Oil in the Middle East: Its Discovery and Development

Oil in the Middle East: Its Discovery and Development

Oil in the Middle East: Its Discovery and Development

Oil in the Middle East: Its Discovery and Development

Excerpt

The writer who hopes to interest and to instruct by the story of petroleum development in the Middle East starts, whatever his personal shortcomings, with four advantages implicit in his subject. The first is the importance of petroleum itself; no single substance, as all admit, is more vital to every material activity of our civilization, peaceful or warlike, or more certain of a future of yet greater utility and value. The second is the speed, scale, and the industrial romance of oil discovery and exploitation in the Middle East in recent years which have led it to become, in two decades, a vital factor in world economics. The third is the international significance of the existence of this form of wealth in an area which both its history and its geography proclaim to be of outstanding political sensitiveness and strategic value. The fourth is the actual and probable effect, on the indigent and economically backward and politically unstable societies of the oil-possessing countries, of the sudden acquisition of great wealth, produced for them by an outside agency -- the foreign oil companies -- and the relations between the latter and the countries where they operate.

On the substance itself, petroleum -- its chemistry and physics, its processes and products -- , the present historian, who is no technologist, has nothing new to contribute; and he will mention only in passing the connected strategic and international considerations, since these are familiar enough and have been described by many writers. The viewpoint of the writer is, therefore, rather that of an interested student of Middle Eastern society, industry, and affairs who has been also, as it happens, an oil-company executive in these territories for many years, as well as that of an historian and orientalist. He hopes that his historical and factual method of approach and his intention of objectivity may give to these pages at least the value of a reference book which may be found to assemble and synchronize conveniently the practical oil history of a group of countries and of companies, and to observe some of the early effects of their new oil wealth on its fortunate possessors.

Of the three elements in the Middle Eastern scene here described -- the local governments, the peoples, and the oil companies -- the author believes that he runs no risk of failing in sympathy for the . . .

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