Harsh Oil – a seminar on the history of petroleum exploration in WA

Efforts and feats of endurance to find petroleum in Western Australia in early 20th century

Date: Thursday July 30, 2015
Time: 4.30pm-5.45pm
Location: WEBB lecture theatre G21, Geography and Geology Building, The University of
Western Australia.
RSVP: Francesco Gerali (francesco.gerali@uwa.edu.au) by July 27, 2015


In 2014, Western Australian sales of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and crude oil were worth $15.6-billion and $9.6-billion respectively. Alongside iron-ore, these energy commodities are important state exports bringing in tax and corporate revenue as well as providing an array of direct and indirect jobs. While Western Australia first exported LNG in 1989, the energy industry has its origins in an earlier period of history. The first petroleum discoveries were in the early 1860s in the United States, Canada,Poland and Russia. The commercial extraction of oil marked the beginning of a major energy revolution. Australia first experienced this revolution in 1861, purchasing 11.6 per cent of global US oil exports. Since that time, oil imports and consumption increased exponentially in all Australian colonies. The idea of exploring for oil on the Australian continent soon emerged. Western Australia undertook oil exploration in the early 1900s. Those years were marked by the great efforts of scientists, mostly geologists, called to unveil the secrets of the subsoil. These efforts marked the beginning of a new industry, which is flourishing today. Since the late 19th century, petroleum has influenced, shaped and then dominated the idea of energy. Oil is not just a mineral resource, but is better viewed as a paradigm. Oil incorporates a range of values, beliefs and assumptions that mark the interpretation of social endeavors as diverse as science and technology, economics and commerce, business and government.

Join Dr Francesco Gerali, Visiting Research Fellow, History, the University of Western Australia, as he discusses his research on early oil exploration in Western Australian and is joined by a panel to discuss the impact of these developments on the state mining and energy policy.

Francesco Gerali UWA profile