How did oil/petroleum end up being prevalent in the Middle East?


As far as I know, the first oil rigs were in USA, but by the end of the last century the whole petroleum industry shifted to the Middle East. What caused this transformation to suddenly happen?

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It isn’t really the case that all the oil production in the world shifted to the middle east. If you look at a table of oil production by country, the US, Russia, Canada, China and Brazil are all up there with the middle eastern countries.

Petroleum is formed primarily from the remains of ancient ocean organisms. So those areas that now have abundant oil were once ancient shallow seas with abundant life – although it has shifted around due to plate tectonics over millions of years.

Imagine the Earth as a giant puzzle with many pieces. In some parts of the puzzle, there are special rocks called sedimentary rocks. These rocks are like treasure chests because they hold something valuable: oil and gas.

Now, in the Middle East, there are lots of these sedimentary rocks. Millions of years ago, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, there were also many plants and tiny sea creatures living there. When these plants and sea creatures died, they sank to the bottom of the ancient seas and got buried under layers of sand and mud.

As time passed, the layers of sand and mud squeezed the dead plants and sea creatures very tightly. The heat from the Earth’s insides and the pressure from the heavy layers turned them into something special called oil and gas. It’s like when you squeeze a sponge, and water comes out. In this case, instead of water, it turned into oil and gas.

The Middle East is lucky because it has lots of these special rocks and the right conditions to make a lot of oil and gas. When people started exploring and drilling into the ground, they discovered these hidden treasures and it made the Middle East very famous for having so much oil.

First: the whole petroleum industry hasn’t really shifted to the middle east, there are many different sources of oil around the world.

It seems that way because…There happened to be large stores of oil in the middle east discovered by Americans in 1938.,On%20March%203%2C%201938%2C%20an%20American%2Downed%20oil%20well,Middle%20East%2C%20and%20the%20world.

Because of the political and economic situation in the world and in Saudi Arabia (later other middle eastern countries) lended itself to easy exploitation of the resources by a corrupt ruling class creating a region full of the worst economic inequality in the world.,goes%20to%20the%20bottom%2050%25.&text=Extreme%20concentration%20at%20the%20top,earned%20by%20the%20bottom%2050%25.

>the whole petroleum industry shifted to the Middle East

No it didn’t. The US is the 1st production, Russia is 3rd, Canada is 4th, China is 6th, Brazil is 9th. The production of Saudi Arabia, Iraq, UAE and Iran together are equivalent to the production of the US and Russia.

>How did oil/petroleum end up being prevalent in the Middle East?

Oil form when plankton and other marine microorganism die, drop the bottom of the ocean and then transformed over millions of year.

If you look at a map of the past (millions of years in the past) what is today the gulf of Mexico and the gulf of Arabia, but used to be large ocean. The oil that was forming in those ocean is now either in shallow depth (gulf of Arabia and Mexico) or at the surface (US and Middle East).

There is oil in a lot of places, but it’s only when it’s on land or relatively close to the shore that we can exploit is easily. So places that used to be Ocean, but closed into land masses are ideal position for rich oil reserve that are relatively easy to access.

Due to millions of years of geological activity, the middle east found itself sitting on top of a sea of *easily-accessible* light, sweet crude–the easiest and most profitable grade of oil to refine. There are oil deposits all over the world, but having them relatively close to the surface in desert conditions makes for quick, easy drilling and extraction. So that covers part of our story.

But your question is why the *industry* moved into the middle east following the oil boom in the U.S. The answer is simply: Americans took it there. By the 30’s, it was clear to the emirs and other tribal leaders of Arabia that they were sitting on an ocean of wealth, but they had no idea at all how to extract it. So it’s not surprising that they partnered with Americans who had this whole game down cold. Americans sold them the technology, trained their personnel, plugged them in to the global commodities market, planned the logistics, etc. etc. etc. To this day, there are enclaves of Americans and other westerners all over Arabia (see: the green zone in Saudi Arabia) that exist for the sole purpose of keeping the oil flowing.