News ID: 252
Secret and revealed angles of oil in Iran
On the 28th of May 1901, the first important contract for the exploitation of Iran's oil mines for 60 years was awarded to a British citizen named William Knox.Darcy. Some of the provisions of this concession were changed during the reign of Reza Pahlavi. This happened in 1933 between the two countries and led to a new agreement called the 1933 deal.
Publish Date : 14:39 - 2022 June 25 Reviewing the pages of the Iranian oil history in 1901, William Knox. Darcy, who was an Australian Jew and a British citizen,  with the company and support of Mirza Ali Asghar Khan Amin al-Sultan, the powerful and influential Prime Minister of the Qajar era during his reign Muzaffar al-Din Shah achieved an extraordinary and exclusive privilege of exploring, extracting, transporting, refining, and exporting oil in all of Iran's banned provinces except for the five northern states for sixty years; after obtaining the mentioned points and the necessary preparations to achieve the famous black gold, efforts and growth to carry out the assigned mission after about five years, witnessed the eruption of oil from the construction platform of Masjed Soleiman area and suddenly the value of Darcy Company shares to a considerable extent and even It added unbelievably that this almost coincided with the outbreak of the Constitutional Revolution in Iran.

The foreigners reached oil in Iran at a time when Iran was engaged in a battle between tyrants and constitutionalists and there was no trace of a powerful central government. The short life of the first parliament, as well as the emergence of petty tyranny, as well as the numerous problems of subsequent parliaments, became serious obstacles to pursue the provisions of the Darcy concession.

As regards, the one who declared the existence of oil definitively, unmistakably, and doubtfully in the southwest of Iran, was the archaeologist named Jacques De Morgan, who can be considered the cause and origin of the emergence of the oil movement in Iran. Jacques De Morgan headed a faculty of French scientists and left for Iran in 1891 on a mission from the French Ministry of Culture.

He was not involved in oil activities or had a mission in that field. His only task was to conduct archeological excavations in the city of Shush, the capital of ancient Elam, which contained works of stunning and mysterious antiquities from the civilizations of Chaldea, Assyria, Babylon, Achaemenid, Greek, Parthian, Sassanid to Islamic times and in fact under its soil. The more they explored the earth, the more amazing underground artifacts were found, proving the city’s age, which was 6,000 years old.




William Knox.Darcy ‌

French scientists came to Iran every few months from 1891 to 1897 and from 1897 to 1912 to dig in Shush. Most of the artifacts discovered during this long period were placed in museums around the world, especially the Louvre Museum in Paris, and a very small number of artifacts belonged to the Museum of Ancient Iran. While exploring the antiquities, the delegation noticed the springs and abundant oil routes in Iran.

De Morgan prepared notes from various Iranian mines and published them in the Paris Mining Magazine in 1894, and attracted the attention of many oil workers, merchants and investors, and even brokers such as Monsieur Antoine Ketabchi Khan, a twenty-two-year-old Armenian from Turkey; who had left Turkey and came to Iran, and achieved important jobs in the service of the Iranian government (he was an employee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and also held the position of Director General of Customs and also High Commissioner of Iran at the Paris International Fair), due to his good service to the royal court and the flattery of Atabak Ali Asghar Khan Amin Al-Sultan, he sought to attract investment and to encourage foreign investors to discover oil in Iran.

It can be rightly claimed that Jacques  De Morgan’s article was the beginning of the emergence of Iran's huge oil industry. Wilhelm Leighton, a German Imperial Army officer, researcher, and diplomat at the Foreign Ministry who was in Iran at the time (he served in Iran from 1902 to 1918 - 1281 to 1297 AD), claims that Antoine Ketabchi Khan also had a personal interest in this matter, which was the initial agreement of the government, in front of Darcy deal and encouraged him to sign and conclude a contract. He also writes that:

... Ketabchi Khan sold his rights to Australian millionaire William Knox Darcy, which Darcy and his rights were recognized by the Iranian government on May 28, 1901, and its title deed was signed. Interestingly, Darcy tried hard to get the position of oil commissioner for his friend Ketabchi Khan, and eventually, he became the oil commissioner based in London, meaning the representative of Iran in the oil company, and even the title of "Motman Hozour" by the Shah which means the person trusted by the Shah and was acquired a special place.

"It has long been known that the region between the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf and the heights of western Iran to the Black Sea in Palestine contain oil routes," writes Leighton, a German Foreign Ministry diplomat, in the sixth chapter of his book, "British Company Licenses." What made the role of oil even more prominent at the beginning of the era of superpower confrontation was the outbreak of World War I and the supply of fuel for warships, which doubled the importance and value of oil to British rulers and led to the Darcy concession by the British government, which this was in line with the colonial plan of Great Britain in Iran.

The British were the first European nation to realize the vital role of oil in fueling industries and fleets in the world to come. Ten years after the Darcy concession was issued, when planes flew in the skies with special gasoline fuel, it became clear how effective oil and its derivatives would be on the fate of the world's powerful nations.

Winston Churchill, who was the first Secretary of the Navy during the International War, said: “Take from the company and as a result save seven million and five hundred thousand liras.”

This is more than the amount paid by the UK to buy oil shares and join the company. Therefore, due to the delivery of British oil alone, it has received more than 300% of its budget in a short period of time. It is worth mentioning that Churchill states elsewhere that he estimated the value of the British government share in the oil company in 1923 at 16 million lire.

Given this figure and considering that by 1923 the British government had paid about 6 and a half million liras in taxes and interests, it can be seen that in general by 1923 the British government had earned about 30 million liras and against, not only has it acquired other sources of oil in various countries, but it has also been able to expand its economic and political power in the region and the world through Iranian oil and strengthen its colonial foundations.

Another prominent British figure who has made clear his views on oil is Sir Arnold Wilson, who served as Britain's political representative in Khuzestan for many years before World War I, writes in a letter dated July 28, 1914:

1- Gaining more budget

2- Remaining the company in the hands of England

3- Obtaining political and military assistance.

The same person later paid large sums of money to Sheikh Khazaal and also to others in order to protect the interests, facilities, and oil pipelines, and he personally wrote about this in one of the great and famous magazines of Edinburgh:

... Without paying about five hundred thousand liras, it would have been impossible to maintain peace and security in this part of Iran in the difficult years after the war, and if a country like Iran, with its special geographical location, could not maintain balance in its annual budget it should be noted that the country must either rely on foreign governments or be in chaos and lose its freedom in both cases...

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