History Highlights

(based on The Prize by Daniel Yergin)

The BOT history goes back to the late XIX century, and is closely intertwined with the his­torical events of the Caspian oil industry development. By 1876 the founder of the Nobel Empire Ludwig Nobel won the blessing of the Russian monarch and became the Oil King of Baku. Within ten years Nobel's effort resulted in Russia beating America's oil output, and in Baku oil refinery becoming one of the most sophisticated in the world at that time, produc­ing more than half of Russian kerosene. In 1883 the Nobel Brothers Partnership built an oil storage in Batumi. The history of Batumi Oil Terminal begins with this facility.

Amazing, but in those years for Tbilisi it was cheaper to import kerosene from the United States, almost 13,000 km away, than from Baku, 550 km to the west.

But this situation was soon to change. In 1883 Baron Alphonse Rothschild, whose refinery on the Adriatic was in need of cheap Russian crude oil supplies, financed a construction of a railway road from Baku to the Black Sea port of Batumi. In 1886 the Rothschilds estab­lished the famous Caspian and Black Sea Petroleum Company, and built storage and market facilities on the current grounds of Batumi Oil Terminal Batumi. The new Baku-Batumi railway road almost overnight turned Batumi into one of the world's most important oil ports.

On January 5, 1892 Marcus Samuel, the founding father of Shell, won official approval from the author­ities to sail a newly designed oil tanker via the Suez Canal. Samuel was pursuing an idea to win the Far Eastern kerosene market from Rockefeller's Standard Oil. The American company supplied Far Eastern con­sumers by shipping tin cans with kerosene on sailing ships around the Cape of Good Hope. Marcus Samuel partnered the Rothschilds, and found a cheaper alter­native via Batumi and the Suez Canal.

On 22 July 1892 the Murex oil tanker, built according to Marcus Samuel's design, sailed from West Hartlepool in England for Batumi. At Batumi Oil Terminal it was loaded with kerosene produced by the Nobels. On 23 August 1892, the Murex passed the Suez Canal to further discharge kerosene at Shell's storages in Singapore.