Where and when was petroleum discovered first in India?
In 1828 an officer of East India Company was travelling in Assam for his study on natural hi...
In 1828 an officer of East India Company was travelling in Assam for his study on natural history. At one place named Borbil in Assam, he came across some puddles of petroleum, but did not pay much attention to it, as his interest was confined to natural history only. Actually, petroleum was not discovered anywhere in the world yet. So, the officer did not even realise the importance of his revolutionary discovery. Many years later, in 1859, petroleum was discovered in America. The British Indian government then recollected the officer’s years old observation about black, muddy fluid he found in Borbil area, from his writings. A team of British researchers soon started exploration in areas around Borbil, prospecting for petroleum. At last, in 1889 they found underground resources of petroleum. Assam Oil Company was formed thereafter. The company drilled India’s first oil well on October 19, 1889. The well, labelled as ‘No.1’ was 200 metres (656 feet) in depth. However, the place where this oil well was situated was yet to be named. The discovery of petroleum deposit in India was, indeed, great news for the entire country. To convey the news to all, Assam Oil Company published advertisements in newspapers and periodicals. (See picture below.) In some advertisements an Assamese baby elephant’s picture was also printed. The baby elephant was shown kneeling with front legs folded and holding a pointed iron bar in its trunk to dig an oil well in the ground. The advertisement carried the caption: ‘Dig Boy, Dig!’ As if cheering the baby elephant to dig heartily, this caption became very popular --so much so that the place where the oil well ‘No.1’ was
drilled came to be known as Digboi! In 1901 the oil refinery at Digboi commenced oil refining. FYI: World’s oldest refinery is Assam’s Digboi refinery!