Simon Papp, a prominent Hungarian petroleum geologist: how to run exploration projects from a prison cell
Gábor Tari, István Bérczi, 2018. "Simon Papp, a prominent Hungarian petroleum geologist: how to run exploration projects from a prison cell", History of the European Oil and Gas Industry, J. Craig, F. Gerali, F. MacAulay, R. Sorkhabi
Download citation file:
Simon Papp (1886–1970) is regarded as the ‘father’ of Hungarian petroleum exploration. He was also considered internationally as an exceptional oil finder, as his exploration career took him from Hungary to Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Turkey, Albania, Canada, Australia and Papua New Guinea.
In 1932, Dr Papp returned to Hungary and became engaged in exploration in western Hungary, working for EUROGASCO (an international consortium headed by Standard Oil of New Jersey). His prospecting work was very successful, resulting in the discovery of four oil fields with reserves totalling about 100 MMbbl (million barrels).
In 1948, after returning from a trip to the USA, Dr Papp was arrested by the communist secret police in Hungary, allegedly because of sabotage and attempting to overthrow the communist government. After being forced to ‘confess’, he was sentenced to death but, probably due to worldwide protest by scientific organizations, the sentence was changed to life in prison.
As his exceptional knowledge of the petroleum industry was a major asset, the communist regime arranged for him to continue his work from his prison cell. He was finally released from prison in 1955 and lived in retirement in Budapest until his death in 1970.
Figures & Tables
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.