Public meetings of the Mid-Lothian Oil Co. Ltd
First Annual General Meeting 1883
The Mid-Lothian Oil Company.—The first annual meeting of this company was held Powell's Rooms, George Street, Edinburgh, today, Thomas Barr, chairman of the company, presided. In proposing the adoption the report, which stated that the profits for the year had been £602, he said that the works bad been nine months longer of being in operation than was anticipated, new condensers were required and this had put them to additional expense.
Since the New Year 144 retorts had been partially at work. As good shale had not been obtained, the work had not proceeded as satisfactorily had been expected. Money had been expended on the laying of new railways, in providing siding accommodation, and building houses. The value of the property of the company, exclusive of the land value was £46,500 —Mr Alexander Gibson seconded the motion and report was adopted.— Two practical man having been added to the directorate, and other directors re-elected with the auditors, the meeting terminated.
The Edinburgh Evening News 26th June 1883
Interim Meeting 1884
The directors of the MID-LOTHIAN OIL COMPANY (LIMITED) have issued the following interim report:- The directors having now determined the lines, upon which the company's operations can, in their opinion, be conducted to a profitable issue, think it proper to communicate to the shareholders such information as may enable them to form a correct opinion of the position and prospects of the company.
Since the reconstruction of the Board in July last, the side of the directors has been mainly occupied in inquiring into the company's resources, and ascertaining in what they could best be utilised. The first subjects of considerations were the vital one of shale, both as regards quantity and quality, and the condition and fitness of the works plant. On all these points the directors are glad to be able to report favourably, and they have no hesitation in expressing the opinion that a satisfactory return should not be difficult to obtain with ordinarily good management at the works. This is receiving keen attention.
Shale Works – Mr James M'Creath. M. E., who has been appointed, consulting engineer, reports the mine workings satisfactory. They are now turning out the full daily supply required and the quantity can easily be increased if desired. The average cost for past half-year, after adding a royalty of 6d per ton, is 3s 11-92d per ton of 20 cwts.
Quality – A section of the seam was tested at Broxburn and a larger quantity at Annick Lodge. Other subsequent and independent tests fully confirm this result, showing a moderate yield of oil, but with a very high proportion of solid paraffin, the most valuable of all the products.
Retorting - Attention has been specially directed to this department which has a bad reputation. The Beilby retorts, of which the greater number consists, had been practically condemned as being unworkable at a profit, and their replacement by others at a considerable expenditure was supposed to be inevitable. Before, however, proposing such a drastic remedy, the directors appointed a committee of their number to fully investigate the whole subject, and it having been ascertained that the Beilby retorts were giving entire satisfaction at the works of the Annick Lodge Oil Company, the committee as once put themselves in communication with Mr Baird, to whom they are under great obligations for his courtesy and ready assistance. By arrangement, a quantity of Mid-Lothian shale (about 160 tons) was put through 32 retorts at Annick Lodge (being a week's work) and gave such satisfactory results, that if similar results were obtainable at Straiton, any replacing of retorts, or even any considerable expenditure on alterations, would be unnecessary. A set of retorts at Straiton was therefore adapted to work on the same plan. It is now abundantly clear that upon this system a minimum yield of 27 gallons crude oil against 25 gallons, and of 16 to 20 lbs per ton of sulphate of ammonia as against 8 to 10 lbs, with the full proportion of other lucrative products, may by depended upon, and at a less cost in fuel than in the system followed hitherto. This implies a profit even at the abnormally low market prices now current. A change of retorts is therefore unnecessary, all that is required being to adapt the Beilby retorts at Straiton to work on the system pursued at Annick Lodge. This is now in course of being done. The expenditure involved will not exceed £2000 the sum actually estimated as required being £1200.
Refinery – In this department the completion of new and more perfect cooling apparatus has insured the securing of all the paraffin scale, while the cost of refining has been considerably reduced. The total refined products for the past half year, as shown by the works books, is 64 to 66 per cent, the same as for the previous year, but owing to an irregularity in the returns, not yet trusted to its source, there is a doubt as to the correctness of these figures, which ought for obvious reasons to be higher. A double check on the stock returns has now been instituted with the view of avoiding the repetition of similar errors. About 70 per cent of refined products, including 14 to 15 per cent of paraffin scale, is evidently obtainable from the crude oil, and the works are perfectly efficient for all purposes.
The works' costs compare as follows, viz :-
Crude oil – last year to 31st March 1884, per gallon, 4.4d: to July, August, September, 1884, per gallon, 3.7d.
Refining - Last year to 31st March 1884, per gallon, 1.82d; to July, August, September, 1884, per gallon 1.39d.
Quantity of shale distilled – Last year, 36.971 tons; first six months this year, 32.54 tons. The retorts regret to state that some parcels of scale and other products have been recently sent out of inferior quality, due entirely to the carelessness of employees. Steps have been taken to prevent the recurrence of such mistakes, and there is no reason why this company's products should not continue to take a high rank in the market if only the usual attention is bestowed upon the manufacture. The manufacturing has been hampered from time to time by failure of the water supply, which has prejudicially affected the half-year's returns. This defect, however, is now being remedied and the company's operations are not likely to suffer from it in future.
Financial – The result of the half-year's work to 30th September last is a small profit after paying all charges conecrted with the half year including royalty written off and interest on all loans. As the necessity for a large expenditure of capital upon new retorts, at one time imminent, now no longer exists the present financial arrangements should suffice for current obligations until it is decided in what manner the temporary loans from the bank of £25,000, obtained on the security of the uncalled capital, and the personal obligations of the directors, can best be arranged to the interest of the company.
The Glasgow Herald, 16th December, 1884