital interested in the
development of the Mexican fields--American and English, while, prior
to the war, the Germans had anxious eyes upon this growing industry,
and even formulated plans whereby German interests would be largely
represented in its future.

While on the subject of the Mexican fields, might I say that no other
oil-producing regions have, in the short space of time during which
developments have taken place, exercised such an influence upon the
international oil situation as has Mexico. This may be traced to the
fact that Mexican oil is an admirable liquid fuel, and as such is now
in regular use the world over. The vast consuming centres in the South
American Continent have seen that, whereas coal is very dear, it is
possible to secure almost unlimited supplies of Mexican fuel oil almost
at their own doors, while overseas, consequent upon the advent of the
fuel oil age, Mexican fuel oil is playing a most important part, and
to-day is in great demand for the mercantile fleet.

RUSSIA.--Long before the commercial value of petroleum and its products
was established, Baku--the present centre of the Russian petroleum
industry--had become famous for its “Eternal Fires,” and it was to
that place the Parsees made pilgrimages for over 1,000 years; in fact,
centuries before the Russians occupied the Caucasus, the tribes of
Persia eagerly sought the oils of Baku for their curative qualities.

The Russian oil-fields have an output of, approximately, 10,000,000
tons annually, or, roughly, 15 per cent. of the world’s total
production of crude oil. Since the time when the petroleum industry
was placed upon a commercial footing, the Russian fields have produced
230,000,000 tons of petroleum. Enormous though this quantity is, it
has been more than doubled by the United States.

The oil-fields of Baku have gained a distinction for the reason that
numerous individual wells have given forth a flood of crude oil which
has, with very few exceptions, been unknown in other petroliferous
regions. The Baku fields proper embrace the districts of Balakhany,
Saboontchi, Romany, and Bibi Eibat: the first three districts stand on
a plateau but a few miles from Baku, while Bibi Eibat is located quite
near the Caspian Sea, on a bay from which the field takes its name.
One remarkable feature of these fields--as showing their prolific oil
content--is that the four main oil-producing districts in Baku have an
area of less than 4,000 acres. It is in this locality that the Russian
petroleum industry, having had its birth, became centred, and though
it is known that there are several really promising oil areas in this
south-western part of the Caucasus, the fact that the lands belong to
the State has been a sufficient stumbling-block to development in the
past.

Apart from the Baku fields, the most highly developed oil-field
of importance in Russia is that of Grosny, which is situated on
the northern slopes of the Caucasian range and connected with the
Vladicaucas railway by a branch line. The Grosny field, however, has
only been developed during the past fifteen years in what may be called
a commercial sense, but its operated area is almost double that of
Baku. It has greatly suffered owing to the inadequacy of transport
facilities, but in 1919 a project was drafted to build a pipe-line to
the Black Sea.

It is not a feature of this little publication that minor regions
shall be all enumerated, and thus I may be forgiven if I refer but
to one of the several new districts which have recently attracted
the attention of both oil operators and speculators. I refer to the
Maikop fields, which prominently came before the British investing
public in 1910, and which were directly responsible for the oil boom
of that year. A few months before, a very prolific spouter of oil had
been struck in Maikop, which was then quite an agricultural centre,
and enormous excitement followed. Land was quickly taken over at
ever-increasing prices, and the boom, for which English capital was
largely responsible, lasted for several months. There have been many
opinions put forward by supposed experts in oil geology for and against
the Maikop oil region, but the kindest thing of all that can be said
for the district is that, while there was really no justification
for the remarkable Maikop oil boom of 1910, there was certainly no
reason why public opinion should so rapidly change in regard to its
potentialities. I have every reason to believe that some day Maikop
will justify the optimistic opinions held for it during the boom, but
in the eyes of the English investor the region bears the stamp of
fraud, for the simple reason that so many have invested their savings
in it, and have been doomed to acute disappointment.

Some millions of English money went into Maikop oil enterprises during
that ill-fated oil boom, but a very small percentage of this went to
really prove the contents of the lower strata. The fact that the ground
was simply “scratched” and condemned because it did not respond with
oil fountains, cannot in the slightest affect the ultimate career of
the Maikop oil region, the presence of oil in which has been known
even from ancient times. Looking back upon that Maikop oil boom, one
cannot but express surprise at our gullibility generally: we stake our
faith and our capital upon what at the best is a sheer gamble, and
we seem content if we find that anything approaching 20 per cent. of
the money subscribed actually goes into the serious development of the
scheme which we fancied. There are a few who grow suddenly rich upon
the spoils of such oil booms--I know some of these personally, and to
me it has always been a source of keen regret that the State does not
exercise something of a rigid control over these publicly invested
funds. I cannot here refrain, while on the subject of the Maikop oil
boom, just making a remark as to the overrated value which the public
generally attach to the reports of many gentlemen looked upon as oil
experts. Some remarkable stories are associated with the locking up
(and loss) of English moneys in the Maikop boom, but the strangest
I know is of a Russian who came to England when the boom was at its
height, for the purpose of selling a number of Maikop oil claims.
There were many prospective buyers, but it was necessary to possess a
report from some supposed “oil expert.” To save time, the seller of the
claims drafted what he considered quite an alluring statement, and the
next day the report, couched in the same language, bore the “expert’s”
signature. And the “wheeze” worked.

But to return to the main subject. Prior to 1870, the crude petroleum
in the Baku district, as well as in the minor fields of Russia, was
obtained from surface pits, dug by hand, and rarely more than 50
feet deep, and the production was carried away from the mouth of the
shaft in leathern bottles. The general arrangements were on the most
primitive lines, but, nevertheless, the industry--such as it was
then--thrived. Even to-day in several fields in Russia we see the
survival of the hand-dug wells, but they are steadily becoming a
feature of a page of oil-field history which is almost filled.

It was in 1873 that Robert Nobel went to Baku, and to his enterprise
and technical genius a great deal of the subsequent rapid development
of the Russian industry is due. Boring by steam power was introduced,
and the deeper oil horizons were reached, but, owing to the depth at
which the strata became commercially productive, it was necessary to
commence the well with a starting diameter of 36-40 inches, so as to
ensure the requisite depth being obtained with a workable size of
baler--for the Baku crude oils are “baled” from the wells. Upon the
question of baling wells, I shall have something to say in another
chapter.

Under the improved conditions which were introduced in methods of
boring and operating the oil-wells, the industry steadily expanded,
the general awakening of boring enterprise being best reflected in the
number of oil-wells in operation in subsequent years. For instance,
in 1893, the Baku fields could boast of but 458 bore-holes; in 1898,
the number had increased to 1,107; in 1903, it was about 2,000; while
in 1911, there were over 3,000 bore-holes in the Baku fields. There
has been a steady decline in the number of these bore-holes since
1914 due in some part, I assume, to the difficulties of securing the
requisite materials for new boring, combined with the enormous increase
in the cost of the same. The drilling of the wells in Russia is a very
expensive item, for they cost from anything over £10,000 up to £15,000,
and usually take a couple of years to drill. But when they are down
to the producing strata and commence production, it can be taken for
granted that they will continue, providing ordinary care is taken of
the well itself, for many years to profitably produce.

The Russian petroleum industry is in the hands of a large number of
operating firms, the majority of which work quite independently of
each other, and these independent firms are responsible for more than
one-half of the total output. The other production of the crude oil,
representing certainly over 40 per cent., is in the hands of combines
representing the large and middle-class firms, prominent among which
we get the firm of Messrs. Nobel Brothers, the “Shell” group, and the
General Russian Corporation.

The refining of the crude oil is carried out in Baku, the portion of
the town in which this operation takes place being known as Blacktown.
It does not belie its name either. At one time these refineries, or at
least many of them, were erected in the centre of the town of Baku, or
near it, and made it almost uninhabitable by their smoke, smell, and
refuse, the latter flowing into the streets and the harbour. A special
district was therefore selected, to which all had to remove, and it is
this portion of the town which forms “Blacktown” to-day.

One of the great difficulties of the Russian refining industry in its
commencement was due to the fact that sulphuric acid, so absolute a
necessity in petroleum refining, had to be brought from Europe at great
expense, but in 1883, Messrs. Nobel built a factory for its production
on the spot from Caucasian pyrites, mined in the neighbourhood of
Alexandropol. Other factories for the same purpose and for the
regeneration of the acids have since that time been established.

As in other great industries, so in regard to the methods by which the
Russian crude oil is transported and to-day handled, great strides
forward have been made since the early days. Then the whole of the
prevailing conditions were primitive: crude oil, for instance, was
carried from the Baku wells to the refineries in skins and barrels
loaded on carts or camels. Messrs. Nobel Brothers were the first to
lay a pipe-line to their factory, but later on pipes were laid between
the refineries and the harbour, these obvious improvements meeting
with fierce resistance on the part of the workpeople. The transport of
the refined products from Baku to the consumers was equally difficult.
There was then no railway from Baku to Tiflis, and the only way to
the Black Sea was thus effectively shut off. On the other hand, the
navigation of the Volga was only possible during six months of the
year, while the monopoly of water transport on the Caspian Sea imposed
high rates on all Baku petroleum products.

Improvements were again due to the enterprise of Messrs. Nobel
Brothers, who built the first cistern waggons for transporting oil on
the railways, instead of using the old wooden barrels, which were far
from satisfactory. In order, too, to open an outlet on the Black Sea,
the same firm, in 1889, constructed a pipe-line from Mikhailovo to
Kvirili, over the Suram mountains. Now, of course, we have the great
pipe-line running from Baku to Batoum, a distance of nearly 560 miles,
and which is responsible for the transport of the quantities of Russian
oil exported.

But the Russian petroleum industry has always existed more or less
under a cloud. The old regime of Government did not attempt to foster
and encourage the industry from which it received so much yearly in
royalties, for it must be recollected that the Russian State was the
chief gainer by the exploitation of the Baku oil lands, owing to the
prevalence of the system of royalties. It seemed to be content to
leave the industry to its fate, so long as it received therefrom so
substantial a sum in royalties, etc. Instances are on record where
operating firms pay the Government 40 per cent., or even more, of
their crude oil production as royalties--payment for the privilege of
taking the oil from the ground. Such conditions have been relentlessly
imposed, and it is not surprising to find that, operating under this
burden of expense, numerous firms find it quite out of the question
to earn profits for their shareholders. Several English enterprises
come into this category, but the fault is not of their seeking; it is,
however, to be regretted, for once an equitable system of payments
is arranged, the Russian petroleum industry will expand in a healthy
manner, and become a much greater source of revenue to the State than
it is at present.

But, apart from the troubles which have to be faced by the Baku oil
producers, and which we may call Governmental, the relation between the
employers and workpeople is far from being friendly. To-day, of course,
it is worse than it was under the old regime of the Tzar, and then it
was bad enough. The oil-field workman in Russia is the incarnation
of all that is unsatisfactory. He works when he thinks he will, he
labours under grievances, many of which are purely imaginary, and then
he ventilates his spite upon his masters. The pages of history tell
of many a conflict between capital and labour in the Baku oil-fields,
with the consequent burning of all that would take fire on the fields,
and the damaging of the producing wells by the workpeople. Instances
are placed on record where, in a single night, dozens of productive
oil-wells, which have taken years to bring into production, have been
irreparably damaged by these oil-field workers. Their life, admitted,
is nothing to write books upon, and their environments are in some
cases of the worst description, rendered no better by the natural
aptitude of the people themselves. But their views upon labour are of
the most Utopian imaginable. During recent years, there has been a sort
of combination between these operatives, whose socialistic tendencies
run high, and less than two years ago they collectively put before the
managers of the oil-fields the conditions under which they would in
future work. There were nearly 100 different claims detailed, and a few
of these are worthy of mention, as showing the appreciation of fairness
which is instilled in the mind of the Russian oil-field worker. In the
first place, a 50 per cent. increase in wages was desired, this to be
retrospective. Holidays had to be paid for by the masters, and when the
worker went on strike he had to receive his full pay from the master
until such strike was settled. Then the workmen had to be represented
on the board of management of the companies, their houses had to be
improved by the masters, free railway and tramway accommodation had to
be provided, etc. Generally, the demands put forward were distinctly
arbitrary, though in many cases very humorous.

Recent events in the conduct of affairs in Russia do not suggest that
great improvements may be expected in the near future, either in
regard to the attitude of the Government toward the Russian petroleum
industry, or to the attitude of the workers to those responsible
for oil-field operations. Even before the European War, the Russian
petroleum industry was rather on the decline. The only hope that can
be expressed at this juncture is that when Russia possesses a stable
government, and the country enters upon a period of peaceful progress,
the Mining Department will take care that Russia takes its proper
position as one of the most important oil-producing countries in the
world. But before this comes about, there will have to be a complete
revision of the Government’s policy respecting oil royalties. The
destruction, however, wrought in Baku towards the end of 1918 will take
several years to make good.

[Illustration: ROUMANIA: A FEW OF THE HAND DUG WELLS IN BUSTENARI]

ROUMANIA.--During comparatively recent time, Roumania has come
prominently forward as one of the large petroleum-producing countries
of the world, and its yearly output of crude oil, according to latest
returns, is about 11,000,000 barrels, or, say, 1,600,000 tons. The
production of petroleum in the country, however, has been proceeding
for centuries, for, in the seventeenth century, the peasants were
in the habit of digging wells by hand and selling the crude oil for
medicinal purposes, the greasing of cart-wheels, as well as for
lighting. There are many places in Roumania which are named from
petroleum, a fact which points to the existence of the industry long
before the present-day methods of extraction were thought of. Several
hundreds of these hand-dug wells still exist round the fringe of the
Transylvanian and Carpathian Alps, and though many of them have now
fallen into decay, there are numerous others from which a payable
quantity of petroleum is extracted by primitive methods.

The hand-dug wells in Roumania are highly interesting relics of a
period which is now relegated to the past, though so long as the
Roumanian petroleum industry exists, so long will the old hand-dug
wells be associated with it. These wells are about 5 feet in diameter,
and are sunk through alternate layers of clay, schisty clay, sandy
clay, sandstone, and petroliferous sand to the more shallow oil
horizons. They are dug by workmen who descend dressed with the minimum
of clothing, usually saturated with oil, and wearing a tin hat to
protect the head from falling stones, etc. The sides of the wells
are lined with impermeable clay, which is protected by wicker-work.
The man is lowered by a rope, air being supplied to him by means of
bellows. At some places the rotary fan was employed more recently,
but somehow it frequently happened that it was operated in the wrong
direction, and the unfortunate digger was asphyxiated. These old wells
have a depth of about 450 feet, and though their yield of oil is not
considerable, it has for many years been a paying proposition to those
engaged in this primitive method of petroleum production. The excavated
earth, when digging these wells, was brought to the surface in buckets,
lowered and raised by means of either manual labour or horse traction.
When the first oil source was reached and the extraction of the crude
oil commenced, this was accomplished by means of the use of wooden
buckets or leather skins, one being lowered empty while the other was
raised full. By this means it was possible to raise as much as 20
tons of the oil per day--quite a considerable amount, considering the
primitive means adopted.

Mechanical developments throughout the Roumanian oil-fields on a
more or less serious scale began about 1898, as the result of the
introduction of foreign capital, and, from that time to the present,
the history of the Roumanian petroleum industry has been one steady
period of continued expansion. Various systems of drilling have been
introduced into the work of developing old fields or opening up new
centres, but in regard to these I shall deal at length in another
chapter. The advent of the rotary method of drilling, however, opened
up a new era for expansion in 1912, and since that time Roumania has
made more marked progress than at any time previously.

The Roumanian oil-fields, as at present defined, cover a region roughly
20 miles in width, and extend to a length of between 300 and 400
miles, with, of course, numerous breaks. Of the numerous petroliferous
regions in Roumania, those of Campina-Bustenari, Gura-Ocnitza, Moreni,
and Baicoi-Tzintea among them provide about 95 per cent. of the total
production, and, with the one exception of the Moreni field, all have
been previously exploited by hand-dug wells.

The prosperity of the Roumanian industry has been directly the result
of the influx of foreign capital, and the majority of the 550,000,000
francs employed in it, is mostly made up of British, American, and
German capital. The principal English Company in the fields is the
Roumanian Consolidated Oil-fields, Ltd., which concern, with its
capital of one and three-quarter millions sterling, represents an
amalgamation of many small companies.

Space forbids my referring at length to the momentous happenings in
the Roumanian fields towards the end of 1916, but they will ever
form one of the most interesting--and at the same time the most
tragic--incidents associated with Roumania’s petroleum industry. At
that time, the German armies were pushing their way toward Roumania,
and, in fact, having crossed the border, were marching on for
possession not merely of territorial gains, but in order to secure
themselves of large quantities of petroleum products by capturing the
prolific oil-fields of the country. It was at that critical time that
the British Government sent out its Military Mission, headed by Colonel
(now Sir) John Norton Griffiths, completely to destroy all that was
valuable in connection with the oil-fields, the refineries, and the
installations. One night the Mission arrived at the offices of the
Roumanian Consolidated Oil-fields, Ltd., and made its plan of campaign
clear. There was nothing to be done but to fall in with it, and the
following morning practically everything was destroyed, or rather, a
start was made to destroy it. And the destruction was carried out in a
complete manner, for not only one, but several concerns which had been
steadily built up to perfection as the result of many years of careful
and systematic expansion, were all wiped out, excepting in name. The
oil-wells were plugged beyond all hope of repair, the refineries were
dismantled, machinery broken, pipe-line connections damaged, and both
crude and refined oil stocks burned. It was the most tragic proceeding
ever recorded in oil-field history, but it was necessary, and not
carried out one day too soon, for the incoming armies were dangerously
near.

[Illustration: BUSTENARI--ROUMANIA’S FAMOUS OIL REGION]

The Germans lost no time in making good a great deal of the damage to
the fields, and at the time of the armistice it was stated that the
crude oil output of Roumania was up to 80 per cent. of its pre-war
level.

Now that the various allied interests are again operating in the
Roumanian fields, considerable expansion of the country’s petroleum
industry is being planned, though the pre-war German interests therein
are now taken over by the Allies.

During the past decade Roumania has necessarily catered for the export
trade, for the volume of crude oil produced has been far beyond its
requirements. The great petroleum storage port of Constantza has been
made the centre for this export business, and the completion of a trunk
pipe-line from the Roumanian refineries to the port was one of the
most recent enterprises undertaken by the Roumanian Government prior
to the war. During the period when Roumania was under German control
its terminal point was so changed that the line ran to a spot which
rendered the transport of petroleum to Germany a matter of ease. Now,
however, Germany’s plans have been frustrated, and Roumania’s great
pipe-line will have its terminal point at Constantza, where all kinds
of petroleum products can be pumped direct to the oil tankers.

THE DUTCH INDIES.--The growth of the petroleum industry in the Dutch
Indies has been surprisingly rapid, and this growth synchronizes with
the advent of the “Shell” Company into the Far Eastern fields. It is
stated that there are many hundreds of square miles of territory in
the East Indian Islands which can be remuneratively developed; at
the moment, however, though but the fringe of exploitation has been
touched, the production has been amazing. Eighteen years ago, it was
placed at 300,000 tons of crude oil; last year it nearly reached
2,000,000 tons. In Sumatra several companies successfully operated
for many years, but most of them eventually became merged with the
Royal Dutch Company, whose interests now are also those of the
“Shell” Company. As to Borneo, the “Shell” Company commenced active
developments in 1900, or thereabouts, for it had acquired an area of
approximately 460 square miles. The fields rapidly responded to the
drill, and the crude oil production rose by leaps and bounds. The
crude was of a high-grade character, and for a long time it taxed the
energies of those responsible for the good conduct of the concern,
as to exactly what should be done with some of the refined products.
As a matter of fact, some thousands of tons were burned, for at that
time there was little or no demand for motor spirit. I well remember
when the Company’s Chairman--Sir Marcus Samuel--faced the shareholders
in 1900 and explained that if only the Company could realize 6d. per
gallon for its motor spirit, what handsome profits would accrue. But
events have marched quickly since those days. The motor-car has come
to stay, and what seemed a useless product of the Far Eastern oils
in the early days of development, is now one of the chief sources of
revenue. The advent of the heavier motor spirits has also been of great
benefit to the Borneo petroleum industry, for the public has grown
accustomed to recognize that it is not specific gravity which counts in
the quality of motor spirit, but the closeness of the boiling points
of its constituent fractions. To-day, the Far Eastern fields supply
enormous quantities of refined products to the consuming markets of
the Eastern hemisphere, and so long as the supplying centres continue
their present productivity, there need be no talk of approaching
famine, for, if necessary--providing facilities permitted--these
regions could materially increase their present output of petroleum
products.

[Illustration: OIL PRODUCTION IN THE EARLY DAYS OF THE INDUSTRY IN
BURMAH]

INDIA also ranks to-day as a very important petroleum producing
region, the fields of Upper Burmah--in which the Burmah Oil Company
operates--being responsible for practically the whole production. In
another part of this little publication, I deal briefly with this
Company’s operations, so, for the moment, it is sufficient to mention
that, though to-day they produce large quantities of petroleum, there
are several new districts which show much promise of new production.
For many years the Upper Burmah fields were exploited by means of very
shallow wells: it was only when the deeper strata were reached that the
potentialities of the region became fully manifest.

[Illustration: AN OLD JAPANESE WAY OF OPERATING THE WELLS]

JAPAN, as an oil-producing country, affords food for an interesting
story, for it was here that very early attempts were made to develop
production. Even in the seventh century, the Emperor was presented
with “burning water” with which the Palace was lighted. The crude
oil was collected from pools, or, alternately, wells were dug by
hand, the process of extraction being very picturesque, if very
primitive. To-day, Echigo is the centre of the industry, for which
the introduction of European methods of drilling have worked wonders
in regard to progress. The Celestials consume large quantities of
petroleum, especially for lighting purposes, and in spite of the now
considerable yields from the wells, a gigantic trade is regularly done
in imported oils, especially those of American origin, for which there
is a most up-to-date organization for distribution. The statement that
American petroleum products find their way to every quarter of the
globe is strangely exemplified in Japan (as also in China), where the
ubiquitous tin container for petroleum can be seen in the most isolated
parts.

[Illustration: THE GALICIAN FIELDS, SHOWING DAMAGE DONE BY THE RUSSIAN
ARMIES WHEN RETREATING IN 1916]

GALICIA.--Since the commencement of the period when petroleum and
its products assumed a degree of industrial importance, the Galician
oil regions have attracted considerable attention. The area of the
oil-fields extends over a length of 200 miles, and in width varies
from 40 to 60 miles, and though in this territory several fields of
considerable note have for many years been systematically developed,
there is enormous scope for future operations. Its annual output of
crude oil, which nearly reached 1,900,000 tons in 1909, is in itself
suggestive of the extensive manner in which the oil-producing fields
have been developed during late years. The oil-field history of Galicia
is particularly interesting, for the oil seepages round Boryslaw have
been exploited for very many years. Long before the introduction
of the drilling methods of modern times, the shallow oil sources in
the Galician fields were tapped by means of the hand-dug wells, but
it was only when the first drilled well was sunk in 1862 that the
real value of the Galician ozokerite, which abounds in many places
in the oil-fields, was appreciated by the operators. This ozokerite
is one of the most valuable of bitumens, and though found in several
countries, is nowhere met with in such large quantities as in Galicia.
The ozokerite there fills the fissures in the much disturbed _cpaly_,
and evidently originates from a natural process of concentration. The
mines are operated by modern machinery, and the industry in Galicia
has reached a stage of great importance, some thousands of tons of
the mineral being yearly raised. The material is refined, and the
resulting wax serves numerous commercial purposes, the refining taking
place in the Austro-Hungarian refineries. Considerable quantities of
the raw material are exported to Germany and Russia, while the refined
products are well known on the export markets. About seven years ago,
serious water trouble materially reduced the production of the Galician
oil-wells (for when the water courses are not properly shut off,
water may encroach and cause the loss of the producing well), but the
trouble was to some extent surmounted by the taking of greater care in
cementing the wells. The introduction and consequent popularity of the
modern drilling methods which were introduced by Mr. W. H. Margarvey
in 1882 permitted the testing of the deeper horizons of the Galician
fields, and to-day wells are by no means uncommon with depths up to and
sometimes exceeding 4,000 feet. The Boryslaw-Tustanowice district still
continues to be the centre of the crude oil production, but several
new oil areas with great promise have been opened up during the past
six years. Naturally, the European War has retarded development work
considerably, and the Galician fields have on more than one occasion
been the scene of battle. At one time in 1915 they passed over to the
Russians, but when the Russian retreat occurred later from Lemberg,
considerable damage was done to the fields in order to prevent their
being of immediate use to the enemy. The wells were seriously damaged,
and the State refinery at Drohobitz was partially dismantled, while
immense reserves of refined oil stocks were burned.

The Galician oil industry has for years attracted the attention of
foreign capitalists, for the highly remunerative nature of petroleum
exploitation is generally appreciated. Prior to the European war
German capital was very largely interested in the Galician industry,
and the majority of Allied companies had Germans as their local
representatives, but all this is now changed, and in the future Allied
capital will be considerably increased. The Premier Company is the
largest English concern in the Galician fields.

GERMANY has made great endeavours in the past to institute a petroleum
industry of its own, but no great success has been recorded, for while
it does possess several oil-producing areas, these are only small
fields, with a very limited yield of heavy petroleums. The wells,
though producing for many years steadily, do not give forth those large
quantities of petroleum so characteristic of the best wells in other
petroleum-producing fields, and flowing wells are indeed very rare.
Germany, therefore, has to look to imported petroleum for its large
demands.

In a succeeding chapter I refer at length to those oil regions which
come within the limits of a chapter, “Petroleum in the British
Empire”: there is no need at the moment to make reference to them here.

Space does not permit my even briefly touching upon the many other oil
regions of the world which are now being successfully operated; it is
certain, however, as time goes on that their number will be materially
increased.



CHAPTER III

HOW PETROLEUM IS PRODUCED


Time was when the engineering aspect of the production of petroleum
was practically non-existent. The ancients, and even those of the last
century, were content to resort to the most primitive means for winning
petroleum from the earth. Shallow wells were sunk or dug by hand, the
eventual securing of the oil being carried out by lowering primitive
receptacles (generally leather bottles) into the hole. It was a period
long before the advent of the Oil Age, and the methods employed were
clearly in keeping with the mode of life of that day. In practically
every oil-producing field of the world--though in this respect the
United States is almost an exception--the history records the fact that
for many years the extraction of oil from the ground was confined to
the use of the primitive methods which held sway in those days--those
associated with the operations of the hand-dug wells. In the Far East,
notably in Japan, we find the first serious attempts to obtain and
utilize petroleum, for as far back as A.D. 615, there were shallow
wells in existence, from which the “burning water,” as it was called,
was collected. In Roumania and Russia, too, the earlier attempts to
create a petroleum industry were confined to these methods.

It was only when the demand for petroleum became large and consistently
increased with the opening up of new fields, that we find other and
more practical methods were introduced for winning larger quantities
of the oil from the earth. To-day, in every branch of the industry
associated with petroleum--whether it be in producing the crude
oil, in transporting it, or in refining Nature’s product into those
numerous commodities which are part and parcel of everyday life--the
engineering aspect is one of very great importance. In fact, throughout
the petroleum industry, engineering science is the Alpha and Omega. By
its means we are now able to carefully study the nature of the ground
at depths of 6,000 feet, and to extract from the deep lying strata a
wealth of minerals; we are able, too, to transport thousands of tons of
crude oil daily across thousands of miles of continent, while is it not
the direct result of engineering science which allows over 15,000 tons
of petroleum products to be carried across the oceans of the world in
one vessel with the same ease that one would take a rowing boat from
one side of a lake to another?

Great, however, as have been the degrees of progress recorded in
connection with drilling for petroleum, the old methods, generally
speaking, and which date back to the days of early China, are still
largely copied in all pole and percussion systems of drilling, and
though steam has replaced manual labour (and electricity now bids
fair to replace steam), the operating principles to-day are the same
as then. The only exception, of course, is the advent and growing
popularity of the rotary method of drilling, to which interesting phase
of the subject I will briefly refer later.

The old Eastern method of drilling has obviously been the forerunner
of the Canadian, standard, and other systems of to-day, the wire rope
replacing the use of poles. In oil-field work, the principal types
of percussion drills used are known (1) as the Pennsylvanian cable,
(2) the Canadian pole, and (3) the Russian free-fall system, and
though from time to time many attempts have been made to introduce
modifications of these, the vast majority have been unsuccessful in
their operation.

The Pennsylvanian cable system was used for drilling the earliest
oil-wells in the United States, and doubtless took its name from the
fact that it was so largely used in that oil region. As may also be
gathered from the name, the principal feature in this system is the
cable by which the tools are suspended and connected to the walking
beam. There is no doubt that this system of drilling, which has been so
universally used in the oil-fields, gives most satisfactory results.
When first introduced in Pennsylvania, the cable system of drilling
was particularly simple, and did remarkably good work, for the reason
that the strata usually encountered was of such a nature that it did
not cave, and, as a result, the well-pipe was only lowered when the
full depth of that string had been drilled. The drilling bits were
seldom more than 4 inches thick. In order to give a rotary motion to
the bit, the continuous twisting of the cable to and fro was necessary;
but when in other fields, where deeper strata had to be explored, the
cable system was introduced, the semi-sandy nature of the strata called
for wells of larger diameter with correspondingly larger drilling
bits. As a consequence of the additional weight of the drilling bit,
it was found that the swing of the tools was sufficient to give them a
rotating movement for the drilling of a circular hole. In regions where
caving-in of the walls of the wells was liable to occur, the string of
pipe had to closely follow the tools, which, with the old Pennsylvanian
type of rig, meant frequent winding of the cable from the bull wheel,
so as to allow of the well pipes being handled.

In order to prevent the waste of time which these operations
occasioned, the calf wheel was added, by means of which the pipe could
be lowered into the hole without the removal of the drilling cable.
This cable almost invariably was of the Manila character, and in many
instances this rope is retained to-day, though wire ropes have been
introduced frequently.

The Canadian pole system, which is largely in use in oil-field
operations, is, like the first-mentioned method of drilling, of the
percussion type, the chief essential difference being that, instead of
a cable connecting the tools to the surface, poles are used. In former
times, these poles were of ash-wood, but with the extended use of the
system, iron rods took their place. The introduction of these iron rods
was a distinct advantage, for they could be welded to whatever lengths
are required, whereas the wooden poles, which were seldom more than
20 feet long, had to be spliced for practical work. The rig used with
the Canadian system is not so powerful as that for the Pennsylvanian
method, but the one great advantage of the Canadian system is that,
for the drilling of shallow oil-wells, it could be operated by men of
less experience. The success which has attended the operation of the
pole system lies in the fact that although drilling by its means is
very slow--for seldom is 250 feet per month exceeded--it is one of the
best methods of drilling through complicated strata, and, in the hands
of conscientious men, does highly satisfactory work. It might be of
interest to very briefly refer to the operations of the system when
a well is being drilled. The rig (that is, the superstructure above
ground) is quite a simple framing, 70 or more feet high, with a base
of about 20 feet. The power is usually derived from a steam engine,
with the usual means for operating the gear from the derrick; fuel
found locally, natural gas, or other form of heating agent used. One
shaft and two spools running in bearings transmit the various motions
desired, the drive being taken up by a pulley attached to the main
shaft. On this shaft are keyed two band pulleys, which communicate by
belting with two spools running immediately overhead in the upper part
of the framework. Fastened to one extremity of the main shaft is a
disc crank, which, through the medium of a connecting rod, transmits
an oscillating movement to an overhead pivoted walking beam. In all
systems of percussion drilling, the drilling bit is raised and then
dropped a distance of several feet, the result being that the strata to
be drilled are steadily pounded away. As the ground is pulverized by
the percussion tools, the debris has to be cleared away so as to enable
the drill to fall freely and to deliver clean blows to the unbroken
strata, and this work is performed by appliances known as bailers and
sand pumps. There is no need for me to go into the numerous technical
details regarding this or any other system of drilling, for my only
desire is to give a general impression as to the usual methods adopted
for the winning of petroleum.

I will therefore pass on to deal briefly with the Russian free-fall
system so much in vogue in the Russian fields. Incidentally, I may
here say that when drilling for oil in Russia, one has to recollect
several features which are not common to the development of other
oil-fields. Bearing in mind the great depth to which wells have to be
sunk to reach the prolific oil horizons in the majority of the fields
in Russia, which necessitates starting the well with a very large
diameter--frequently 30 inches--it will be easily appreciated that the
loss of a hole in the course of drilling is a very expensive affair.
The Russian free-fall system of boring necessitates patient and hard
manual labour. It is, as its name implies, of the percussion type, and
is, in fact, a modified pole-tool system which well suits the local
conditions. The clumsy drilling tools have a practically free drop,
being picked up when the walking beam is at its lowest point, and
released at the top of the stroke. When released, the tools naturally
force their way downwards in the strata, and are released only with
difficulty, although in a measure this difficulty is minimized on
account of the fact that the under-reaming (slightly enlarging the
diameter of the hole) is done simultaneously with the drilling.

After a Russian well has been started by means of a slip-hook
suspended from a haulage rope, and a depth of some 30 feet obtained,
the free-fall is added to the string of tools. This free-fall is
composed of two separate parts--the rod and the body--and these are
held together by means of a wedge working in vertical slots cut in the
sides of the body. In operating the free-fall, the handles, fixed to
the temper screw, are held by the driller. On the downward stroke these
are pushed forward from right to left, but as soon as the downward
stroke is completed, they are quickly pulled backwards. The steel
wedge enters the recess and the tools are carried to the top of the
stroke, where, by a quick forward jerk, the wedge is thrown clear of
the recess, and the tools drop freely, the momentum of the string of
tools driving the drilling bit deeper into the hole. After several feet
of the hole are drilled, the tools have to be withdrawn in order to
allow the pulverized mass of debris to be cleared away, while, owing to
the caving nature of the strata, it is necessary to case the well as
drilling proceeds.

As I have said, the system is very cumbersome, but, in the hands of
experienced men, it does its work well, if but slowly. There are many
cases on record where, when the well has assumed a considerable depth,
it has been completely spoiled by the carelessness of the operators,
but, more often than not, this has been deliberate, for the Caucasian
oil-field worker has many grievances, admittedly more or less imaginary.

[Illustration: ILLUSTRATION OF THE “OILWELL” HEAVY ROTARY OUTFIT,
SHOWING RING AND WEDGE (ON LEFT-HAND SIDE OF FOREGROUND) TO GRIP THE
CASING]

During recent years, the rotary method of drilling has been
successfully adopted, and it is in regard to this revolutionary method
of speedy drilling that I will now touch upon. The rotary method of
drilling made its début in Texas some fourteen years ago, and since
then it is not any exaggeration to say that nearly 20,000 wells for oil
have been drilled with the system, which has found popularity in all
the oil-fields of the world. Its main operation is simplicity itself: a
rigid stem of heavy pipe rotates a fish-tail drilling bit at the bottom
of the hole, cutting and stirring up the formation to be drilled. It
cuts its way through the underground formations, much in the same way
as a screw when rotated forces its way through wood. It is the essence
of speed in drilling, for, unlike the necessary principles to be
adopted in the percussion methods of drilling, the rotary drill does
not have to be lifted from the hole for the purposes of clearing. The
pulverized strata are continuously washed from the hole by a stream of
water reaching the bottom of the drill. Very frequently, a pressure-fed
mud is used, and this serves a double purpose, for in its return to
the surface it tends to plaster the walls of the well. The mud emerges
in streams of high velocity from the two apertures in the drilling bit
(for in its downward course it is carried through the drilling pipe or
stem), but naturally loses this velocity considerably in its return to
the surface. It is, however, very easy to detect the kind of stratum
being drilled through from the returned cuttings, these reaching the
surface but a few minutes after the drilling bit has entered the
formation.

From time to time various grievances have been ventilated against this
improved system of boring for petroleum, but to-day its adoption is
world-wide, and by its use wells which, with the old-fashioned method
of drilling would take many months if not two or three years, are now
got down to the producing horizons in but a few weeks. It is, in fact,
solely due to the ever-increasing use of the rotary drill that the
universally increased demands for petroleum products have been met by
an ever-increasing production of the crude oil.

Leaving the question of drilling methods, I cannot fail to mention
the interesting fact that in oil-field operations progress is now
being recorded in another direction, and that is by the increasing
utilization of electrical power in the place of steam. At the time
of writing, it is safe to say that fully 60 per cent. of the power
requirements on the oil-fields is provided for by steam plants,
with their attendant waste. Oil and gas engines, with their greater
efficiency, may claim to be operated to an extent of 35 per cent.,
while not more than 5 per cent. of the requirements are satisfied
by the use of electric motors. There is no doubt that prejudice has
had a deal to do with the very minimized use of electrical power on
the oil-fields in the past, but this is being gradually swept aside,
and, in the next few years, I have no doubt that both electrical
manufacturers and the petroleum industry generally will materially
benefit from the use of this cheap and very economical form of power.
In the past, many disastrous oil-field conflagrations have been due
solely to the use of open-fired engines in close proximity to the
wells, but with the use of electrical energy this fire danger will be
rapidly removed.

Before closing this chapter, I would say a word or two with respect to
the bringing into the producing stage of the oil-wells when once they
have been drilled. In the early history of oil-held developments,
it was not infrequent to find the crude oil ejected from the well
by natural pressure, but to-day it is the exception to find those
oil-fountains which have made the early history of the Russian
oil-fields so famous. In many of the fields, explosives are used to
promote the flow of oil, and when the well “comes in” to production,
the ordinary methods of bailing or pumping are resorted to. Compressed
air is also used for bringing about and sustaining production. The
quantity of air and the periods of admission naturally vary with
the diameters of the wells, the amount of gas present, the level of
the liquid, etc., which latter also determines the pressure of air
necessary.

The natural exhaustion of oil-wells can obviously have no remedy, but
areas conveying that impression can often be revived by methods, the
study of which is being carefully continued. As I write, I find that
the officials of the United States Bureau of Mines, who have been
studying this question of exhaustion, have arrived at the conclusion
that from 20 to as much as 90 per cent. of the crude oil remains in
the strata tapped by the well, even when it is abandoned as no longer
capable of profitable production. This conclusion opens up what may
prove some day to be a most interesting chapter in oil-field history.



CHAPTER IV

THE REFINING OF PETROLEUM


Inasmuch as the aim of this little volume is to interest other than
those who are directly associated with the petroleum industry, I shall
endeavour in this chapter to refer to the refining of petroleum in a
manner which shall be readily understood by the reader, and shall,
wherever possible, refrain from entering into those highly technical
matters which do not lend themselves to popular expression.

The refining of crude oil as it is produced from the earth, consists in
the classification of its various hydrocarbons by means of fractional
distillation, into the various products which so largely enter into our
commercial and domestic life of to-day. The refined products, in the
order in which they are received by distillation, are: motor spirit,
illuminating oils, solar oils, lubricating oils, fuel oils, residuum,
etc.--the first mentioned being the lightest and the last the heaviest
in specific gravity.

Almost simultaneously with the discovery of petroleum, there sprung up
the first attempts to refine Nature’s product, and though these early
experiments were of a most primitive character, they doubtless served
their purpose admirably. In this respect, probably the most primitive
oil refinery in the world was built near the Tigris, in Mesopotamia.

Crude petroleum varies in its character, for while certain crudes
are pale in colour and almost transparent, others are almost black
and viscid. Some, indeed, would appear to have undergone a course of
refining by Nature itself, for in some fields the crude oil will
freely burn in lamps without any refining treatment: in the vast
majority of cases, however, the crude oil, as withdrawn from the
producing wells, represents a liquid somewhat like molten tar.

The chemical composition of petroleum consists essentially of carbon
and hydrogen, together with oxygen and varying amounts of nitrogen
and sulphur. The crude from Pennsylvania--and this is the finest
crude in the United States--consists chiefly of a large number of
hydrocarbons of the paraffin series, whilst in the Russian petroleums,
the predominant constituents are naphthenes or polymethylenes. Then
the crude petroleum of the Dutch Indies and Burmah is of a different
character from that found elsewhere, for in it aromatic hydrocarbons
are largely present. The various series of hydrocarbons found in
crude oils--the paraffins and naphthenes--readily lend themselves to
conversion into other compounds of carbon and hydrogen by dissociation,
and this conversion produces compounds of higher volatility, such as
motor spirits, etc. When the compounds of hydrogen and carbon are
submitted to distillation, certain chemical changes occur, as the
result of which other series of hydrocarbons are formed, and, though it
is not my intention here to dive into this comparatively new realm of
chemical investigation, it is interesting to mention that, by carrying
the treatment of the compounds still further, it is possible to obtain
aromatic hydrocarbons, including trinitrotoluene (generally known as
the explosive T.N.T.), in addition to various dye products.

In the earlier methods of refining, the stills usually consisted of
a vertical cylinder in which the charge of crude oil was distilled
almost to dryness, but this method was completely revolutionized many
years ago, especially in the United States, by the introduction and
immediate success of a principle known as the “cracking” process, and
by the separation of the distillation into two portions, one for the
removal of the more volatile constituents in the crude oil (such as
motor spirit) and the other for the treatment of the heavier products.


                                                                          CRUDE OIL

                                                                    FRACTIONAL DISTILLATION
                                                                              |
             +--------------------+-----------------+--------------------+----+------------------+
             |                    |                 |                    |                       |
       Crude Naphtha          Heavy Crude         Natural         +-------------+         Cylinder Stock
             |                 Naphtha           Lamp Oil         | Lubricating |                |
      Steam Distillation          |                 |             | Distillate  |                |
             |             Steam Distillation   Distillate        +-------------+                |
     +-------+-----+              |               Acid                   |                     Clay
     |       |     |        +-----+---+        Treatment           Cold Pressing            Percolation
  Gasoline   |   Bottoms    |         |             |                    |                       |
             |              |      Bottoms   +------+---+           +----+------+                |
       +------------+       |                |          |           |           |                |
       | Naphtha    |   +------------+     Sludge       |       Slack Wax  +-------------+       |
       | Distillate |   | Naphtha    |                  |           |      | Pressed     |       |
       +------------+   | Distillate |            +---------+    Sweating  | Lub’g Dist. |       |
             |          +------------+            | W W Oil |     Process  +-------------+       |
       Acid Treatment                             +---------+       |              |             |
             |                                                +-----+----+         |     +-------+---+
      +------+---------+                                      |          |         |     |           |
      |                |                                      |        Foots       |  Asphalt        |
    Sludge        Deodorized                                  |         Oil        |          +----------+
                   Naphtha                                    |                    |          | Cylinder |
                                                      +--------------+             |          |   Oil    |
                                                      |    Crude     |             |          +----------+
                                                      | Paraffin Wax |         Fractional
                                                      +--------------+        Distillation
                                                              |                    |
                                                            Clay              +----+--------+
                                                         Percolation          |             |
                                                              |          +------------+  +-----------+
                                                    +--------------+     | Gas & Fuel |  | Neutral   |
                                                    |              |     | Oil Stock  |  | Oil Stock |
                                                    |          Asphalt   +------------+  +-----------+
                                             +--------------+                                  |
                                             | Paraffin Wax |                                 Clay
                                             +--------------+                              Percolation
                                                                                               |
                                                                                    +----------+---+
                                                                                    |              |
                                                                                 Asphalt           |
                                                                                           +-------------+
                                                                                           | Neutral Oil |
                                                                                           +-------------+


DIAGRAM SHOWING THE PRODUCTS OF PETROLEUM BY FRACTIONAL DISTILLATION

I will first deal with the method of refining known as the “straight”
process, or the process which does not involve “cracking.” At one time,
the refiner had to consider the saleability of his refined products
before he commenced to refine them, but to-day, with the perfect system
which prevails for the handling of huge quantities of refined products,
and the transporting of them to the most distant markets, the one
desire of the refiner is, naturally, to secure from his treatment of
the crude oil, as many refined products as possible, always keeping an
eye on the production of the largest quantities of the higher priced
products than upon those which are of low value.

The process of refining to be applied to any particular oil naturally
depends upon its composition as shown by analysis. It may be that the
crude oil to be treated, apart from containing a small percentage of
distillates with a low boiling point (motor spirit), is principally
made up of residues of little value except as fuel, or, on the other
hand, it may be that the crude oil is of high quality and contains all
possible products. In the former case, the process of distillation is
brief, and the plant inexpensive, as compared with the lengthy process
of full refining necessitated in the latter case.

The refining operations consist of three distinct branches: (1) the
distillation, (2) the extracting of paraffin and refining, and (3)
the chemical treatment. When only a small percentage of the low
boiling fractions has to be removed from the crude oil, the process
is known as “topping,” and a convenient form of apparatus for the
purpose is the tower still. This consists of a vertical cylinder
fitted with perforated plates resting at intervals on pipes through
which superheated steam travels. The pipes serve the double purpose
of conveying the steam to its inlet and of heating the oil to be
distilled. The steam, on entering the cylinder, ascends, meeting the
crude oil, as it descends from plate to plate in a regulated stream,
and carrying with it to the outlet the light fractions which the
operation is intended to remove.


                                                                        CRUDE OIL

                                                                   CRACKING DISTILLATION
                                                                           |
                  +-----------------------+----------------+---------------+---------+----------------------------------------------+
                  |                       |                |                         |                                              |
             Crude Naphtha           +---------+         Natural            Cracked Distillate                                     Tar
                  |                  |  Crude  |        Lamp Oil                     |                                              |
             Steam Distillation      |  Heavy  |       Distillate           Steam Distillation                                 Mild Cracking
                  |                  | Naphtha |           |                         |                                          Distillation
     +------------+-----------+      +----+----+     Acid Treatment        +---------+---------+                                    |
     |            |           |           |                |               |                   |                    +----------+----+----+-----------+
  Gasoline        |         Bottoms       |           +---------+     +---------+         +------------+            |          |         |           |
            +------------+                |           |         |     |  Crude  |         |   Test     |     +------------+    |    +----------+   Coke
            |   Naphtha  |              Steam       Sludge     Lamp   | Naphtha |         |  Cracked   |     |  Cracked   |    |    |    Wax   |
            | Distillate |           Distillation     |        Oil    +---------+         | Distillate |     | Distillate |    |    | Tailings |
            +------------+                |           |                    |              +------------+     +------------+    |    +----------+
                  |                 +-----+-----+     |                  Acid                   |                              |
             Acid Treatment         |           |     |               Treatment                Acid                   +----------------------+
                  |          +------------+  Bottoms  |                    |                 Treatment                | Paraffin  Distillate |
       +----------+---+      |   Naphtha  |           |            +-------+--+                 |                     +----------------------+
       |              |      | Distillate |           |            |          |          +------+-----+                        |
    Sludge            |      +------------+           |         Sludge        |          |            |                  Cold Pressing
            +------------+                        Separated            +----------+   Sludge          |                        |
            | Deodorized |                        by boiling           | Gasoline |            +------------+          +-------+----------+
            |   Naphtha  |                        with water           |  Stock   |            |  Treated   |          |                  |
            +------------+                            |                +----------+            |   Test     |        Slack        Pressed Paraffin
                                              +-----------+                 |                  | Distillate |         Wax             Distillate
                                              |           |              Steam                 +------------+          |                  |
                                     +-----------+      Acid          Distillation                    |            Sweating          Fractional
                                     |    Weak   |       Oil                |                     Fractional        Process         Distillation
                                     | Sulphuric |        |           +-----+---+                Distillation          |                  |
                                     |    Acid   |        |           |         |                     |                |          +-------+-------+
                                     +-----------+        |        Gasoline  Bottoms       +---------------+           |          |               |
                                                      Fractional                           |               |           |    +------------+  +-----------+
                                                     Distillation                    +------------+  +----------+      |    | Gas & Fuel |  | Paraffin  |
                                                          |                          |  Standard  |  | Gas and  |      |    | Oil Stock  |  | Oil Stock |
                                                    +----------+                     |   White    |  | Fuel Oil |      |    +------------+  +-----------+
                                                    |          |                     | Distillate |  | Stock    |      |                          |
                                                Acid Oil    Asphalt                  +------------+  +----------+      +--------+                 |
                                               Distillate                                  |                           |        |                 |
                                                                                     Acid Treatment                    |      Foots              Acid
                                                                                           |                           |       Oil             Treatment
                                                                                    +-------------------+              |                          |
                                                                                    |                   |         +----------+              +-----+-----+
                                                                         +--------------------+      Sludge       |   Crude  |              |           |
                                                                         | Standard White Oil |                   | Paraffin |         +----------+   Sludge
                                                                         +--------------------+                   |    Wax   |         | Paraffin |
                                                                                                                  +----------+         |   Oil    |
                                                                                                                        |              +----------+
                                                                                                                Clay Percolation
                                                                                                                        |
                                                                                                                 +------+----+
                                                                                                                 |           |
                                                                                                              Asphalt   +--------------+
                                                                                                                        | Paraffin Wax |
                                                                                                                        +--------------+

DIAGRAM SHOWING THE PRODUCTS OF PETROLEUM OBTAINED BY THE “CRACKING”
PROCESS

A few years ago, a Californian chemist invented an improvement of the
principles of maximum heating and evaporating surfaces. His name was
Trumble, and the process is known as the Trumble process. The crude
oil is heated to the desired temperature in pipes or retorts set in a
primary furnace, the hot gases of combustion from which are utilized to
heat the distillation chamber proper. Entering the vertical cylinder at
the top, the oil is spread over and through perforated plates falling
on a cone-shaped plate to divert the continuous stream of oil to the
sides of the still, down which it flows in a thin film. Other conical
plates, arranged at intervals underneath, maintain the flow in the
desired channel until it reaches the outlet at the bottom. When 60 or
70 per cent. (comprising the motor spirit series, the kerosenes, and
perhaps the intermediate fractions) are to be removed, it is common
practice to distil the crude oil in a series of stills, cylindrical in
shape, connected continuously. The best-known system is that patented
35 years ago by Mr. Henderson, of the Broxburn Oil Company, Ltd., for
the distillation of shale oil, and since adopted by many refiners of
petroleum. In this system, the crude oil flows from a charging tank by
gravity through a pre-heater, heated by the passage, from the second or
other still, of distillates of suitable temperature, and thence into
the first still. Here it is raised to distillation temperature, and the
specific gravity of the distillate therefrom fixed. The feed of the
crude oil is constant, the residue formed in the still passing through
a connection at the bottom into the second still in the series, at the
top, and led from back to front so that the inlet and outlet shall be
as far apart as possible. It is here raised to a higher temperature,
yielding a distillate of higher specific gravity, the residue passing
on to the next still, and so on through the series of stills until it
reaches the point where all the motor spirit (or benzine, as it is
called), kerosene, and the intermediate distillates are removed.

The distillates obtained from the refining of the crude are usually
purified by treatment successively with sulphuric acid and solution of
caustic soda, this process of chemical treatment being necessary before
the products are fit for the market.

The “cracking” process of distillation briefly consists in distilling
the oils at a temperature higher than the normal boiling points of
the constituents it is desired to decompose, and, in practice, the
result is that the heavier oils are turned into lighter hydrocarbons
of lower boiling points: thus the yield of the more valuable of the
refined products is materially increased. The “cracking” process,
which very largely obtains to-day, was quite accidentally discovered
by a small refiner in America many years ago. The man in charge of the
still left it with the intention of returning very shortly. He was,
however, absent for several hours, and to his dismay found that; as the
result of his neglect in attending to the still, a very light coloured
distillate of much lower density than that which it was usual to
obtain, was issuing from the condenser.

Upon investigation, it was found that a portion of the distillate
had condensed upon the upper part of the still, which was cooler,
and had dropped back into the still, where the temperature was
sufficient to produce products of a lower boiling point--certainly
a distinct improvement. As may be imagined, this “cracking” process
does not commence until the lighter products of distillation have been
removed, and is now so popular because by its use a greater yield can
be obtained of those more valuable products for which there is an
ever-increasing demand.

It is unnecessary here to enter into those various improvements which
have been introduced from time to time, all of which have as their
aim the production of larger quantities of refined oils, and it would
likewise be invidious to enumerate even the more popular scientists to
whose energies much of the resulting progress has been due, for the
simple reason that it has ever been the aim of the petroleum chemist to
turn his abilities in the direction indicated.

As may be imagined, the industry of petroleum refining has had to adapt
itself to the altered conditions of to-day. For instance, prior to the
advent of the internal combustion engine, which now is responsible
for such a wide application of motor spirit, the demand for this,
the lightest product of petroleum distillation, was non-existent.
Consequently, when such spirit was produced, there was no market for
it, and its production represented sheer loss to the refiners. Both
in the Far East and in Russia, we have examples of the enormous loss
which accrued to the refiners by reason of there being no market
for this highly inflammable product. In the Far Eastern fields, in
particular, this loss was very heavy, for in the earlier days of its
operations, the “Shell” Company had to remove thousands of tons of
this now valuable motor spirit from its refineries and burn it in the
open fields. The successful introduction of the internal combustion
engine, however, completely changed the aspect of petroleum refining,
and the desire became general, not to see how little motor spirit could
be produced, but to perfect methods by which the yield of the benzene
series of hydrocarbons should be as large as possible. Even to-day
progress is still being recorded in this direction, and each American
refiner is vying with his neighbour as to how far that output of
gasoline, as it is there called, can be increased.

Many and varied are the means which have been resorted to for this
purpose, but most of them have reference to improvements in the
processes for refining the crude oil. One, however, is worthy of being
mentioned in this little treatise, inasmuch as it deals with quite
another aspect of the problem of increased motor spirit supply.

As I have mentioned in another chapter, enormous quantities of natural
gas exude from the oil-wells, and this in the past has been for the
most part allowed to go to waste in the air, causing an ever-present
danger to oil-field operations on account of its liability to ignite.
Being heavier than the air itself, for it is impregnated with oil
gases, it remains for long periods in the lower air strata, and,
consequently, not infrequently, has been the direct cause of great
oil-field fires. This gas--casing-head gas, as it is termed--comes from
the oil-wells between the casing and the tubing, and, in the case of
numerous wells, the flow is remarkable, some wells giving forth 300,000
cubic feet of gas every 24 hours, and the only useful purpose that this
vapour has served until recent years has been to light several towns
situated comparatively near to the oil-producing fields. The great
volume of the gas, however, has been allowed to go to waste.

But experiments have proved that the gas is capable of condensation
into motor spirit, and the general yield of such spirit may be taken
as fully 2 gallons per 1,000 cubic feet of natural gas treated. What
wonderful possibilities lie in the direction of the conversion of this
vapour into motor spirit! The oil-producers in the United States have
not been slow to appreciate this, and to-day there are hundreds of
plants in the United States which have been erected solely to condense
these oil-well gas vapours. Some of these plants are dealing with as
much as 3,000,000 cubic feet of gas a day. The most recent official
returns available from the United States show that the production of
gasoline (motor spirit) from this process of oil gas condensation is,
approximately, 150,000,000 gallons per annum, and even this substantial
figure is being steadily increased.

There is also another phase of the oil-refining industry which, during
recent years, has materially altered. I refer to the production of
solar oil during distillation. It is an apt saying that we can scarcely
look to any section of our commercial or domestic life without being
confronted with the fact that oil products play some part therein:
there are few, however, who, without reflection, would agree that when
they light their gas they are dependent upon petroleum for much of the
light the gas gives. It is, nevertheless, a fact, as I will proceed to
show.

Many years ago, the oil refiners in Baku were confronted with a
problem which appeared for some time to be insurmountable. After the
distillation of their kerosene, or illuminating oil, and before they
could commence to take off the lubricating oil fractions, there was an
intermediary product which, while being of no use for lamp oil, did not
possess the necessary constituents of viscosity to make it acceptable
as a lubricant. It was a fairly decent volume of something for which
there was no market at the time.

Experiments were made, and with these the name of Dr. Paul Dvorkovitz
will ever be associated, and it was found that by the passage of a
current of gas over the surface of this intermediate product, the gas
caught up as it were a richness which materially increased the lighting
power of the gas. To cut a long, but highly interesting, story short,
this solar or gas oil was subsequently introduced by Dr. Dvorkovitz to
England for gas enrichment purposes, and the extent of its employment
to-day may be judged from the fact that the United Kingdom regularly
imports between 60,000,000 and 70,000,000 gallons per annum for the
enrichment of the coal gas which finds useful employment in practically
every home throughout the land. As is known, the gas companies have to
produce gas of a certain lighting quality, and it is in the upholding
of the lighting strength of the gas that solar oil to-day plays so
important a part. At first, the oil came almost exclusively from
Russia, but now the competition from the United States has secured
for our American friends the vast bulk of the trade, which, as I have
shown, has reached enormous proportions.

Solar oil is also largely utilized for the production of refined
perfumery oils, which are quite colourless and inodorous, while the
finest quality is used in pharmacy and known as _paraffinum liquidum_,
and is in much demand, but in this connection it is the Russian
petroleums that have gained distinction. It was held for many years
that such tasteless and colourless oils could not be produced from the
United States petroleums, but from the commencement of the European
War, and the consequent closure of Russia’s export port, whereby all
overseas trade in Russian petroleums was held up, much progress was
made in the manufacture of tasteless medicinal petroleums in the United
States, such articles having now become popular throughout the world.

One of the most important discoveries made during recent years has
been the finding of large quantities of toluol in petroleum. This
article is necessary for the manufacture of high explosives. In Borneo
heavy petroleum, toluol exists to a very large extent, and it was its
discovery and consequent use by the allies--thanks to the offer made
to the Governments by Sir Marcus Samuel, Bart.--that almost unlimited
quantities of high explosives were manufactured.

Vaseline is another useful commodity which is derived from the refining
of crude petroleum, and this article is turned out of the American
refineries as well as those of Russia and Galicia, in large quantities,
but, beyond mentioning this fact, no useful purpose would here be
served by relating the various processes employed.

With reference to the methods generally adopted in the refining of the
products from the distillation of the Scottish oil shales, these are
briefly dealt with in the chapter devoted to the Scottish oil industry.

It is safe to say that the past two or three decades have witnessed
marked progress in perfecting the methods by which crude petroleums are
refined into the innumerable common commodities of commerce, and it
is doubtful whether in any branch of chemical research there has been
such concerted energy shown as in regard to the refining of mineral
oils. Signs, however, are not wanting to show that the zenith of this
progress has by no means been reached.



CHAPTER V

TRANSPORT BY LAND AND SEA


The remarkably perfect methods by which petroleum and its products
are transported by land and sea before they reach the consumer may
not at first sight appear to be anything but commonplace, but a
moment’s reflection will be sufficient to suggest that a vast and
complete organization must be required in order that petroleum may be
brought from practically the ends of the earth to the consumer in the
most remote village in the British Isles. But it is the demands of
necessity that have been responsible for the building up of this vast
organization of transportation which represents, in the United States
alone, the investment of many millions of pounds sterling.

Taking first the methods of oil transportation by land, in no other
oil-producing country do we find such an elaborate system for dealing
with enormous quantities of petroleum as in America, for it is safe to
say that at least 500,000 barrels of crude oil have to be dealt with
daily at the present time.

Going back to the time when petroleum first became a commercial
commodity--when the first wells in Oil Creek commenced to open up
a period of new prosperity for the United States--these wells were
situated so close to the water that their product could easily be
loaded into canoes and barges, and floated down the Alleghany river. In
the dry season, the flow was insufficient to float the craft, and then
some hundreds of the boats, carrying each from 50 to 1,000 barrels,
would be assembled in a mill-pond near the wells, and the water
impounded while the loading was in progress. Then the gates would be
opened, and the fleet, carried on the flood of rushing water, would
be hurried down the river in charge of pilots. The fleet of creek and
river boats engaged in this novel work at one time numbered 2,000.

But, as the production of oil increased, and new districts were
successfully tapped, it became obvious that some different method of
handling the crude oil would have to be adopted. The inland wells
could not get rid of their production, and it is not surprising to
find that at one time--about 1862--crude oil prices at the well fell
to 10 cents per barrel. A system of horse haulage was initiated, and
in time thousands of animals were required to haul the oil from the
inland wells to shipping points. The waggon train of the oil country
in the pre-pipe-line days at its maximum consisted of 6,000 two-horse
teams and waggons, and a traveller in the oil region in those early
sixties could not lose sight of an endless train of waggons each laden
with from five to seven barrels. The roads were almost bottomless, and
the teamsters tore down fences and drove where they liked. These men,
always of the roving, picturesque type, would earn anything from 10 to
25 dollars per day, spending the most part in revelry on the Saturday
night.

It was at this time that a Bill was introduced into the States
legislature authorizing the construction of a pipe-line from Oil
Creek to a spot known as Kittanning, but the opposition of 4,000
teamsters defeated the Bill and the first effort to organize an oil
pipe-line company. The modest beginning of the present-day system of
oil transportation on land by pipe-line was due to the enterprise of
a Jerseyman named Hutchings, who laid a 2-inch pipe from some wells
to the Humbolt refinery. The teamsters, foreseeing the possibilities
of this innovation, proceeded to tear up the line, and warned the
oil-producers not to adopt these new methods of oil transportation.

But Hutchings was undismayed, for he laid a second line, this being
composed of cast-iron joints caulked with lead. Although this
was impracticable, the teamsters again wrought vengeance on the
proposition, and completely destroyed it. Hutchings still persisted in
his efforts, but died--disappointed and penniless--a genius living a
little before his time.

[Illustration: A PRIMITIVE METHOD OF TRANSPORTING OIL]

At the end of 1865, a Henry Harley commenced the laying of a pipe-line
to the terminus of the Oil Creek railroad, but teamsters cut the pipes,
burned the collecting tanks, and retarded the work in every possible
way. Armed guards eventually came on the scene, the mob was quelled and
dispersed, and the line completed. It was of 2-inch diameter, and laid
to handle 800 barrels of oil daily: this was the first successful and
profitable pipe-line on record for the handling of oil.

From this time, the number of pipe-lines have multiplied, until to-day
there are thousands of them scattered throughout every oil-producing
field of America. The first long main transportation line for oil
was laid in 1880 from Butler County to Cleveland, a distance of over
100 miles, and immediately after its completion, trunk lines were
commenced from the Bradford oil region to the Atlantic seaboard. The
popularity of this new method of oil transportation may be judged from
the fact that within three years from the completion of these first
propositions, the National Transit Company possessed over 3,000 miles
of oil pipe-lines, and had iron tank storage for 35,000,000 barrels of
crude oil.

Then a few master minds came to the front, and loyally supported by
Mr. John D. Rockefeller, of Standard Oil fame, they undertook the
herculean task of practically girdling the States with a system of oil
pipe-lines that has no parallel anywhere. They eliminated the jaded
horses, oil-boats, wooden tankage, and slow freights, tedious methods,
and questionable practices of handling petroleum, and substituted
therefor the stem pump, the iron conduit, the steel tank storage, and
systematic and businesslike methods which soon commanded the confidence
and respect of all oil-producers. They extended their pipe-lines to
practically every producing well and established a transportation
system which serves the industry to-day as no other on earth is
served. The advantages of the modern pipe-line to the oil-producer are
obvious. A pipe-line connection to a producer’s tank ensures prompt
service and a cash market for his product at all times. The small line
connected with his tank conveys the crude oil therefrom, either by
gravity or by means of a pump, into a receiving tank of the gathering
or field lines of the pipe-line system, from which it is pumped into
the main trunk pipe-lines to the refineries.

[Illustration: OIL PIPE-LINE CONNECTIONS IN THE AMERICAN FIELDS]

The system by which the producer can have payment for his oil at
any time, for he is credited with its value when it once enters the
pipe-line, is the perfection of simplicity, accuracy, and efficiency.
The pipe-line of which the gathering or field lines are composed varies
in diameter from 2 to 8 inches, the joints of which are screw threaded.
The main trunk lines are from 6 to 10 inches in diameter, and pumping
stations, supplied with powerful plant driven by steam or internal
combustion engines of the Diesel type, are located at suitable points
of the line. According to the nature of the crude oils to be passed
through the pipe-line must the erection of pumping houses be governed:
for instance, in handling the heavy Californian or Mexican crudes, the
pumping stations have to be much nearer each other than when a lighter
crude oil is transported. Some of the heavier oils have, in fact, to be
heated before they enter the pipes at all.

As already mentioned, the total oil transported to-day by the American
pipe-line system exceeds half a million barrels daily. The lines
themselves--all laid, of course, below ground--are so unobtrusive and
do their work so quietly and unseen, that they attract no attention,
and yet they are vastly important to not only the business of the
States, but to those myriads of consumers abroad.

It is, in fact, impossible to over-estimate the importance of this
up-to-date system of oil transportation in the United States as it
exists to-day. To show the impossibility of conducting the present-day
American petroleum industry without the use of pipe-lines, let me give
a few facts. The large oil-tank cars, which are not unusual sights on
our railways, hold, at the maximum, about 25 tons of oil. Excluding
California altogether from these illustrations, the half-a-million
barrels of oil which are transported daily in the States by pipe-lines
would fill over 2,500 tank cars. Taking 25 cars to make up a freight
train, it would require fully 100 trains daily to transport the oil
that now goes by pipe-line, and inasmuch as it is estimated that the
oil on the average is transported overland (or, rather, under-land)
1,000 miles, it would require, approximately, 200,000 railroad tank
cars to do the daily work in connection with the transport of oil in
the United States east of the Rocky Mountains, for the average movement
of tank cars is 30 miles daily, and all empty cars must be returned.
No less than 8,000 railroad engines would be required to do this work,
which, on the face of it, is a railway impossibility.

I am afraid I have devoted more space to the question of pipe-line
transport in the States than the confines of this little work warrants,
but the subject is one of great interest to all who would know the
magnitude of the organization which is comprised in the limits of the
petroleum industry.

The United States, however, is but one of the large oil-producing
countries where the pipe-line system for the land transport of oil has
become the backbone of transport. In Russia, for instance, the fields
of production are situated hundreds of miles from the exporting ports,
and, following upon the principles which obtain in the United States,
the pipe-line system had, perforce, to be adopted. In this respect,
however, Russia has still a great deal to learn from our Western
friends, and the conservative policy which permeated the Russian Empire
as a whole has precluded the making of much headway.

The Russian oil-fields--those of Baku and Grosny--are situated at great
distance from the coast, and the necessity of connecting both fields
with the export port of Batoum, on the Black Sea, has frequently been
put forward as a project offering the one solution of the difficulties
attending the retention of a large export oil trade. The Grosny
pipe-line is still a scheme for future solution, but that affecting
Baku has been solved by the laying of a pipe-line from Baku to Batoum.
This line, which is approximately 650 miles long, runs direct between
the two oil centres and, assuming it operates 24 hours in the day, has
a capacity of transporting over 3,000 tons of oil daily. Inasmuch as
the Russian oil refineries are at Baku, the line is used solely for
the transportation of the refined products. The line itself is laid
alongside the railway line of the Transcaucasian Railway, at a depth of
4 feet, but many strange stories are related as to the tapping of it at
various points, and a lucrative trade being done in the oil so caught.

When normal conditions return to Russia and the petroleum industry
rights itself, Russian petroleum products will again come on the
international markets, and in this respect the Grozny oil will be able
to secure an outlet via Novorossisk.

Roumania can also boast of a main trunk pipe-line for refined products
from the inland refineries direct to the port of Constantza. This
important project, which has been carried out practically by the
Government itself, was just about ready for service when the European
War broke out: it has, therefore, had little time in which to display
its practical use to the petroleum industry at large. When one
recollects that Roumania’s future, so far as the petroleum industry
is concerned, lies in the direction of the building up of its already
established export trade in petroleum products, the necessity for
such a trunk pipe-line to the seaboard has been obvious for many
years. Unlike the case of the United States, there are no interesting
events to recall which delayed the advent of this new form of land oil
transportation. There is only one oil pipe-line of any considerable
length in the United Kingdom and this runs across Scotland from Old
Kilpatrick (on the west) to Grangemouth (on the east coast), its
terminal being in close proximity to the naval base at Rosyth. The
line, which is 36 miles long, was laid to circumvent the activity of
enemy submarines, but was only completed in November, 1918, after the
conclusion of the European hostilities.

The one other important oil-pipe-line which calls for mention is that
connecting the oil-fields of Persia with the coast. In this scheme, the
British Government is heavily interested, and, though there has been
much criticism of its action, there is no doubt that, in due time, the
Persian fields will play an important part in the supply of petroleum
products to England, and, in that connection, the Persian pipe-line
must naturally prominently figure, since, without it, there would be
numerous difficulties to be contended with in getting the oil to the
coast.

The carrying of large quantities of petroleum products over the seas of
the world is a subject which has taxed the minds of experts quite as
much as that of land transport. For many years it was the rule to ship
petroleum products overseas in the ordinary barrels (approximately, 42
gallons each) to the consuming countries. It was a costly business,
for, apart from the initial cost of the barrels themselves, they
took up a very considerable space on the vessels, which was not
proportionate with the quantity of oils carried. Leakage also played
a very important rôle in this ocean transport, and, generally, the
principle left much to be desired. The _Atlantic_ was doubtless the
first vessel designed to carry petroleum in bulk from America, but
records show that some years previously--in 1863--a Mr. Henry Duncan,
of Kent, sent the first oil-carrying vessel to Europe. The vessel,
however, never completed her voyage, for she was lost in the Gulf of
St. Lawrence, just as she was starting on her trip across the Atlantic.
The _Charles_--quite a small vessel--also played a part in the early
days of bulk oil transport across the Atlantic, for this steamer was,
I believe, the first to employ iron tanks for the bulk transport of
petroleum. After these first few attempts to convey petroleum in
bulk from continent to continent, tank vessels steadily wiped the
barrel-carrying boats off the seas. It was found that not only did oils
carried in bulk take up but one-half the space of those in barrels,
but the cost of the oak-staved barrels themselves (usually 5s. each)
was obviated. At first, sailing ships were adopted to meet the newer
requirements, but later, vessels propelled by steam were introduced.

At first the shipbuilders had nothing to guide them in the shape of
practical experience of bulk oil carriers, but, from small things,
a great ocean trade in bulk petroleum products soon grew. It is
interesting to note the enterprise which English shipbuilders displayed
in this new method of handling petroleum for ocean transport, for
during at least two decades the vast bulk of construction of oil
carriers took place in English shipbuilding yards. The opening of the
Far Eastern fields of production led to the construction of a large
number of oil tankers--each of increasing size--for Messrs. M. Samuel
and Company, and these were named after various shells. The fleet of
“Shell” tankers to-day ranks as one of the finest in the world, and
forms the connecting link between the prolific oil-producing properties
of the “Shell” Transport and Trading Company, Ltd., in the Far East,
and the demand for petroleum products in this and other countries, the
vessels themselves being owned by the Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Company,
Ltd., one of the influential owning interests in the wide ramifications
of the “Shell” Company.

For several years the oil tanker _Narragansett_, owned by the
Anglo-American Oil Company, Ltd. (London), held claim to being the
largest bulk oil carrier in the world, for the good ship had a capacity
of nearly 11,000 tons of products. The size of this vessel may be
judged from the fact that she had a length between perpendiculars
of over 510 feet, with a 63 feet beam, while her moulded depth was
42 feet. This vessel, which marked a distinct step forward in oil
tanker construction, belonged to Lloyd’s A1 three-deck class. The
Anglo-American Oil Company has shown its belief in oil fuel for ocean
power purposes by contracting for internal combustion-engined tankers,
and the first of this class was launched in November, 1919.

[Illustration: ONE OF THE MAMMOTH TANKERS OF THE EAGLE OIL COMPANY’S
FLEET]

It was left to the enterprise of the Eagle Oil Transport Company--that
important concern associated with Lord Cowdray’s immense oil
organization for handling Mexican petroleum products--to make what
will ever go down as the most bold policy of increasing the size of
oil tankers by 50 per cent. upon all predecessors. Some six years ago,
just when the Mexican fields were commencing to pour forth their flood
of oil for the world’s requirements, the Eagle Oil Transport Company
included in its programme of activities the building of an immense
fleet of oil tankers, and it was decided that a number of these should
each have a capacity of 15,000 tons of petroleum products. There were
many who asserted that the limit to the size of oil tankers had been
reached, but, undaunted, the Company went forth with their policy.
It was a bold stroke, yet a successful one, for not only have the
vessels proved to be very practical, but they have taught a lesson in
economy of ocean transport which has been seriously taken to heart by
practically all engaged in ocean oil transport.

I had the honour of being one of the invited guests at the launch
of the first of these gigantic oil carriers, and of subsequently
experiencing a trip in the mammoth floating “tank.” The vessel behaved
admirably at sea, and in a chat with the designer, I recollect asking
if there were any reason to believe that the limit in size had been
reached. The reply was pointed: “So long as we can have loading and
discharging berths large enough to enable such large vessels to be
manipulated, we can easily go beyond the present size.” Events have
proved that the policy adopted by the Eagle Oil Transport Company was
justifiable, for already a new oil tanker, the _San Florentino_, has
been built, having a capacity of over 18,000 tons.

Before leaving this interesting subject of ocean oil transportation,
I should like to emphasize the distinct step forward which is marked
by these latest oil tankers. To-day, we have entered the era when
oil fuel has passed its experimental stages and become one of the
greatest boons to those associated with the navigation of the seas.
The ease with which oil fuel is handled is remarkable, for vessels of
the largest size--that is, those using oil instead of coal for power
purposes--could replenish their stores within a few hours at any oil
port. In the transport of petroleum by the modern tankers, the taking
on board of a full cargo is accomplished in about a single day, thanks
to the most improved means of pumping oil from the shore tanks through
flexible pipes. The great oil tankers trading between this and other
countries and Mexico, load up off the Mexican coast by means of a
submarine pipe-line, and, reckoning but fourteen return trips per
annum, it will easily be apparent what immense stores of petroleum
can with ease be brought to the centres of consumption. Compare this
with the primitive methods of transport in barrels, and it will be
readily seen with what rapidity the hands of progress have moved during
comparatively recent years.

The vast majority of oil tankers to-day, true to their calling,
derive their power from oil, for they burn it under their furnaces,
and, therefore, are not liable to those tedious delays so inseparable
from the use of coal, and should severe storms beset their passage in
Mid-Atlantic, then a little oil pumped overboard will quell the most
turbulent sea and permit a safe passage onward.

It is evident, however, that the motor-engined oil tanker will be the
order of the future, for already vessels are being built which utilize
oil fuel internally--a much more economical process than burning it
under boilers.



CHAPTER VI

PETROLEUM AS FUEL


So much has been written of late as to the use of petroleum as fuel
for the purposes of steam-raising, that the reader is bound to be more
or less _au fait_ with the subject. It is, of course, one of vast
importance, and during the next decade is certain to receive far more
consideration than it has hitherto done, owing to the general desire
that our coal wealth shall be conserved as much as possible. Given the
one allowance that oil fuel can be procured at anything approaching a
reasonable figure--and there is no reason why, in normal times, this
reasonable price should not be prevalent all over the world--then
petroleum offers many advantages over its older competitor, coal. The
ease with which large quantities can be handled, the simple method of
operating anything which is fired by petroleum as fuel, and the fact
that its heat-giving units are far higher than those of coal, will ever
be the chief factors governing its popularity.

Many years ago, fuel oil made its serious début, but at that time the
supply of the product was very uncertain, and, consequently, progress
in passing from the old to the new form of power-raising was slow.
To-day, however, matters have materially changed. The crude oil output
has been immeasurably increased, and many fields whose production of
crude oil is essentially suited for fuel purposes have been opened up.
In this respect, the oil-fields of Mexico have no parallel, and it is
recorded that, once these fields are provided with adequate storage and
transport facilities, they can easily supply the whole of the fuel oil
necessary for the world, and at the same time have immense quantities
to spare.

But, though the subject of petroleum as fuel has aroused much attention
for some years, there is still an erroneous idea prevailing as to what
really is fuel oil. A word or two on this question will, therefore, not
be without interest. Fuel oil is that portion of crude oil which is
incapable of giving off by the process of ordinary distillation those
lighter products of petroleum known as motor spirit, illuminating oils,
or lubricants. It is, in a word, the residue of distillation which is
unsuitable for refining purposes. It represents a black, tarry liquid,
and is, of course, minus those fractions that go to produce the refined
products. Many there are who refer to crude oil as fuel oil, but this
is a misnomer, though crude oil, in many instances, is utilized for the
purposes of fuel. In this chapter, however, when I speak of fuel oil,
I am referring not to the crude oil as it comes from the ground (and
which has a comparatively low flash) but to the article of commerce,
the residue of distillation, which is the real article--fuel oil.

The headway which fuel oil has made during the past few years has been
remarkable, though it is safe to say that its general use is still in
its infancy. In no matter what capacity it has been tried as a heating
or steam-raising agent, it has proved itself capable of withstanding
most successfully the most stringent tests, and has convinced all who
have given the question serious consideration that it holds numerous
advantages over coal, yet has no drawbacks. Perhaps the most recent
impetus which has been given to the use of fuel oil is that following
the introduction of it, and now its general adoption, throughout the
units composing the British Navy. On land, however, it has for some
years achieved marked distinction. Especially is this the case in
regard to its use on locomotives, the United States railways alone
consuming last year over 6,000,000 tons of fuel oil. In the realms
of industry, fuel oil, too, is claiming the attention of those large
industrial establishments, and to-day is largely used for creating
intense heats, such as are necessary in hardening, annealing, melting
and smelting, rivet heating, glass-melting, etc.

Let me first of all refer to the use of oil fuel for marine purposes.
Fifteen years ago, its use was very strongly advocated by Sir Marcus
Samuel, Bart., for marine purposes, and he approached the British
Government in an endeavour to get it taken up. Matters moved very
slowly, but eventually oil fuel was adopted, and Admiral Sir William
Pakenham asserts that it was due to the unceasing efforts of Sir Marcus
Samuel that the Admiralty vessels constructed during the war were
oil burners. The largest of this new class of vessels is the _Queen
Elizabeth_. Oil fuel is now largely used in place of coal on our great
liners, vessels like the _Aquatania_ and _Olympic_ having gone over to
its general use.

There are, of course, many reasons which have commended fuel oil to
the experts as a substitute for coal. In the first place, inasmuch
as one ton of fuel oil is equal to more than one-and-a-half tons of
coal, the radius of action of units fitted for utilizing fuel oil is
increased over 50 per cent.--I speak from the point of view of bunker
weight. Again, one ton of oil occupies considerably less space than
an equivalent weight of coal, while this advantage can be materially
increased--as is now the usual practice--by carrying the fuel oil
in double-bottom tanks. Then the bunkering question is one of vital
moment. Fuel oil can be taken on board under far cleaner conditions,
and at a greatly accelerated rate, than would be possible with coal.
There is no arduous manual labour required. Once the hose connections
have been made, the fuel oil is pumped on board at the rate of hundreds
of tons an hour, and a few hours suffice to re-fuel our largest
battleship. But it is when bunkering at sea is required that fuel oil
further emphasizes its immense advantages. This question was some years
ago one of the problems of naval strategy: to-day it is regularly
carried out in the simplest possible fashion, hose connections to a
standing-by oil tanker being all that is required.

Another advantage of fuel oil is that materially increased speed can
rapidly be attained, for, with fuel oil fired furnaces, the ship’s
boilers can be forced to nearly 50 per cent. above normal rating
without that great strain on the personnel which would be essential
in burning coal under forced draught. Then there is the great saving
of labour effected when burning fuel oil, the stokehold staffs being
reduced by quite 90 per cent. The fuel oil is automatically fed to the
furnaces and mechanically fired, the maximum heat of the oil burners
being attained within a few minutes of starting. But the absence of
smoke when the battleship is proceeding at full speed is, perhaps, one
of the most important advantages which the use of fuel oil gives to
the units of the fleets employing it. The emission of dense volumes of
smoke, which are ever present on a coal-fired vessel, is quite absent
when fuel oil is used, and this advantage is twofold, for not only does
it prevent the giving away of the location of the battleship, but it
also renders its own gun-fire more efficient.

The advantages attendant upon the use of fuel oil for naval vessels
are, in the main, also strikingly apparent when oil is adopted for
the mercantile marine. It is many years ago since the oil tankers of
the “Shell” Transport and Trading Company, Ltd., commenced to do the
voyage regularly from the Far East to this country and back without
an intermediate port of call. To-day, practically every oil tanker
afloat burns fuel oil. But, of recent date, fuel oil has reached wider
application by reason of its being adopted on many cargo and passenger
vessels, and, had the European War not considerably hampered ordinary
shipbuilding construction, we should have seen ere this a number of
the largest vessels crossing the Atlantic exclusively running on oil.
In fact, arrangements have been made whereby many of our Transatlantic
lines will operate exclusively on fuel oil, which will be taken on
board in the United States.

[Illustration: TAKING OIL FUEL SUPPLIES ON BOARD]

My friend, Mr. J. J. Kermode, of Liverpool--the well-known fuel oil
expert--has taken the most prominent part in calling general attention
to the immense superiority of fuel oil over coal, and it is due to
this gentleman’s untiring energies that not only does our Navy to-day
use fuel oil to such an extent, but that those responsible for ocean
passenger transport have taken the matter up so seriously. There are
three general headings under which fuel oil use will affect transport
costs. They are as follow: (_a_) by increased passenger or cargo
capacity, (_b_) by increased speed, and (_c_) by a great reduction in
running costs. As to the increased capacity, I have already shown that
fuel oil can be stored in considerably less space than coal, and the
simplicity of both bunkering fuel oil, and using it on vessels, has
also been touched upon. With reference to the increased speed which
vessels utilizing fuel oil can attain over those running on coal, I
have a concrete example in front of me. Two sister ships of the Eagle
Oil Transport Company--the _San Dunstano_ and the _San Eduardo_--each
of 9,000 tons deadweight capacity, are fitted to burn coal and fuel
oil respectively. Upon a trip carried out under careful observation,
the weight of fuel consumed worked out as two to three in favour of
fuel oil, while the indicated horse-power developed showed an 18 per
cent. improvement in the case of the oil-fired vessel. But the striking
fact of the comparison is that the _San Eduardo_ made the round voyage
to Mexico--out and home--eight days quicker than the other, this
additional speed being solely due to the fact that with fuel oil it
was possible to maintain consistent speed throughout the voyage--an
impossible matter when coal is consumed. If space permitted, I could
enumerate many cases where the results in favour of fuel oil are
even more strikingly apparent, but I will content myself by briefly
referring to calculations made by Mr. Kermode, based upon voyages of
our largest liners: they are sufficiently interesting and suggestive
to record here. On an average, says Mr. Kermode, to maintain a speed
of 25 knots, 5,500 tons of coal are consumed upon the voyage between
Liverpool and New York by one of the mammoth liners; or 11,000 tons for
the round trip. Some 3,300 tons of fuel oil--which could be stored if
necessary (and as will frequently be done in the future) in the double
bottom of the vessel--would, by automatic stoking, do even more work
than 5,500 tons of coal. Calculating the daily consumption of 600 tons
of coal now used for 24 hours, this represents about 2,000 tons less
fuel on a five days’ trip, land to land run, or 4,000 tons less, out
and home. The utilizing of the vacant space thus saved for merchandise
would bring in a very handsome income. Of the 312 firemen and trimmers
now employed for a coal-fired liner, 285 might be dispensed with,
and occupation found for them under healthier conditions ashore,
say in handling the additional cargo which would be carried. The
saved accommodation in this respect could be allotted to third-class
passengers, of whom at least another 250 could be carried. Our mammoth
liners are fitted with 192 furnaces in order to produce 68,000
horse-power (as was the case of the _Mauretania_ and the _Lusitania_),
and, on the assumption that thirty-two fires are cleaned every watch,
10,000 indicated horse-power is lost every four hours through burning
down and cleaning, a quite unnecessary operation with fuel oil. Figures
such as these show the startling possibilities of fuel oil for marine
purposes.

[Illustration: TYPICAL LIQUID FUEL BURNERS

THE KERMODE STEAM BURNER]

[Illustration: KERMODE’S AIR JET BURNER

    In the steam burner, the oil enters through B, the valve G
    giving it a whirling motion. The steam goes round the cone A.
    _F_ is the air cone, the amount of air being adjusted by the
    openings D by means of a perforated strap E. In the air jet
    burner the oil enters at A. The previously heated air enters at
    the branches B and C, and as the air passes C it meets the oil
    as it passes the control valve operated by E.]

But it is on land, as well as on sea, that we find fuel oil rapidly
making headway, for, as far back as 1889, hundreds of the Russian
locomotives went over to the burning of a petroleum residue. This
was the first practical application of fuel oil for railway haulage.
To-day, nearly 50,000,000 barrels of fuel oil are consumed annually
by the various railroads in the United States, and, according to
the official figures I have of the total mileage of fuel oil for
the past twelve months, the United States oil-burning locomotives
did journeys aggregating over 145,000,000 miles. Mr. Hall, of the
American International Railway Fuel Association, is responsible for the
statement that, owing to the fact that the steaming capacity of the
engines is materially increased, a locomotive running on fuel oil can
haul a load of considerably greater tonnage and at a much increased
speed than would be possible with a coal-fired engine. Many Continental
railways use fuel oil rather than coal; the Roumanian and Austrian
State Railways, the Western Railway of France, the Paris and Orleans
Railway, being a few of the principal.

So far as England is concerned, the use of fuel oil has not made great
headway, for the reason that, while on the one hand, the majority of
our great railway systems pass through the coal-producing fields, there
has, on the other hand, until recently been an absence of organization
for the supply of fuel oil. The Great Eastern Railway many years ago
successfully ran oil-fired locomotives.

It is evident that oil fuel will be increasingly used in the future for
locomotive purposes, and at the time of writing--December, 1919--the L.
and N.W. Railway are carrying out experiments on express engines, with
a view to being able to some extent to discard coal.

In our industrial life of to-day there are a vast number of instances
where fuel oil is rapidly displacing coal: the oil-fired furnace has
been brought to a stage of perfection, and is being extensively
and increasingly employed both in this country and abroad in regard
to metallurgical and industrial processes. Without going into detail
respecting the numerous spheres in which the new fuel finds profitable
employment it is safe to say that these are being extended every year.

[Illustration: OIL FUEL FOR MARINE PURPOSES

    Arrangement of heaters, filters and pumps for burning oil
    fuel for marine purposes. The installation is that of the
    Wallsend-Howden pressure system.]

A wealth of inventive effort has been bestowed in the perfection of the
burners employed to consume fuel oil. Leaving aside for the moment the
principles governing the use of oil in the internal combustion engines
of the Diesel or semi-Diesel type, fuel oil used for the production
of power is introduced into the furnace in the form of a spray, this
being accomplished by atomizing the oil in its passage through a
specially designed burner. Of these burners, there are numerous makes
upon the market, each of which possesses its own characteristics and
advantages. The one feature common to all fuel oil burners is the
arrangement for atomizing the oil fuel into a fine spray, so that
each particle of fuel shall receive sufficient oxygen to ensure its
complete combustion. Theoretically, it requires about 14 lb. of air to
effect the combustion of 1 lb. of oil, and on the thorough combustion
of the fuel oil depends the efficiency of the furnace. There are
three distinct methods by which the atomization is brought about, and
each of these means possesses its advantages and limitations. By one
method, the fuel oil is atomized by the use of steam; by the second
method, compressed air is used; while a third system--that of applying
pressure to the oil supply itself--is sometimes adopted. Steam is the
method usually employed for stationary boilers and locomotives, for it
is the simplest to manipulate, and does not call for the employment
of auxiliary apparatus in the shape of air compressors or oil pumps,
but most industrial oil furnaces work on compressed air, which gives
exceptionally good results. There is no doubt that, with the use of
compressed air, say admitted at a pressure of 80 lb., a saving in
fuel oil is shown over using steam at similar pressure, but the cost
of the compressing plant, which must be taken into consideration, is
sufficient to wipe out the greater part of this advantage.

[Illustration: THE “SCARAB” OIL BURNER]

With respect to the use of the fuel oil direct under pressure, this
system generally involves the heating of the fuel oil, as well as
its filtration, the fuel being supplied under pressure by means of
pumps. The system is extensively employed at the present time on
marine boilers operating with forced or induced draught, and, in this
connection, the Wallsend system stands pre-eminent.

Since writing the first edition of this little volume considerable
advance has been made in connection with the use of oil fuel for
general power-raising purposes, and much of this expansion has been
consequent upon the introduction of a new burner--the “Scarab”--which
is here illustrated. It is the invention of Lieut.-Col. Macdonald, and
is the outcome of the war. When the Lieut.-Colonel was on service in
Mesopotamia, he recognized the possibilities of oil fuel, for while
wood and coal were being transported from India at great cost, oil was
running to waste on the neighbouring fields of the Anglo Persian Oil
Company. The Lieut.-Colonel therefore introduced a method of cooking
by oil fuel, and immediately on his return to England he carried out
experiments which led to the introduction of the “Scarab” burner. It
is a simple contrivance, and is practically fool-proof, since there
are really no parts to get out of order. The oil fuel flows through a
tube by gravity, while another tube carries air compressed to about
10 lbs. pressure. The oil and air meet some inches distant from the
mouth of the burner, and the combustion of the fuel, which is turned
into a finely atomised spray, is complete. Experiments have been made
with the burner for domestic purposes, and it has been adopted already
in several London hotels for cooking purposes, though its general
application is practically unlimited.



CHAPTER VII

PETROLEUM AS A LIGHTING AND COOKING AGENT


From times immemorial, petroleum has been utilized as a lighting
agent. Fifteen hundred years ago we have records of its use in the Far
Eastern countries, and in the seventh century one of the Emperors of
Japan ordered that his temples should be illuminated by the sacred oil
light. And from that long distant date to the present times, petroleum
has played a not insignificant part in the provision of artificial
light throughout the world. For centuries, petroleum, as a means of
artificial light, had the field to itself, and, though the Ancients
consumed large quantities for lighting purposes, the apparatus used for
burning the oil were of a most primitive type, giving results which
to-day would be considered far from satisfactory.

About the middle of the last century, when the petroleum industry was
making steady advance in several European countries, and a little
later, when the United States entered upon its era of oil progress,
there was marked development in the use of oil for lighting purposes.
The more modern oil lamp was introduced, and it is worthy of record
that in one year alone over fifty patents were taken out in the United
States for oil lamp improvements. The Germans, too, were not behind in
this respect; in fact, it is very largely due to the numerous German
improvements that the general governing principles of present-day oil
lamps became so popular.

There is no doubt that the ordinary oil lamp has often been, and still
is, unjustifiably condemned for certain defects which are not inherent
in it. It necessarily demands attention if it is to give a satisfactory
light, but, unfortunately, this attention is not adequately bestowed
upon it, and complaints are the result. I have frequently argued that,
just as it is possible with inattention to make the most improved
pattern of oil lamp operate unsatisfactorily, so is it possible, with
a little care and common sense, to get a really good and satisfactory
light from the cheapest oil lamp obtainable.

In days gone by, the quality of the oil was, in many cases,
unsuitable for burning in the ordinary lamps; its lighting power
was very inferior, and it gave off a distinctly unpleasant smell.
To-day, however, the illuminating oil sold throughout the world is a
first-class article, and its flash-point has been so raised that it
can be used freely without there being any suggestion of its lack of
safety. One still hears of the “dangerous” paraffin lamp, but, to all
intents and purposes, whatever danger was attendant upon the use of oil
lamps has long ago departed, though, of course, care must always be
exercised, a remark which naturally applies to every illuminant. It is
not within my province to give a series of hints to the ordinary user
of illuminating oil, but it is well to draw attention to a point which
is frequently overlooked: that is, to see that lamps should be kept
well filled. It has been established that the light from an oil lamp is
greatly affected by the quantity of oil in the reservoir. An increase
of 20 per cent. can be secured in the illuminating power of the lamp if
only the oil is kept to a good level in the container. This is due to
the assistance given to the capillary action of the wick by the higher
level.

The advent of gas, and, at a later period, electric current, for
illuminating purposes has, to an extent, restricted the use of oil as
an illuminant, yet the reader will be surprised to learn that at least
2,000,000 oil lamps are nightly lighted throughout Great Britain. The
inhabitants of the majority of our villages have to fall back upon oil
lamps after nightfall, and even in remote spots where enterprising gas
companies have laid gas mains large numbers still keep faith with oil,
no doubt by reason of its cheapness in normal times.

The greatest improvement made in regard to oil lighting has been in
connection with the introduction of the incandescent mantle. As a
result of this innovation, several elaborate designs of lamps have
been placed on the market, and to-day oil is frequently used in large
residences in preference to the more modern illuminants. This is due,
without doubt, to the fact that oil light is particularly soft, and,
while giving a great illuminating power when consumed under the best
conditions, lacks that dazzling brilliancy which causes injury to the
eyes.

One of the earliest methods of utilizing petroleum under an
incandescent mantle was the Kitson system, according to which
illuminating oil is compressed to about 50 lb. per square inch in a
suitable vessel, forced through a soft brass tube of very small bore
into a heating chamber, and, subsequently, through a needle orifice to
a Bunsen burner. The Kitson system, which has found many adherents in
the United Kingdom and abroad, is particularly adapted for lighthouse
illumination, and in such cases where large units are essential. It is
interesting to record the fact that for some time one of London’s main
West-end thoroughfares was illuminated by incandescent oil lamps, and,
though they are now superseded, no tangible reason was given as to why
these highly economical means of illumination were ever removed.

Space forbids my referring to the various designs of oil lamps on the
English market to-day: they may be counted by their hundreds, while
still a larger number of those which have either been unsuccessful or
have found no sale may be found in the records of the Patent Office.

During comparatively recent times, devices have been brought forward
whereby remarkably good results have been achieved by the use of
gaseous vapour for portable lamps. In these cases, motor spirit is
vapourized and used under an incandescent mantle. The best known
of these lamps is the “Petrolite.” In this lamp, a porous stone is
impregnated with suitable hydrocarbons--motor spirit--and a current
of air is introduced, the necessary draught being provided by the use
of a fairly long chimney. The great advantage of the “Petrolite” lamp
is that of its perfect safety, for if by any chance the lamp becomes
overturned and the chimney displaced or broken, the draught ceases, and
with it, the generation of the inflammable vapour; the lamp, therefore,
immediately going out.

But while this method of utilizing motor spirit for illuminating
purposes has been adopted to a very large extent by means of portable
lamps, a greater field has been developed both in this and other
countries in connection with the domestic and industrial use of petrol
air-gas for lighting purposes. These apparatus in the main possess
but slight differences. The essential principle of each is that motor
spirit is carburetted and then, in the form of an oil gas, conducted
through pipes in the same manner as coal gas is burned, to the rooms
in which it is required. The carburetted air-gas is automatically
produced, and the small cost at which these automatic plants can be
supplied has rendered this system of lighting deservedly popular.
Its great economy also is an important point, for 1 gallon of motor
spirit will yield almost 30 cubic feet of vapour. This vapour, in
order to form a lighting agent, is mixed to the extent of over 98 per
cent. air and less than 2 per cent. petrol vapour, so that 1 gallon of
motor spirit will produce, approximately, 1,500 cubic feet of air-gas.
The plants, which are usually worked by a small hot-air engine (or,
alternately, by the use of weights), supply only the demand created,
and their control is automatic perfection.

[Illustration: THE ANGLO-AMERICAN OIL COMPANY’S OIL COOKER]

To-day, petroleum plays quite an important part in heating
arrangements, and several stoves are upon the market which burn the
ordinary illuminating oil. The prettily designed heating stoves of the
“Perfection” or “Reform” make are largely in use, the efficacy and
economy of these being responsible for their popularity. Various makes
of oil cookers are also in large demand. These range from the small
variety like the “Primus” stove, which burns illuminating oil under
pressure, to the oil cooking stoves of the Anglo-American Oil Company,
Ltd., which are quite competent to meet the requirements of practically
any household. These latter stoves consume illuminating oil by means
of the circular wick arrangement, and are in several sizes, one of the
best being that containing three lighters. Two of these are under the
oven, and one at the end can be used for boiling purposes. Speaking
from several years’ experience of these stoves, I can say that they are
truly perfection. They are very economical, are easily cleaned, and
when in full operation give off not the slightest odour. The oven is
more readily heated than with the coal gas apparatus, and the properly
diffused heat cooks all kinds of food most readily and perfectly. The
illustration of the stove given on the preceding page will afford the
reader a good idea of the apparatus, which deserves to be even more
popular than it is at present.



CHAPTER VIII

INTERNAL COMBUSTION ENGINES


In no other sphere of employment has petroleum made such rapid
strides during the past two or three decades as those recorded in
connection with its use in internal combustion engines, and one of the
most interesting features of modern mechanical engineering is their
development. The advent and immediate popularity of this kind of engine
has been responsible for some of the most remarkable conquests of
mankind over the forces of Nature, for it has brought into being the
automobile, the aeroplane, the dirigible airship, and a host of other
inventions. It has also been responsible for quite a new departure in
ocean transport, for experiments have proved that the largest vessels
can be very economically operated by means of the internal combustion
engine.

It might, by way of introduction, be well to explain for the benefit of
the uninitiated, the meaning of the term “Internal combustion engine.”
As most of my readers are well aware, the steam, or, rather, to be
exact, the highly heated water vapour which drives the steam engine,
is supplied from boilers which are heated by the burning of coal, oil
fuel, or, sometimes, gas, and such engines might, therefore, be called
“external combustion engines,” since the fuel is consumed in apparatus
external to the engine proper. Such a term, however, is not in use
amongst engineers, and might raise a superior sort of smile if used
in their presence. It will be readily seen from the foregoing that a
great deal of weight and apparatus of some complication is required
before the water vapour which drives the steam engine can even be
provided.

In the case of the internal combustion engine, the fuel (motor spirit
or the heavier oils) is introduced directly into the engine and there
vapourized and mixed with air so as to form an explosive mixture, so
that all boilers, with the necessarily complicated systems of piping,
etc., are done away with. It needs no imagination to understand the
enormous saving of weight and space resulting from this elimination of
the boiler, and of the room which it would occupy.

The latter-day demands for the provision of lighter and yet lighter,
as well as space-saving propelling machinery for submarines, airships,
aeroplanes, motor-cars, etc., especially during the war, have
enormously stimulated the development of the engine which consumes its
own fuel, and which is known as the internal combustion engine. A very
wide field has thus been opened out for the exercise of the engineer’s
ingenuity, and he has availed himself to the full of the opportunities
thus created, never failing to rise to the occasion when fresh demands
have been made upon him.

In these circumstances, it is not at all surprising to find that
numerous firms have given considerable attention to the manufacture
of the internal combustion class of engine, and many varieties,
for a multiplicity of purposes, are upon the market. The limits
of space effectively prevent my detailing the list of even the
largest manufacturers; I will therefore content myself by referring
to but one firm--Messrs. Vickers, Ltd.--who are now the largest
manufacturers in the Kingdom. This progressive firm has grappled with
the internal combustion engine problem from the earliest stages of the
petrol engine to the latest forms of the heavy oil engine and its
remarkable developments, and a large section of their establishment at
Barrow-in-Furness is, and has long been, set aside exclusively for the
design and manufacture of the heavy oil internal combustion engine. A
very large staff of expert engineers has been selected for the work,
while experiments with a view to improvements being effected in details
are continually being conducted in the establishment. The result is
that the development of this engine at the Barrow works has been
attended with the highest success, a fact which is not widely known to
the general public.

I take it as a great compliment that permission has been given me in
this book to refer somewhat in detail to the achievements of Messrs.
Vickers, Ltd., in this respect, for, hitherto, publicity in connection
with this section of the firm’s operations has been strictly withheld.
One of the latest and, it might well be said, the most important
developments in connection with Messrs. Vickers’ activities, is the
Vickers patent system of fuel injection, which enables an engine of the
Diesel type (that is, using heavy oil) to be successfully run without
the use of an air compressor for injecting the fuel into the engine.
Before the introduction of this system, an air compressor, with its
attendant complication and weight, had to be used for the introduction
of the fuel into the engine. The elimination of this compressor has
resulted in considerable economy in weight, space, and attendance,
which, it will readily be seen, is a step in the right direction,
whilst the efficiency of the engine has also been improved. The
disadvantages attendant upon the use of the air compressor were early
comprehended by Messrs. Vickers, and they have spared no efforts (nor
expense) in developing the system which has led to its elimination.

The reader will require no knowledge of the subject to understand that
the question of fuel consumption is one of the highest importance
in any engine system, and, in regard to this point, Messrs. Vickers
have made a special study, with the result that whilst the ordinary
consumption in a Diesel engine with air compressor is ·41 lb. brake
horse-power an hour (or 184 grammes _par force de cheval_), that firm
have been able to reach the low figure of ·376 lbs. B.H.P. an hour (or
·170 grammes _par force de cheval_).

As one might expect, Messrs. Vickers, in bringing their engine
to its present state of perfection, have, perforce, had a varied
experience with fuel oils--and a considerable one, too,--for they have
experimented with oils from all the well-known producing fields, and
find that, under their system, practically any fuel oil which can be
made to flow may be utilized in their engines--a fact which, in its
importance, speaks for itself. The physical properties of the oils used
by them have, naturally, differed very considerably. For instance,
specific gravities have varied from ·810 to ·950 flash points from 100°
Fahr., to upwards of 250° Fahr., whilst the viscosities, which the lay
mind might well be excused for thinking of as “degrees of stickiness,”
have varied from that of the ordinary kerosene (illuminating oil) to
the thick asphaltic fuel oil which comes from Mexico. Readers may judge
from this of the painstaking and difficult experiments that have been
carried out in the Barrow works.

The advantages derivable from the use of the Vickers system could not,
obviously, be withheld from general use, and the firm have upwards of
twenty licensees now manufacturing internal combustion engines under
their designs. This fact, though not familiar to “the man in the
street,” is known in the manufacturing world.

[Illustration: 900 B.H.P. LOW DUTY VICKERS ENGINE FOR OIL TANK VESSELS]

[Illustration: BACK VIEW OF ENGINE]

Already a very large number of their engines have been constructed,
the approximate brake horse-power produced by same being upwards of
337,600. These engines are of various sizes, ranging from 200 to 2,000
horse-power. The cylinders vary in diameter from 10 to 29 inches, and
are arranged to work in groups to suit the power required, and may be
either two-stroke or four-stroke cycle. The high temperatures set up in
starting the engine are sufficient to ignite the fuel, the introduction
of which in a finely-divided condition has been the object of so many
experiments at Barrow; and so successful in this direction have Messrs.
Vickers been that they are now able to deal satisfactorily, by careful
adjustments of the engine to suit the various fuels, with the most
troublesome oils.

As already referred to, the elimination of the air compressor
constitutes the chief improvement embodied in the Vickers type of
engine, seeing that the greatest worry which the Diesel engineer has
had to encounter has been this very compressor. Needless to remark,
therefore, this feature alone strongly recommends the new system to the
experienced man. Further, the power required to drive the compressor
above-mentioned is considerable, so that economy is not one of the
least results due to its absence.

The principal advantages that can be claimed for the Vickers engine may
be summarized as under--

    1. Safety in working. (Many accidents have been due to the use
    of the air compressor.)

    2. Weight is saved.

    3. Space is saved.

    4. Lower air compression in the cylinders for ignition, and
    economy in air for starting the engine.

    5. Reduction in first costs; and

    6. Reduction in upkeep expenses.

[Illustration: 900 B.H.P. HIGH DUTY REVERSING ENGINE FOR LIGHT CRAFT]

[Illustration: 1,250 B.H.P. LOW DUTY VICKERS MARINE ENGINE FOR OIL TANK
VESSEL]

With regard to (4), the low compression claimed is rather interesting,
as Messrs. Vickers have successfully demonstrated that, although a high
compression temperature is necessary in the ordinary Diesel engine with
the usual air spraying compressor, a much lower degree suffices for
their mechanical injection system, whilst there is a greater certainty
of ignition of the fuel on its first introduction, even with the
existence of lower compression in the cylinder. The reason of this is
that the spraying air used in the ordinary Diesel is usually compressed
to about 60 atmospheres (900 lb. per square inch). What happens when
air spraying is practised is this. When the cold air carrying the very
high pressure above mentioned enters the cylinder, it necessarily
expands, owing to the lower temperature already existent there, and
such expansion chills the whole mixture, frequently preventing ignition
on the first introduction of the fuel.

Under the Vickers system of mechanical fuel injection, there is,
of course, no introduction of very highly compressed air, and,
consequently, first ignition is rendered easier. From this, it will
at once be seen that an oil possessing a high flash point can be more
easily burned in the Vickers engine than in the ordinary Diesel, with
the necessary adjunct of an air compressor. Provision is also made
(should the type of fuel used require it) for a higher temperature of
compression, and such oils are, therefore, much more easily dealt with
than in the ordinary Diesel engine.

From what I have already said, it will be evident to the reader that it
is only a question of time for air spraying, with its attendant use of
the compressor, to become a thing of the past.

The mechanism involved by the adoption of the new system of fuel
injection developed by Messrs. Vickers is exceptionally simple. It
consists of a small fuel pump, such as is ordinarily used for pumping
fuel, a reservoir or accumulator of novel form to retain the charge,
and a valve with a special nozzle to admit the fuel in the form of a
fine spray into the cylinder. The accumulator, I may here mention,
is merely a tube, flattened slightly on the sides, and of sufficient
length, when the oil is forced into it, to enable it to yield and store
up a charge of fuel at the required high pressure, as explained in the
next paragraph.

The principal feature of the system (and the secret of its great
success) is the very high pressure at which the oil is injected into
the cylinder. This pressure is kept up at about 4,000 lb. the square
inch, so that the oil fuel, when it enters the cylinder and encounters
the hot compressed air therein, is in the form of a very finely
atomized mist, a conjunction of circumstances most favourable for
ignition. As in all great inventions, the simplicity of the arrangement
is not the least of its merits.

This somewhat rough, yet brief, outline will suffice to explain the
astonishing success of the Vickers heavy oil engine, but, if the whole
history of these (and other) noteworthy experiments could be written,
a highly interesting story would be produced, showing indomitable
perseverance in the face of discouragement, difficulty, and very heavy
expense.

I have avoided touching upon the ordinary kerosene engines, for I
imagine they are too well known to need more than passing reference
here; nor have I gone into the details concerning the advent of the
ordinary Diesel engine, which was a German invention.

I have preferred rather to deal with a British invention which is
already revolutionizing oil engine construction generally, and which,
obviously, has limitless fields open to it.



CHAPTER IX

PETROLEUM IN ENGLAND


There will be no chapter in this little treatise which will be more
carefully perused than the present one, for the subject is of direct
interest to every reader, whether actually associated with the search
for oil or not. To-day, as I have already mentioned in another chapter,
this country is dependent for practically the whole of its petroleum
requirements upon foreign oil-producing countries, and though ample
evidence is forthcoming to suggest that there are possibilities of
obtaining liquid oil in England--in fact, many years ago this was
actually obtained in not inconsiderable quantities--it is very strange
that only recently have serious efforts been made in the direction of
systematic search for the valuable liquid.

That large quantities of petroleum can be produced in this country is
agreed by all who have given the subject more than passing thought;
the question is, by what means shall this production be brought about.
While it is problematical as to the amount of commercial success which
will attend the present search for liquid oil, though those who are
most competent to judge believe that large stores of liquid oil will
be found, it is already certain that there are vast possibilities in
England for the production of petroleum from the treatment of the
bituminous shales which freely abound in many parts.

It will be seen, therefore, that the subject really divides itself
under two heads, and it is with the first of these--that of the
possibilities of finding liquid oil reserves in commercial quantity in
this country--that I will now proceed to deal. For this purpose, it is
better that we divide the country into three zones--western, middle,
and eastern. The western zone will include the whole of England between
the third meridian of West Longitude and the Irish Sea, the Bristol
Channel, and the North Atlantic. It will be bounded on the north by a
line running near Whitehaven to the mouth of the River Tees, and having
the English Channel as its southern boundary. In this zone, the most
northern occurrence of petroleum is found at Whitehaven, Cumberland,
and the next is found on the Lancashire coast. Other indications are to
be found in Denbighshire and in the northern part of the South Wales
coalfield.

The occurrences of petroleum in what may be described as the middle
zone are far more important and numerous than those of the western
zone. They are important in the physical conditions to which they
are subordinate, and in their greater productiveness. They are more
numerous, and their geological position is more in direct relationship
with later dynamical alterations in the rock structures. In this
zone occurs the most important occurrence which has so far been
recorded--I refer to that at Alfreton, in Derbyshire--for it was from
this natural flow of petroleum over 70 years ago that Dr. Young, the
founder of the Scottish shale oil industry, manufactured paraffin wax.
Near Chesterfield is also unmistakable evidence of the presence of
liquid oil at depth, for considerable quantities have flowed from the
workings at the Southgate Colliery. In this middle zone, too, are the
occurrences of petroleum found near Wigan and West Leigh, while flows
of oil are recorded from several spots round Barnsley and Ilkeston. The
petroleum find at Kelham, near Newark, some few years ago, is important
for the reason that the drill in this case, at a depth of somewhere
about 2,400 feet, struck true petroliferous sands, underlain by dark,
waxy shales. The oil rock has been proved to consist of loose, coarsely
grained sand, having all the features of strata in which petroleum is
ordinarily met with. The great value of this boring is that it has
demonstrated the fact, so long doubted by many of the best geological
authorities in Great Britain, that all the geological conditions,
dynamical as well as historical, are present in this locality for the
formation and subsequent retention of liquid petroleum, and that,
as Dr. William Forbes-Leslie puts it, despite all contention to the
contrary, a true oil-field exists in England.

So far as I am aware, however, North Staffordshire alone, among all the
places in England, has the distinction of so far having produced liquid
petroleum in sufficient quantity for refining purposes. It was in 1874
that oil was discovered in a seam of coal in one of the pits of the
Mear Hay Collieries, Longton, and a contract was ultimately made with
a Mr. William Walker, Senr., of Hanley, who erected plant at Cobridge
for the purpose of refining the oil. I am indebted to Mr. Walker for
the following facts, though in a general way I have full corroboration
for them, for it was within a couple of miles from the collieries that
I was born and spent my earlier days. The seam of coal wherein the oil
was discovered was one of the deeper seams, and by no means one of
the best in the district. At that time, the flow produced more than
5 tons of crude oil per week, and inasmuch as England then was not
inundated with American petroleums, great possibilities were seen in
the discovery. But almost before the refining of the crude had settled
down to be a commercial undertaking, the plans of operation were upset,
for a serious explosion occurred at the colliery, which rendered
necessary the closing of the pit. Twelve months later, however, they
were re-opened, and after the re-sinking had proceeded awhile, the oil
was found far up the shaft, and in due course the shaft was cleared and
the mines re-opened. Refining operations were resumed and continued for
a year or two, when the pits had to be closed on account of the shafts
shrinking.

However, in the course of a number of years, petroleum appeared in
another colliery less than a mile from the Mear Hay Colliery, and
again Mr. Walker secured the contract for the whole of the output. The
quantity of crude oil found was several tons weekly, and a large stock
had accumulated when Mr. Walker’s attention was drawn to this new find.
This time, the supply continued for a longer period, and then again the
seam of coal in which the deposit occurred had to be abandoned. Thus,
while the resources of this part of the Charnian axis have not been
properly tested--for, in the opinion of the colliery owners, it is not
possible profitably to work coal and oil at the same time--there is
ample evidence to suggest that, in the not distant future, there may be
most interesting oil developments in this part of North Staffordshire.

The eastern zone of the country doubtless furnishes the most
interesting petroleum occurrences in England. Here, the interest does
not so much depend upon the number of escapes, as upon the promising
geological conditions subserving the production and possible retention
of petroleum. According to the investigations of Dr. W. Forbes-Leslie,
F.R.G.S., whose valuable contribution on the subject of the occurrence
of petroleum in England forms one of the most important papers ever
read before the Institution of Petroleum Technologists, the northern
line of oil occurrences runs from Filey, north-westerly, the principal
finds being located at Filey, Pickering, and Kirby Moorside. Oil, too,
has been found at Brigg, in Lincolnshire, at Market-Rasen, Haugmont,
and Donnington-on-Bain. The line of oil occurrences starts at King’s
Lynn, on the Wash, and runs south-westwards as far as Cottenham,
in Cambridgeshire, the principal occurrences being at King’s Lynn,
Downham, Littleport, and Ely. The information obtained by the bore-hole
at Kelham, to which I have already referred, is a factor of great
value when taken into consideration and applied to an analytical
review of the petroleum seepages in England. It is a positive proof
that a true oil-bearing stratum underlies the surface rocks, at any
rate, in one part of the British Isles, and, when it is considered in
relation with the surface position of the oil escapes on the eastern
flank of the Pennine Chain, it suggests a possible connection between
those underground sources of oil and those surface escapes which are
scattered, seemingly at such random, along the Pennines.

The attempts which were made but a few years ago to develop the
possibilities of the Heathfield district of Sussex, with a view to
obtaining commercial quantities of natural gas, were also prompted with
the idea of maybe striking deposits of liquid petroleum, though it is
doubtful, both from a geological point of view, and from the nature of
the natural gas which is there in abundance, whether liquid oil will
be met with in that part of the country. What has been established,
however, is the fact that large quantities of natural gas are to be
found in this delightful part of rural Sussex, and it is a great pity
that the necessary enterprise has not been forthcoming to permit of
a really serious development. Some years ago, I motored an American
oil-man over the gas-fields of Heathfield, and he assured me that, if
such evidences were found in the States, there would immediately be a
great boom, and finance would freely flow in to stimulate development.
But not so with Heathfield, for the opinion is freely held that this
field is too near our midst for real speculative enterprise. Remove
it to the wilds of Russia, and British finance would appreciate the
immense potentialities which to-day lie dormant. For those readers who
are, perhaps, not conversant with the history of the Heathfield gas
developments it is well to record the fact that attention to these
deposits was drawn years ago, when a well was being drilled for water
on the property of the Brighton and South Coast Railway, near the
present station. Strong smells of gas prevented working for some time,
and as these increased it was decided that the better course would be
to suspend drilling operations. The tubes of the well were partially
drawn out, and the well sides caved in, yet the gas pressure increased.
The well was abandoned as a water well, but pipes were attached to the
cap at the mouth, and a steady pressure of gas was emitted. It was
decided that, inasmuch as the gas burned with a pure flame, the station
should be lighted with it. That was over twenty years ago, and to-day
the well is still producing, and the station is still lighted with the
natural gas, which needs no refining. Not only so, but a well-appointed
hotel close by utilizes the gas for lighting and cooking.

A project was set on foot for sinking further wells and piping the
gas to the southern coast resorts for general use, but lack of
capital prevented progress being made, and so, to-day, Heathfield,
like many other centres in the country, awaits the attention of the
carefully-directed drill to open up its underground wealth.

In August, 1917, the feeling in many parts of the country that the
Government should take some action in order to develop these latent
resources became so strong that a Bill was introduced into Parliament
with this object in view. No attempt was made to progress with it until
the following October, when a financial resolution was rejected by the
House of Commons on the question of royalties. An amendment was adopted
against the payment of royalties to the owners of surface lands who had
made no attempt to obtain liquid oil, and who, as a matter of fact, did
not know that it was there. Two months later the Petroleum (Production)
Bill was dropped.

In March, 1918, however, a most encouraging turn of events occurred,
for Lord Cowdray, head of the great firm of Messrs. S. Pearson & Son,
and associated with those influential interests in oil represented by
the Mexican Eagle Oil Company, the Eagle Oil Transport Company, and the
Anglo-Mexican Petroleum Company, made offers to the Government which
were couched in the following terms--

(_a_) For the period of the war to place at the disposal of the
Government, free of all cost, the services of his firm and geological
staff for the purpose of exploration and development.

(_b_) If the Government did not wish to risk public money on what had
to be deemed a speculative enterprise, Messrs. S. Pearson & Son were
prepared to drill, at their own risk and expense as licensees, subject
to certain areas being reserved to them. The offer committed the firm
to an expenditure of, possibly, £500,000.

The public spirited offer of Lord Cowdray was most thankfully accepted
by the Government and, with a minimum of delay, drilling sites were
marked out for the commencement of active operations.

Lord Cowdray’s geological staff particularly favoured the neighbourhood
in Derbyshire, near to which Young made his first discoveries of
oil, and Chesterfield was selected as headquarters for the new oil
developments. The first oil well to be drilled in this country was
commenced in September, 1918, at Hardstoft, near Pilsley, on the
Great Central main line between Sheffield and Nottingham, and on
Tuesday, 18th October, the inauguration of England’s oil industry
took place there in the presence of many oil notabilities. American
drilling machinery of the percussion type was installed and, in view
of the great depth to which it was expected the drill would have to
proceed before encountering commercial quantities of oil, the well was
commenced with a diameter of 18 inches.

A depth of just over 3,000 ft. had been reached at the commencement
of June, 1919, at which depth oil production started. The well was
put on the pump and began its steady yield of a good grade crude oil,
the production being about fifty barrels per week. Up to the time of
writing (December, 1919) the well is maintaining its yield.

Other wells have been sunk in the Chesterfield area at Ironville,
Heath, Renishaw, Brimington, Ridgeway and in North Staffordshire and
Scotland, but so far the success met with is not promising, though it
is quite possible that commercial oil may be encountered.

Private enterprise has also commenced the sinking of a well at Kelham,
Nottinghamshire, near a site where, many years ago, small quantities of
oil were found in an experimental coal bore. Here, however, no definite
result has been attained. The Company--The Oilfields of England,
Ltd.--is operating under a drilling license from the Government under
which the Government may take over the properties on a valuation should
commercial oil be found.

Let us now briefly turn to the other aspect of the question of the
production of petroleum in England--that is, of producing oils from
the treatment of the bituminous shales. There are several sources from
which petroleum can be obtained in this country by distillation, and
these are: (1) oil-shales, (2) coal, (3) cannel coals and torbanites,
(4) blackband ironstones, (5) lignite, and (6) peat.

Though in the past the oil shales of England have not been recognized
as possessing great potential value, comparatively recent discoveries
have proved that at home we have enormous deposits of oil shales of
remarkable richness. These are, so far as at present proved, situate
in Norfolk and at short distance from King’s Lynn. Dr. Forbes Leslie,
F.R.G.S., has for many years carried out a number of tests as to the
quality and quantity of the shales in the Norfolk field, and as a
result of his work it has been proved that upwards of twenty miles
square, there is an area in Norfolk underlaid with rich oil-shales.
From a geological point of view the shales are remarkable, for they
uniformly lie within 300 ft. of the surface, several of the seams being
but a few feet below ground. Their prolific nature may be judged from
the fact that in sinking test wells to depths of 300 ft. in various
parts of the field, over 150 ft. of this oil shale has been drilled
through, and it is thus established beyond all possible doubt that at
home we have all the materials at hand for a huge home production of
oil.

The whole of the field has been secured by English Oilfields, Ltd.,
a company which, by reason of the influential interest behind it, is
bound to be strikingly successful in its future developments in Norfolk.

The crude oil content of the shales is surprisingly great, for these
shales yield approximately 60 gallons of oil per ton, or considerably
more than double as much as the Midlothian shales. Dr. Forbes Leslie
asserts that there is already proved over 2,000,000,000 tons of shale
on the properties in Norfolk, and after having carefully inspected the
whole of the fields on many occasions, I think Dr. Leslie’s statement
may be taken as very conservative, for after all it is only a question
of a simple sum of calculation which allows one to arrive at the
figures above quoted.

Commercial developments have already been commenced on the Norfolk
fields, and it is safe to assume that they will become of enormous
National importance, since the production of home oil supplies is
to-day considered of vast National interest.

The other shales--such as the Kimmeridge shales of Dorset and
Sussex--are not being worked commercially in spite of strenuous
efforts, and there remains much to be done before a steady supply
of petroleum can be counted upon from these sources. Of the other
possible sources of supply, coal yields too little, and at the same
time is considered too valuable to be utilized on a general scale;
lignites are not yet opened for development on a sufficient scale;
and peat has proved troublesome and expensive to treat owing to the
difficulty of eliminating the water. This, therefore, leaves cannel
coals, torbanites, and blackband ironstones, which are closely
associated and, in numerous cases, easily obtainable. Cannel coal, I
should explain, differs from the ordinarily known coal on account of
its being less carbonized; it contains many fragments and particles of
vegetable matter still showing their natural forms, though flattened by
pressure. The percentage of hydrogen to carbon is higher in a cannel
coal than in the bituminous coal, the percentage of inorganic matter is
usually higher also, and the fracture and general appearance serve to
distinguish this variety of carbonaceous deposit.



CHAPTER X

PETROLEUM IN THE BRITISH EMPIRE


The desire that the British Empire should be self-supporting in every
possible way has been the predominating idea of our statesmen for
many years: it is to be regretted, however, that such little progress
has been recorded in the direction of the achievement of a practical
result. This remark applies to many commodities, yet to none more so
than to petroleum and its products. To-day, as much as at any preceding
time, the Empire is dependent upon foreign sources of supply for the
vast bulk of its petroleum products. It is true that in the United
Kingdom there is a growing production of oil from the shale-fields
of Scotland, but this total represents but a fraction of the large
quantities of products which are annually required to meet the
ever-increasing demands in commercial and domestic circles.

At the outbreak of the European War, it was forcibly brought home to us
as a nation that we were in a position regarding our petroleum supplies
of absolute dependence upon other countries. The refined products
were an essential part of the war, for without them it would have
been impossible to have continued for almost a single day, and yet,
practically every gallon used had to be transported thousands of miles,
and from a country which at that time was neutral. To make matters
even worse, the Continental sources of supply from which we had been
previously drawing large quantities of petroleum were closed to export,
for, through the Dardanelles, the Roumanian and Russian export ports
were effectively shut off from the outside world.

Fortunately for Great Britain, the United States came forward with
the offer of all the petroleum products required for the successful
prosecution of the war, and we owe to the United States alone all
success which has been the natural result of possessing ample
requirements of petroleum products both on sea and land.

The fact, nevertheless, stands out tragically prominent that we as a
nation have not developed our own oil resources in a manner we ought to
have done, although everyone conversant with the oil business has been
for years advocating the giving of serious attention to this important
subject. To-day, speculative drilling for petroleum is proceeding in
England, and it is to be hoped that some success will be ultimately
recorded, but, inasmuch as I dealt with the question of Petroleum in
England in the previous chapter, I will at the moment pass over this
very interesting phase of the problem, and briefly look at the subject
from an Empire point of view. Under the British Flag, we already
have, or control, some excellent oil-fields in Burmah, Persia, Egypt,
Trinidad, and Assam, and each producing steadily increasing quantities
of crude oil. The Burmah fields have achieved fame mainly owing to
the very large profits made by the chief operating company--the
Burmah Oil Company, Ltd., whose head offices are at Glasgow. These
have of recent years been developed upon most up-to-date lines, and
the producing limits of the territory greatly extended, until now the
annual crude oil production is upwards of 1,000,000 tons. The fields
of Persia are very prolific, and their control to-day is in the hands
of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, Ltd., an influential concern largely
controlled by the British Government, by reason of the investment of
large sums of public moneys a few years ago. The development of the
Persian fields is more or less in its initial stages, and though huge
quantities of oil have already been produced therefrom, the limits of
the presumably oil-bearing areas have by no means been defined. In
order to facilitate the export of Persian oil, a pipe-line has been
laid from the fields to Abadan, on the Persian Gulf, and a programme
has already been laid down under which large quantities of Persian
petroleum products will come upon the English markets.

The Egyptian oil-fields have lately witnessed developments upon an
important scale, thanks to the enterprise of the Anglo-Egyptian
Oil-fields, Ltd., a concern closely allied with the “Shell”
Combination, and having as its Chairman, Sir Marcus Samuel, Bart.
Commercial supplies of crude oil have been found at several points near
the coast of the Gulf of Suez, and a large refinery has been built for
the refining of the oil. Down to 1914, the only oil finds of importance
had been at Gemsah, where a number of oil gushers were struck, but
the field there proved to be one of most irregular formation, and
none of the wells gave anything like a permanent yield. Fortunately,
in that year a field was discovered at Hurgada, the formation of
which was found to be singularly regular, and the yield of which has
steadily increased until, at the time of writing, the production of
crude oil in it is over 15,000 tons per month. That additional wells
have not been sunk and the field further increased has been primarily
due to the difficulties of obtaining the necessary plant under war
conditions. Some very large wells have already been brought in, but,
so far, the petroleum industry in Egypt is quite in its infancy. It is
quite obvious, however, that in the next few years the production of
petroleum in Egypt will be increasingly large, and the developments
are bound to have a significant bearing upon the oil situation
generally.

The same remarks equally apply to the Trinidad fields, where the
anticipations of those associated with the pioneer oil operations have
been more than fulfilled. Some prolific fields have been opened up,
and the production to-day is such that an export trade of considerable
magnitude can be maintained. Developments upon the Island were
impeded by the total absence of roads in the oil districts, and much
pioneer work had to be undertaken before it was possible to commence
the serious exploitation of the fields themselves. The crude oil of
Trinidad is of both the light and the heavy grades, the former showing
remarkable percentages of motor spirit, while the latter is used not
only as fuel oil but also for the treatment of roads so as to render
them dustless. It is in Trinidad that there is the famous pitch lake,
from which for many years large quantities of asphalt have been removed
and exported for a variety of purposes. Trinidad asphalt, in fact,
is well known all over the world. The potentialities of the Island
are rapidly being appreciated, for its geographical position is such
that would make it a practical base for the “oiling” of the great
ocean-going vessels which are rapidly passing over from coal to fuel
oil burning.

While on the subject of oil-fields which are under the British Flag,
mention must be made of Canada, whose oil industry has been developed
for many years. The principal producing fields are in Ontario, and the
town of Petrolia is the centre of the petroleum interests. But the
wells are not of the prolific class, and almost without exception show
a very poor return for operating. Many of them are sunk only to the
shallow strata, and their operation would certainly be profitless were
not a system employed by which quite a number of small producing wells
are pumped by central power. From time to time, Canada has experienced
various oil booms, one of the most recent being that which occurred
in Calgary, in 1914. A well showed a small production of high-grade
oils, and immediately the country for miles round became the centre of
an oil fever, which gradually died down when a number of unsuccessful
developments took place. To-day, the output of the Canadian fields
is steadily declining, and all efforts to stimulate the production
have so far failed. Even a Government bounty of 1½ cents a gallon of
oil produced has failed to encourage an increase in output, and it
is evident that, unless new fields are opened out, the future offers
little hope.

The total production of petroleum to-day by the oil-fields developed
in the British Empire represents but about 2 per cent. of the world’s
total petroleum output: it is therefore clear that, if we intend
to secure our oil supplies in the future from territory under the
British Flag, large supplementary sources of supply must be found. It
is doubtful whether any additional liquid oil regions will be found
to produce oil in commercial quantity, for, though several attempts
have been made in various parts with this end in view, they have not
achieved success, and numerous instances might be quoted where the
employment of British capital in an endeavour to bring about this much
desired result has met with failure.

The question then arises: Is it possible to augment considerably
Empire-produced oils from other means of development? In this
direction, the future is full of promise, for, though Nature has not
given the Empire freely of liquid oil-producing fields, there are
immense areas of oil-bearing shales at home and in our Dominions
overseas which can, without great difficulty, be turned into most
useful account. It is well known that great deposits of retortable
material exist within the Empire’s bounds, and many of these deposits
are exceedingly rich. At the moment, however, scarcely any have been
exploited, and none adequately developed. From time to time, many
samples of oil-bearing shales from various parts of the Empire have
been sent to this country for analysis, and these have usually been put
through Scottish retorts with varying results.

But the unsatisfactory analyses have not been due to the qualities
of the shale or torbanite examined, but to the methods by which
the distillations were carried out. The well-known consulting oil
engineer--Mr. E. H. Cunningham-Craig--made a special point of this in a
most interesting article which recently appeared in one of the Empire
magazines, and he pointed out that the reasons for the unsatisfactory
conclusions arrived at were very simple and obvious. The Scottish
retorts are designed to deal effectually with highly inspissated and,
as a rule, not very rich, oil-shales. The recovery of the maximum
amount of sulphate of ammonia is a desideratum; a sufficient supply
of incondensable gases to fire the retort must be produced; while
the recovery of the lighter fractions (motor spirit) of the material
treated was not an object of the first consideration. For these
purposes, says Mr. Cunningham-Craig, large and high vertical retorts
are used, the temperature of distillation is comparatively high,
superheated steam is blown into the retorts, and a fairly complete
extraction of volatile matter is achieved. But to apply such methods to
a very rich and fresh torbanite--such as the richer shales of New South
Wales--is absurd, involving many practical difficulties and not giving
the most remunerative results.

Similarly, the rich oil-shales of New Brunswick (Canada), though more
nearly allied to the Scottish shales, differ from them both chemically
and physically to such an extent as to require different treatment. Let
me now briefly refer to the deposits which are known in the Dominions
and Colonies that give promise of yielding oil in commercial quantities
by destructive distillation. I will first take the shales of Canada,
for though, as I have pointed out, the Dominion’s production of liquid
oil is steadily decreasing, there are numerous deposits of shales which
only await careful exploitation and development in order to render
Canada a petroleum-producing country of considerable magnitude. The
oil-shales of New Brunswick have been known for many years, yet only
a fraction of the area has been yet prospected. Experiments with the
shales have shown that they are capable of producing nearly 50 gallons
of crude oil the ton of shale treated, while ammonium sulphate has been
produced at the remarkable proportion of 77 lb. a ton. Albert County is
one of the best shale-fields, and it is here that a Government scheme
has now been promulgated. The shales of Nova Scotia are likewise to be
commercially developed, but so far no serious attempt has been proposed
to deal with the enormous areas in Newfoundland, the Province of
Quebec, and other already known regions of Canadian oil-shales.

Australia can boast of very large areas of shales: some deposits
have been operated for several years, but others are still awaiting
development. From a variety of causes, however, the shale-oil industry
of Australia has never been set upon a profitable footing. The
Commonwealth Oil Corporation some years ago set out to accomplish
much, but the only thing which it seemed to do with energy was to
sail to destruction. Its failure cannot be said to have been due to
any absence of the material it set out to treat for petroleum, for at
every turn enormous quantities were opened up. It would appear that the
immensity of the possibilities which awaited its operations was one
of the prime reasons for its premature decay, while there is no doubt
that the system it employed was by no means the best for treating the
shales. A more simple and less expensive method of retorting the shales
would doubtless ensure successful working. In Queensland, Tasmania, and
New Zealand the presence of these shales has been proved over extensive
areas, and though for the most part they have so far been neglected,
there is reason to hope that, in the not distant future, the advantage
to be derived from their commercial exploitation will be the more
widely appreciated. A most lucrative industry could be built up by the
Commonwealth of Australia by the distillation of the torbanites there,
and though, perhaps, it is too much to expect that an export trade in
petroleum products could be built up, there is no doubt whatever that
the large requirements for petroleum products in the Dominion could
easily be met by the production from home sources.

The possibilities of developing a shale industry in Africa are not
particularly promising, though they are by no means out of the range
of probability. In the coal series in the Transvaal, beds of what are
known as “oil-shales” are encountered in several localities The seams
generally are thin, and in some cases unworkable, but the material is
very rich, and has proved capable of yielding high percentages of crude
oil.

In Sarawak (British North Borneo) the “Shell” Company is carrying out
most important and highly successful developments, which are bound to
have far-reaching and gratifying results in regard to developments
under the British Flag.

As I have shown, the problem of Imperial oil supply would be far on
its way to solution by the development of the various shales in the
British Empire, and the pity is that a more progressive policy has not
been adopted in regard thereto long before the subject became of such
pressing importance. Each of our Colonies--like the Mother Country--is
a large consumer of petroleum products, and each is also totally
dependent upon imported supplies, yet within the borders of each are to
be found large deposits of the necessary crude material.



CHAPTER XI

PETROLEUM’S PART IN THE GREAT WAR


A perusal of the preceding chapters of this little work will have made
it clear to the reader that petroleum and its products play a most
important part to-day in the life of nations: if, however, one would be
impressed with the immensely significant rôle which petroleum products
have played in the conduct of the great European War, a brief reference
to the subject will amply suffice. From the commencement of the Titanic
struggle in 1914, it became obvious to those who were most competent
to judge that, if victory was to be on the side of the Allies, it was
imperative that they should possess sufficient reserves of petroleum
products for all purposes, for it was evident then that activity would
not be limited to armies on the land, but that the air and the sea
would also become battle-grounds whereon the destinies of nations would
in part be decided.

Germany, too, saw this; before the war it had been practically
dependent upon regular supplies from the United States as well as
from Roumania, but the bulk of its requirements came from the former
mentioned country. With its States’ oil shipments cut off, it turned
its attention to securing at least part of its stocks from the neutral
North-Western European countries, which, in their turn, were likewise
dependent upon America. The ruse worked for some time, and the
unsuspecting American exporters shipped cargoes to Denmark, Norway, and
Sweden with little idea that the bulk of these were ultimately to find
their way into Germany. It was only when the figures were published in
the States as to the abnormally large quantities of petroleum products
that had been sent to the European neutral countries that, to the
thinking mind, it became obvious something was wrong.

I can modestly claim to have called the attention of the British
Government to this underhand proceeding early in 1915, when I not
only gave them details of cargoes which had been delivered to various
North-Western European ports _en route_ to Germany, but also managed
to secure the names of vessels all laden with such supplies, which at
that time were crossing the Atlantic. Mr. Winston Churchill, to his
credit be it said, acted without delay, and within a few days, as the
vessels passed the North of Scotland, they were stopped, and--well, to
cut a long story short, this country got the petroleum products which,
in accordance with the original plan, would have gone to Germany.
Some time afterwards there came a voice of protest from one or two
interested persons in those neutral countries, for they declared that
not a single barrel of petroleum had gone over to Germany, but evidence
was soon forthcoming to show how well Germany’s ruse had worked for
some months, and a prosecution in one of those countries made against
an importing firm, for actually sending petroleum supplies into
Germany, effectively closed the protest from those who would have liked
the enemy’s desires to have been undisturbed.

There is not the slightest doubt that Germany at that time was in dire
straits for sufficient petroleum products for its military purposes:
had the war been somewhat delayed in its commencement, she would have
been far better prepared, for, under the auspices of the Government,
there had been laid down an elaborate programme for the importation
and distribution of Roumanian petroleum products throughout Germany.
As it was, the country was unprepared, and, though in other directions
every possible precaution had been taken to carry through an elaborate
military programme of offence, the prospective dearth of sufficient
supplies of petroleum products necessitated the enforcing of the
most stringent regulations with regard to the uses of all petroleum
products, excepting for military purposes.

The taking of the Galician fields from the Central Armies by Russia
gave a serious set-back to Germany’s military plans, and it was only
when the Russians had to withdraw from Lemberg that the enemy was able
to count upon sufficient supplies to meet his military requirements.
To an extent, he was even then doomed to disappointment, for, when his
armies arrived on the Galician fields, they found that practically the
whole of the petroleum reserves had been destroyed, and a large number
of the prolific producing wells more or less permanently damaged.
Nor, to my mind, was the advance into Roumania prompted by the idea
of territorial gains so much as to secure control of the country’s
oil-fields. Here, again, Germany’s desires were in part thwarted,
for the efforts of the British Military Mission, to which I refer
elsewhere, had been eminently successful.

From that time onward, however, Germany’s supplies of petroleum
products were secured, and that she turned them to account was a matter
of common knowledge. Germany, naturally, greatly valued the acquisition
of the Roumanian oil-fields, and it must be to its people a great
disappointment that the whole of these immensely prolific regions for
oil production are now permanently removed from the nation’s grasp.

Unfortunately, the British Government did not seriously appreciate the
importance of petroleum products in war as well as peace until the
war cloud of 1914 was about to burst. It had taken no notice of the
suggestions made from time to time that in our own country there might
be vast petroleum reserves awaiting development, and it had not even
shown any encouragement to the Scottish shale-oil industry. All that
it had done, and even this was on the eve of war, was to invest over
£2,000,000 in the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, Ltd., for the development
of the Persian oil-fields, so that the Navy could secure ample supplies
of fuel oil. But here, however, there were difficulties ahead, for the
Persian fields are in the interior of the country and have to rely upon
pipe-lines to bring the supplies to the coast.

Everything, therefore, depended upon the security of the pipe-line,
and the idea which was in the minds of many who opposed the scheme as
to the possibility of supplies being cut off by the activities of the
insurgents, was by no means a mistaken one; the pipe-line was, in fact,
partially destroyed, and the transport of fuel oil held up for a long
time.

As a nation, we have all along had to depend upon imported petroleum
products, and, inasmuch as our supplies could be drawn at will from
a variety of producing countries, the idea that we might at one time
find ourselves cut off from supply does not appear to have occurred to
many. No sooner had the war started, however, than we found, owing to
the closing of the Dardanelles, that both Russia and Roumania could no
longer attend to our requirements, while the Far East, owing to the
great ocean journey necessitated to this country (and the quickest way
lay through the Mediterranean) could not maintain regular shipments
with us. It is fortunate that we found the United States willing, and
from the start very desirous, to do all that was possible to help us
out of a difficulty; while Mexico, with its wealth of British oil
interests, catered in every way for the meeting of the enormous demands
we made upon its resources.

To say that petroleum products have played a highly-important part in
the conduct of the war is but to under-estimate facts. The importance
of their part has been equal to that of the supply of guns and shells,
and, when the statement was made in the House of Commons in 1917 that
adequate supplies of petroleum were quite as essential as men and
munitions, petroleum’s part was then not over-stated. Rather would I
say it was on the contrary, for, had there been at any time a dearth
of any classification of petroleum products, then the vast naval and
army organization, both on and across the water, would immediately have
lost its balance, and our great fighting units would automatically have
become useless. Just think of it for a moment.

To-day, our great naval fighters--take the _Queen Elizabeth_, for
instance--rely upon fuel oil for purposes of power, while our second
and third line units must also have it, for, whether it be fuel oil or
the lighter products of the oil refinery--I refer to motor spirit--it
matters not, so far as supply is concerned. The whole of our winged
fleets in the air must, of necessity, be useless unless they can
regularly draw large quantities of motor spirit, and the volume they
consume, even on a single trip, would surprise many, though it is not
possible here to enter into figures.

At first sight one might be inclined to think that, apart from
petroleum products being a very useful adjunct to the organization of
battles on land, their use is not of a very real nature, but, if we
pause for one moment, our first impressions are disillusioned.

It was my privilege at the end of 1917, thanks to the kindness of
the British Foreign Office, to pay a visit to the fronts of France
and Flanders, and there to have an opportunity of seeing the part
which petroleum products did actually play. The immensity of this
importance cannot be easily grasped, nor easily described. We all
know the remarkable progress which had been made in regard to the
extension of the railway systems throughout the zones of battle, but
it will surprise many to learn that it was when the rail-heads had
been reached, and between there and the real battle front, that motor
spirit had the realm of transport to itself. Tens of thousands of heavy
motor vehicles took up the work of transport when it left the railway,
and it was this service that was required to see not only that our
millions of men daily received their food, but each and every sort of
ammunition also. But it was not even when the front line of battle was
reached that motor spirit had finished its work. Those great machines
of war--the tanks--had to remain stationary if they were not fed by
large supplies of spirit, while petroleum, too, took a primary position
in the making of the liquid fire which now and again we heard of as
causing such havoc to Fritz. But, at its best, the railway was somewhat
slow at the Front, no doubt owing to the enormous congestion which
was inseparable from the reign of a state of war. Consequently, whole
fleets of motor vehicles were employed day and night in a ceaseless
stream of traffic, from the coastal ports right up to the zone of
battle. Without divulging secrets, it is safe to say that that branch
of the service alone demanded millions of gallons of motor spirit
weekly.

Both after as well as before battle, the products of petroleum were
essential, for, when the Red Cross vehicles took up their humane work
of transporting the wounded heroes of the fight, those, too, called for
innumerable quantities of motor spirit. And when darkness had fallen
the oil lamp came into general use. It was to be found wherever there
was a vestige of life in those zones of battle: the soldiers in their,
at times, lonely dug-outs, used oil for cooking as well as for light,
and all vehicular traffic was guided from disaster along the roads by
the use of oil, which also offered the only source of artificial light
in the Red Cross vehicles. What an immense organization it was which
depended for its ceaseless activities upon the products of petroleum!

One day, while at General Headquarters, I expressed a desire to see
the methods by which all that world of activity secured its necessary
supplies of petroleum products regularly, when once they had arrived
in France in bulk. A few days later, I was, accordingly, allowed to
visit the immense central depot at Calais, at which all the petroleum
products required for use in the organization of transport were dealt
with. It is safe to say that at no centre in the world did there
exist such an extensive petroleum depot, nor anywhere else was there
an organization upon whose perfect working so much depended. Though
motor spirit necessarily occupied the first position of importance,
practically the whole range of products was dealt with. The motor
spirit was received in bulk, but at the depot had to be measured into
the familiar 2-gallon can (which was made on the spot) and sent up
country in special trains each day. Specially coloured tins denoted
the best quality of the spirit, and it was that which was reserved for
the numerous aerodromes in France and Flanders. The magnitude of that
branch of the depot might be guessed when I state that at the time of
my visit considerably over 2,000,000 2-gallon petrol tins were being
either stored or filled for up country dispatch.

All kinds of lubricants were also essential for the purposes of war,
for even motor spirit itself would be of little use for the internal
combustion engines, if the engines could not secure their regular
supplies of lubricating oils. These, too, had to be dispatched with
remarkable regularity to every section of the battle zones, whilst, as
I have suggested earlier, the daily requirements of war necessitated
the distribution of illuminating oil in large quantities.

But no reference to petroleum’s part in the great European war would be
complete were it not to include mention of the way in which supplies
of toluol assisted in securing victory to the Allies. Toluol, as is
known, is necessary for the production of high explosives, and in the
early stages of the great conflict, the output of high explosives was
considerably restricted by the absence of sufficient quantities of this
necessary explosive primary.

It was at that time that a discovery of the utmost importance was made,
for, as the result of investigations carried out at the Cambridge
University, it was found that the heavy petroleums of Borneo contained
large percentages of toluol.

Sir Marcus Samuel, Bart., the Chairman (and the founder) of the Shell
Transport and Trading Company, Ltd., lost no time in apprising the
British Government of the discovery, for it is in the Borneo oils that
the Shell Company and its allied concerns are chiefly interested.

The offer for the delivery of these immense quantities of toluol was
eagerly accepted by the British and Allied Governments, and from that
time onward, the supply of high explosives was practically unlimited.

The French and Italian Governments have asserted that, but for this
specific offer of toluol, the manufacture of high explosives would have
had to remain so limited, that it would have been impossible to bring
about an Allied Victory in 1918. Their thanks were publicly extended
to the Shell Company at the conclusion of hostilities, and Mr. H. W.
Deterding and the Asiatic Petroleum Company were specially thanked,
while as far back as 1915, Sir Marcus Samuel, Bart., received the
thanks of the British Government for his invaluable war services. It
was only after the firing of the guns had ceased on all Fronts, that it
was permissible to record in what a remarkable manner these services
were rendered.

The exigencies of space have prevented my dealing, excepting in the
most brief manner, with this interesting subject: I only hope I have
succeeded in showing that, in times of war, as well as in those of
peace, petroleum products occupy the position of first importance.



CHAPTER XII

THE SCOTTISH SHALE-OIL INDUSTRY


In view of the great interest which is now being centred in the
production of petroleum in the British Isles--thus making this country
to a large extent less dependent upon foreign sources of supply--the
Shale-oil Industry of Scotland is assuming a new importance, for the
reason that it is in the direction of the development of new oil-shale
areas in several parts of the country that experts look with a great
amount of confidence.

It is specially interesting, therefore, to deal at some length with
the growth of the industry, the methods by which the oil shales are
operated, and the prospects for its extension.

The name of Dr. James Young, of Renfrewshire, will ever be associated
with the commercial exploitation of the oil-bearing shales in the
Midlothians, for it was due to his enterprise that the Scottish
shale-oil industry really owed its birth and much of its later
development. It was while Young was managing a chemical works at
Liverpool that his attention was drawn to small flows of oil which
came from a coal seam at Alfreton, in Derbyshire. This was in 1847,
and after experimenting with the liquid, Young succeeded in extracting
therefrom on a commercial scale both a light burning oil and a
lubricant, as well as wax. When the supply became exhausted, Dr. Young
had an idea to imitate the natural processes by which he believed the
oil had been formed. The outcome of this was the well-known Young
patent for obtaining paraffin oil and other products from bituminous
coals at slow distillation.

The Young process was utilized with much success in the United States
until such time as it became unprofitable owing to the largely
increasing production in America of liquid oils obtained direct from
the earth. It was about this time that a bituminous mineral known as
Boghead coal, and existing in the Midlothians, was discovered, and
from this Young secured upwards of 100 gallons of oil from each ton
treated, but soon this mineral was, in a practical sense, exhausted,
and so the bituminous shales, now known as oil-shales, came in for
attention. Before passing away from Dr. Young’s services in connection
with the establishment of the Scottish shale-oil industry, it should be
mentioned that he figures very largely in more than one of the earlier
Scottish shale concerns. He founded the Bathgate Oil Company, which, in
the zenith of its operations, treated 1,000 tons of shale daily, this
Company being later merged into the Young’s Paraffin Light and Mineral
Oil Company, Ltd., one of the large Scottish shale-oil undertakings and
well known throughout the world to-day.

The Scottish shale-oil fields, as exploited to-day, cover a belt of
territory which is about 6 miles broad and stretches from Dalmeny
and Abercorn, on the Firth of Forth, southwards across the fertile
tract between the River Almond and the Bathgate Hills to the moorland
district of Cobbinshaw and Tarbrax. Throughout this region there are
various important mining centres, such as Broxburn, Uphall, East
Calder, Mid-Calder, West Calder, and Addiwell; and in connection with
the shale-oil industry, upwards of 25,000 persons now find regular
employment.

The shale measures on which the shale-oil industry depends, form part
of the calciferous sandstone series of Mid and West Lothian and the
southern coast of Fife. The carboniferous system of Scotland may be
arranged in descending order in four divisions, as under--

4. Coal measures, comprising red sandstone, shales, and marls with no
workable coals, underlaid by white and grey sandstones and shales with
numerous valuable coal seams and ironstones.

3. Millstone grit, consisting of coarse sandstones, with beds of
fireclay, a few thin coals, ironstones, and thin limestones.

2. Carboniferous limestone series, embracing three subdivisions, the
highest of which contains three or more limestones with thick beds of
sandstone and some coals, the middle includes several valuable seams of
coal and ironstone, and the lowest is characterized by several beds of
marine limestone with sandstone, shales, some coals, and ironstones.

1. Calciferous sandstone series, forming two subdivisions. The upper
is known as the oil-shale group, and is over 3,000 feet in thickness,
and contains, in its highest part, beds of coal, usually of inferior
quality, and, farther down, about six main seams of oil-shale,
inter-stratified with beds of sandstone, shale, fire-clay, marl, and
estuarine limestones.

Although the calciferous sandstone series is well developed in other
parts of Scotland, it has not hitherto yielded any oil-shale of
economic importance beyond the limits of West Lothian, Mid Lothian,
and Fife. Thin seams of oil-shale do occur in various places in the
counties of Haddington and Berwick, but, generally speaking, the
quantity is not sufficient to be practically worked.

A word or two as to the oil-shales themselves. The shales, as known
in the Lothians, are fine black or brownish clay shales, with certain
special features which enable them to be easily distinguished in the
field. Miners draw a distinction between “plain” and “curly” shale,
the former variety being flat and smooth, and the latter contorted or
“curled,” and polished or glossy on the squeezed faces. In internal
structure, oil-shale is minutely laminated, which is apparent in the
“spent” shale after distillation, when it is thrown out in fragments,
composed of extremely thin sheets like the leaves of a book.

Before touching upon the methods employed in mining the shale and the
treatment it receives during distillation, it is interesting to note
that the industry in Scotland has passed through many vicissitudes
since its establishment. At that time, the American oil industry was
but in its infancy, and the production in the States was utilized
mainly on the American markets. Consequently, there was a great
demand for the Scottish oils in this country, and in 1870 there were
no fewer than ninety small oil-works in the Lothians, the majority
of which were operating the shales. It was about this time that the
American illuminating oil came over to this country, and a very
sorry blow was dealt the Scottish industry. So disastrous was the
resulting competition between the Scottish products on the one hand,
and the American and Russian petroleums on the other, that one by
one the Scottish companies closed down, and, after less than eight
years of competition, the number of operating companies had fallen to
twenty-six. The decay continued until the number of active concerns in
the Scottish shale-oil industry could be counted on one’s fingers.

The industry exists to-day simply as a result of the great improvements
which have been made in the retorting of the shale, by which larger
quantities of products are produced--including ammonia. It is thus able
to withstand foreign competition.

To-day, it is estimated that nearly 4,000,000 tons of the Scottish
shales are treated every twelve months by the several operating oil
companies. The most important of these concerns--the Pumpherston Oil
Company--has been regularly operating since 1883, and, inasmuch as it
deals with by far the largest quantities of shale treated, a brief
account of its operations will be of advantage in enabling the reader
to understand the methods by which a total of nearly 400,000 tons of
oil are produced each year in Scotland.

The operations of the Pumpherston Oil Company are upon a scale of
considerable magnitude, for the Company’s works comprise the crude oil
plant, the sulphate of ammonia plant, oil and wax refineries, etc. The
Seafield and Deans works, 7 and 4 miles distant respectively, possess
only crude-oil and sulphate-producing plants, the refining plants being
confined to Pumpherston. The Company’s works cover 100 acres, while
the shale fields extend over many thousands of acres in and around the
district of Pumpherston.

As has already been mentioned, the shale fields so far operated
lie, in the main, in the Lothians, and, as one motors by road from
Edinburgh to Glasgow, the shale country is passed through. Before
the commercial development of a shale field, trial borings are sunk,
now more generally by means of a diamond bore, for by its revolving
action a solid core is obtained which readily shows the character and
inclination of the strata passed through. When a seam of shale has been
found by boring operations, and the exact position and depth of outcrop
determined, it is necessary, before sinking a mine, to put down a trial
shaft for the purpose of making sure as to the true gradient at which
the shale is lying, and the thickness as well as the quality of the
same.

In the shales in the Pumpherston district there are five distinct
seams, dipping from 29 degrees to 38 degrees, and the mine is driven in
the middle seam, the other seams being entered by level cross-cut mines
driven from one to another. Each of these seams is worked separately,
the cross-cut shown in the sketch serving the purposes of communication
and transit. In some cases, where the inclination of the shales is at
a different angle, it is necessary to sink a vertical shaft, and this
method is applied to the series known as the Mid-Calder.

The usual dimensions of the inclined shaft are a width of from 10
to 12 feet, and the height is from 6 to 8 feet. If the sides of the
shaft prove to be of a soft nature, as is generally the case with the
shale at the crop, walls are run up and the roof is supported by larch
crowns, but, where the shale is hard and the roof good, then the less
costly method of timbering is adopted.

The supports to the roof in many cases are fixed “centre” fashion,
dividing the shaft into two unequal parts. The smaller division has
generally a width of just over 3 feet, and is used for haulage ropes
and water pipes, while the larger division is utilized for winding.
During the progress of sinking, levels are broken away in the seam at
regular distances, and driven so as to get communication with, and
drive headings to form, the outer mine. These headings are driven in
the same direction as the sinking mine to the levels above, until
they connect with the outer mine or shaft. The outer mine is then
used for winding the shale up to the surface, and the other is kept
for sinking purposes, and by this means winding and sinking can go on
simultaneously.

[Illustration: GENERAL VIEW OF THE PUMPHERSTON WORKS]

The seams of shale in the Midlothian fields vary generally from 4 to
10 feet in thickness, say 7 feet as an average, and, on the whole,
they are comparatively free from ribs of unproductive rock. With a
thickness of 7 feet, experience has shown that the method best adapted
for the efficient working of the shale is “stoop and room,” but in the
case of two seams of shale, separated by a bed of foreign material
of sufficient thickness for packing, the long wall method proves the
more suitable. The “stoop and room” method, however, is more generally
used throughout the Scottish shale district than any other, its chief
characteristics being the (1) “whole” or first working, and (2) the
broken or second working. The whole working consists of a series of
excavations made in the shale, whereby it is divided into rectangular
blocks or pillars. These excavations are called rooms, one set being
driven at right angles to the dip of the shale and at regular distances
from one another, and commonly called “levels”; another set, driven to
the rise of these levels and at right angles to them, being usually
known as “ends” or “upsets.” The latter are broken off the levels at
regular intervals and driven upwards to meet the levels above.

The shale miner holes as far as he can reach--probably three or more
feet--and brings down the shale by blasting, the process being repeated
until he penetrates a distance of from 9 to 12 feet from the face at
road-head. The shale, being loosened from its natural bed, is then
placed in “hutches,” which are taken to the bottom of the shaft by
either horse or chain haulage (much as with coal), and then the journey
to the mouth is commenced. Before leaving the question of shale mining,
it should be explained that the shale miner is subject to dangers much
as his colleague in the coal-pit, but the volume of gases found in the
shale seams is not so great as in the coal measures. These, however,
are of an explosive nature, the most common being fire-damp.

Once above ground, the shale is conveyed to breaking machines by
endless wire-rope haulage. Passing through the machines, it is broken
into suitable sizes for distillation, and drops into hopper-shaped
hutches. These hutches have a capacity of about a ton, and each in turn
is conveyed to the top of the retorts on an inclined scaffold by an
endless chain. The shale then falls by the operation of a lever into a
hopper or magazine communicating directly with the retorts, one hopper
with a storage capacity of 24 hours’ supply of shale being connected to
each retort of the Pumpherston Company.

This Company’s retorts--they are patented--are in use at the various
works of the Pumpherston Company, and are an interesting feature to
visitors. The shale is fed by gravitation into cylindrical-shaped
retorts, and built vertically in ovens of four, each oven having four
chambers. The upper portion is of cast-iron, 11 feet long by 2 feet
in diameter at the top, and slightly enlarged toward the bottom. Heat
is applied externally from the incondensable gases obtained from the
distillation of the shale, and this heat is made to circulate round
the retort. In the case of the poorer qualities of the shale, however,
the heat is assisted by producer-gas. The heating gas enters near
the bottom portion of the retort, which is of fire-brick, along with
a certain quantity of air, and a high temperature--from 1,200°F. to
1,600°F.--is maintained, in this portion converting the nitrogen of the
shale into ammonia, which is preserved by a continuous supply of steam
delivered at a slight pressure at the bottom of the hopper.

The oil gases are distilled from the shale in the cast-iron portion
of the retort at a temperature of about 900° F., and, along with the
ammonia gas, are drawn off by the exhausters through a branch pipe
at the top of the retort, through the atmospheric condensers, from
which the condensed liquid oil and water containing ammonia flow into
a small separator tank. It is here that, owing to their different
specific gravities--for one is lighter than the other--they assume
different levels, and are thus drawn off into separate tanks. The
gases then pass through ammonia scrubbers, in which they are washed
for ammonia, and then through the naphtha scrubbers, where the lighter
gases, which could not be caught in the atmospheric condensers,
are washed with oil and a good quality of light oil or naphtha is
recovered. The incondensable portion passing from these scrubbers is
burned in the retorts as previously mentioned. With a shale of average
yield, the retort can be heated by these incondensable gases from the
distillation, and a surplus obtained for burning under steam boilers.

What is doubtless a very unique feature of the Pumpherston retort
is the mechanical arrangement for withdrawing the spent shale
continuously, and thus keeping the whole mass inside the retorts in
constant movement. Below each pair of retorts is fixed a hopper made
of cast-iron, and fixed to girders supported on the brick piers or
columns between the ovens. At the top of each hopper, and immediately
underneath the bottom of the retorts, is fixed a cast-iron disc or
table, with a space left between its edge and the sides of the hopper.
The whole mass of shale in the retort rests upon the table, the space
permitting some to pass over the edge. Through the centre of the table
a steel spindle projects, on the upper end of which is fixed a curved
arm, and this, when rotated, pushes some of the shale off, causing it
to fall over the edge of the table into the hopper below. The shaft
carrying the curved arm passes through a stuffing-box on the hopper,
and has a ratchet and lever fitted to the lower end, actuated by a
rod of T-iron which is made to travel horizontally, and is driven by
a small electric motor. The motion is comparatively slow, the arm
making but one revolution in about 20 minutes, but the action is most
satisfactory, the through-put of shale being regulated at will.

The ammonia water got from the atmospheric condensers is pumped through
a heater, in which it is raised in temperature by the waste water
flowing from the still, and passes into the top of the still, which is
circular in shape, about 30 feet high, and has a series of cast-iron
shelves or trays fixed horizontally every 2 feet or thereabouts from
the top to near the bottom. Steam is put into the bottom of the still
at a pressure of 40 lb., and passes to the top through a series of
conical arrangements on the shelves carrying with it the volatile
ammonia, while the water, after traversing the whole area of each tray,
passes out into a concrete tank containing a cast-iron worm, which is
the heater already referred to, for the ammonia water on its way to the
still. During its progress from the top to the bottom of the still, the
water is diverted into a chamber containing milk of lime, setting free
the fixed ammonia which cannot be got by steaming.

The steam and ammonia gas liberated in the still pass over into a
large lead-lined tub or saturator, and bubbles through holes in a
lead worm placed round the circumference at the bottom of the vessel.
Sulphuric acid is at the same time run into the saturator, and, at
a certain temperature, sulphate of ammonia is formed. The sulphate
falls into a well, formed in the centre of the bottom of the vessel,
in which are placed two steam ejectors, and these blow it out along
with some liquor. This mixture is delivered into hutches having
perforated bottoms, through which the ammonia liquor drains off, the
solid sulphate being left in the hutch. This is now run by an overhead
railway to the drying or storage stalls, and from these it is packed
up and dispatched to the market. The exhaust steam and waste gases
from the saturator are passed into the retorts, and utilized for the
formation of ammonia from the shale, while the spent water is pumped to
the spent shale bing, and thoroughly filtered before being allowed to
escape from the works.

For dealing with the weak acid water recovered from the refinery, the
Pumpherston plant consists of lead-lined tubs or crackers, into which
a quantity of the acid water is run, and saturated with ammonia gas
until it is near the salting point, when it gravitates into settling
vessels in order to separate any tar carried over with the acid water.
The clear liquid is then drawn into the saturator, where it is quickly
converted into sulphate and blown out in the manner already described.

So up to date is the whole of the system governing the treatment of the
shales and the resulting products, that the pumping of water from the
mines, the haulage of the shale to the refineries, as well as driving
of machinery in the works, is performed by electric power, the exhaust
steam from the engines driving the generators, as in the case of the
sulphate of ammonia exhaust, being sent to the retorts for use in the
production of ammonia.

The process of refining the crude oil obtained from the shale into
the various products is somewhat complicated and perplexing to those
unassociated with the industry on account of the many distillations
and treatments which have to be carried out before a good marketable
article is produced. The following outline, however, will give a fair
idea of the process adopted throughout Scotland.

The crude oil is delivered at the refinery into large tanks, which
are placed at a sufficient height to feed the stills by gravitation.
The crude oil is allowed to settle for twelve or more hours at a
temperature sufficiently high to separate any water that may have
passed the test at the retorts, and after this water has been run
off, the oil is fed into the centre boiler of a battery of oil
boilers. The lightest fraction of the oil--ultimately motor spirit and
illuminating oils--is distilled off the feeding boiler and condensed
in a coil of cast-iron pipes immersed in water in a tank, cold water
being continuously run into the tank, while heated water is run off.
The boilers on each side of the feed vessel receive their oil by a
pipe connecting with the bottom of the latter, and they also distil
over the lighter portion of oil with which they have been fed, the
heavier portions passing on to a third boiler, where the process of
distillation is repeated.

The oil now left is delivered into a cast-iron pot-still, in which
it is ultimately distilled to dryness, the residue left in the still
forming oil coke, which is valuable as a fuel on account of its high
percentage of fixed carbon and low yield of ash. Steam is admitted to
the still in large quantities at all distillations. The various stages
of distillation are carried through in almost identically the same
manner as that of crude oil, and, therefore, need not be described in
detail.

The treatment or washing of the oil to remove the impurities that
cannot be eliminated by distillation, consists in stirring the oil
by compressed air for a given time in an iron vessel, with a fixed
quantity of sulphuric acid, allowing it to settle, and running off the
heavy mixture of tar and acid which separates. The acid-treated oil
is then run into another similar vessel, treated with a solution of
caustic soda, settles, and the soda tar which separates is run off.
The acid tars are steamed and washed, the resulting acid water being
sent to the sulphate of ammonia house for the manufacture of sulphate
of ammonia, whilst the tar is mixed with that from the soda treatments
and burned under the stills as liquid oil. As there is more than
sufficient of this tar to distil all the oil at the various stages,
the distillation is carried out without cost for fuel, excepting that
necessary for steam-raising purposes.

A portion of the oil distilled at the second distillation, or green
oil stage, is sent from the stills to the paraffin sheds to be cooled
and the scale extracted, this eventually being made into paraffin wax.
Stored in tanks until brought down to atmospheric temperature, the
oil is pumped into the inner chamber of a cooler, which consists of a
series of four vessels having inner and outer compartments. At the same
time, anhydrous ammonia is forced into the outer compartment or jacket,
and absorbs heat from the cooler, freezing the oil in the inner jacket
into a pasty mixture of liquid oil and solid crystals of wax.

This mixture is then pumped into filter-presses, where a portion of
the oil flows away through the cloth, while the wax is left behind
in solid cakes, still containing a quantity of oil. These cakes are
delivered by conveyors to the back of the hydraulic presses, where
they are wrapped in cloth and placed on shelves between iron frames in
the presses, most of the remaining oils being thus squeezed out. The
material obtained from the hydraulic presses is known to the trade as
paraffin scale, and as it is discoloured by the small quantity of oil
which cannot be removed by pressing, a process of sweating by steaming
in large brick compartments is adopted, in order to remove the oil.
The scale, consequent upon the removal of the oil therefrom, becomes
whiter and of higher melting point, and after further treatment is
finally passed through filter paper and run into moulding trays. When
cooled, this product is known as paraffin wax, of which there are many
grades. One cannot enter into the technical arrangements involved, for
obvious reasons, the chief one of which is that these cannot interest
the reader; but sufficient has already been written in this chapter to
suggest to the reader the perfection which has now been reached in the
treatment of the shales of the Midlothians.

As to the future, it is full of promise. There is no doubt that for
many years to come the full force of foreign competition, as it has
existed in previous times, will not be felt. There is a free field
for Scottish enterprise in connection with the distillation of its
oil-bearing shales. Nor is the region for development limited to its
present area. Reports point to the fact that much area of commercial
ground exists, not only on the eastern side of Scotland, but also in
the north and north-west, while it is already an open secret that
those responsible for the conduct of Government operations are viewing
with favour even the liquid extraction of oil from certain areas not
far distant from the zone of the present operations. The Scottish
shale-oil industry has, so far, managed to defy competition from abroad
to an extent which is reflected in the balance sheets of the several
operating companies, whose yearly dividends have been from 50 per cent.
downward during recent years.

One thing is certain, and that is, the Government is well aware that
there are great possibilities associated with the shale-oil industry
of Scotland, and it is not only watching developments with direct
interest, but is doing all in its power to foster the industry, and
by all means possible encourage the exploitation of areas so far
not commercially developed. At some future date there is a great
possibility that the present area for developments will be largely
extended, and as this is written, there is much evidence forthcoming to
suggest that this commercial development of new lands will not long be
delayed.



CHAPTER XIII

A FEW NOTABLE PETROLEUM ENTERPRISES


No brief survey of the petroleum industry would be complete were
reference not made to a few of those remarkable commercial undertakings
in various parts of the world whose interests are not only closely
associated with it, but to whose energies has been due much of the
expansion that has been witnessed in every direction during the past
few decades. It is safe to assert that, had it not been that the
petroleum industry has, in its various industrial and commercial
aspects attracted the attention of some of the finest financial and
business houses in the world, the wonderful progress which has been
recorded would, for the most part, have been impossible.

The first place must of necessity be given to that much maligned
amalgamation of capital, the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey, which
was formed as far back as 36 years ago by Mr. John D. Rockefeller
and his associates for the primary purpose of developments in the
petroleum industry of the United States. At that time, the petroleum
production of America had become quite a factor in commerce, but it
was, obviously, in want of a guiding hand which could not only place
it upon a basis of solidity, but which would tend to remove much of
that gambling element which had become almost part and parcel of all
developments. The Company, at the head of which were several gentlemen
who had already made themselves famous in the land of oil, launched out
in several directions, and, through the numerous subsidiary concerns
which it soon created, it owned very extensive oil-bearing properties
in practically every oil-field of the States, while it built quite a
network of pipe-lines for the conveyance of the oil from the fields to
the refineries, and from the refineries to seaboard. It erected and
equipped oil refineries, and, so as to provide the much-needed foreign
markets for American petroleum products, it built its fleet of oil
tankers; and, lastly, opened depots for the distribution of American
petroleum products all the world over.

At one time, the ultimate success of its vast operations was open to
question, and many there were who predicted that one day it would
ignominiously pass on to the list of oil failures. Indeed, it nearly
came to this on one or two occasions, and it was only owing to the
remarkable perseverance of those at the head of the Company’s affairs
that prevented headlong disaster. The Standard Oil Company soon became
an integral part of the petroleum industry of the United States,
with which it grew up and steadily assumed a position of world-wide
importance, though one which was not unassailable. Its ultimate success
was the chief cause for the multiplication of its critics, and volumes
have been written of its wrong-doings by writers whose knowledge of
the petroleum industry was mostly based upon wilful ignorance of
facts. Consequent upon a decision of the United States Supreme Court
some seven years ago, which held that the Company was violating the
Anti-Trust Law of 1890, the Standard had to rid itself of its various
subsidiary companies (over thirty in number), but it still controls
almost a similar number of concerns to-day which are actively engaged
in the production of crude oil and natural gas. It also owns several of
the largest refineries in the States, while its fleet of oil tankers
will, when present building is completed, be considerably over 300,000
tonnage. Its capital is $100,000,000, and during the last twelve
years it has paid in dividends over 400 per cent., in addition to an
additional cash distribution of 40 per cent.

The Standard Oil Company of New York is another immense concern
which, with a capital of $75,000,000, has its headquarters in the
Standard’s palatial building at 26 Broadway, New York, and interested
principally in the refining industry, its facilities permitting of
20,000 barrels of crude oil being treated daily. Another very prominent
company is the Standard Oil Company of California, with its capital
of $100,000,000. This Company not only produces its crude oil, but
refines it, and engages in the export business. Its refinery at Point
Richmond, California, is reported to be the largest in the world, for
it can treat 65,000 barrels of crude oil daily. Its fleet of tankers
and barges for the export trade is capable of carrying at one trip over
100,000 tons of products, and, for the purposes of its land transport,
it possesses pipe-lines over 1,000 miles long.

The second place of importance in regard to the petroleum enterprises
of international influence must be given to the “Shell” Transport
and Trading Company, Ltd., whose headquarters are in London, with
that well-known oil pioneer, Sir Marcus Samuel, Bart., as its
Chairman. Formed just over twenty years ago for dealing primarily as
a transporter of petroleum products in the Far East, the “Shell” has
steadily and continuously extended the sphere of its operations, until
the result of a carefully thought out policy is seen in its activities
in almost every oil-field of the world. Just over ten years ago, the
Company made an amalgamation with the Royal Dutch Petroleum Company,
or, to give it its correct name, the Koninklijke Nederlandsche
Maatschappij tot exploitatie van petroleum-bronnen in Nederlandsch
Indie (whose capital is £12,500,000), and by reason of so doing it
materially increased its international position and importance. The
“Shell”--Royal Dutch Combine to-day has a controlling interest in some
of the largest operating companies in Russia, Roumania, California,
Mexico, Venezuela, and other oil regions, one of its most recent
extensions being in its advent into the petroleum industry of Trinidad.
The “Shell” Company has a record for successful industrial expansion
which is achieved by few companies in the world of commerce: its
capital is now £15,000,000, and in dividends it has distributed over
300 per cent. Among the “Shell” Company’s associated concerns, that
of the Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Company, Ltd., which is responsible for
the ocean transportation of the petroleum products of the Combine,
takes first place, with its capital of £8,000,000; while the Asiatic
Petroleum Company, Ltd. (capital, £2,000,000), ranks but second. The
recent fusion of the interests of Lord Cowdray with those of the
“Shell,” for the latter has acquired the control of the great Mexican
interests associated with the Pearson company, is another instance of
how the “Shell” Company has trod the road of progress and expansion.

The sudden rise to fame of the oil-fields of Mexico gave birth to what
may safely be referred to as one of the most enterprising amalgamations
of capital in the long list of concerns associated with the petroleum
industry, and it is gratifying to note that this enterprise was solely
due to the well-known firm of Messrs. S. Pearson & Sons. Lord Cowdray,
as the head, was not slow to recognize the vast opportunities which
awaited the development of the Mexican fields, and the formation of the
Mexican Eagle Oil Company, in 1908, with a capital of now $60,000,000
(Mexican), or about £6,125,000 sterling, was the initial result of his
efforts. It was just about this time that the serious fuel oil era
opened, both in this country and others, and it was evident that, for
the purpose of adequately distributing the products of Mexican oil (and
these include the whole range of refined oils, as well as fuel oil),
there was room for the operations of a large and influential company.
The Anglo-Mexican Petroleum Company, Ltd., was accordingly formed, with
Lord Cowdray’s son (the Hon. B. C. Pearson) as Chairman, and a capital
of £2,000,000, to deal with the importation and distribution of Mexican
petroleum products on the English market.

As already stated, the control of this Company has now passed under the
“Shell,” and its future expansion is assured, both at home and abroad.

The Mexican products are transported from Mexico to this country, as
well as many others, by the large fleet of Eagle oil tankers, the
property of the Eagle Oil Transport Company, Ltd., which admirably
managed concern of £3,000,000 capital is also presided over by the Hon.
B. C. Pearson. The Eagle Company possesses the largest oil tankers
afloat, many of them carrying over 15,000 tons of bulk oil, though
others to be built are to be considerably larger; an 18,000 ton tanker
is, indeed, already in commission.

Another highly important enterprise in the world of petroleum is that
of the Burmah Oil Company, Ltd., which, as its name suggests, is
occupied with the petroleum industry in Burmah, and catering for the
almost unlimited needs of the Far East in regard to refined petroleum
products. It controls enormous acres of oil-bearing territory held
under lease from the Burmah Government, possesses extensive refineries
at Rangoon, and has quite a fleet of oil tankers. Its capital is
three and a half millions sterling, and its consistent success may be
judged from the fact that it has paid over 400 per cent. in dividends.
Of comparatively recent date, the Burmah Oil Company has turned its
attention to other fields, particularly to Trinidad, but it is in
connection with the development and subsequent operations of the fields
of Burmah that the Company is chiefly concerned.

The Anglo-Persian Oil Company, Ltd., which is closely allied to the
Burmah Oil Company (capital, £6,000,000) by reason of its large
interest therein, has come into prominence during recent years,
owing mainly to its agreement with the British Government, in which
the latter has invested over £4,000,000 of the public moneys in
the enterprise. The Company acquired its petroliferous concessions
from several interests, including the Burmah Oil Company and the
late Lord Strathcona, which had been granted to them by the Persian
Government. When I mention that the Company’s concessions cover an
area of, approximately, half a million square miles, and on which
petroleum has been found in quantity on the majority of the small
areas already examined, the significance of the enterprise will be
somewhat appreciated. There is no doubt that the company’s success is
doubly assured, and, from this point of view, the investment of the
public moneys in the undertaking has been sound finance, especially
when one considers the important part which petroleum products
under British control must hereafter play. As a matter of fact, the
proposition is a well-paying one to-day, and it is asserted that the
Government’s interest is already worth no less than £20,000,000. Persia
as an oil-producing country will occupy a very prominent place. The
Company has immense petroleum-producing fields: it has its pipe-line
to seaboard, and its refineries, situate on the Persian Gulf. It
has possibilities without end, and it is rapidly availing itself of
them. The Company also now owns the entire capital of three formerly
German-owned concerns in London--the British Petroleum Company,
Ltd., the Homelight Oil Company, Ltd., and the Petroleum Steamship
Company, Ltd. Consequent upon these acquisitions, the Anglo-Persian
Company, Ltd., is making arrangements to enter the English market as
distributors of Persian petroleum. The question of transport need
not here be considered, for the Anglo-Persian Oil Company owns the
entire capital of the British Tanker Co., Ltd. The Company thus has
the producing and refining possibilities: the acquired concern of the
Tanker Company, together with that of the Petroleum Steamship Co.,
will suffice to bring its products to the English market, while the
large distributing organizations of the British Petroleum Company and
the Homelight Oil Company, owning depots all over the country, will
offer easy facilities for the distribution of the petroleum products
imported. My argument all along has been that the advent of the British
Government into this enterprise--I will not call it a speculation,
though at one time it looked like it--places all that private
enterprise, which in the past has brought all the products of petroleum
to our own doors at a reasonable and competitive price, at absolute
discount. Ever since the petroleum industry assumed proportions of
international magnitude, and we became more or less (I should have said
more than less) dependent upon our necessities being met by petroleum
and its products, private enterprise has always kept us well supplied.
But the Anglo-Persian Oil Company has made immense headway since the
Government took an interest in its operations, and its appearance on
the English market as a refiner of Persian crude oil and a distributor
of the products thereof, is but a reflection of the prolific nature
of the vast fields in Persia which it possesses. It has decided upon
having its first English oil refinery near Swansea, and it is reported
that this will be in operation before the end of 1920. It has also
secured the control of the Scottish shale oil refineries which will be
used for the treatment of Persian crude oil when occasion warrants.

[Illustration: A FEW OF THE BURMAH COMPANY’S PROLIFIC PRODUCERS]

One might go on to interminable length in briefly referring to the
great concerns whose operations have been responsible for the expansion
of the world’s petroleum industry to its present magnitude, but the
exigencies of space prevent this. The brief list of companies already
referred to represents an amalgamation of capital to the extent of
nearly £120,000,000 sterling, though this cannot be considered as
representing more than one-half the total world’s investments in
petroleum enterprises.

So far, I have not touched with the magnitude of the petroleum
companies operating in the distributing oil trade of England, though,
to some extent, this may be gathered from the references to such
companies as the “Shell,” the Anglo-Mexican Petroleum Company, etc.

Practically the first company of any magnitude to distribute petroleum
products in this country was the Anglo-American Oil Co., Ltd., which
has actively engaged in this branch of commerce for the past thirty
years. It imported and dealt in American oils long before the advent of
the companies before mentioned, and, to-day, is certainly one of the
largest--if not the largest--company so engaged. Its name is known in
every hamlet in the country: its tank cars are seen on every railway,
and its depots are to be found in every centre throughout the length
and breadth of the land. Its name is legion. Its capital is £3,000,000,
and it is to the Anglo-American Oil Company that, throughout the
clatter of European War, the credit is due for having supplied us with
those almost unlimited quantities of petroleum products so necessary
both on sea and land, for it is the largest importer in the Kingdom.
As its name implies, the “Anglo” deals mostly in American petroleum
products: it was at one time the importing concern of the Standard
Oil Company, but to-day it purchases broadcast in an endeavour--and a
very successful one, too--to supply the British consumer with all the
petroleum products he requires.

The present chapter deals, I feel, most inadequately with the general
question of concerns whose interests are directly allied with that of
petroleum; in fact, it was not my desire to give an encyclopaedia of
the thousands of companies so engaged, but, rather, to suggest the
names of a few which have secured world-wide distinction.



CHAPTER XIV

STATISTICAL


THE WORLD’S OUTPUT OF PETROLEUM

The world’s total production of crude oil for 1917, and for the period
of years 1857 to 1917, is given in the following table. The details are
given in barrels, which, divided by seven, will give the output in tons.

                         PRODUCTION.          TOTAL PRODUCTION.
                            1917.                 1857-1917.

                    _Barrels     _P.C.       _Barrels     _P.C.
                     of 42        of          of 42        of
                    Gallons._     Total._     Gallons._   Total._
  COUNTRY.
  United States     *335,315,601   66·98   4,252,644,003  60·89
  Russia             #69,000,000   13·78   1,832,583,017  26·24
  Mexico              55,292,770   11·04     222,082,472   3·18
  Dutch East Indies  ¶12,928,955    2·58     175,103,267   2·51
  India               #8,500,000    1·70      98,583,522   2·41
  Galicia              5,965,447    1·19     148,459,653   2·13
  Japan and Formosa    2,898,654    0·58      36,065,454   0·52
  Roumania             2,681,870    0·54     142,992,465   2·05
  Peru                 2,533,417    0·51      21,878,285   0·31
  Trinidad             1,599,455    0·32       5,418,885   0·08
  Argentina            1,144,737    0·23       3,047,858   0·04
  Egypt                1,008,750    0·20       2,768,686   0·04
  Germany                995,764    0·20      15,952,861   2·30
  Canada                 205,332    0·04      24,112,529   3·50
  Italy                   50,334}   0·11         947,289   0·01
  Other countries      #§530,000}                927,000   0·01
                     ------------------------------------------
      Total          500,651,086   100·00  6,983,567,246 100·00
                     ==========================================

  * Quantity marketed.
  # Estimated.
  ¶ Includes British Borneo.
  #§ Includes 19,167 barrels produced in Cuba.


THE PETROLEUM IMPORT TRADE OF THE UNITED KINGDOM

The imports of petroleum products into the United Kingdom for the past
seven years are given in the following table. Those for 1917 are only
approximate quantities inasmuch as, toward the end of the year, the
Custom House authorities decided for the time being not to compile such
statistics for general use. The figures in every case are given in
gallons--

  ------------------------+-----------+-----------+-----------+-----------+
          OILS.           |   1912.   |    1913.  |   1914.   |   1915.
  ------------------------+-----------+-----------+-----------+-----------+
  Petroleum (Crude)       | 12,742    |  1,108,900| 15,105,588|   ----
  Petroleum (lamp)        |146,030,093|157,141,241|150,131,233|141,424,353
  Petroleum (lubricating) | 69,327,061| 67,962,493| 66,646,512| 69,974,170
  Petroleum (Gas Oil)     | 73,273,526| 65,949,677| 83,105,346| 88,089,202
  Petroleum (Fuel Oil)    | 48,135,845| 95,062,187|212,675,855| 27,288,850
  Petroleum (Other prdcts)|    963,856|     24,178|     17,942|    705,353
  Motor Spirit            | 79,590,155|100,858,017|119,030,155|146,334,702
  ------------------------+-----------+-----------+-----------------------

  ------------------------+-----------+-----------+-----------+-----------+
          OILS.           |   1916.   |   1917.   |   1918.   |   1919.
  ------------------------+-----------+-----------+-----------+-----------+
  Petroleum (Crude)       |   ----    |   ----    |   ----    |  7,577,549
  Petroleum (lamp)        |126,840,494|127,958,665|148,021,234|153,371,858
  Petroleum (lubricating) | 80,443,694| 87,779,737|102,273,841| 65,832,998
  Petroleum (Gas Oil)     | 57,160,493| 31,303,820| 38,835,460| 30,033,002
  Petroleum (Fuel Oil)    | 22,646,669|440,582,168|842,405,536|265,405,203
  Petroleum (Other prdcts)|  1,728,092|   ----    |   ----    |   ----
  Motor Spirit            |163,965,834|139,270,181|192,959,054|200,332,648
  ------------------------+-----------+-----------+-----------------------+


AMERICA’S CRUDE OIL PRODUCTION DURING THE PAST FIFTY YEARS

The output of crude petroleum in the oil-fields of America during the
past fifty years has been as under, the figures being given in barrels
of 42 gallons (usually reckoned at seven to the ton)--

  _Year._       _Barrels._

   1869      4,215,000
   1870      5,260,745
   1871      5,205,234
   1872      6,293,194
   1873      9,893,786
   1874     10,926,945
   1875      8,787,514
   1876      9,132,669
   1877     13,350,363
   1878     15,396,868
   1879     19,914,146
   1880     26,286,123
   1881     27,661,238
   1882     30,349,897
   1883     23,449,633
   1884     24,218,438
   1885     21,858,785
   1886     28,064,841
   1887     28,283,483
   1888     27,612,025
   1889     35,163,513
   1890     45,823,572
   1891     54,292,655
   1892     50,514,657
   1893     48,431,066
   1894     49,344,516
   1895     52,892,276
   1896     60,960,361
   1897     60,475,516
   1898     55,364,233
   1899     57,070,850
   1900     63,620,529
   1901     69,389,194
   1902     88,766,916
   1903    100,461,337
   1904    117,080,960
   1905    134,717,580
   1906    126,493,936
   1907    166,095,335
   1908    178,527,355
   1909    183,170,874
   1910    209,557,248
   1911    220,449,391
   1912    222,935,044
   1913    248,446,230
   1914    265,762,535
   1915    281,104,104
   1916    300,767,158
   1917    335,315,601
   1918    360,000,000


ROUMANIA’S CRUDE OIL PRODUCTION DURING THE PAST FIFTY YEARS

Roumania’s crude oil production for the past fifty years is given in
the following table in barrels of 42 gallons (seven to the ton). The
officially recorded output goes back as far as 1857, when the twelve
months’ yield was just under 2,000 barrels. During 1861, the production
passed the 10,000 barrel mark for the first time, and six years later
reached 50,000 barrels for the year. The figures are as under--

  _Year._      _Barrels._

   1868        55,369
   1869        58,533
   1870        83,765
   1871        90,030
   1872        91,251
   1873       104,036
   1874       103,177
   1875       108,569
   1876       111,314
   1877       108,599
   1878       109,300
   1879       110,007
   1880       114,321
   1881       121,511
   1882       136,610
   1883       139,486
   1884       210,667
   1885       193,411
   1886       168,606
   1887       181,907
   1888       218,576
   1889       297,666
   1890       383,227
   1891       488,201
   1892       593,175
   1893       535,655
   1894       507,255
   1895       575,200
   1896       543,348
   1897       570,886
   1898       776,238
   1899     1,425,777
   1900     1,628,535
   1901     1,678,320
   1902     2,059,935
   1903     2,763,117
   1904     3,599,026
   1905     4,420,987
   1906     6,378,184
   1907     8,118,207
   1908     8,252,157
   1909     9,327,278
   1910     9,723,806
   1911    11,107,450
   1912    12,976,232
   1913    13,554,768
   1914    12,826,578
   1915    12,029,913
   1916    10,298,208
   1917     2,681,870


MEXICO’S REMARKABLE PROGRESS IN CRUDE OIL PRODUCTION

Fourteen years ago, the crude petroleum production in the oil-fields
of Mexico was officially recorded for the first time. Its remarkable
progress since that time will be seen from the following table, the
figures being in barrels of 42 gallons--

  _Year._       _Barrels._

   1904        220,653
   1905        320,379
   1906      1,097,264
   1907      1,717,690
   1908      3,481,610
   1909      2,488,742
   1910      3,332,807
   1911     14,051,643
   1912     16,558,215
   1913     25,902,439
   1914     21,188,427
   1915     32,910,508
   1916     39,817,402
   1917     55,292,770
   1918     64,605,422


GALICIAN CRUDE OIL PRODUCTION

The output of crude petroleum in the Galician fields during the past
thirty years is given herewith--

  _Year._       _Barrels._

   1888       466,537
   1889       515,268
   1890       659,012
   1891       630,730
   1892       646,220
   1893       692,669
   1894       949,146
   1895      1,452,999
   1896      2,443,080
   1897      2,226,368
   1898      2,376,108
   1899      2,313,047
   1900      2,346,505
   1901      3,251,544
   1902      4,142,159
   1903      5,234,475
   1904      5,947,383
   1905      5,765,317
   1906      5,467,967
   1907      8,455,841
   1908     12,612,295
   1909     14,932,799
   1910     12,673,688
   1911     10,519,270
   1912      8,535,174
   1913      7,818,130
   1914      5,033,350
   1915      4,158,899
   1916      6,461,706
   1917      5,965,447
   1918      4,341,050


GERMANY’S CRUDE OIL PRODUCTION

Official figures were first recorded of Germany’s crude oil production
in 1880, when the total output for the twelve months was about 9,000
barrels. For the past thirty years, the yearly output has been as
under--

  _Year._        _Barrels._

   1888         84,782
   1889         68,217
   1890        108,296
   1891        108,929
   1892        101,404
   1893         99,390
   1894        122,564
   1895        121,277
   1896        145,061
   1897        165,745
   1898        183,427
   1899        192,232
   1900        358,297
   1901        313,630
   1902        353,674
   1903        445,818
   1904        637,431
   1905        560,963
   1906        578,610
   1907        756,631
   1908      1,009,278
   1909      1,018,837
   1910      1,032,522
   1911      1,017,045
   1912      1,031,050
   1913      1,002,700
   1914        936,400
   1915        960,430
   1916        948,320
   1917        995,764
   1918        820,310


EXPORTS OF PETROLEUM PRODUCTS FROM THE UNITED STATES

The following table gives the total export movement of petroleum
products from the United States from the year 1865, when American
petroleum products commenced to have an international overseas market--

  _Year._      _Gallons._       _Value in
                           Dollars._

   1918   2,714,430,452  344,290,444
   1917   2,596,900,000  253,021,000
   1916   2,607,482,000  201,721,000
   1915   2,328,725,000  142,941,000
   1914   2,240,033,000  139,900,000
   1913   2,136,465,000  149,316,000
   1912   1,883,479,000  124,210,000
   1911   1,768,731,000  105,922,000
   1910   1,546,067,000   99,090,000
   1909   1,561,671,000  105,999,000
   1908   1,443,537,000  104,116,000
   1907   1,257,430,000   84,855,000
   1906   1,257,949,000   84,041,000
   1905   1,123,334,000   79,793,000
   1904     984,424,000   79,060,000
   1903     941,699,000   67,253,000
   1902   1,106,208,000   72,302,000
   1901   1,034,643,000   71,112,000
   1900     967,252,000   75,611,000
   1899     999,713,000   56,273,000
   1898   1,034,249,000   56,125,000
   1897     973,514,000   62,635,000
   1896     890,458,000   62,383,000
   1895     884,502,000   46,660,000
   1894     908,252,000   41,499,000
   1893     904,337,000   42,142,000
   1892     715,471,000   44,805,000
   1891     710,124,000   52,026,000
   1890     664,491,000   51,403,000
   1889     616,195,000   49,913,000
   1888     578,351,000   47,042,000
   1887     592,803,000   46,824,000
   1886     577,628,000   50,199,000
   1885     574,628,000   50,257,000
   1884     513,660,000   47,103,000
   1883     505,931,000   44,913,000
   1882     559,954,000   51,232,000
   1881     397,660,000   40,315,000
   1880     423,964,000   36,208,000
   1879     378,310,000   40,305,000
   1878     338,841,000   46,574,000
   1877     309,198,000   61,789,000
   1876     243,660,000   32,915,000
   1875     221,955,000   30,078,000
   1874     247,806,000   41,245,000
   1873     187,815,000   42,050,000
   1872     145,171,000   34,058,000
   1871     149,892,000   36,894,000
   1870     113,735,000   32,668,000
   1869     100,636,000   31,127,000
   1868      79,456,000   21,810,000
   1867      70,255,000   24,407,000
   1866      50,987,000   24,830,000
   1865      25,496,000   16,563,000


RUSSIA’S CRUDE OIL PRODUCTION DURING THE PAST FIFTY YEARS

The output of crude petroleum in the Russian oil-fields during the
past fifty years is given in the following table. For the purpose of
comparison, the figures are given in barrels of 42 gallons, rather than
in poods (62 to the ton) which is the usual manner of recording Russian
quantities. The figures are as under--

  _Year._       _Barrels._

   1869       202,308
   1870       204,618
   1871       165,129
   1872       184,391
   1873       474,379
   1874       583,751
   1875       697,364
   1876     1,320,528
   1877     1,800,720
   1878     2,400,960
   1879     2,761,104
   1880     3,001,200
   1881     3,601,441
   1882     4,537,815
   1883     6,002,401
   1884    10,804,577
   1885    13,924,596
   1886    18,006,407
   1887    18,367,781
   1888    23,048,787
   1889    24,609,407
   1890    28,691,218
   1891    34,573,181
   1892    35,774,504
   1893    40,456,519
   1894    36,375,428
   1895    46,140,174
   1896    47,220,633
   1897    54,399,568
   1898    61,609,357
   1899    65,954,968
   1900    75,779,417
   1901    85,168,556
   1902    80,540,044
   1903    75,591,256
   1904    78,536,655
   1905    54,960,270
   1906    58,897,311
   1907    61,850,734
   1908    62,186,447
   1909    65,970,250
   1910    70,336,574
   1911    66,183,691
   1912    68,019,208
   1913    62,834,356
   1914    67,020,522
   1915    68,548,062
   1916    72,801,110
   1917    69,000,000



INDEX


  Advantages of liquid fuel, 78
  A few notable petroleum enterprises, 148
  American petroleum exports, 163
  America’s crude oil production, 160
  America, the petroleum industry in, 8
  Anglo-American Oil Company, Ltd., the, 156
  Anglo-Persian Oil Company, Ltd., the, 153

  Baku-Batoum pipe-line, 24, 69
  Baku, boring operations in, 22
  ----, the oil-fields of, 19
  British Empire, petroleum in, 114
  Burmah Oil Company, Ltd., the, 152
  ----, the oil fields of, 35

  California petroleum industry, 9
  Canada, petroleum in, 118
  Chemical composition of petroleum, 52
  Cooking by means of oil, 93

  Distillation of Scottish oil shales, 144
  Drilling methods for oil, 41
  Dutch Indies, petroleum in the, 23

  Egyptian oil-fields, the, 116
  Empire oil, 114
  England, petroleum in, 104
  England’s petroleum trade, 160

  Famous oil companies, 148
  Fifty years’ American production, 160
  ---- ---- Russian production, 164

  Galicia’s crude oil production, 162
  Galicia, the oil-fields of, 36
  Germany’s attempts at oil production, 39
  ---- march on Roumania, 30
  ---- output of crude oil, 162

  Hand-dug wells in Roumania, 29
  Heathfield, natural gas in, 109
  How petroleum is produced, 41
  ---- ---- is refined, 51
  ---- the Scottish shales are operated, 136

  Internal combustion engines, 95

  Japan, petroleum in, 36

  Liquid fuel in the Navy, 78
  Lord Cowdray’s enterprise in England, 111
  ---- ---- ---- Mexico, 16, 151

  Maikop oil boom, the, 20
  Messrs. Vickers, Ltd., new engines of, 96, 102
  Methods of drilling wells, 43
  Mexico’s crude oil production, 161
  ----- petroleum industry, 12

  Ocean oil transport facilities, 71
  Oil fuel advantages, 82
  Origin of petroleum, 3

  Petroleum as fuel, 76
  ---- in England, 104
  ---- in historical times, 2
  Petroleum’s part in the Great War, 123
  Petroleum, the production of, 41
  ----, the refining of, 51
  ----, the world’s output of, 158

  Remarkable oil wells in Mexico, 14
  Rotary system of drilling, 48
  Roumania, petroleum industry of, 28
  Roumania’s crude oil production, 160
  Russia, petroleum industry of, 18
  Russia’s crude oil production, 164

  Scottish oil pipe-line, 70
  ---- shale-oil industry, 132
  “Shell” Company and the Dutch Indies, 33
  ---- Transport and Trading Co., the, 150
  Sir Marcus Samuel, Bart., and toluol supplies, 130
  Solar oil for gas enrichment purposes, 61
  Staffordshire, petroleum in, 106

  Texas, the oil-fields of, 10
  Toluol from Borneo petroleum, 62
  Transport of petroleum, 63
  Trinidad, progress in, 117

  Vicker’s oil engines, 102


THE END


_Printed by Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons, Ltd., Bath, England_



[Transcriber's Note:

Inconsistent spelling and hyphenation are as in the original.]





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