Historical study of geosciences and engineering in the oilfields of the Emilia-Romagna region in the socio-economic context of post-Unitarian Italy (1861–1914)
Francesco Gerali, Paolo Macini, Ezio Mesini, 2018. "Historical study of geosciences and engineering in the oilfields of the Emilia-Romagna region in the socio-economic context of post-Unitarian Italy (1861–1914)", History of the European Oil and Gas Industry, J. Craig, F. Gerali, F. MacAulay, R. Sorkhabi
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The purpose of this paper is to frame selected episodes in the establishment and development of the modern oil and gas industry in the Northern Apennines (Emilia-Romagna region), Italy. The research spans between the political unification of the Italian peninsula into the Kingdom of Italy (1861), and the outbreak of World War I (1914). In the attempt to delve into the socio-economic scenario of those times, we look to contextualize and describe the work of the geologists and engineers who contributed to developing the early scientific knowledge of practical utility on the oil-bearing formations of the Northern Apennines.
The history of the Emilia-Romagna oil industry was influenced and shaped by several episodes, and this paper discusses in particular two events that occurred during 1911. The first is an important and political act: the promulgation from the Italian authorities of the first regulation aimed at fostering the national oil industry, including the generous and criticized subsidies to support oil well drilling. The second is a technical–scientific landmark: the publication by Enrico Camerana and Bartolomeo Galdi (both engineers in the Royal Corps of Mines in Bologna) of the treatise I giacimenti petroleiferi dell’Emilia [The Oilfields of the Emilia Region], thanks to which Italian oil expertise made an important step forward. This seminal study on the state of the art of geological exploration of the oilfields of northern Italy represents the point of fracture between the empirical knowledge concerning oil and gas exploration and production and the development of the first national original research in the field of geosciences, to be fully developed in the decades to come.
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The history of the European oil and gas industry reflects local as well as global political events, economic constraints and the personal endeavours of individual petroleum geoscientists as much as it does the development of technologies and the underlying geology of the region. The first commercial oil wells in Europe were drilled in Poland in 1853, Romania in 1857, Germany in 1859 and Italy in 1860. The 23 papers in this volume focus on the history and heritage of the oil and gas industry in the key European oil-producing countries from the earliest onshore drilling to its development into the modern industry that we know today. The contributors chronicle the main events and some of the major players that shaped the industry in Europe. The volume also marks several important anniversaries, including 150 years of oil exploration in Poland and Romania, the centenary of the drilling of the first oil well in the UK and 50 years of oil production from onshore Spain.