Maiella, an oil massif in the Central Apennines ridge of Italy: Exploration, production and innovation in the oil fields of Abruzzo across the nineteenth and twentieth centuries

Francesco Gerali, Lorenzo Lipparini

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapter

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This article aims to present selected episodes of the scientific and entrepreneurial activities realized in the Majella oil district, Abruzzo, central Italy, between the 1830s and the 1940s. Majella had an important role in the early process ofmodernization of the Italian oil industry. As we will see, the application of science and technology in the wellsite, a pioneering integrated production model, unexpected environmental constraints and the longevity of the business made Abruzzo into a benchmark. Between 1864 and 1865, the pattern of the secular and unchanged local manufacturing of bitumen, based on human labour and the manual harvesting of the mineral from natural outcrops, was outdone by two new conditions: the study of subsoil and the utilization of mechanical drilling. These early records of paid oil consultancies and the utilization of steam power were followed by the impressive, but short and illusory, peak in production never recorded before. In the following decades, theMajella districtwas very active and drewthe attention of several international operators, in spite of the declining production of crude - compensated for by the yield of bitumen and shales - and the unstoppable rising of the Emilian Apennine ridge in the provinces of Pavia, Piacenza and Parma. From the early 1900s, foreign companies gradually reduced investment in new exploration inMaiella,where the core productionwas now bitumen and asphalts rather than oil and, by the 1920s, most of the industry was controlled by government authorities and local business. The advent of Fascism in the 1930s saw Maiella become a stronghold of the autarchy's policies; later, the improvised and inefficient national fuel planning of Italy at the start of the SecondWorldWar saw Abruzzo's oil and bitumen supplies become a strategic resource. The Maiella district has the longest production history in Italy and today geoscientists are surveying and interpreting the geology of the area with a new perspective.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGeological Society Special Publication
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherGeological Society of London
Pages275-303
Number of pages29
Volume465
Edition1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 May 2018

Publication series

NameGeological Society Special Publication
Number1
Volume465
ISSN (Print)0305-8719

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Maiella, an oil massif in the Central Apennines ridge of Italy: Exploration, production and innovation in the oil fields of Abruzzo across the nineteenth and twentieth centuries'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this

    Gerali, F., & Lipparini, L. (2018). Maiella, an oil massif in the Central Apennines ridge of Italy: Exploration, production and innovation in the oil fields of Abruzzo across the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In Geological Society Special Publication (1 ed., Vol. 465, pp. 275-303). (Geological Society Special Publication; Vol. 465, No. 1). Geological Society of London. https://doi.org/10.1144/SP465.20