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Brief chronology of the history of Azerbaijan oil business (1900-1945)


  1. Nobel Brothers company and Rothschilds’ Association of Mazut decide to coordinate their commercial activities in the markets in order to establish control over sale of oil products and create “Nobmazut”. E. Nobel and A. Rothschild unite their efforts in export of Baku kerosene to foreign markets.
  2. Oil company “Alexander Benkendorf” with a start-up capital of 4 million rubles is established.
  3. On March, 17 the State Councilor A. Benkendorf receives patent #10563 for his declared invention “Bore for an air-to-water drilling” from Department of trade and manufacturing of the Ministry of Finance.
  4. Exports of oil products from Baku (lighting and lubricant oils, crude oil, the oil residue and other products) to Russia and abroad makes up 441.6 million poods.
  5. English oil company “Bibiheybat Petroleum Co Ltd.” with start-up capital of 460 thousand pounds sterling is established in Baku; Vagstaff is appointed as Managing Director of this company (he was also Operations Manager at S.M. Shibayev’s company).
  6. On October, 28 at a general meeting of BB IRTS Istomin V.K. presented a report “On Fires in Baku Oilfields”. Considering the urgency of the topic, the meeting established a special Commission of BB IRTS (Semyon Kvitko, Alexander Mancho and others were in the new Commission) for solving this problem. In the Soviet period, Mancho A.I. will be the representative of the State Industrial association “Azneft” in London.
  7. In November, mining engineer Nikolay Lebedev opened Geological Bureau in Baku, with the purpose of rendering assistance at research and study of oil fields, consultations in field operations, recommendations for procurement of manufactured goods, and also on the spud points selection in drilling.
  8. In Baku, in five oil areas (Balakhani, Sabunchi, Romani, Bibi-Heybat and Binagadi) 600.7 million poods of oil were extracted.
  9. In Baku, I.S. Dembot and L.Ya. Lilienshtern founded “Absheron Oil Society” (with start up capital of

2.7 million rubles) for developing oil fields in Balakhani, which belonged to A.M. Benkendorf’s Trading House.

  1. English joint-stock company “Balakhani Syndicate Limited” (with start-up capital of 100 thousand pounds sterling) for developing oil fields in Balakhani was established.
  2. Railway, which connected Bilajari (settlement in Baku), with Petrovsk (now is Mahachkala) was built; with this, Baku received a direct connection into all-Russia market.
  3. Completion of the railway Derbent – station Tikhoretskaya. It has connected Baku to the all-Russian network of railways, having opened a way of the Baku oil to the central and western areas of the Russian empire.
  4. On the World’s Exhibition in Paris Vladimir Shukhov is awarded the diploma and the big Gold medal for creation of the most economic universal steam-boilers.
  5. In Paris, during I-st International Oil Congress Vladimir Markovnikov presented a report “The chemistry of Russian oils”, where he gave comparative details on chemical composition of Baku, Grozny, Galicia and Pennsylvania oils. The report was marked with Gold medal.
  6. On April, 26 an International exhibition took place in Paris. The area of expositions was 120 hectares. Among numerous participators there were also, vertically-integrated Russian companies such as: “Nobel Brothers Co.”, Rothschild’s “Caspian-Black Sea Society” and “Baku Oil Society” awarded with Grand Prix and golden medals.


  1. First awards of of International Nobel Prize, founded by Alfred Nobel (youngest of the Nobel brothers). The first winners were: in the field of physics – Wilhelm Roentgen from Germany, in chemistry – Jacob van Hoff from Holland, in physiology and medicine – Emil Bering from Germany, in literature – Sully Prudhomme from France and for strengthening of peace – Jean Henri Dunant from Switzerland.
  2. In Germany, in German language, book of Baku chemist-technologist R.A. Vishin “Naphthenes (cyclic polymethylenes of oil) and their position among other cyclic hydrocarbons” was published. The book represented the first full systematized scientific work on naphthenes. R.A. Vishin – was the head of paraffin branch in Nobel Brothers Co.
  3. On March, 24 the General meeting of members of BB IRTS decided to establish a mechanical laboratory in the building of the Branch (there already was a large chemical laboratory in the building) and allocated 8 thousand rubles to this cause.
  4. In April, mining engineer S.K. Kvitko was awarded with the Order of Fair Anna of 3rd grade for his fruitful 7 years of work in Baku Technical Committee.
  5. Beginning of Baku-the Wolf’s Gate kerosene pipeline’s construction; it was taken into consideration, that in the Wolf’s Gate 240 thousand poods of kerosene would be offloaded. All pipes were made in a metallurgical works in Mariupol (Russia).
  6. Establishment of Special Commission under Chairmanship of Minister of Agriculture and State Properties of Russia A.S. Yermolov, with participation of representatives from the Ministry of Finance, Internal Affairs, Marine Transport and State Control to study problems and opportunities for developing oil industry in Caucasus and in particular, in Baku.
  7. First gas well was drilled in Surakhani. Later, gas from Surakhany field would be transported to other fields in Absheron.


  1. For the first time, industrial classification and methods for purification of Caucasian (Absheron) crude oils is developed by Konstantin Kharichkov, Nikolay Zelinsky (1861-1953), Alexander Butlerov (1828-1886) and Movsumbey Khanlarov.
  2. Harichkov publishes his fundamental work “About composition and technical properties of oils from Russian oilfields” in Baku. In same year, he takes part in the V International Congress on Applied Chemistry in Berlin, where the 4th section was completely devoted to oil chemistry and oil business.
  3. In August Nobel Brothers Co. for the first time delivered Baku kerosene to Afghanistan through fortification of Kerki, which is about 200 versts from station Charjou. Next year there was decision of the Russian’s Ministry of Finance about sanctioning export of lighting petroleum oils through Kerki customs to Afghanistan and abolished excise payments for such exports.
  4. In August, Baku engineer P. Lazarev submitted project proposal on the use cheap oils in blast furnaces instead of high-priced coke. The realization of this project yielded huge benefits to Caucasian region, because there are unlimited mining and oil-bearing formations in this region.


  1. Geologist Dmitry Golubyatnikov (1866-1933) began regular studies of Absheron and predicted presence of oil in industrial volumes in Surakhani. He is the author of more than 60 scientific works on geological studies of Azerbaijan oilfields.
  2. The leader of Nobel Brothers Co. – Emmanuel Nobel – on 29 January, in Berlin was elected as the Chairman of Supervisory Council of German-Russian Society for imports of Baku oil (“Deutche-Russissche Naphta-Import Gesellshaft”). Fixed capital of this Society was about 6.5 million marks.
  3. Konstantin Kharichkov’s monograph “Cold fractionating of oil” was published in Baku.
  4. For the first time, kerosene was delivered with bulk iron barges from Baku to St.-Petersburg by waterway – along r.Volga, partially by lakes and along r.Neva.
  5. Total exports of Russian (Baku) kerosene to the Persian Azerbaijan (to Ardebil-city) made nearly 200 thousand poods. Export point was in Astara.
  6. Among the Russian (Baku) lubricant oils which are traded in England by two companies (Nobel Brothers and Association of Kerosene Manufacturers), the brand “Bakuin” is by far the famous.


The construction of first-ever large diesel tankers: motor-ships Vandal and Sarmat under the direction of Emmanuel Nobel (son of Ludwig Nobel) takes place. First ever domestic motor-ship Vandal (1903) with length – 74,5 m; carrying capacity – 750 tons and speed not more than 7,4 knots (1 knot is equal to 1 mile per hour or 1,852 km per hour); Vandal had non-reversible three-cylinder diesel engines running with the help of DC motors.


  1. On November, Russian Nobel Prize, in honor of Emmanuel Nobel (1859-1932) was established in Baku rubles [“Transactions of BB IRTS”, 1904, # 6, p.33-55]. The Prize was awarded for the best works or inventions in the field of oil industry. The size of the Prize, established by BB of IRTS, made 1000 gold rubles. “Emmanuel’s” Prize was awarded three times – in 1909, 1911 and 1914. (Prize of E.L. Nobel was founded to honor the 25th Anniversary of Nobel Brothers Co., establised in May 1879).
  2. Chemist Lev Gurvich (1871-1926) arrived in Baku to study the technology of oil refining. From 1905 onwards, Lev Gurvich is the permanent head of Baku chemical laboratory of Nobel Brothers Co. Later (during 1910-1917), the talented scientist would also head the Central Chemical Laboratory of Nobel bro. in St.-Petersburg, simultaneously heading the Baku chemical laboratory of Nobel Brothers.
  3. During XIX annual Congress of the Baku oil industrialists, in addition to regular issues, the issue of replacing crude oil used in oil fields with the oil residue was included in the Agenda.
  4. From 150 of oil refineries in Russia, 72 refineries are in Baku. Total oil exports from Baku in this year was 492 million poods.
  5. On August, 24 in Surakhani from a well # 72204/455, drilled by percussion method, from the depth of 211m a powerful gusher of light high-octane oil was received. This event commemorated beginning of developments in lucrative Surakhani oilfields.
  6. In this year, oil production (in million poods) geography in Russia was as follows: Absheron (Baku province) – 621.53; district of Grozny (Terskaya area) – 40.00; Dagestan province – 1.88; Trans-Caspian area (island Cheleken) – 0.60; Fergana area – 0.48; the Cuban area – 0.14 and others.


  1. For the first time in the world, compressors were utilized in oil production in Balakhani near Baku.
  2. In February, joint-stock company “Naftalan Oil” was established to develop oilfields in Baku province and in other territories of the Russian empire. The company would also deal with oil refining and trading of oil products. Total fixed capital of the company was 2 million 400 thousand rubles. Chairman of the company was a Baku oil engineer Farrukhbey Vezirov.
  3. Third (last) award of Ludwig Nobel’s Prize took place in May. Talented engineer Alexander Nikiforov was awarded for his work “Method of production of benzene and its homologues from Russian crude oil” (privilegies/patents # 5829/1894 and # 10663/1905).


  1. The Baku oilchemist, editor-in-chief of journal “Works of BB IRTS” Victor F. Herr (1875-1940), for the first time, investigated composition of oils from Surakhani and Bibi-Heybat fields and found abundant presence of benzene and its homologues in these crudes. In the Soviet period professor V.F. Herr will work with talented oilchemist Yusif Mamedaliyev.
  2. In Berlin, European Kerosene Union (“Europeische Petroleum Uniongesellschaft”) was established with initial capital of 20 million marks. The Union’s main goal was to mitigate monopolistic

influence of Standard Oil in the European markets. The Union was formed by Deutsche Bank, Nobel Brothers Co. and Parisian bank of Rothschild.

  1. In October, one billionth pood of crude oil was produced in Baku oilfields of Nobel Brothers Co.


  1. For the first time, Nobel Brothers Co. organized delivery of Russian (Baku) kerosene for the Warsaw- Vienna railway at a price of 1 ruble and 55 kopecks per pood.
  2. On III-rd International Oil Congress (September 8-13, Bucharest), V.F. Herr and A.T. Predit presented report on Baku oils, in which they demonstarted that Surakhani oil according to chemical composition is identical to light fractions of Balakhani oil, and mainly contains naphthenic and aromatic hydrocarbons.
  3. On this III Congress, K.V. Harichkov presented his report “Classification and Origins of Oil”, in which he stressed increasingly important role of chemistry and geology in natural sciences.
  4. In Surakhani, gusher of black oil was received from the depth of 545 m. Well flow rate was 200 thousand poods per day. Following this event, rapid development of Surakhani oilfields started.


  1. For the first time, natural vaseline (white and yellow) was received from Cheleken crude oil at Baku factories of Nobel Brothers Co.
  2. On September, 2 at Kolomna shipbuilding works in Nizhny Novgorod, as per order of Nobel Brothers Co., giant oil tanker, steamship Kirgiz was constructed. The construction cost 190 thousand rubles and the oil tanker was capable of carrying about 600 thousand poods (about 9830 tons) of oil products.
  3. “Binagadi Oil Industrial and Trading Society” was established with total charter capital of 1 million rubles. Later, in 1914 the capital would be increased up to 4 million rubles.
  4. Famous scientist D.V. Golubyatnikov, was the first petroleum geologist to predict commercial reserves of oil in Bibi-Heybat and described similarities of this oilfield with Surakhani oilfield. In the same year, he predicted possibility of commercial oil reserves in Gala, Gurgani, Zykh, Garachukhur, Lokbatan and Mardakan.
  5. The “First Russian mining artel” was opened in Baku, the main purposes of which were the oil production and oil processing in Baku oil region, then selling of this oil and oil products by the personal labour of artel’s shareholders. Initially, artel began to work at Binagadi where it bought the dale; and oil production happened from 6 – 9 metres deep draw-wells.


  1. On May, an oil chemist, head of chemical laboratory of BB IRTS Victor F. Herr was the first winner of Nobel (Emmanuel Nobel) Prize. Herr received the prize for his works on production of dibasic acids (siccine, adipinic, glutaric, acetic) by nitric acid’s oxidization of narrow oil fractions [“Transactions of BB IRTS”, 1910, # 3-4, p.10-11].
  2. For the first time in the world, artifical islands were created for industial development of oil wells in Bibi-Heybat bay. Oil bearing horizons of Bibi-Heybat field were under the Caspian Sea waters. Works would be completed in 1932, under supervision of talented engineer Pavel Pototsky (1879-1932).
  3. On June, 10 on his 50th birthday, head of Nobel Brothers Co., Emmanuel Nobel was awarded by Emperor Nikolay II with the title of Full Member of State Advisors’ Council. Emmanuil Nobel deserved this award for his generous donations to advance sciences and popular schooling in Russia.
  4. The creation of Anglo-Persian petroleum company (from 1954 – British Petroleum / BP). In Azerbaijan ВР is the operator “Contract of a century”, concluded on September, 20th 1994, according to which develops an oilfield of Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli in the Azerbaijan sector of the Caspian Sea.


  1. In Balakhani oilfield of Nobel Brothers Co., for the first time in the world, new installation for oil-bailing – the device of Leinweber was installed and started operations in the beginning of August.
  2. Nobel Brothers Co. owns 13 factories in Baku, of which 6 are for oil refining (for production of gasoline, kerosene, solar oil, lubricant oils, paraffin, etc.) and 7 are for auxiliary productions (production of soda and sulfuric acid for clearing of oil products, regeneration of acid sludge and alkali liquor, chemical- technologic laboratory, gas and mechanical factories).
  3. Nobel Brothers Co. begins to carry out the project of delivering kerosene from Baku via Warsaw to tne whole kingdom of Poland by a rational and economic waterway. The route of delivery is the following: the kerosene will be delivered with steam ships from Baku to Rybinsk by the Volga, from there to Petersburg by Mariinsk system’s channels, then the kerosene will be pumped to special sea vessels and sent to Danzig. Here the kerosene will be pumped to barges and sent to Warsaw by the Vistula.
  4. Member of BB IRTS, mining engineer Ivan Glushkov (1873-1916) for the first time in the world, wrote a book titled “The guide for drilling of oil wells.” Students of two Baku colleges (technical and mechanical machinebuilding coleeges) learned about drilling operations from this book. Later (in 1913), I.N. Glushkov would publish a monograph “Exploitation of wells. Production of liquid fossils: oils and brines”. (First American book on methods of oil production would be printed only in 1921).


  1. In January, in Baku, joint-stock company “St. Petersburg-Caucasian Oil Industrial and Trading Society” was established. I.S. Dembot, V.I. Kolobov, V.D. Eritsov, S.I. Ginzburg and I.P. Popov were elected as board members of this company.
  2. For the first time in Russia (in Baku, in Surakhani), Baku oilman von-Gabber implemented rotary drilling, which was less costly and more efficient.
  3. The second Emmanuel Nobel Prize was awarded Professor of Moscow University A.M. Nastyukov and his assistant K.L. Malyarov for their work “About production and properties of liquid products by using the method of condensation of non-saturated hydrocarbons of oil with formalin” rubles [“Transactions of BB IRTS”, 1911, # 7].
  4. Nikolay Zelinsky investigated thermo-chemical transformation of oil under the pressure, demonstrated that Surakhani gasoline at a temperature of 300C in the presence of catalyst (nickel) turns into a product with high concentration of aromatic hydrocarbons.
  5. Victor Herr’s original articles “Emanation of octonaphthene from Surakhani crude oil” and “Research on Taman crude oil” were published in the journal Works of BD IRTS (issues 1-4).
  6. Mining engineer S.K. Kvitko developed the scheme of cracking-installation with the use of pressure (the patent # 21963; in 1912), for the first time, in Baku.


  1. Joint-stock oil company of “Murtuza Mukhtarov” was established in Baku with charter capital of 4 million rubles. The company operated not only in Baku, but in the oil fields of Maykop and Grozny as well (in three years time, this company would be acquired by Azov-Don Commercial Bank).
  2. “Father” of Petroleum Geology, Ivan Gubkin (1871-1939) starts his studies into Absheron oil fields’s geology.
  3. Monograph of Lev Gurvich “Scientific principles of oil refining” was published in Germany. First Russian edition of this book would be printed in Baku in 1921. Later, this classical work has been published numerous times and still serves as a valuable textbook for oil-chemists and technologists.
  4. Total oil production in Russian Empire was 9 million tons for the year. 82 % of the total production came from Baku oilfields.


  1. The third, last Emmanuel Nobel Prize was awarded to Baku mining engineer, candidate of natural sciences Saak Grigoryevich Isaakov for his work “The oil-bailing drum operated exclusively manually, and adaptation to it against the sludge pump’s dragging off on an oil-bailing pulley” rubles [“Transactions of BB IRTS”, 1914, # 2 and # 3, p.3].
  2. According to the data of Council of Baku Oil Industrialists’s Congress, the share of three monopolistic groups (Nobel Brothers, Oil and Shell) is about 69,5 % in the export of oil products from Baku. The mentioned industrial groups had more than 60 % of total oil production, 2/3 of kerosene production and accounted for all of the sales of lubricant oils in Russian Empire.
  3. Professor M.M. Tikhvinsky invented gas-lift method: a method of oil extraction from wells by using compressed gas. This method is more efficient than air-lift method, which uses compressed air. Tikhvinsky method of gas-lift was first applied in Baku oilfields of Nobel Brothers (in the USA, this method was first applied only in 1924).
  4. On April, 22 it has passed joint session of Baku and Tersk branches of IRTS on which the known results of the oil well’s drilling and operation were considered.


  1. In connection with the requirements of war-time, at three Baku factories (joint-stock company of Oil- gas, company of Alexander Benkendorf and at Military-industrial Committee) production of toluene (explosive for artillery shells) was organized.
  2. For the first 15 days of oil production on Cheleken isle made 149 thousand poods, of which the share of Cheleken Oil Industrial Society was 83 thousand poods; the share of Nobel Brothers Co. was 51 thousand poods and I. Hajinsky-Cheleken company’s share was 15 thousand poods. [Isabek Hajinsky (1861-1919) was a successful Baku oilman and owned oilfields in Absheron, Northern Caucasus and Turkmenia. In 1909, he extracted 1.75 million poods of fountain oil on Cheleken].
  3. On June, 24 at the session of the Baku Military-industrial Committee, Victor Herr presented his report on receipt of toluene from Baku crude oils. “A.M. Benkendorf” company decided to start construction of a factory with monthly production of 3000 poods of toluene, and Military Department of Russia quickly approved this initiative.
  4. In October, in Baku, Society of Drilling Contractors and Mechanical Workshops “Rapid”, with a charter capital of 1 million rubles was established (it became the third largest drilling contractor, after Societies of “Murtuza Mukhtarov” and “Molot”).
  5. Professor N.D. Zelinsky and engineer-technologist S.A. Vishetravsky arrived in Baku (in December) and made reports at a meeting of BD IRTS, titled: “About toluene” and “About practical receipt of benzene and toluene from oil and coal”.
  6. For the first time in the world, Nikolay Zelinsky has established and informed about at a session of BD IRTS, that as catalysts in cracking process, besides the metal oxides (of titan, of aluminum and zinc) it was also possible to use floridin and Bakhchisaray gel (clay). This report became fundamental in the development of catalytic cracking; Zelinsky made his discovery 20 years before American Gudri rediscovered the same cracking process.


In oilfields in Romani, the first deep pumps are lowered and for the first time method of gas-lift was tested.


  1. On May, 15 in Baku, Chairman of Society of Engineers of the Baku area, Professor M.M. Tikhvinsky presented the report on aromatization of oil; in which he indicated the most suitable raw material and favorable temperature for the process and has in detail described the design of devices for decomposition of oil (the generator and retort’s furnace), calcualted factory outputs of a product and specified the best production methods of aromatic hydrocarbons, first of all toluene and benzene from oil.
  2. In the beginning of June, in Baku, Russian-Persian Oil Industrial company “Rupento” was established for development of Persian oil fields. The Company had a start-up capital of 5 million roubles.

H.Z. Taghiev, Musa Naghiyev, Sh. Asadullayev, prince Dadiani, Murtuza Mukhtarov and others were the founders of company. Mohammed Jafar Mirza was appointed as Commissioner from the Persian government.


  1. By the beginning of year, 60 oil industrial enterprises of Russia with total fixed capital of 317,6 million rubles were under the control of Russian-Asian, Azov-Don and Petrograd International banks. [Azov-Don Commercial Bank (Chairman of Board was B.A. Kamenka) was engaged mainly in financing trade operations, but among its debtors were many other companies, engaged in production and refining of oil, operating both in Northern Caucasus, and in Absheron].
  2. In the beginning of January, in Baku, new Oil Society “Baku-Astrakhan Oil Industrial and Transport Society” with start-up capital of 4 million rubles was created. Founders of the society were I.H. Ozerov and J.V. Vishau.
  3. Before October revolution, the largest foreign investors in Russian oil industry were English companies, which invested more than 85 million USD in Russian oil industry. In Baku oilfields, the “Royal Dutch Shell Co.” invested over 20 million USD; beyond this, the company had several oilfields in Grozny and Maikop. The French capital (basically, Rothschild’s) in Russian oil industry was 25 million USD and the Belgian capital was in Russian oil was about 21 million USD.


  1. On April, 28 front lines of the 11th Red Army of Soviet Russia entered Baku. This commemorated beginning of 70-year rule of Soviets in Baku oil region. On 24 May, Azerbaijan Revolutionary Committee issued a Decree on nationalization of oil industry in Azerbaijan. 272 private oil industrial units were abolished or nationalized in Absheron area.
  2. On November, 14 the Baku Polytechnic Institute (BPI), named after Meshedi Azizbeyov was established (decree on this was signed by Chairman of Azerbaijan Revolutionary Committee – Nariman Narimanov). Professor N.A. Dubrovsky was appointed as the first Rector of BPI and engineer S.A. Vekilov was elected as the secretary of the Academic Council. This school of higher education (subsequently – Azerbaijan Institute of Oil and Chemistry, or AzINEFTEHIM, and nowadays – Azerbaijan State Oil Academy)

– was the first institute of higher learning in Europe and Asia training scientists and engineers for all branches of oil industry.

  1. World-renowned scientist-chemist Lev Gurvich was elected as Professor of both Baku Polytechnic Institute and Azerbaijan State University (established in 1919). He was the founder of Baku scientific school of chemists-technologists in oil refining (his students and followers were N.I. Chernozhukov, O.G. Pipik, L.A. Gukhman, B.B. Kaminer, V.L. Gurvich, D.O. Goldberg, I.P. Lukashevich, S.E. Crane, I.G. Fuks, T.I. Sachevko, I.A. Orujeva, F.I. Samedova, A.M. Kuliyev, Ya.I. Eminbeyli and others).


The largest Soviet oil industrial association “Azneft” (placed in Baku) signed contract with Rockefeller’s trust “Standard Oil”, according to which technical equipment and food stuffs from the USA were received in exchange for oil products and products of a handicraft work made in Baku. In same year, “Azneft” opened representative offices in London, Paris, Berlin and New York.


  1. From the beginning of the year, Azneft association has opened the offices in Turkey (Kars, Samsun, Trabzon and Istanbul). It also exported oil and imported various goods.
  2. At the first All-Russia congress of oil industry workers the question on restoration of wells’ work in the Baku oil area for the purpose of oil recovery increase has been considered. Gubkin, Golubyatnikov and Gavrilov have acted with reports.


  1. For the first time at Baku machine-building factories thermal processing of boring chisels was used.
  2. Baku engineer Matvey Kapelyushnikov (1886-1959), for the first time in the world, developed and successfully tested one-stage turbo-drill with a reducer.
  3. At Moscow Mining Academy (established in 1918), Committee on oil exploration in Baku and Grozny areas was formed.
  4. In April, new oilfield Bay of Ilych was opened (from 1991, the name was changed to Bail Limani).
  5. Oil engineer Fatullabey Rustambekov (1867-1946) was appointed as technical director of “Azneft”. In 1893 he graduated from St. Petersburg Institute of Technology; from 1906 till 1919 he was the General Manager of oil company “Musa Naghiyev”.
  6. For the first time in the USSR, in Baku at machine-building factory named after lieutenant Schmidt the trial sample of drilling installation for rotary drilling, having two-high-speed drawworks has been made. It was the first Soviet drawworks allowed to drill wells on the depth to 1200 m.
  7. Baku engineer S.R. Zuber has made the air photography of the Baku archipelago’s islands from the plane. Later, this method of aerial photograph has received wide application in the Soviet petroleum industry.


  1. The first-ever offshore oil well in the world, well # 71 built on wooden piles on artificial island in Bay of Ilyich (Bail Limani), started to produce commercial oil volumes from offshore field.
  2. On February, 15 the director of a mining industry of the Central management of the state industry of the USSR had been appointed A.P. Chubarov, and his assistant became I.M. Gubkin. The director of the Baku oil industry had been appointed I.N. Strizhov (in 1926 he became the senior director of oil industry of the USSR), and the director of Grozny oil industry had be appointed N.N. Smirnov.
  3. The first oil well was drilled with turbo-drill of Matvey Kapelyushnikov to the depth of about 600m in Surakhani.
  4. Dmitry Golubyatnikov published his work “Calculation of oil reserves in the fields of Absheron peninsula”.
  5. An outstanding scientist, the “father” of Hydrogen Bomb, Igor Kurchatov (1903-1960) began first steps in his great scientific career at the faculty of physics in Baku Polytechnic Institute. As P.T. Astashenkov noted, “in Baku I.V. Kurchatov finally found his calling”.
  6. The work of Fatullabey Rustambekov, “Proposals of Azneft on technical rationalization of oil production within Five Year Program (1923/24-1927/28)” was published. In his work, for the first time, Rustambekov described new well designs, new methods of completion, innovations in oil transportation and oil storage, and also for the first time discussed possible ways of organizing gas industry.
  7. On May, 1 the “Azneft” board of directors is confirmed. The chief had been appointed A.P. Serebrovsky, his first deputy – M.V. Barinov, the director of oilfields – F.A. Rustambekov, the director of stock control – I.P. Oparin, the director of technical supply – A.F. Nesterov, the chief accountant – P.Ya. Ryskin, the director of transport – N.N. Yarosh and the director of an electric current – A.Ya. Sizov.
  8. In May, Committee for the construction of industrial unit for thermal cracking (according to the method of S.K. Kvitko registered in 1912) was created in “Azneft”. The unit would consist of one still kettle of sapling action with nonrecurring filling. Engineer-chemist, 1st laureate of Baku Nobel Prize (1909) Victor Herr was elected as a Chairman of this Committee.
  9. On June, 14 a prominent event in the history of the oil industry took place in Baku: a joint Soviet- Persian oil company (Persazneft) was set up, with 51% of the stock going to the Azneft, 34% to the Sharg joint Persian-Soviet company, and the rest, to several Persian businessmen. The board of directors of the company was located in Baku, and its chairman was Alexander Serebrovsky. In 1938 the trade operation of “Persazneft” was discontinued.


  1. Baku engineer, Professor M.M. Skvortsov for the first time in the world, designed adaptation for automatic submission of a chisel – “the automatic driller”, which was first tested in Surakhani.
  2. In Baku, for the first time in the world, trial tests of installations for cracking-processes, which are produced on the basis of the patent of Baku engineer Simeon Kvitko, take place. (S.K. Kvitko received the patent for these installations in 1912, one year before an American engineer Barton. The Marine Department intended to use the invention of Kvitko even before World War I, but start of the war prevented the realization of this project).
  3. On May, 29 the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee of USSR awarded well-known oil engineer F.A. Rustambekov with Order of Labor Red Banner for his huge contribution to the development of Russian/Soviet oil industry (M. Kalinin personally congratulated Rustambekov).
  4. In Baku, it was constructed the factory named after F.E. Dzerzhinsky for manufacturing and repair of deep pumps.
  5. In Baku, it was published the first in the USSR book with title “The Natural Gas” about problems of gas production and processing (the author was I.N. Strizhov, volume of book was 95 pages).
  6. In Baku, it was established the separate Management on gas production and utilization composed of the “Azneft” (Azeri Oil) trust.
  7. On March, 21 the successful test on getting natural gasoline from oil casing-head gas was carried out in “Azneft” Association on Bibi-Heybat oilfield.


  1. In July, it was opened the first in USSR electric railway connected Baku with city’s oil suburbs of Balakhani, Surakhani and Sabunchi.
  2. The muffle ceramic furnaces designed by V.F. Herr and G.P. Ulyanov (with capacity of 1 cubic metre), in which subjected to coking the heavy still bottoms received by kerosene’s pyrolysis in unproductive retort ovens of Pickering and in gas-plants, were put into operation.
  3. The association “Azneft” has begun an exploration drilling on oil in Georgia; that finally has led to revelation in 1931 in Mirzaansky area of 15 deep prospecting wells, from which two wells produced the industrial oil.


  1. In Baku, new technology is introduced in drilling: extended electric units with exact adjustment to rotation number.
  2. In Baku Polytechnic Institute named after M. Azizbekov (established on 14 November 1920), Department of Electrical Engineering for Oil Industry was formed. Professor M.M. Skvortsov, who used to be the director of the institute for science and education, headed the department.
  3. State Industrial Association “Azneft” renewed drilling activities in Turkmenia; more intensive development by Baku workers has begun in Nebit-dag (Nefte-dag) after oil gushers of 1931-1933, which confirmed industrial value of the reserves in the area.


  1. Air-lift method (V.G. Shukhov’s invention) is used in production of nearly one third of all oil produced in Baku area. Essence of air-lift method is that compressed air is pumped into oil layer and due to pressure of air, oil moved to surface out of the well.
  2. On the oilfields in Surakhani the secondary methods of an oil recovery for the first time have been applied: the pumping of an air and gas in layer in 13 wells has given a positive effect.


  1. In Baku from January 18th till February 2nd, the I-st session of Scientific and technical council of the oil industry created in 1927 took place. There were the trade and factory sections. On the first – the problems of drilling and rationalization of fields’ development, on the second – the possibilities of replacement of out-of- date oil refining cubes and advantages of tubular installations and cracking were discussed.
  2. On October, 22 the Azerbaijan Scientific Research Institute on Oil Refining named after V.V. Kuybishev (from 1959, it was renamed to the Institute of Petrochemical Processes), was established. The Institute provided critical support to defence industry during the war years of 1941-1945. Process of catalytic cracking with small-dispersed catalyst, developed at this Institute would be introduced in six oil areas of USSR, and also in Romania and Poland.
  3. Famous inventor, scientist-engineer Vladimir Shukhov (1853-1939) is selected as Honorary member of Academy of Sciences of USSR. Other outstanding scientists: chemist Nikolay Zelinsky (1861-1953) and geologist Ivan Gubkin (1871-1939) are selected full members of AS of the USSR.
  4. Famous chemist Konstantin Krasusky (1867-1937) is appointed to head Department of of Organic Chemistry at Baku Polytechnic Institute. K.A. Krasusky made huge contribution to the development of oil chemistry in Azerbaijan. In 1911, he formulated a rule (which carries his name) on break of epoxy cycle in organic compounds.
  5. For the first time in USSR, new method of oil-field investigation (electrical logging) is introduced in Surakhani oilfields, which significantly advanced domestic oil industry.


Vladimir Shukhov, Matvey Kapelyushnikov and Fatullabey Rustambekov invented and constructed in Baku the tubular cracking-installation. The process, used in this installation, is known under the name of “Soviet cracking” and played positive role in development and accumulation of experience on deep decomposition of oil.


  1. Electrical logging and devices to measure direction of drilling were first applied in Baku oil fields.
  2. French geophysicist from Schlumberger also introduced a method of electro-exploration in the oilfields of Surakhani.
  3. By Resolution of Presidium of USSR dated 29 May, Baku Polytechnic Institute was joined with SoyuzNeft and reorganized into Azerbaijan Petroleum Institute (API). Later, on the basis of API, extra-mural education departments were created in Baku, Kirovabad (now Ganja) and other main centers of oil production in Soviet Union (Grozny, Ufa, Ishimbay).
  4. Book by Rector of API, Alexander Nikishin, titled Black Gold. Catch up and Surpass”, where oil- related developments on Absheron Peninsula and heroism of Azerbaijani oilmen in rehabilitating Azerbaijani oil industry in the beginning of XX century were thoroughly examined, was published in Baku.
  5. Opening of the Baku oil industrial academy as a branch of All-Union industrial academy named after I.Stalin. The first group (54 men) of officials came from working class was graduated from this Baku academy for “Azneft”.
  6. On February, 13 it was opened the Baku-Batum oil-trunk pipeline with pipe range of the 834 km.


  1. Azerbaijan Scientific-Research and Design Institute for oil machine building was established. The Institute played important role in developing technologies to produce oil by both gusher and mechanized methods, in producing equipment and machines for well workover operations and also for increased oil recovery.
  2. According to the project of Vladimir Shukhov, Matvey Kapelyushnikov and Fatullabey Rustambekov, based on original technological scheme, a cracking factory was constructed in Baku; at this factory reforming process was carried out for the first time in USSR. Aviation fuel received at this factory had an octane number of 90-95 and low temperature of freezing.
  3. Factory named after A. Japaridze, for the purification and dew axing of bright stock from Surakhani’s paraffin oil – a high-quality component in aviation and automobile oils – was built.
  4. In May, an oil pipeline from Lokbatan in Baku area to Batumi in Georgia was constructed.
  5. Publishing house of Azerbaijan Petroleum Institute published two books by professor of this institute

V.I. Tikhomirov: “The physical chemistry for students-oil technologists” and “The colloid chemistry for oil workers”. These were the first textbooks in these fields in USSR.

  1. In June, the Baku factory named after lieutenant Schmidt lets out the first sample of four-high-speed drawworks. This sample of drawworks, developed by the Azerbaijan engineers N.V. Antonov, S.S. Zalikman,

A.N. Kondakov and others, was widely applied on oilfields of the USSR up to 1946.


  1. High-temperature cracking process (510ºC and above) was carried out at a cracking-factory of Shukhov-Kapelyushnikov-Rustambekov in Baku, for the first time in USSR. High-aromatized gasoline (up to 52 %) for the motors working in accelerated regimes was received as a result.
  2. From 15 till 24 of March, the 1st All-Union Conference on operation of oil wells took place in Baku. It had 7 sections: on gusher method; on secondary methods production; on air lift production method; on general problems of rationalization; on the strengthening and cementing of wells; on standardization and classification; and also, on problems of health and safety.
  3. It was extracted the 22.2 million tons of crude oil in the USSR; the share of “Azneft” was 12.2 million tons (55%).


For the first time in the USSR, in Baku for development of offshore oil fields in Ilyich Bay (now – Bayil Limani), two wooden platforms on wooden piles were built. 13 meter long, 30 cm-diameter wooden piles were used to form jackets.


  1. On the shore of Ilyich Bay, the first in the USSR slanted well was drilled by rotory method.
  2. On August, 15-20th in Baku has passed the I-st Congress of the All-Union scientific and technical society of oil industry workers (now, it is the Scientific and technical society of oil and gas workers named after I.M. Gubkin); the basic question on the Congress was a planned exploitation of deposits.


For the first time in the world, Baku engineers, Khubentsovs brothers offered a design of the floating basis in the form of a flooded wooden pontoon; from this basis the first exploration well to the depth of 365м was drilled. Thus, by September of 1934, the first floating drilling installation in the Caspian Sea started operations.


  1. On island Artyom (Pirallahi), construction of the metal bases, as per design offered by N.S. Timofeyev and K.M. Mikhaylov, on drill-flooded piles for drilling sea wells begun.
  2. Journal “Azerbaijan’s oil industry” (formerly known as “Oil business”, published since January 1899) starts publishing series of articles by engineer F.A. Rustambekov, in which he based on domestic and foreign experience, for the first time in the world developed methods for exploring subsea oil and gas fields and also offered methods for developing offshore fields.
  3. Due to industrialization of USSR, the Azerbaijani Petroleum Institute is renamed to Azerbaijan Industrial Institute, named after M. Azizbekov.
  4. First All-Union Scientific and Technical Conference on production and use of lubricant oils took place in Baku. During the conference, advances in the production and use of lubricant oils during 1920-1930 were investigated.
  5. On April, the I Congress of All-Union Society on Mastering Oil Equipment was opened in Baku. There were 8 sections within the Congress: organizational and planning; production and technical education; mass technical advocacy; production-technical printing and property rights; deep well and ultra deep well drilling; scheduling and automation; oil transportation and oil storages; rationalization and loss control.
  6. In July, “Aznefterazvedka” (Azerbaijan Oil Exploration) Production Union started implementation of electrical shooting on the shore of the Caspian Sea between the promontories of Ambulak and Shoulan; this work would later be used in construction of deep offshore wells in the area.
  7. On November, 20 the All-Union Conference on Minimum Technical Requirements in Oil Production, organized by Central Committee of Oil Workers Union of the USSR was opened in Baku.
  8. Andrei Crams from Baku (1899-1975) under I.M. Gubkin’s recommendation was appointed the main geologist of the National Commissariat of the heavy industry of the USSR (A. Ya. Crams’s acquaintance with Gubkin has begun still in 1925).


  1. On July, 1 the production association “Azneft” (Azeri Oil) was divided into 4 individual self-contained All- Union oil-producing units: “Azizbekovneft”, “Leninneft”, “Orjonikidzeneft” and “Stalinneft” as proposed by the Soviet Council for Labor and Defence.
  2. In Baku, the Institute of chemistry of Azerbaijan Branch of the USSR Academy of Sciences (nowadays

– Institute of inorganic and physical chemistry of Azerbaijan Academy of Sciences) is created. From 1937 till 1945, the institute structure included the departments of organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, physical chemistry and oil chemistry.


For the first time in the USSR, oil engineer Firudin Akhundov (1915-1996) received copyright certificates (patents) for his inventions: 1) electro-drill; 2) various lifts in production from low-discharge

oil wells. (F.M. Akhundov – is the author of more than 300 inventions and patents in the oil business of Azerbaijan).


  1. For the first time in the world, by group of Soviet engineers (Peter Shumilov, Eyub Taghiyev and others) multistage direct-drive turbo-drill was created. (Eyub Taghiyev for his outstanding contribution in the development of oil industry had been awarded with Stalin Prize three times. Famous Soviet writer and playwright A.P. Shtein wrote about him: “…highly educated and highly intellectual Azerbaijany engineer”. Nowdays, there were established two premiums named after Taghiyev E.I. for students-drillmen in the Russian State University of Oil and Gas named after I.M. Gubkin.
  2. In January, during the visit of Azerbaijani delegation in the Kremlin, the Soviet leadership was informed that plant for production of ethyl-alcohol from oil gases started operations in Baku. This installation, designed and built by Baku oil chemists, (M.A. Dalin and others) was the first plant of its kind in the world.
  3. Academician Ivan Gubkin was elected as Chairman of Azerbaijani branch of Academy of Sciences of USSR. Later, in 1945 on the basis of this organization Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan SSR would be created.
  4. For the first time in the world geological practice for the development of offshore oilfields, the structural map of the Caspian seabed, for the area between settlement of Mardakan and Absheron strait, was made by engineer A.M. Pobedin for offshore seabed drilling.
  5. For the time in the USSR, in Baku on oilfields “Leninneft” the derrick’s movement together with the drilling equipment (drawworks, rotor, crown block, electromotor etc.) has been carried out. Derrick’s movement was carried out by means of the electromotor and drilling drawworks.
  6. In Baku, by resolution of the Soviet People’s Commissars of the USSR, it was established the “Azgaz” (Azeri Gas) trust on basis of Management on gas production and utilization of the “Azneft” trust.


  1. Textbook of Academician Ivan Gubkin, Petroleum Science was published. It was the first fundamental textbook of such kind in the USSR for students of Petroleum institutes and colleges.
  2. In Baku, it was created the Surakhani Spesial Experimental Bureau of Drilling joined the Baku and Moscow engineers. The main purpose of this bureau was – to develop the fudamentally new designs of drill and the technologies of downhole turbine motor drilling. 26-years old Eyub Taghiyev was appointed as a manager of this bureau.


  1. The factory on purification of oil distillates with use of furfural as a solvent (based on the research by Izzet Orujeva, Dora Goldberg and others on selective purification and dew axing of oil fractions from Baku oils) was built for the first time in the world in Baku.
  2. On March, in Baku it has taken place the All-Union conference of oil industry workers on which questions of the accelerated development of an oil production in the country, including in its east areas were considered. At this conference the 27-year-old manager of “Leninneft” trust Nikolay Baybakov from Baku has made a speech.


  1. The beginning of industrial inculcation of multistage direct-drive turbo-drill constructed by P.P. Shumilov, E.I. Taghiyev and others.
  2. For the first time in the USSR (in Baku), oil chemist Murtuza Naghiyev (1908-1975) published findings of his original research, where in case of thermal cracking, laying theoretical foundations of intensification of chemical processes with use of recirculation. (M.F. Naghiyev derived an equation, establishing dependence between factor of recirculation and output of produced gasoline).
  3. In May, for the first time in the USSR, the engineers S.A. Orujev and A.N. Matis introduced method of aeration for start of deep compressor wells in Surakhani.
  4. Michael Yevseyenko from Baku (1908-1985) was appointed the assistant to the people’s commissar of a petroleum industry of the USSR. In 1940-1941, Yevseyenko M. A worked as a chief of Azneftekombinat, and in 1942 he was again appointed the assistant to people’s commissar of a petroleum industry of the USSR.


  1. For the first time in the world, a well with an electro-drill of a design by Ostrovsky, Alexandrov and others was successfully drilled.
  2. Oil engineer Suleyman Vezirov (1910-1973) is appointed as head of “Azneftekombinat” – leading production association in USSR (75% of Soviet oil industry had been connected with this association). S.A. Vezirov was the first Azeri who headed “Azneftekombinat” during the World War II.


  1. For the first time in the world, an inclined (slanted) well to the depth of 2000m was drilled with turbodrill method on Bayil (near Baku).
  2. Drilling of the deepest (3200 – 3400m) well in the USSR began in Hovsani oilfield.
  3. The highest level of oil production in Azerbaijan (23,5 million tons per annum) was reached. Azerbaijani oil production accounted for 71,4% of total oil production in the USSR.


  1. During World War II, Baku oil industry workers produced 70 million tons of oil; during this period 1118 Baku oilmen were awarded with orders and medals of the USSR, including Order of Lenin – 39 persons, Order of Labor Red Banner – 704 persons and Order of Sign of Honor – 104 persons.
  2. In the same period thanks to creative activity of workers and technical officers at the enterprises of a petroleum industry of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic it has been brought 18507 inventions and efficiency proposals. More than half from them have been introduced in manufacture, having saved the state about 145 million roubles.


  1. Under direction of oil-chemist Yusif Mamedaliyev (1905-1961) methods of synthesis of chlorinated methane and ethane were developed. On the basis of oil gases, according to Mamedaliyev’s method, most valuable high-octane components for aviation fuel started to be produced. Under his management, a new method of toluene’s synthesis from oil raw material was developed and introduced in industry, which has considerably increased quantity of toluene for production of explosives. (Explosives were at very high demand in thr USSR during war years).
  2. For the first time, method of mononitrotoluene’s production from aromatic hydrocarbons of Baku oils were developed and put into industrial use at a factory named after S. Budyonny (later – Neftegaz) in Baku. Authors of the method were S.D. Mekhtiyev, V.S. Gutirya, A.A. Kudinov and A.A. Degtyarova.
  3. First in the world oil practice the method of transportation of bulk-oil tanks and a metal tank afloat on the sea and by means of tows (on a route of Baku – Krasnovodsk) is applied.
  4. The considerable part of the Azerbaijan oil and oil refining enterprises is transferred in areas of Volga, Ural Mountains, Kazakhstan and Central Asia.


  1. In Baku (in Kishli), the largest machine-building factory was constructed for production of oil and drilling equipment according to best contemporary technology.
  2. In Baku, in publishing house “Azgostoptekhizdat”, the book of oil-chemists – Yusif Mamedaliyev and Murtuza Naghiyev, titled “Modern Status of Chemistry and Technology of Aviation Fuels” was published.
  3. On December, in Azerbaijan according to the order of I.V. Stalin (1879-1953) the “Oil Fund” was established; it was the only independent fund in the whole USSR. The main purpose of fund was the contribution and assembling operations to drain and re-develop the oilfields’ territory of Apsheron peninsula. In Summer of 1959 the oil fund was liquidated.


  1. Azerbaijan SSR Academy of Sciences was established. Academy consisted of four branches, two of which had to do with oil industry: branch of geological-chemical sciences and oil; and branch of physics, technical sciences and oil. On 31 March, Mir-Asadulla Mir-Gasimov was elected as the first President of Azerbaijani Academy of Sciences.
  2. For the first time, high-speed method of manufacturing of tubular collapsible constructions for the sea jackets was offered. This method, which allows to effectively fix up the basis under drilling unit in any weather, was developed by talented engineers Sabit Orujov (1912-1981) and Yusif Safarov (1907-1963).
  3. Monograph of Yusif Mamedaliyev, titled “Reaction of Alkylation in Production of Aviation Fuels” was published. The book contains results of original research in the field of catalytic alkylation, and also demonstrates practical opportunity for producing motor fuels from raw material on the basis of oil gases and aromatic hydrocarbons. Same year Mamedaliyev has been awarded the Stalin (State) award for working out of a new method of aviation fuel’s production.
  4. The group of AzNIPINMASh’s engineers has developed the 7 types of new, more perfect geared pumping units adapted for work in the diversified conditions. It has allowed to reduce stops in work of wells for debugging and provide descent of the pump on depth to 2500 m and more. The efficiency of geared pumping units has reached the 0,85.

Author: Doctor of Chemical Sciences, professor of the Azerbaijan Technical University Mir-Babayev Mir- Yusif Fazil ogly is well-known and experienced specialist in the area of oil chemistry and ecology. He was born in 1953, in Baku. He graduated from Chemical technology faculty of the Azerbaijan Oil and Chemistry Institute named after M. Azizbekov in 1975. In 1986 he defended his PhD’s thesis on the speciality of “Oil chemistry”. In 1994 he defended his doctoral thesis. He is the author of more than 90 scientific works published in Azerbaijan and abroad (in Russia, Iran, Turkey, USA). He began to study the history of Azerbaijan oil business from 1992. His articles are published in magazines of “Azerbaijan oil industry”, “Chemistry and technology of fuels and oils” (Moscow), “Oil chemistry” (Moscow), “Territory of Neftegas” (Moscow), “Oil Gas Chemistry” (Moscow), “Azerbaijan International” (CA, California), “Horizon” (BP; London), “Caspian” (Baku & Astana) and others.
At the moment he is the expert of an oil history in the group of Oil museum’s creation in Baku and a member of editorial board of the magazine “Azerbaijan oil industry”.

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