From the archive: Britain as an oil centre 2 march, 1950

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Great Britain was rapidly becoming an oil centre, although we had practically no crude oil of our own, declared Colonel S J M Auld, past-president of the Institute of Petroleum, in a lecture in Glasgow to members of the Scottish branch of the Institute.

World oil economy was undergoing great changes, he said. Since 1947 the United Slates had become a net importer of oil. At the same time Europe was less able to purchase oil with dollars. The great discoveries and production of petroleum in the Middle East were meeting that situation. Within two or three years 80 per cent of Europe’s increasing oil consumption would come from the Middle East. In the UK plans were well advanced for increasing the country’s refining capacity to five times that of immediately pre-war. In the meantime, the world was still short of oil. That was why our existing so-called sterling oil was worth dollars, and why we should do without pleasure petrol until the oil sellers’ market was over.

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