March 11, 2018

In 1880, Aeilko Jans Zijklert, a 20-yer-old tobacco planter in East Java, moved to Sumatra’s East Coast as soon as government declared this area open for plantations. During his travels around the island, he had come across traces of oil. Then he resigned his position, acquired a licence from the local ruler, the Sultan of Langkat and on July 11, 1884 began drilling at Telaga Tiga, the most accessible of the oil pools at the concession.

“The dense inaccessible underbrush was all over between the epiphyte covered smaller trees and the curtains of hanging entangled liana some giant trees stood towering above the jungle with their mighty tops. The racket of the monkeys from the branches of the trees was all around” 

In September 1984 at a depth of 380ft, he encountered a strong flow of oil, gas and water with oil production of 200 liters per day.The first well gave some promising results but the second well drilled at Telaga Tunggal in 1885 was an immediate success, producing oil in commercial quantities at a depth of only 121 m. By 1890, Zijklert felt confident enough to convert his “Provisional Sumatra Petroleum Company” into something more substantial, and on June 16 the company charter of the “Royal Dutch Company for the Working of Petroleum Wells in the Dutch Indies” was executed in The Hague. In September 1890, the Royal Dutch (company for exploitation of oil resources in the Netherlands Indies) received a concession for the area instead of Aeilko Jan Zijlkert. A.J. Zijklert died in December 27, 1890, and he did not live to see the successes that followed and Royal Dutch formed the key in the establishment of the Royal Dutch Shell. Zijklert’s colleague, De Gelder, tackled the job of finding new oil fields and developing the company and establish a base at Pangkalan Brandan. Work began on building facilities nearby Pangkalan Susu to handle ocean shipments. Zijklert’s discovery provided great stimulus to exploration and drilling, new fields then were discovered, such as Kruka, East Java (1887), Kampong Minyak, South Sumatra (1896), Sumpal, South Sumatra (1897), Sanga-sanga, East Kalimantan (1897), Perlak, North Sumatra (1900) and Ledok, East Java (1901). (Early drilling in Sumatra, Indonesia)