History of oil
“Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You’re crazy.” Thus said the associates of Edwin L. Drake, refusing his suggestion to drill for oil in 1859. In that same year his 69-foot-deep oil well in Titusville, Pennsylvania delivered 15 barrels of oil per day.
Edwin Drake did not discover oil. Oil has been used in many places around the world since ancient times. Drake did, however, start the oil rush, a market which today is worth more in futures than it’s actual value. (A barrel of oil is traded some 27 times before it reaches its destination.) None – actual or futures – from which Drake would benefit; he died penniless in 1880. Neither would he be called The father of oil. That title went to Major Frank Holmes, the colorful New Zealander who established the first oil industries of the Middle East.
The ancient history of oil is not well documented but the modern history of oil is fascinating. The Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power by Daniel Yergin describes it well. The New York Times reviewed the book as “Spellbinding… irresistible… monumental… must be read to understand the first thing about the role of oil in modern history.”
Fortunately, there is also an excellent video on the HISTORY OF OIL: