Sir Thomas Boverton Redwood (1846–1919): a watershed in the British oil industry
Rasoul Sorkhabi, 2018. "Sir Thomas Boverton Redwood (1846–1919): a watershed in the British oil industry", History of the European Oil and Gas Industry, J. Craig, F. Gerali, F. MacAulay, R. Sorkhabi
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Sir Thomas Boverton Redwood (1846–1919) stands as a giant in the history of petroleum science and technology. This paper pieces together scattered information about his life and work, and discusses his contributions, directly or indirectly, to petroleum exploration and production in various parts of the world, especially Burma (Myanmar), Persia, Mexico and the West Indies with which British colonial and commercial interests were related. Redwood established one of the first and most successful consulting firms for petroleum companies, and, in this way, trained generations of petroleum geologists and engineers. His masterpiece, Petroleum: A Treatise, which went through five editions from 1896 to 1926, summed up the knowledge of petroleum of its age, and still remains a valuable book for historical reference. Redwood’s mediatory position between scientific, industrial and political circles in Britain enabled him to play a leading role in the development of petroleum technology, as well as Britain’s oil operations around the world during the 1880s–1910s. He served as a technical advisor to many government committees and oil companies, and his total dedication to Britain’s oil security during World War I and during the transformation of the Royal Navy’s fleet from coal to oil fuel were the climax of his professional life.
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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.