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Abstract

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.

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