Exploration and exploitation of oil and gas fields in Poland: a historical outline

Piotr Karnkowski


A b s t r a c t. Petroleum industry began in Galicia region, the former part of Poland which was in 1772–1918 a province of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The birth of this industry was connected with petroleum distillation made by two pharmacists: Ignacy Łukasiewicz and Jan Zeh, who persistently were working to get a liquid without both light and heavy factions of hydrocarbons, i.e. a liquid paraffin of oil. This aim was reached in spring of 1853. That time also a kerosene lamp was constructed by Adam Bratkowski under direction of I. Łukasiewicz. The set of these lamps was used in the Lviv municipal hospital during the serious surgical operation on 31 July 1853. This date was accepted as the beginning of the world oil industry. Next year I. Łukasiewicz established the oil mine in the Bóbrka village near Krosno. Oil wells then were frequently the open ones dug out to the depth of 60 m and from them oil was extracted with wooden buckets by usage of gin. When petroleum deliveries were assured I. Łukasiewicz founded in 1856 the first petroleum distillery in Ulaszowice near Jasło, the second one in 1858 in Klęczany, and the third one in Polanka near Krosno in 1861. In 1890s in the Carpathians the new oil deposits were discovered in the Gorlice-Jasło-Sanok region. In 1888 the Bergheim Mac Garvey Company found the new oil fields in Węglówka near Krosno and the Galician Oil Mining Company discovered oil-rich deposits in Potok, Turaszówka, Iwonicz, Stara Wieś, Rudawka Rymanowska and Wańkowa. Discoveries were also along the Carpathians thrust front where exists the zone of deep-seated folds covered by the Miocene deposits. Oil fields are here located at depth of 800–2000 m. In the Borislav vicinity a few very efficient oil fields were documented in 1896. In 1908 the highly productive “Oil City” well with oil production 2500 t/d was drilled. Exploitation in this region of the Carpathians in 1909 was 2×106 t, i.e. 5%of the world oil production and Galicia was the third producer in the world. During 150 years of exploration, in this part of Polish Carpathians, 67 oil and 17 gas fields were discovered. In the Carpathian Foredeep 50 gas fields and 10 oil fields were documented. The biggest success was the Jaksmanice-Przemyśl gas field with 75×109 m3 of resources. In the Polish Lowland in 1946, just after the Second World War, basing on gravimetric and magnetic data, the first drilling was located on the Kłodawa structure and the Zechstein salts at depth of 300 m were found. Later this drill was a base for foundation of Kłodawa salt mine. In 1961 in the Fore-Sudetic Monocline the first oil field Rybaki was discovered in the Zechstein Main Dolomite formation, and three years later, in 1964, the first gas field discovery — Bogdaj-Uciechów was found within the Rotliegend sandstone and the Zechstein Limestone unit. Until now a dozen of oil and gas fields were documented not only in the Permian formations but also in the Devonian and the Carboniferous deposits in the Lublin Petroleum Province and in the Cambrian sandstones in the Gdańsk Petroleum Province. Exploration works, initiated after the Second World War, both in the Carpathians as well as in the Carpathian Foreland and the Polish Lowland give premises of new oil and gas filed discoveries there also in the future.

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