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Birth of Oil Industry in the Northern Carpathians

Krzywiec, Piotr *1
(1) Polish Geological Institute NRI, Warsaw, Poland.

Recent rapid development of the shale gas exploration in Poland has put this part of Europe into the spotlight of the oil industry - again, as Polish and Ukrainian segments of the Carpathian fold-and-thrust belt in late XIX and in early XX centuries belonged to the most prolific hydrocarbon provinces in the world. The earliest written account of natural occurrences of hydrocarbon (oil seeps, gas leakages) in the Carpathians date back to the 15th - 16th century. In 18th century G. Rzaczynski and K. Kluk provided first fairly detailed accounts of those phenomena, including methods of the practical use of oil by local inhabitants. Other early geological accounts of oil occurrences were published by S. Staszic and G.G. Pusch. The development of oil industry was triggered by I. Lukasiewicz and his discovery of kerosene lamp and effective oil distillation process. Following this, oil industry flourished in the Carpathians, with wells being drilled already in mid-XIX century. By early XX century oil production peaked up to 2 million tons of crude oil in 1910 in the Austrian Galicia, in the area stretching between Stary Sacz (present-day Poland) and Boryslaw (present-day Ukraine). At that time it was the third oil producing province in the world, behind USA and Russia. In the subsequent years, level of oil production was steadily decreasing due to turbulent economy and plummeting oil prices, however, northern Carpathians oil fields were constantly remaining the important local source of crude oil. In the XIX century, increasing demand for oil - connected with growth of various branches of industry - as well as a rapid growth of oil production in this area, resulted in the development of various geological services. For example, modern paleontology was born in the Carpathians and was heavily used to correlate reservoir rocks between wells and to construct more and more detailed geological cross-sections. Local and regional geological mapping projects were undertaken, with prime example of regional coverage of almost entire northern Carpathians provided by Geological Atlas of Galicia consisting of 99 high quality geological maps in scale 1:75 000.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90142 © 2012 AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition, April 22-25, 2012, Long Beach, California