September 17, 2023

Distillation of oil started halfway through the 18th Century in small refineries (called “distillaries”) in the Ural, Galicia (now NE Ukraine), and in the Russian district of Mozdovsky. During the first half of the 19th Century small refineries were opened in Moravia (now Czechia), Galicia, France, and Poland.
In 1846 the Canadian Abraham Gesner from Nova Scotia developed a process to refine a liquid fuel from coal, bitumen and oil shale.
In 1853, the Polish pharmacist Ignacy Lukasiewicz invented the modern kerosene lamp. In 1856 he built an oil refinery in Ulaszowice, near Jaslo.
If the first larger scale oil refineries were opened at Jas?o, in Poland, the largest one was opened at Ploie?ti, in Romania. Built in 1856 and inaugurated in 1857 by the brothers Teodor and Marin Mehedin?eanu, the Rafov Refinery had a surface area of four hectares, and the daily production reached over seven tons, obtained in cylindrical iron and iron casts that were heated by fire from wood; it was then called “the world’s first systematic oil distillery,” setting the record for being the world’s first oil refinery, according to the Academy Of World Records.
In 1857, the total production of Romania was amounted to 275 tons of crude oil. With this figure, Romania was registered as the first country in world oil production statistics, before other large oil producing states such as the United States of America (1860), Russia (1863), Mexico (1901) or Persia (1913)
Although badly damaged after the November 1940 earthquake, the city functioned as a significant1 source of oil for Nazi Germany during much of World War II. The Allies made Ploie?ti a target of the oil campaign of World War II and bombed it repeatedly, such as during the HALPRO (Halverson Project, June 1942) and Operation Tidal Wave (1 August 1943) at a great loss, without producing any significant delay in operation or production. Soviet Red Army troops captured Ploie?ti on 24 August 1944.
Following the war, the new Communist régime of Romania nationalised the oil industry, which had largely been privately owned, and made massive investments in the oil- and petroleum-industry in a bid to modernise the country and to repair the war damage.

With 10 refineries and an overall refining-capacity of approximately 504,000 bbl/d (80,100 m3/d), Romania has today the largest refining industry in the eastern European region.
(Source: Wikipedia/World Record Academy/rferl – Image: Artist’s view of the early days of the Ploiesti refinery/World Record Academy)