"Azerbaijan`s possession of large reserves of oil and gas is our nation`s good fortune and is the most important factor for the welfare of its people and the country`s development, now and in the future".
Heydar Aliyev

The 22nd International Caspian Oil and Gas Exhibition and Conference

On June 3-5, 22nd International Caspian Oil and Gas conference were held in Baku. The organizer of forum “ITE Group Plc” Senior Advisor of the..

Oil issue had a key position in the creative life of Dmitry Mendeleev. His part in the formation of Russian and Baku oil industry in particular in the second half of the XIX century was multi-objective and system-making. When deeply researching oil problems Mendeleev did not only recommend a range of practical directions for changing technological processes in factories, but also advised not to be afraid of realizing a number of radical events.

OIL IN MENDELEEV’S LIFE (On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the great scholar’s first visit to Baku, 1863-2013)

The scholar first visited Baku in August, 1863 upon Kokorev’s request: from September 6 to October 8, 1963 Mendeleev worked in Kokorev’s factory conducting researches on oil acceleration. At the same time he led the realization process of a number of radical measures such as: 1) building special pipes for oil transportation from oil wells to the factory and from the factory to the sea, where kerosene and oil were supposed to fill in, i.e. special reservoirs; 2) organization of the transportation with filling in across the Caspian Sea till Volga pass on schooners and from Volga pass till Nijny Novgorod on hoys and finally, 3) building a big factory around Nijny Novgorod for processing raw Baku oil to various oil products.

Having carried out these measures of the scholar Kokorev’s relevantly weak factory gave 200 thousand rubles profit after two years and by 1867 Surakhani factory was already producing 100 thousand poods of kerosene, which supplied Moscow, Saint-Petersburg, Tbilisi and other big cities of the empire.

We should remind that import of American kerosene to Europe started in 1860 and Baku (Balakhani) kerosene appeared in Russia in 1963, which was called photonaftil at that time, but kerosene from Balakhani oil was not as high quality as the American one, although it was much cheaper.

In one of the meetings of Baku Department of Empire Russian Technical Society (BD ERTS) the scholar stressed out that it was important to get rid of the lease system and excise duty on kerosene first of all for creating a perfect oil industry that would result in the capitalist development of the Russian oil business. Mendeleev noted that “My personal opinion is against not only any kind of taxation on oil, but also on kerosene, no matter what type it is… Taxation restricts industry, because the producer and the manufacturer direct it to the consumer and consumption decreases. At any case taxation will only give industry… restriction and stoppage instead of development”.

The scholar noted for himself: “In my attempt to go to America for the exhibition I would like to collect some data to make clear the state of oil issue in the States and inform this to the commission”. In fact on the eve of the crisis about 70 million poods of oil was produced in America and only 5 million poods in Russia.

In 1876 (from June 21 till July 12) Mendeleev made a trip to the USA: the main purpose of the trip was to define the reasons of decrease in kerosene prices and elaboration of modern state of oil business in America (the Russian finance ministry that organized this trip was utterly interested in it). Having looked through and analyzed the American “Reports of a Commission appointed for a revision of the revenue system of the US” for 1865-1866, as well as “Laws of the US relating to internal revenue”, he came to a conclusion that “… it is easy to get kerosene from Pennsylvanian oil, because we can say that the oil itself was nothing but unclean kerosene and no more than one fifth share was wasted. Our technicians from Baku… have nothing to learn from Americans regarding distillation, but if we have to, we can adopt some mechanical facilities and they are applicable with benefit and will only pay off in such giant factories as the American ones”.

A year after the trip to America a fundamental report-book “Oil industry in north-eastern American state Pennsylvania and Caucasus” was published, where the scholar concluded what he had seen in the USA.

The next trip of the scholar to Caucasus took place in 1880 and covered Baku, Grozny, Vladikavkaz, Tbilisi, Batumi and Novorossiysk. The main purpose was to make clear the reason why only 7 million poods are being produced in Baku despite the great amount of oil; what is stopping its production; why Baku and Kuban oil fields are being exploited uneconomically.

In the article “What to do with Baku oil” published in “Golos” newspaper (September 22, 1880) Mendeleev questioned about rational placing of oil processing industry stating his personal opinion, which led to a conflict with oil industrialists.

Let’s bring an interesting fact here: Ludwig Nobel (the chairman of the company “br. Nobel”) was one of the first ones who started to apply Mendeleev’s technical recommendations in practice: he organized steam schooners and hoys for transporting kerosene for filling in, carried out the construction of metal reservoirs and railway cisterns for oil and kerosene. As the scholar noted, “…all these made his name quite attractive for me. But then in Baku I was amazed with that hostile relation with which Mister Nobel greeted my idea about the necessity of establishing factories inside Russia for processing oil as kerosene, as well as lubricants”.

Mendeleev offered and explained how junk waste can be turned into lubricants, which was 4 times more expensive than kerosene: “Lubricant oil and heavy lighting oil – these are what should be made from oil waste, but not to burn them as rude fuel… It is important to find a solid use of heavy oils for our Baku oil, which leaves a lot of heavy waste. The solution of this question is not in simple burning under the steamers”.

We should particularly stress out the friendship that tied these two outstanding people of their times: the creator of the Periodic system of elements and the biggest entrepreneur of Caucasus – Haji Zeynalabdin Taghiyev. Many things united them: love for the motherland, economic interests that they put ahead of everything; as well as enthusiasm and selflessness in work.

We would like to complete the article about the great chemist with a brief chronology, which brightly illustrates the role of Azerbaijani oil in Mendeleev’s scientific life:

August 17, 1863

Met V. A. Kokorev, who suggested Mendeleev to visit Caucasus for observation of his factory producing lighting oils from asphalt and oil.

 September 6, 1863

Mendeleev came to Baku, visited Kokorev’s Surakhani factory and offered him a range of measures for improving the quality of lighting oils.

September 14-19, 1863

Conducted researches towards improving the process of oil distillation (measures for improving tar were recommended). A special attention was paid to the question of increasing exit of lighting oil.

February 11, 1876

Gave a speech in the meeting of the commission of ERTS organized to review questions about eliminating obstacles in the development of Baku oil industry. Prepared a range of measures including the recommendation to fully free oil business from excise.

December 18, 1876

Made a report about “Oil industry in America”, where he gave a comparison with Baku oil work in Absheron.


The scholar’s book “Oil Industry in north America, state of Pennsylvania and in Caucasus” was published.

May 13, 1880

A business trip to Caucasus (Baku, Grozny, Vladikavkaz, Tbilisi, Batumi and Novorossiysk) with the purpose of researching oil wells and the state of oil business in the region.

May 25-29, 1880

Visited Absheron oil fields and observed deposits in Surakhani and Balakhani. Visited oil fields of H. Z. Taghiyev in Bibi-Heybat. Together with his son he was present in the opening of an oil fountain named after his son “Vladimir Mendeleev”.

June 1, 1880

Wrote a letter to “Golos” newspaper with the description of his impressions about the state of oil business in Baku based on Absheron oil fields that he observed.

June 2, 1880

In the meeting of Baku department of ERTS during the discussions of the report “about the means of producing kerosene in Baku” he recommended to build new factories in central Russia for increasing the marketing of Baku oil.

July 7, 1880

Wrote a letter to the head of Kuban region general N. N. Karmalin about the ambitions of the Americans to monopolize Caucasus (Grozny and Baku) oil region.

January 7, 1882

In the meeting of the Chemistry Department (CD) of RPCS gave a speech with the message about approximation of the content of light products of 6 different sorts of Azerbaijani oil and pointed at the differences between Azerbaijani and American oils.

December 2, 1882

In the meeting of CD RPCS made report about making pentane from Baku oil.

March 3, 1883

In the meeting of CD RPCS he gave a message about the new way of crushing oil distillation and its usage in the researches of Azerbaijani oil.


Took an active part in the I Congress of Baku Oil Industrialists (from October 26 till November 8 in Baku).

May 1886

Business trip to Baku. Observed Absheron oil fields. Gave a speech in the meetings of BD of ERTS with the reports “about the conditions of further development of oil business” and “about the measures of promotion of the further development of Baku oil industry”.

March 15, 1887

Presented a report message to the minister of state properties M. N. Ostrovsky “About the issue of oil and kerosene pipelines”, where he pointed at the importance of Baku-Batumi pipeline in details.

February 16, 1889

The article “Rothschild and pipelines” was published in “Novaya vrema” newspaper, where the state of oil business in Baku and Mendeleev’s opinion about the importance of Baku-Batumi pipeline for the trade of Russian (Baku) oil products was brought up.

August 27, 1889

Sent a letter to L. Mond, the president of London Chemical-Technical Society and V. Anderson, the chairman of the department of British Association of promoting the development of science “regarding the resumption of the rumors about the exhaustion of Baku oil”. Letter, disproving the rumors about the exhaustion of Baku oil deposits, was published in Russian and international mass media.

January 3, 1893

Upon the request of the finance minister S. Y. Vitte he prepared a detailed article-foreword for the book “Factory and manufacture industry and trade of Russia” aiming for the visitors of International Colombo exhibition in Chicago in relation to the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America. This article of the scholar presented a full historical review of development of Russian, and in particular Azerbaijani oil business.

In our opinion, the brief chronology presented above plainly emphasizes the role of Azerbaijani oil in the scientific life of D. I. Mendeleev. It is characteristic that 71 among almost 500 publications of the scholar are devoted to the development of Russian (Baku) oil business.