At the beginning of the century, the Baku oil field workers presented, as contemporaries put it, “a mixture of tribes and nations”. That “black mineral oil army” consisted of many culturally distinct groups, within which there were also personal differences, as revealed in the workers’ personnel records .
What was the experience of the Branobel Company in managing ethnic relations during the Armenian-Azerbaijani clashes in the Baku oil fields? Human resources policy was non discriminatory in principle. Day-to-day practice was another matter.
Entering the Azerbaijani market in 1879, Branobel quickly occupied a key position in the local oil industry. By all significant measures, it left its adversaries behind. Branobel represented oil production independent of imperial holdings. It included supply to industries, the processing of oil at local factories, and the marketing of oil products. It also distinguished itself by a highly organized work force, high wages and a sophisticated administration.