In 1885, the first steps in the oil industry were made by one of the largest banking firms in Europe, the Paris Rothschild banking house. This company has been providing government loans to the Russian Empire in France.
Thanks to its powerful capital, the Rothschild family acquired numerous oil fields, built processing plants and warehouses in Baku, and became a leader in oil export. And their “Caspian and Black Sea Oil Company” consistently ranked second by its economic indicators.
Now, let us turn to the “Caspian Partnership”, which occupied the fourth place in the oil industry hierarchy, and natives of Karabakh Poghos, Arshak, Hakob, and Abraham Ghukasians. They were deeply devoted to their people. We will talk about Hakob separately since only he had no relation to the oil business, but it was he who fully understood the tragedy of Baku Armenians.
In 1878, Samush Bagirian and Harutyun (Artem) Madatian together with Bruno de Boure founded the “Caspian Partnership” oil and gas trading company.
In the same year, 20-year-old Pohgos Ghukasian arrived from Karabakh after receiving his secondary education. He quickly oriented in the oil business thanks to his innate sharpness. Anticipating the prospects for the oil industry, he first bought the share of Bagirian for 27 thousand rubles. He then bought the share of Madatian and became the companion of de Boure.
Their business was so thriving that in 9 years, it occupied a leading position in the oil industry. In 1886, it was reformed into a joint stock company with a fixed capital of 2 million rubles.
During this time, after graduating from school, the brothers of Poghos Arshak, Hakob, and Abraham arrived in Baku. In 1888, after the death of de Boure, the brothers together with their relative Hovhannes Ter-Markosian became full owners of the “Caspian Partnership.”
In January 1884, a significant event took place. The “Congresses of Baku oil owners” was established, which was the first industrial corporate organization in all of Russia. In 1890, Poghos Ghukasian was elected the chairman of the Congress. In 1896, he “conceded” this position to Arshak, who with great professionalism would lead this organization until the end of 1918.
Poghos Ghukasian together with S. Yakovlev in 1897 founded the “Caspian Pipeline” with a fixed capital of 1 million rubles. His company located on Old-Police Street in Baku was one of the first to start selling various imported machine tools, pipes, metal-rolls, motors, and power stations for the oil industry.
Poghos was later appointed one of the directors of the oil trading company “Kolkhida” in Maykop, Russia. In fact, he was the first Armenian to become an industrialist of all-Russian scale in the late 19th – early 20t centuries.
After the State Council of Russia was formed in 1906, 12 seats were allocated to the industrial and commercial elite of the country. The authority of Poghos Ghukasian and his undeniable contribution were so great that he was elected a member of this supreme body and moved to the capital of Russia.
After Poghos Ghukasian and Alexander Mantashiants founded the “Homelight Oil CO” in 1902 in England, Abraham Ghukasian settled in London as a permanent representative of the firm.
Summarizing what we have said about the period of the formation of the Baku oil industry in 1873-1899, we should note one thing. In 1889, 69 oil companies were registered in Baku, of which 12 (including 9 Armenian and 1 Azerbaijani company) were not engaged in oil extraction. The remaining 58 companies together were producing 3 million tons of oil annually.
34 of those companies belonged to Armenians. They were producing around 1.5 million tons of oil annually.
There were only 3 Azerbaijani oil companies. They were producing 230 thousand tons annually, of which 224 thousand tons were being obtained by entrepreneur Tagiyev alone. No comments are necessary.
An excerpt from the book of Khachatur Dadayan “Armenians of Baku”
Read also: “Armenians and Baku” by Khachatur Dadayan, The Term “Azerbaijani” Did Not Exist Before 1918, Armenians in the Period of the Russian Expansion in Transcaucasia, The Role of Armenians in the Development of the Baku Oil Industry, Armenian Oilmen During the Governmental Lease Program of Oil Fields in Baku – 1872, Baku Oil Industry Development from the Late 19th to the Early 20th Centuries