The Branobel History

View the source material and explore the story of the Nobel brothers’ innovative oil company in Baku.

Research

Many scholars have done research on the Branobel company. Some of them had have access to the company’s archives in Baku. Travellers and writers have also contributed to our knowledge about the company and about the Nobel brothers themselves. 
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Archives

Documents about the Branobel company are found in archives in various countries. The main part is preserved in Baku. Other parts are are found in Georgia, Russia, Sweden and elsewhere. Here we bring those archives together in digital format. Read more 

           

Books, Films & Exhibitions

Visit exhibitions and films of the oil industry’s early years on site in Baku and Batumi. A travelling exhibition The Nobels and Baku Oil is currently on the road and has already been on display in several world cities.
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  • 1837
    • Immanuel Nobel emigrates from Sweden to reach St Petersburg, Russia, with his family 1842.

      Immanuel Nobel emigrates from Sweden to reach St Petersburg, Russia, with his family 1842.

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  • 1859
    • Immanuel Nobel returns to Sweden and the creditors of his insolvent workshop in St Petersburg plead to his son Ludvig to continue the operations.

      Immanuel Nobel returns to Sweden and the creditors of his insolvent workshop in St Petersburg plead to his son Ludvig to continue the operations.

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  • 1862
    • The Ludvig Nobel Engineering Works Company is formed in St Petersburg.

      The Ludvig Nobel Engineering Works Company is formed in St Petersburg.

  • 1864
    • Ludvig Nobel in a letter to his brother, Robert: "Petroleum has a bright future!"

      Ludvig Nobel in a letter to his brother, Robert: "Petroleum has a bright future!"

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    • Robert Nobel starts the Lamp and lamp oil warehouse, Aurora, in Finland.

      Robert Nobel starts the Lamp and lamp oil warehouse, Aurora, in Finland.

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  • 1870
    • Ludvig Nobel is awarded the privilege to use the imperial Russian herald, the double eagle..

      Ludvig Nobel is awarded the privilege to use the imperial Russian herald, the double eagle..

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  • 1872
    • Ludvig Nobel and Peter Bilderling build a factory for weapons production in Izhevsk in the Urals.

      Ludvig Nobel and Peter Bilderling build a factory for weapons production in Izhevsk in the Urals.

  • 1873
    • Robert Nobel looks for walnut wood for Ludvig's rifles in the forests of the Caucasus.

      Robert Nobel looks for walnut wood for Ludvig's rifles in the forests of the Caucasus.

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    • The monopoly-contract system for renting oil deposits is abolished in favour of public auction of contracts in the Caucasus.

      The monopoly-contract system for renting oil deposits is abolished in favour of public auction of contracts in the Caucasus.

  • 1874
    • Robert Nobel buys a refinery and a plot of land in Baku.

      Robert Nobel buys a refinery and a plot of land in Baku.

  • 1875
    • Robert Nobel begins producing paraffin in Baku.

      Robert Nobel begins producing paraffin in Baku.

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    • Rockefeller's Standard Oil gets competition from Nobel

      Rockefeller's Standard Oil gets competition from Nobel

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  • 1876
    • Ludvig Nobel sends his works manager, Alexander Bary, to the USA to study American oil management.

      Ludvig Nobel sends his works manager, Alexander Bary, to the USA to study American oil management.

    • Ludvig Nobel and his son, Emanuel, visit Robert in Baku.

      Ludvig Nobel and his son, Emanuel, visit Robert in Baku.

    • Knowledge of oil management is obtained from the USA

      Knowledge of oil management is obtained from the USA

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  • 1877
    • The first pipes for the pipeline in Baku are ordered from Glasgow.

      The first pipes for the pipeline in Baku are ordered from Glasgow.

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    • Ludvig Nobel lectures on oil extraction in Baku at the Imperial Russian Technical Society.

      Ludvig Nobel lectures on oil extraction in Baku at the Imperial Russian Technical Society.

    • The plan for the distribution of paraffin from Baku to the Russian market is completed.

      The plan for the distribution of paraffin from Baku to the Russian market is completed.

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  • 1878
    • The world's first tanker, Zoroaster, built in Sweden, is commissioned.

      The world's first tanker, Zoroaster, built in Sweden, is commissioned.

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  • 1879
    • The limited company, Branobel, is formed by Ludvig, Robert and Alfred Nobel, Peter Bilderling and others. The share capital is 3 million roubles.

      The limited company, Branobel, is formed by Ludvig, Robert and Alfred Nobel, Peter Bilderling and others. The share capital is 3 million roubles.

    • The Nobels' employee, Engineer Alfred Törnqvist, is sent to the USA to study the American oil industry.

      The Nobels' employee, Engineer Alfred Törnqvist, is sent to the USA to study the American oil industry.

    • Wilhelm Hagelin comes to Baku as a stowaway

      Wilhelm Hagelin comes to Baku as a stowaway

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  • 1880
    • Robert Nobel leaves Baku and Alfred Törnqvist becomes manager of Branobel.

      Robert Nobel leaves Baku and Alfred Törnqvist becomes manager of Branobel.

  • 1881
    • Ludvig's son, Emanuel Nobel, becomes responsible for Branobel's economic matters.

      Ludvig's son, Emanuel Nobel, becomes responsible for Branobel's economic matters.

    • Tsar Alexander II is murdered in a bomb attack. Ludvig Nobel's import of Alfred's dynamite is stopped.

      Tsar Alexander II is murdered in a bomb attack. Ludvig Nobel's import of Alfred's dynamite is stopped.

    • The Branobel tanker, Nordenskiöld, is ravaged by fire during loading in Baku.

      The Branobel tanker, Nordenskiöld, is ravaged by fire during loading in Baku.

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  • 1882
    • Continuous operation is introduced in the distillery with a technology patented by Ludvig Nobel.

      Continuous operation is introduced in the distillery with a technology patented by Ludvig Nobel.

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    • Six tankers are delivered to Branobel.

      Six tankers are delivered to Branobel.

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  • 1883
    • American oil products are driven out of competition in the Russian market.

      American oil products are driven out of competition in the Russian market.

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  • 1884
    • Villa Petrolea is inaugurated. Ludvig and Carl Nobel visit Baku.

      Villa Petrolea is inaugurated. Ludvig and Carl Nobel visit Baku.

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  • 1885
    • A tanker, Branobel’s Sviet, arrives in London with paraffin in bulk for the first time.

      A tanker, Branobel’s Sviet, arrives in London with paraffin in bulk for the first time.

    • The geologists break new ground

      The geologists break new ground

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  • 1886
    • Financial crisis at Branobel.

      Financial crisis at Branobel.

    • A railway tunnel is blasted through the Surami Pass in Georgia using Alfred Nobel's dynamite.

      A railway tunnel is blasted through the Surami Pass in Georgia using Alfred Nobel's dynamite.

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  • 1887
    • Alfred Nobel resigns from Branobel's management.

      Alfred Nobel resigns from Branobel's management.

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  • 1888
    • Tsar Alexander III visits Baku. Emanuel Nobel receives the Imperial Medal and is invited to become a Russian citizen.

      Tsar Alexander III visits Baku. Emanuel Nobel receives the Imperial Medal and is invited to become a Russian citizen.

    • Ludvig Nobel dies in France. His son, Emanuel, is given responsibility for Branobel and his other son, Carl, responsibility for the Engineering Works.

      Ludvig Nobel dies in France. His son, Emanuel, is given responsibility for Branobel and his other son, Carl, responsibility for the Engineering Works.

  • 1890
    • Cholera epidemic in Baku. Branobel takes the initiative in setting up a cholera hospital.

      Cholera epidemic in Baku. Branobel takes the initiative in setting up a cholera hospital.

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    • The oil companies in Baku get involved in municipal affairs.

      The oil companies in Baku get involved in municipal affairs.

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  • 1892
    • Baku's seven biggest oil companies make an unsuccessful attempt to form a syndicate.

      Baku's seven biggest oil companies make an unsuccessful attempt to form a syndicate.

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  • 1893
    • Branobel makes a record profit. Its capital is now 20 million roubles.

      Branobel makes a record profit. Its capital is now 20 million roubles.

    • Carl Nobel dies in Zürich and his brother, Emanuel, becomes the sole head of all the Nobel companies.

      Carl Nobel dies in Zürich and his brother, Emanuel, becomes the sole head of all the Nobel companies.

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  • 1896
    • The railway between Baku and Batumi is destroyed by flooding.

      The railway between Baku and Batumi is destroyed by flooding.

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    • Robert Nobel dies on 7 August and Alfred Nobel on 10 December.

      Robert Nobel dies on 7 August and Alfred Nobel on 10 December.

    • Tsar Nicholas's coronation party is surrounded by drama.

      Tsar Nicholas's coronation party is surrounded by drama.

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  • 1898
    • Emanuel Nobel buys Alfred's shares in Branobel, corresponding to 12% of the Nobel Foundation's basic capital.

      Emanuel Nobel buys Alfred's shares in Branobel, corresponding to 12% of the Nobel Foundation's basic capital.

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    • Mediation over Alfred Nobel's will.

      Mediation over Alfred Nobel's will.

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    • Emanuel acquires a licence from Diesel...

      Emanuel acquires a licence from Diesel...

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  • 1899
    • The Evangelical-Protestant church is established in Baku, partly financed by Nobel.

      The Evangelical-Protestant church is established in Baku, partly financed by Nobel.

  • 1900
    • Harvest times for the Nobel brothers' oil adventure

      Harvest times for the Nobel brothers' oil adventure

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  • 1902
    • Harvest time for Branobel. The company produces 10% of the world's oil and orders tankers to a value of SEK 12 billion.

      Harvest time for Branobel. The company produces 10% of the world's oil and orders tankers to a value of SEK 12 billion.

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  • 1903
    • New railway and oil pipeline constructed from Baku to Batumi.

      New railway and oil pipeline constructed from Baku to Batumi.

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    • Branobel's attempts to merge with Standard Oil fail.

      Branobel's attempts to merge with Standard Oil fail.

    • Social unrest in Baku. 36 of Branobel's drilling towers are destroyed.

      Social unrest in Baku. 36 of Branobel's drilling towers are destroyed.

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    • What was life like for a young Swedish woman in Baku at the turn of the last century?

      What was life like for a young Swedish woman in Baku at the turn of the last century?

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  • 1904
    • The first Russian collective agreement is entered into. The Transcaucasian Bolshevik Party is formed in Tbilisi in Georgia.

      The first Russian collective agreement is entered into. The Transcaucasian Bolshevik Party is formed in Tbilisi in Georgia.

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  • 1905
    • Strikes result in "Bloody Sunday" on 22 January in St Petersburg. The first organised strike, also in Baku. Extensive destruction of the oil fields.

      Strikes result in "Bloody Sunday" on 22 January in St Petersburg. The first organised strike, also in Baku. Extensive destruction of the oil fields.

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    • The danger of having a "rainmaker" as a wife

      The danger of having a "rainmaker" as a wife

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    • Strikes force the Nobels' office and works in St Petersburg to close.

      Strikes force the Nobels' office and works in St Petersburg to close.

  • 1906
    • Calmer politically than the foregoing year, but it will take Branobel 9 years to pick up its former production volume again.

      Calmer politically than the foregoing year, but it will take Branobel 9 years to pick up its former production volume again.

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    • The Russian oil company, Steaua Romana, forms a union with Branobel, the Rothschilds and Deutsche Bank.

      The Russian oil company, Steaua Romana, forms a union with Branobel, the Rothschilds and Deutsche Bank.

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  • 1907
    • 1907 was a bloodstained and tragic year for the Swedish colony in Baku.

      1907 was a bloodstained and tragic year for the Swedish colony in Baku.

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  • 1909
    • Branobel celebrates it's 30th anniversary – but the Baku oil is running out

      Branobel celebrates it's 30th anniversary – but the Baku oil is running out

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  • 1911
    • Standard Oil is split up into 34 companies after the USA's Supreme Court has decided that the company constitutes an illegal cartel.

      Standard Oil is split up into 34 companies after the USA's Supreme Court has decided that the company constitutes an illegal cartel.

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  • 1912
    • Ludvig Nobel's Engineering Works in St Petersburg celebrate their fiftieth anniversary.

      Ludvig Nobel's Engineering Works in St Petersburg celebrate their fiftieth anniversary.

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  • 1914
    • A great deal at stake over the sale of Branobel

      A great deal at stake over the sale of Branobel

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    • The First World War breaks out on 28 July.

      The First World War breaks out on 28 July.

  • 1917
    • The Russian Revolution breaks out and the Tsar abdicates on 15 March. By a Coup d’état Lenin seizes power on 7 November.

      The Russian Revolution breaks out and the Tsar abdicates on 15 March. By a Coup d’état Lenin seizes power on 7 November.

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  • 1918
    • The Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan declares itself independent on 28 May.

      The Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan declares itself independent on 28 May.

    • The brothers, Gösta and Emil Nobel, are arrested in St Petersburg but succeed in escaping and are united with the entire Nobel family in Stockholm for Christmas.

      The brothers, Gösta and Emil Nobel, are arrested in St Petersburg but succeed in escaping and are united with the entire Nobel family in Stockholm for Christmas.

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    • Emanuel Nobel and his sister in law, Genia, flee Baku via Berlin to Stockholm.

      Emanuel Nobel and his sister in law, Genia, flee Baku via Berlin to Stockholm.

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    • The oil industry in Russia is nationalised in June.

      The oil industry in Russia is nationalised in June.

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  • 1919
    • Branobel's business in Russia is now run from Paris, and later from Stockholm...

      Branobel's business in Russia is now run from Paris, and later from Stockholm...

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  • 1920
    • Standard Oil buys half of the shares in Branobel on 30 July.

      Standard Oil buys half of the shares in Branobel on 30 July.

    • Azerbaijan is occupied by the Red Army and becomes a Soviet Republic on 28 April.

      Azerbaijan is occupied by the Red Army and becomes a Soviet Republic on 28 April.

  • 1922
    • International oil companies get together to boycott all business with the Bolsheviks, but they fail.

      International oil companies get together to boycott all business with the Bolsheviks, but they fail.

  • 1932
  • 1936
    • The long liquidation of Branobel begins.

      The long liquidation of Branobel begins.

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  • 1970
    • Branobel is liquidated 90 years after being founded and 50 years after being nationalised.

      Branobel is liquidated 90 years after being founded and 50 years after being nationalised.

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  • 1999
    • The 100 years anniversary of the Protestant-Evangelical Church, die Kirsche, in central Baku, partially financed by the Nobel family.

      The 100 years anniversary of the Protestant-Evangelical Church, die Kirsche, in central Baku, partially financed by the Nobel family.

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  • 2004
    • Baku Nobel Heritage Fund is set up to restore Villa Petrolea in Baku

      Baku Nobel Heritage Fund is set up to restore Villa Petrolea in Baku

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  • 2007
    • Nobel Brothers’ Batumi Technological Museum

      Nobel Brothers’ Batumi Technological Museum

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  • 2008
  • 2010
    • The first international cooperation agreement

      The first international cooperation agreement

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  • 2011
    • Preliminary Cooperation Agreements for the Branobel History Project...

      Preliminary Cooperation Agreements for the Branobel History Project...

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    • Grant from Nobel International Fraternity

      Grant from Nobel International Fraternity

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    • The Nobel Family Society becomes a supporting partner in the Branobel History Project.

      The Nobel Family Society becomes a supporting partner in the Branobel History Project.

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