Oil—Discovery and Production in the Persian Gulf (1900–1945)



A hundred or so years ago, at the turn of the century, oil was not a critical input for the global economy and even less so for the economic and political affairs of the Persian Gulf and the greater Middle East. To state the obvious, oil became an inseparable part of the Middle East region’s fabric as it rose to global importance as a commodity, and the region became a significant supplier of oil to world markets, with oil revenues contributing a large share of the region’s total export revenues. During the twentieth century, the global importance of oil increased as oil became an important fuel for transportation, a use where it had little competition. Oil replaced coal in boilers of ships and in locomotives of trains, was used to power the first automobiles, and then fueled airplanes, powered industrial furnaces, provided electricity, and even heated homes and commercial buildings. While oil had little competition in powering automobiles and airplanes, its primary competitor in other uses was coal, a fuel that is dirty and more costly to transport, and to a lesser extent natural gas, the cleanest of the hydrocarbon fuels, which became steadily easier to transport to markets and thus became a growing competitor to oil. Although there was competition from other fuels—coal, natural gas, hydropower, nuclear, and renewables—the share of oil in global primary energy consumption continued to increase, especially after World War II.


Saudi Arabia British Petroleum Royalty Payment Commercial Quantity West Texas Intermediate 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 2.
    International Energy Agency (IEA), World Energy Outlook 2012 (Paris: OECD/IEA, November 2012).Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Mikdashi, Zuhayr, A Financial Analysis of Middle Eastern Oil Concessions: 1901–65 (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1996), p. 10.Google Scholar
  3. 13.
    Shwadran, Benjamin, The Middle East, Oil and the Great Powers (Jerusalem: Israel Universities Press, 1973), p. 126.Google Scholar
  4. 19.
    Vicker, Ray, The Kingdom of Oil; the Middle East: Its People and Its Power (New York: Scribner, 1974), p. 163.Google Scholar
  5. 21.
    Alnasrawi, Abbas, The Economy of Iraq: Oil, Wars, Destruction of Development and Prospects, 1950–2010 (Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1994), p. 2.Google Scholar
  6. 25.
    Yergin, Daniel, The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power (New York: Free Press, 1991), p. 266.Google Scholar
  7. 34.
    Birks, J. S. and C. A. Sinclair, “Preparations for Income after Oil: Bahrain’s Example,” British Society for Middle Eastern Studies 6, no. 1 (1979): 40.Google Scholar
  8. 52.
    Kuwait Oil Company, Ltd., Kuwait Past and Present (2009), pp. 8–10.Google Scholar
  9. 58.
    International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, The Economic Development of Kuwait (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1965), p. 22.Google Scholar
  10. 63.
    Al Fahim, Mohammed, From Rags to Riches: A Story of Abu Dhabi (London: London Centre of Arab Studies, 1995), p. 74.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Hossein Askari 2013

Authors and Affiliations

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations