Baku Oil and Gas Field

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Baku Oil and Gas Field


a major region of extraction and reserves of crude oil and gas in the Azerbaijan SSR. The oil deposits of the region are located within the boundaries of the South Caspian petroleum and gas basin, on the territory of the Apsheron Peninsula and the adjacent Caspian Sea bottom. The known oil deposits were formed in layers, pressed into complex folds (brachyanticlines), often complicated by diapirs and sometimes by mud volcanoes. Most oil layers (sands, sandstones) are located within the boundaries of the productive strata of the Pliocene age, and to a lesser degree, among the older formations. The oil beds extend to 4,500 m in depth. Since the beginning of extraction, the deposits of the Baku oil and gas field have yielded more than a billion tons of crude oil.

On the Apsheron Peninsula, oil in small quantities had long been extracted from wells by primitive methods. Rapid production of oil began to be developed only in the last third of the 19th century. In the beginning of the 20th century Apsheron became the leading oil-producing area in the world, with 11.4 million tons in 1901. However, toward the beginning of World War I, production fell to 7.7 million tons (1913).

Before the October Revolution, extraction of oil was carried out by primitive methods (sludge pumps); only the shallow layers were worked. There were only six deposits being worked, all of which had been discovered because of the appearance of surface oil. A significant part of the oil industry was in the hands of foreign capital. After the October Revolution the oil industry was nationalized. A technical reconstruction of the industry was begun, and new oil deposits were discovered. By the beginning of the first five-year plan, the inefficient percussion drill was replaced by a rotary drill; pumping and compression methods acquired a larger role in extracting oil, and some secondary methods of extraction came into use. The oil refineries were rebuilt. In 1926 the prewar level of production was reached. By the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, the Baku oil and gas field produced 70 percent of all oil in the Soviet Union (in 1940 the Azerbaijan SSR produced 22.2 million tons, or 71 percent of the all-Union output). After the war, a great deal of attention was given to study of the Caspian Sea bottom, where the first exploratory workings led to the discovery of large underwater oil deposits (“Oil Rocks,” Darwin Banks, and others). To take advantage of underwater deposits an inclined turbine drill was developed; a specially constructed mounting allowed drilling in water up to 30 m deep. Approximately 200 km of trestles at present connect the oil fields of the Caspian Sea.

The present level of oil production in the Baku oil and gas field exceeds the 1913 level by about 2.8 times, but because of the development of rich oil fields in other regions of the USSR, the proportion produced in the Baku oil and gas field has fallen to 7.5 percent (1967). However, this area remains one of the major petroleum basins of the Soviet Union. According to estimates, there is a possibility of discovering significant supplies of oil both in the underwater area and at great depths in the Baku oil and gas field. In 1968 the drilling depth was 7,000 m.

Incidental to the extraction of oil, gas is extracted. The Karadag gas and petroleum deposit possesses tremendous resources of natural gas (a supply of 16.5 billion cu m). Industrial working of it began in 1957. Several gas pipelines have been built: Karadag-Baku; Karadag-Kirovabad-Akstafa-Tbilisi; and Akstafa-Yerevan. Oil refining is concentrated in Baku. On the oil and gas base in the Azerbaijan SSR various complexes of petrochemical and other types of production have been set up.


Akhmedov, A. M., and B. M. Tsiger. “Neftianaia i gazovaia promyshlennost’ Azerbaidzhana i dal’neishie puti ee razvitiia.” Geologiia nefti i gaza, 1964, no. 9.
Lisichkin, S. M. Ocherki razvitiia neftedobyvaiushchei promyshlennosti SSSR. Moscow, 1958.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.