• May 26, 2008
For seven years, William D'Arcy drilled well after well in Persia, now known as Iran, looking for oil. With his funding running low, and his employers getting quite impatient, D'Arcy drilled one last well and hit a gusher on May 26, 1908. The rest is history.

Six years after the discovery of the vast Middle Eastern oilfields, D'Arcy and the Anglo-Persian Oil Co. almost went out of business. They literally had oceans of precious oil and, by then, a pipeline to remove it from its remote resting place. What they did not have, ironically, were customers. Cars were the toys of the wealthy, ships mostly ran on coal and so did electrical plants. Winston Churchill, however, saw the benefits of running his navy on oil and soon had World War I to fight. Black gold quickly became one of the world's most coveted resources.

Years later, the Anglo-Persian Oil Co. bought the government-seized assets of a German firm that sold oil in Britain before the war. That company was called British Petroleum, a name adopted later by Anglo-Persian and shortened to BP in 2000.

[Source: BP via Wired]


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  • 24 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      I wonder if D'Arcy ever drank anyone's milkshake during his oil drilling days, lol
      • 6 Years Ago
      Well said Johnny. I agree with you.

      We have mucked up the middle east for nearly a century ( I am British, but the yanks are simply a more technically and morally barbaric version of us ) and the most astonishing thing during this period has been the Arabs' forbearance. They are a pretty wonderful people, and I wish them every happiness now that we have pretty much f****d ourselves in our desperate attempts to lay claim to their assets.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I think your statement is true regarding all middle eastern country except Iran..because oil industry in Iran was nationolized in the 50's by the government..and that's why CIA and UK overthrew Iran's democratic government at the time and replaced it with the Shah but oil industry remained national..all the profits (100%)goes to government coffer .. and after they saw that Iran was becoming a regional superpower in shah's time..they let the revolution to happen(by ordering shah to stand back and do nothing)..now we have much weaken Iran in region ..that's good for the interest of western power.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Colin,
        Its always nice to see that there are folks out there who can discern themsleves from what the media is controlling. As most Americans don't realize, the media here controls what Americans see and hear... Its another form of "brainwashing" but most are too ignorant to admit it... Cheers!
      • 6 Years Ago
      The only reason I like the idea of nuke'in the middle east is because I invision it turning the entire area into glass. Every other aspect of doing so I find pretty horrid though.


      p.s. oil sucks.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'm guessing they're loving the $133 presents they get for each barrel of the black goo to celebrate the discovery of it in the area.

      • 6 Years Ago
      It's actually pretty astounding. I'm betting he never knew what his discovery would turn into.

      Just think about everything that followed that discovery and the positive and negative consequences. It's mind-boggling.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The problem with oil prices is two-fold.

      1. First, supply and demand. The booming economies of China and India are creating an ever-growing middle class there that wants to drive cars and build factories. This pushes up demand without an appropriate match from supply. Thus prices go up.

      2. Secondly, inflation continues to increase. To fight a war in Iraq and simultaneously support a welfare state back home, the US Government runs out of their first two fund-raising options (taxing and borrowing), so they just start "printing" new dollars (or in our case, adding zero's to a computer program).

      And so oil prices rise.

      PF Wilson, Editor, http://TheInvestorReport.com
      • 6 Years Ago
      "Jacobs, I want to know absolutely everything that's happened up till now."
      "Well, let's see. First the earth cooled. And then the dinosaurs came, but they got too big and fat, so they all died and they turned into oil. And then the Arabs came and they bought Mercedes Benzes..."
      • 6 Years Ago
      Dolemite, Where do I start:

      You obviously cannot completely grasp the idea of commerce and trade. While you may be proud of yourself because you believe that western countries developed technology for oil extraction this really means nothing when it comes who gets paid for the oil. The Middle East do depend on the West for most of their revenue but isn't that how all countries develop their GDP? Surely you don't believe that the United States' economy wasn't built on exports? Im sure you guys miraculously grew and picked money off of trees.

      Now concerning your second point I could immediately tell that you havn't been to the Middle East (Gulf Countries) I probably wouldn't be too far off if I said that you never left N. America just like 90% of your intelligence & culture lacking population :) but that's besides the point, I'm not from Saudi Arabia but I know many Saudi's and I can confidently say that none of them would be offended by you referring to there country as "Barbaric." since they are the worlds largest oil exporter I'm know most of them are probably sitting right now comfortably in the south of France while you try to convince yourself that your life is better than theirs.

      Now concerning your third point, I'm sure I know more about oil than you think I do (I grew up in Kuwait) but I can see you obviously do not understand how these corporations work do you? I will give you one quick example right off the top of my head before I end this, seeing as how I grew up in Kuwait; Kuwait has the fifth largest Sovereign wealth fund in the world (pretty good for a country with a local population just over 1 million) now I don't have time to explain to you what a SWF is but lets just look at one of your "Western Oil Companies" such as British Petroleum, Kuwait (KIA) owns 20% of that company among many other foreign oil companies you I'm sure you never knew about. Now just before those companies "buy and sell these regimes like little kids do with trading cards" they have to ask themselves: Who's my daddy?

      Barbaric huh? ;)
      • 6 Years Ago
      hahahaha pmiddle5 you seem to me like the typical poor ignorant jealous american, you guys need to pay less attention to your pathetic "media". I live in the Middle East and have a couple of homes in the U.S. I can tell you that there is nothing "unstable" about the Gulf countries, they have the highest GDP countries per capita, booming economies (that export mostly to Europe and Asia btw.) and most of the locals are rich as hell, but you guys probably still think people there live in tents, ride camels and enjoy blowing themselves up on weekends hahaha ;)
        • 6 Years Ago
        Sigh. I am not even sure where to start. I think there are some points that you are not considering:

        1) The oil in the middle east was discovered by Westerners, its uses were developed by Westerners, everything from its extraction to its finally consumption is driven by the Western world. In fact, even today the middle eastern states have to rely upon Western, Indian, and Chinese engineers to extract the oil, refine it, and transport. They also rely upon WesternIndianChinese to design and develop the technology to detect the oil as well the technology to make use of the black goop. The middle east can make no claims to having a hand in oil except for inhabiting the land that it sits under.

        2) Whether you accept it or not, the vast majority of the middle east consists of shell-states. If it were not for oil, Saudi Barbaria would be in a worse state than the DRC. In fact, Saudi Barbaria's material condition would reflect its 7th century ideology. The fact remains that the vast majority of the middle east still has to master the concepts of rule of law and basic commerece. The only states which have successfully adopted Western capitalism are the ones without oil. Go figure.

        3) While I am not doubting that there are people in the middle east who have more money than God, or at least think they do, you do not actually understand how the oil business works. You see, whether oil costs $10 a barrel or $1000 a barrel, the oil really belongs to the Western oil companies which extract the oil, and the states recieve about 15%. The present windfall is from the fact that 15% of $130 is a lot greater than 15% of $25. The vast majority of the rest of the money, minus the costs, goes back into Western pockets. So the middle eastern wealth is nothing compared to what the Western oil companies have. They can, and do, buy and sell these regimes like little kids do with trading cards.

        Nice try though.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Mate, I will have to call you out on this, as well. Although the US/UK has meddled a lot in the region, can you honestly tell me it's fair that women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, for example? And Yemen is a Gulf state ranked 175th in per capita income and 153rd in the 2008 Human Development Index rankings- that is BELOW East Timor, Haiti, and Kenya.

        It's great to be wealthy in a Gulf state. Most are not. Don't claim that most are.
      • 6 Years Ago
      We need to reconsider Nuclear power etc.
      We're way too reliant on oil from unstable countries.
      Not just for our vehicles but for our homes' heat.
      God forbid some destabilizing event cuts off world production.What we're experiencing right now with oil prices would pale in comparison.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Johnny, it would be chaos in the middle east even if we weren't involved.
        • 6 Years Ago

        There are too many players and dynamics involved.It's a little too simplistic to blame it on the US.
        the argument could be made that we are a stabilizing force too.
        They'll be plenty of opinions ,I'm sure.
        • 6 Years Ago
        The region is unstable from time to time because we go in there and unstable it. Without us meddling it would be more stable.
        • 6 Years Ago
        The locals are pretty adept at destabilizing their neighborhood without any US help.

        Also, many of the Gulf States are in favor of the US sticking around precisely because it is a stabilizing influence. None of the Arab states want Iran to be the local superpower.

        • 6 Years Ago
        Johnny's right, to an extent. It's not fair to blame it on the US. It *is* however fair to blame Middle East tensions on the US/UK. We [UK/US] decided to carve up the boundaries arbitrarily, we chose to replace Iran's democratizing government in 1953, we supported Saddam Hussein and gave him weapons and training in the Iran/Iraq War against an enemy we indirectly created. Then we went in *again* to liberate Kuwait from Saddam Hussein and his American-made weapons systems in the first Gulf War. Then we had to deal with 9/11, masterminded by Osama bin Laden, who was trained by OUR CIA to attack the Soviets in Cold War Afghanistan...

        I don't think it's simplistic at all to blame the vast majority of Middle Eastern problems on US/UK meddling, at least judging by the $0.02 rundown I just gave ya.
        • 6 Years Ago
        well to support your idea about finding another source of power.Here in Saudi Arabia , i fill up my Tahoe for about 40 saudi riyals , whcih is about 15$. And you in America suffer from 4$/gallon . And btw , what do you mean by unstable countires? It seem pretty stable for me.. :D
        • 6 Years Ago
        Johnny, WELL said! Its US govt. officials poking thier noses in everyone's business proclaiming their doing good but instead causing conflicts... I wish we would just mind our own business and be courteous to other nations instead of bullying them if things don't work our way....
        • 6 Years Ago
        Za, whatever you believe about British/US involvment in the region (most of it wrong) I have to correct you about this whole matter of "Saddam Hussein and his American-made weapons systems in the first Gulf War". There were NO American-made weapons being used by Iraq in either Gulf war. I still have the issues of Time magazine (not exactly a right wing publication) from that time and they go into great deatil listing the Iraqi military equipement. The vast majority was Russian, with a smattering of Chinese and French. Tanks, most artillery, planes, missles, infantry weapons, all Russian. Their air force had a few French built Mirage 2000's and some Exocet missles to go with it, but the rest was Russian. South Africa supplied one type of artillery gun but the rest was Russian.

        I have been trying to figure out how this myth developed, and the best I can come up with is that the US suppled Stinger anit-aircraft missles to the Afghans when the Russians invaded their country. But that was it. Other than that one system (and there were not that many supplied), ALL the Afghan weapons used were the Russians own wepons turned against them. And Afghanistan is not Iraq. The thing is this kind of information is easliy found on the internet and elsewhere and yet the myth keeps getting repeated.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Za .You didn't mention Islamic facism as destabilizing influence.
          • 6 Years Ago
          Sorry. There doesn't appear to be such a thing as "Islamic Fascism". Fascism as being defined as the partnership of corporations and the state. If anything, the United States and Britain is closer to fascism than this misnomer you repeat falsely.
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