I awoke this morning to be reminded by the Today programme that 100 years ago a British explorer first struck oil in Iran, and began the dash to the Gulf to set up an oil industry.
My sources tell me that the first oil was found at Masjid-i-Suleiman on May 26th 1908 by George Reynolds, working under William Darcy’s licence. This discovery led to the formation of the Anglo Persian Oil company, which proved a very popular investment in 1909, subsequently to become BP.
In an era when it is fashionable to decry oil for its environmental impact as well as for its impact on the politics of the Middle East and the great powers, it is perhaps timely to remember the huge leap forward in our living standards which a hundred years of relatively cheap oil has brought us.
Oil as a fuel has kept us warm and powered our transport. As a chemical feedstock it has enabled scientists and chemical companies to develop flexible plastics, bitumens and other crucial products that play such a role in modern lifestyles.
Doubtless if mankind had not had oil to go to war about the bellicose would have found other pretexts and causes of dispute.