Burmah Oil Company, Railways

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Burmah Oil Company, Railways

History

The 'Burmah Oil Company' was founded as the 'Rangoon Oil Company' in Glasgow in 1886 by John and David Cargill to develop oil fields in the Indian subcontinent with 'Finlay, Fleming & Co' of Rangoon as Managing Agent. Drilling began at Khodaung in 1887 and by the end of 1888 two wells had been drilled. A second field at Twingon was started in 1888. These were known collectively as the 'Magwe Oilfields' and the total production from them was 155 barrels a day from 281 wells by the end of the century. Refineries were built at Syriam and Dunnedaw, across the Pegu River from Rangoon, from April 1893 and completed by 1897 [1].

In the late 1890s, the Company passed into the ownership of Sir Campbell Kirkman Finlay, whose family already possessed vast colonial interests through their trading business 'James Finlay and Co.' [2].

Finlay, Fleming & Co served as Managing Agent for the 'Burmah Oil Company' from 1886 until 1928, when the arrangement was terminated [3].
Shaw, Wallace & Co in 1891 became responsible for marketing 'Burmah Oil' products in India [4]. The arrangement lasted until 1928, when the arrangement was terminated [5].

Irrawaddy Flotilla Company initially shipped crude oil from the 'Magwe Oilfields'.
An agreement was reached in 1904 for the laying of a ten-inch(254mm) pipeline to the 'Syriam Refinery', initially 275 miles(443km) long, opened in 1908. The pipeline mainly followed the route of the Burma Railway Rangoon-Prome line; the pipeline was later extended to 325 miles(523km). By the 1920's half-a-million tons of crude oil were being pumped through the pipeline a year [1].

‘Assam Oil Company’ was aquired from the ‘Assam Railways and Trading Company’(AR&TC) in 1921, which included the 'Digboi Oil Refinery' [6]. (See separate pages for further information)

‘Tinplate Company of India Ltd’ was established in 1922 at Golmuri, Jamshedpur with a capacity of 28,000 tons of tinplate per annum, later rising to over 69,000 tons per annum [7].

Burmah Oil Railways

The records show that the Company were operating metre gauge(MG) locomotives dating from 1921 onwards. These must have linked to the Burma Railway being of the same gauge however the location of the Company MG lines is unknown.

Also the records show significant number of 3ft 0in(915mm)(Unique Rail Gauge) locomotives in use by the CCompany, the earliest dated 1909 and named 'Syriam No.4'. It is assumed therefore that the lines were at 'Syriam Refinery', however the route and use of the Company 3ft lines is unknown.

The records also show two 2ft/610mm narrow gauge(NG) locomotives dated 1935 and 1936 were in use however the route and use of the Company 2ft lines is unknown.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 “Industrial Railways and Locomotives of India and South Asia” compiled by Simon Darvill. Published by ‘The Industrial Railway Society’ 2013. ISBN 978 1 901556 82-7. Available at http://irsshop.co.uk/India. Reference: Entry YA03 page ....
  2. Wikipedia "Burmah Oil"; Retrieved 12 Oct 2017
  3. Google Books "Merchants to Multinationals: British Trading Companies in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries" by Geoffrey Jones. Page 281; Retrieved 15 Oct 2017
  4. Google Books " Merchants to Multinationals: British Trading Companies" by Geoffrey Jones, page 281; Retrieved 12 Oct 2017
  5. Google Books "Merchants to Multinationals: British Trading Companies in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries" by Geoffrey Jones. Page 281; Retrieved 15 Oct 2017
  6. “Industrial Railways and Locomotives of India and South Asia” compiled by Simon Darvill. Published by ‘The Industrial Railway Society’ 2013. ISBN 978 1 901556 82-7. Available at http://irsshop.co.uk/India. Reference: Entry AS90 page ....
  7. “Industrial Railways and Locomotives of India and South Asia” compiled by Simon Darvill. Published by ‘The Industrial Railway Society’ 2013. ISBN 978 1 901556 82-7. Available at http://irsshop.co.uk/India. Reference: Entry JH30 page ....