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The rise and fall of the black gold in Romania

Given that the Romanian oil industry celebrates 160 years this year, the contemporary memory would be worth being refreshed, at least with the most important world premieres marked in the past by our country in this field. Thus, 1857 registered no less than three world premieres for Romania, mentioned by the international statistics, events celebrated in 2017 and highlighted in the pages of our magazine. We remind them, however:

  • Romania is the first country in the world with oil production officially registered by the international statistics (275 tonnes); in 1859, the US had a production of 274 tonnes;
  • The first industrial refinery was built by the Mehedinteanu brothers on the outskirts of Ploiesti city (photo); the first commercial oil well was built in Romania (in Lucacesti, Bacau County). In Lucacesti had already been built the first industrial oil distilleries in the world (1837 – 1840), the precursors of the refinery in Ploiesti;
  • The first city in the world illuminated publicly by kerosene was the capital of the country – Bucharest;

In addition, Romania was the first country in the world to export petrol in the 1900s. In 1904, the first school in the world for drilling foremen was set up in Campina, which will consequently also train refining foremen. Also in 1904, the first export of petroleum products took place from Romania, in Constanta Port (during 1780 – 1820 Moldavia and Muntenia exported oil through the Danube ports).

Few people know that Romania can also be considered as one of the top three countries in the world in terms of pioneering in the natural gas industry, with numerous European awards for specific activities in the sector. Romania holds the premiere of the first natural gas export in Europe, on August 30, 1940 (from Romania to Hungary).

Last but not least there is another important anniversary – university education in Ploiesti turns 50 in 2017, as the Petroleum and Gas Institute of Ploiesti was established in 1967.

Since 1976, the year with the largest oil production in Romania (14.7 million tonnes), statistics show a constant decline, along with the increase in imports. Romanian specialists’ estimates (in 2007) showed that Romania’s proven oil reserves are of only 200 million tonnes, which means that, given an extraction rate of 5 million tonnes a year, it would run down in about 40 years, if the probable oil reserves do not become exploitable reserves in the meantime. The question is whether those who have the knowledge, technology and the necessary funds will succeed in changing the share between energy consumption currently based on hydrocarbons in favour of less polluting, alternative energy sources along with the discovery of new, real-time exploitable oil deposits.

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