Black Gold in Holy Land
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Black Gold in Holy Land

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East and West joined hands again yesterday in Haifa, with the official opening of the 1,200-mile-long Mosul oil pipeline which has one of its Western termini in Haifa. On October 14, 1934, oil flowed for the first time through the gigantic pipeline. The test was a success and the “fifty million dollar pipe dream” of Sir John Cadman, chairman of the Iraq Petroleum Company, Ltd., was an assured success. The other Western terminus of the pipe line will be at Tripoli, Syria.

Through this pipeline, which runs from the heart of Iraq to the Mediterranean, 4,000,000 tons of oil will travel annually to Haifa and Tripoli from the wells of Kirkuk, hundreds of miles inland, across desert, river and mountain.


Truly international in all its aspects, this gigantic scientific and engineering feat, already called the “eighth wonder of the world,” will tie the nations of Europe and the United States in an effort to exploit the rich oil fields of Iraq. British, French, Dutch, Italians, Germans and Americans participate in the venture, with the concession divided among them according to an agreed plan worked out after much bickering at San Remo by world statesmen.

The Iraq Petroleum Company is operating under a seventy-year-concession with the governments concerned. The concession is international in its nature and has been the subject of many disputes among the governments of the world.


The concession itself dates back to 1911 when a Turkish company was formed to develop Mesopotamian oil fields. After the World War the concession was taken over by a British group. When, however, American, French, Dutch and Italian oil companies, backed by their governments, protested, Iraq Petroleum Company was formed, and they were included.

A syndicate of American oil companies holds a twenty-three per cent share of the total concession, which is expected to add a tremendous reservoir of oil as the older fields are drained.

Despite much talk of pipe line building, final negotiations were consummated in 1931 when Sir John Cadman signed conventions with the governments of Iraq, Palestine, Transjordania, the Lebanese Republic and Syria. Preceding the negotiations, preliminary survey work had been carried out by American and British engineers.


Early in 1932 the real work of construction began and at the close of the year some 10,000 natives, directed by hundreds of American, French and British engineers were at work. Not only American engineers, but American mechanics and American products played a highly significant role in the building of the giant pipe line. More than 125,000 tons of pipe were laid across the desert at the rate of seventy-five miles a month.


Across the desert that previously had known only camel caravans, American digging machines dug a three-feet-deep trench, sections of pipe twelve feet in diameter and forty feet long were placed in the trench, welded together by husky Texans, covered with tar and then finally with thick brown wrapping paper of the kind commonly used in American department stores. The record number of joints welded in one working day of nine hours is seventy-three, and all-time world record.

But the laying of the line, difficult as it proved to be, was least of the difficulties that confronted the engineers. Food had to be provided for thousands of workers and camps had to be arranged for them. It was necessary to transport millions of gallons for the workers in the desert heat.

Hundreds of thousands of tons of material were transported from all over the world and then rushed to where the work was in progress in huge American motor trucks specially built for the purpose. It was necessary to tunnel through rivers, cut through the loose, shifting sands of the desert, and dig through mountains.

Three years of work are over and the Mosul oil line with termini at Haifa and Tripoli are realities in the industrial and political worlds. But for Palestine and the Near East, completion of the task opens a new and bright chapter in the history of the ancient lands that make up the Near East.


In Haifa a new, large harbor has been built. On the Bay of Acre huge steel storage tanks await the thousands of tons of oil that soon will be poured into them. Tankers from all over the world, and freighters bearing cargoes, will pull up to the Haifa docks, load their cargoes of oil and Palestine products and return with goods from the various countries of the world.

The ancient city of Haifa, which knew war and desolation long before the Crusaders erected a citadel there, is pulsing with a new and rich life. But this time it is the peaceful development of the land, the slow Jewish immigration and the awakening to the modern industrial life which is replacing the ancient langour of a formerly stagnating country.

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