why is there oil in the middle east

We posed this question to James Jackson from the University of Cambridge. Hydrocarbons are all are from dead organic material and you need an astonishing set of circumstances to make oil out of these things and preserve them. First, you've got to concentrate them somewhere where they're not dispersed or oxidised, which means in swamps, marshes, lakes or something like that. Then you've got to heat them up slowly over a long, long period to cook them up to make oil. And then, when they make oil and start to buzz off, you've got to have some way of trapping them. All these things, it turns out, happen on the margins of continents. If you stretch continents and try to pull them apart what happens is they "neck" - and that's what the North Sea is. The North Sea, for example, exists because Scotland and Norway moved apart about a hundred kilometres and so the land stretched and necked; the floor of what is now the North Sea got a bit thinner and it sunk below sea-level. This caused it to become buried in sediment. Sediments just gets washed in, and all those dead bugs which were there got buried deeper and deeper and gently got cooked for a long time. Eventually, the North Sea stopped stretching. Had it carried on it would have been a plate margin - we would have got the edge of the continent and Scotland would have been over by America somewhere and Norway would still be in Europe.


So, the circumstances for making oil are very good on the margins of continents. Especially the margins of oceans like the Atlantic ocean, which is not a plate boundary - there are no earthquakes there. Now, what happened in Saudi Arabia is that that happened to be on the margin of a huge ocean which separated Asia from the southern continents. So, a hundred million years ago, Africa, India and Arabia were all a long way further south from where they are now and they've all moved north and bashed into Asia. One of those places is [what is now] Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq. So what's happened is the margin of that ocean, with the margins of Arabia, and Africa and India, have all just popped up above sea level. So it's not that there is more oil there than anywhere else. There's loads of oil all the way over on the other continental margins but that's underwater. It's hard to get out; it's hard to find and it's hard to suck out. Whereas in Saudi Arabia, it's popped up nicely above sea level and also in Iran and Iraq. So it's actually extremely easy to find. In essence, it's more that it is conveniently situated than anything else; but, geologically, what you're looking at is like the edge of Ireland, the western side of Ireland, which has just run into something and popped back up above sea level.
In 1922, Ibn Saud met a New Zealand mining engineer named.


During World War I, Holmes had been to and then, where he first heard rumours of the of the region. He was convinced that much oil would be found throughout the region. After the war, Holmes helped to set up Eastern and General Syndicate Ltd in order, among other things, to seek oil concessions in the region. In 1923, the king signed a with Holmes allowing him to search for oil in eastern Saudi Arabia. Eastern and General Syndicate brought in a Swiss to evaluate the land but he claimed that searching for oil in Arabia would be Бa pure gambleБ. This discouraged the major and oil companies from investing in Arabian oil ventures. In 1925, Holmes signed a concession with the of, allowing him to search for oil there. He then proceeded to the to find an oil company that might be interested in taking on the concession. He found help from. In 1927, Gulf Oil took control of the concessions that Holmes made years ago. But Gulf Oil was a partner in the, which was jointly owned by Royal Dutch/Shell, Anglo-Persian, the Compagnie Franцaise des Pцtroles, and "the Near East Development Company, representing the interests of the American companies. The partners had signed up to the Б Б which meant that Gulf Oil was precluded from taking up the Bahrain concession without the consent of the other partners; and they declined.


Despite a promising survey in Bahrain, Gulf Oil was forced to transfer its interest to another company, (SOCAL), which was not a bound by the Red Line Agreement. Meanwhile Ibn Saud had dispatched American mining engineer to examine eastern Arabia. Twitchell found encouraging signs of oil, asphalt seeps in the vicinity of Qatif, but advised the king to await the outcome of the Bahrain No. 1 well before inviting bids for a concession for al-Hasa. To the American engineers working in Bahrain, standing on the Jebel Dukhan and gazing across a twenty-mile (32б km) stretch of the at the Arabian Peninsula in the clear light of early morning, the outline of the low Dhahran hills in the distance were an obvious oil prospect. On 31 May 1932, the SOCAL subsidiary, the (BAPCO) struck oil on Bahrain. The discovery brought fresh impetus to the search for oil on the Arabian peninsula. Negotiations for an oil concession for al-Hasa province opened at Jeddah in March, 1933. Twitchell attended with lawyer Lloyd Hamilton on behalf of SOCAL. The represented by competed in the bidding but SOCAL was granted the concession on 23 May 1933. Under the agreement, SOCAL was given Бexploration rights to some 930,000 square kilometers of land for 60 yearsБ. Soon after the agreement, geologists arrived in al-Hasa and the search for oil was underway.

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