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Accepted Paper:

Constructing oil refineries in an era of decolonisation: comparing the Mumbai and Aden refineries in the 1950s  
Mattin Biglari (University of Bristol)

Paper short abstract:

This paper offers a comparative account about the construction of oil refineries in two Indian Ocean port cities, Mumbai and Aden, during the early 1950s. It pays attention to the transformation of landscapes and seascapes to highlight localised differences attending the global proliferation of oil.

Paper long abstract:

The 1950s saw a series of new oil refineries built across the world, in line with the exponential increase in global oil consumption during the decade. Usually this story is told through the huge increase in European refining capacity. Less known, however, is the proliferation of oil refineries across the Indian Ocean, which were especially important following the the 1951 nationalisation of the world's largest oil refinery in Abadan in Iran, denying oil companies access to regional markets. Two of these new refineries were in Mumbai (India) and Aden (present-day Yemen), built by Burmah-Shell and BP, respectively. This paper offers a comparative account of the construction of these two refineries to highlight localised differences attending to the global proliferation of oil in this pivotal moment. It pays special attention to landscapes and seascapes, both in the choices of oil companies when selecting sites for new refineries, and in the subsequent environmental transformations attending construction. It will examine these on material and representational levels, making use of corporate documents found at the BP Archive. Finally, it reveals what impact changes in landscapes and seascapes had on local coastal communities and their relationship to surrounding more-than-human environments.

Panel Ene07
The Petroleum Century and the Transformation of Global Landscapes
  Session 1 Thursday 22 August, 2024, -