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Oil Tanks in Berlin.
Photo by Byers
Germany's Black Gold
rior to and especially during World War II, Germany's oil was supplied from three sources: indigenous crude production, synthetic manufacture, and importation. At the peak of the Nazi territorial expansion, its total oil income amounted to about 100 million barrels annually, about 8 per cent of which came from crude production, 42 per cent from synthetic manufacture and 50 per cent from imports, chiefly from Roumania.
Intensive exploration for new sources within Germany was carried on throughout the war, and some new fields were discovered in the Hannover area, the Dutch Border Area, and the Heide area northeast of Cuxhaven. None of these were sufficient to prevent a steady decline in indigenous production after 1940. In addition to this shortage of new sources, the older producing fields were over-exploited, and thus depletion was accelerated during the war years. Hence, when occupied by the Allies, Germany's oilfields, though producing more than ever came from the pre-war areas, still showed a considerable decline from the peak war output. There was little physical damage to the fields themselves, and capacity production of 50,000 to 55,000 tons a month was restored fairly quickly.
The division of Germany for occupation purposes gave the British zone all important oil fields and the Russian zone the synthetic plants, leaving the French and U. S. zones with no important production of any kind. Immediately following the end of hostilities, oil from the refineries in the British Zone provided the sole civilian petroleum supply for the British, French and U. S. Zones. This was adequate for the immediate needs of the population, but it soon became evident that very considerable motor transport traffic was necessary, to satisfy the barest subsistence requirements and to prevent disease and unrest. Rail and water transport were at a standstill because of war damage, and automotive equipment had to bridge the gap. By the end of July 1945 approximately 50,000 tons of crude oil were being refined each month, but this was increasingly insufficient, and by the end of August it was estimated that the deficit in 1946 would approach 800,000 tons as a minimum.
On 21 August 1945, the first meeting of the Oil Sub-Committee of the Allied Control Council was held in Berlin. Studies were instituted to determine civilian POL (Petroleum, Oil, Lubricants) requirements, and at the meeting held on 30 October 1945 this was accepted as something over 2,000,000 metric tons for the year 1946, divided as follows:
(All figures are metric tons) Product
USSR British French United States Total Gasoline
180,000 240,000 30,000 165,000 615,000 Diesel
420,000 360,000 33,600 240,000 1,053,600 Kerosene 8,000 36,000 12,000
91,000 Lubricants 60,000 45,000 21,600
36,000 162,000 S. B. P.
5,400 Asphalt 60,000 60,000 18,000
168,000 Fuel Oil
728,000 767,000 133,440 521,000 2,148,840 In accordance with the Potsdam Agreement, the manufacture of synthetic petroleum in Germany will be prohibited. At the same time, it was recognized that until Germany's foreign exchange resources permit the importation of foreign petroleum products, the use of existing synthetic plants will relieve the occupying forces of part of the burden of supply. So the plants in the Soviet Zone were gradually rehabilitated, and are expected to provide for the entire petroleum needs of that zone in 1946.
POL Distribution in Western Zones:
In the western Zone it was also decided to exploit the existing petroleum resources of Germany to the greatest extent possible, and to minimize to the utmost the consumption of POL products. This was accomplished by utilizing the former Reich distributing organizations, and the association which planned the disposition and refining of indigenous crude. These bodies were suitably denazified and permitted to function to a limited extent under strict supervision of Military Government. In this way expert Germany talent was put at a familiar task without any loss of time, and the results were immediate, in that the entire oil industry was producing at capacity, and distributing the products throughout the Western Zones, within four monhs after VE Day. The