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Review of Concise History Of Azerbaijani Oil


Concise History of Azerbaijan Oil (Azerneshr, Baku, 340pp, 2009) is a collection of 12 essays about the development of the oil industry in Azerbaijan, which has been the centre of the oil business for years, being the first place in which oil extraction and refining took place, as well as the centre where many important technologies were developed.

The author is Miryusif Mirbabayev, doctor of Chemical Sciences and professor at Azerbaijan Technical University. He has written various articles on the theme, and he is currently an expert on oil history in a group working for the creation of an Oil Museum in Baku. Also, he is a member of the editorial board of Azerbaijan Oil Industry magazine.

The 12 essays in the books are tightly linked one to the other, yet they focus on different aspects: The first three of them are about how even ancient civilizations exploited the Oil richness of the region, and how then Baku became the core of

Russian oil industry. The four following essays are about the great oil companies (e.g. Nobel Brothers' one) that gave a precious contribute to the sector, both in entrepreneur and scientific field. Four more essays are about the great scientists involved in oil extraction, transportation and refining. The last essay is about Oil Rocks, the first working offshore oil platform in the world.

Included in the book, as a 75 pages appendix, we can find his work Brief Chronology of the history of Azerbaijan Oil, that is, as the title says, a recollection of events in chronological order, each exhaustively covered.

A review of Brief Chronology (also included) defines it the most authentic and truthful piece of work which, according to literature specified at the end of the book, is based on archival documentary data.

This undoubtedly valuable book is intended for people interested in the oil industry or in history of Azerbaijan. I'm going to review the book from the point of view of a curious university student; I found this book enjoyable, as the various essays successfully manage to tell the reader about the great companies in the oil business, the technical development of the oil industry, and how great chemists and technicians of the time were involved in it.


For example, there is one essay about Alfred Nobel, the founder of the known Nobel Prize; another about Mendeleyev, the great chemist who made the periodic table, also deeply involved in Azerbaijan's oil business. Also, I would like to mention that in essay VI it was pointed out that all the prizes of the Nobel family (Alfred's, Ludwig's and Emmanuel's) were awarded in areas from which the scientific world was expecting the greatest progress for the benefit of the mankind and that all of them, especially the last two, were created on the basis of the capital acquired from Baku oil business.

Not less important are the essays about scientists we never had the opportunity to hear of, but who nevertheless made important inventions regarding the oil industry, some of which are still in use nowadays.

In the text we can also find, within paragraphs in italic, very concise biographies of the named personalities, which help ease the reading and complete the exposed ideas.

The book is well written, but reading feels a bit heavy, because of the vast number of names, dates, and events it refers to; this surely makes the essays very valuable to anyone studying the subject; yet a reader who has never heard about most of them would find them difficult to remember and to take in account, therefore he might feel like missing part of the content.

Moreover, to those who are unacquainted with the geography and history of Azerbaijan (although very little is needed), the reading may require some efforts, especially in the beginning of the book. Attached to the book there are two little maps of the Caucasian region, pretty useless as they are written in Russian characters.

Despite these difficulties, however, I think this book was a good opportunity, for me (as maybe for any European reader), to enlarge my views, as well as for finding out a number of things about petroleum, Azerbaijan and Russia. The various essays treat, indeed, every event, work, or outstanding personality in depth, showing that grand things (connected with our history as petroleum is) took place in Azerbaijan.

In conclusion, given enough interest and will to learn, Concise History of Azerbaijani Oil is surely an interesting book.