Mouraevna Coal and Oil Company, 1871

type: Beyond Scotland - overseas

The Glasgow Herald
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Mineral oil works in Russia

Extensive contract for apparatus

It is but a very short period since the process of distilling oil from coal and other bituminous minerals had an air of novelty and an attractiveness, which have already worn, off. Like all other new industries, it excited the cupidity of thousands of persona in the circles of Commerce; the speculative multitude buzzed around it, and it was in consequence overdone. But this was only temporary. The reaction which, set in brought the, trade to a steady and healthy condition; and while the general public may have ceased to take as much interest in it, the trade of manufacturing mineral oils has been quietly but gradually extending, till it has now settled down in almost every corner of Europe.

The production of mineral oils (in many instances from apparently worthless raw materials) is fraught with much interest, both to the chemist sad to the mechanical engineer; and it affords wide scope alike for chemical research and inventive skill. Illuminating and lubricating oils are now manufactured of a much purer quality than was possible a few years ago, and at a considerable saving in the cost of production; and the trade has, in consequence, become highly profitable, and has grown to an extent which but few people unconnected with it have any conception of Linlithgowshire, Lanarkshire, and North Wales, were the chief places for the development of the mineral oil industry in its early days, but now it may be said to have sprung up, not only in every coal-mining district of Great Britain, but likewise in nearly every country of Continental Europe and Western Asia. Italy, Bohemia, Turkey, Spain, and even Palestine, have all given proofs of the wide distribution of oil-yielding minerals, and to a greater or less extent these countries have actually commenced the manufacture of burning oils.

Several years ago it was found that Russia abounded with the raw material necessary for carrying on this manufacture. There are immense quantities of it on the shores of the Caspian Sea, in a sort of pitchy state, somewhat resembling crude petroleum or rock oil. In this region it is found to extend over hundreds of miles; and in the form of shale the raw material is said to be very plentiful in almost all parts of European Russia. Indeed, the quantity of suitable oil- yielding mineral in Russia is most surprising. Some two or three years ago a company was organized to carry on the oil manufacture in Russia, but owing to the malconstruction of the works and the faulty character of the appliances the project entirely failed. A new company has recently been formed, called the Mouraevna Coal and Oil Company, starting with a capital of half a million sterling, and a new manufactory is in progress which promises to be in every way successful.

The new works are being erected in the vicinity of Moscow, and the contract for the same has been secured by a Glasgow firm, Messrs George Bennie & Co., whose reputation in connection with mineral oil engineering is well known. A few months ago the Mouraevna Coal and Oil Company sent some samples of their minerals to Messrs Bennie & Co., in order that their oil-yielding power might be thoroughly tested in the experimental retorts and apparatus which are kept by the firm. The shale turned out to be of excellent quality, yielding from 60 to 120 gallons of oil per ton. One of the seams is almost as rich in oil as the once famous Boghead coal. From an elaborate series of analyses made by Dr Wallace, of this city, we have learned that an average sample of the Moursevua shales yielded nearly 15,000 cubic feet of gas of great illuminating power of 30.15 standard sperm candles, The equivalent of a ton of this coal in pounds of sperm is 1538, that of Lesmahagow gas coal being 1350 pounds. It is very interesting to know that when this Russian mineral distilled experimentally for oil, the latter yields solid paraffin, which has an unusually high melting point, 130' Fahrenheit. Reassured by the excellent results which the shales yielded one being properly treated, the Mouraevna Company have become possessed of mineral fields of very great extent, and have placed an order in the hands of Messrs George Bennie & Co. for the first division of their works. This embraces a large quantity of the requisite retorts, stills, washers, and other machinery appertaining to the manufacture and refining of oil. Although this contract is for the first division only, it is on such a scale of magnitude as to indicate that the Mouraevna Coal and Oil Company contemplate a very large business.

At the request of the company Mr George Bennie went to Moscow in the past autumn and personally arranged the details of the works. Mr Bennie returned from Russia in October last, when an order was immediately put in hands, amounting in the aggregate to upwards of 600 tons of castings and machinery, the whole of which 'is now ready or nearly ready for shipment. Russia has hitherto been a large consumer of British shale oil and Gas coal, and of American petroleum; it is natural to expect, therefore, that if this new industry should take firm root in that country, it will exert an immense influence upon the trade both in Great Britain and the United States.

The Glasgow Herald 9th December 1871