In November-March 1892, negotiations were held in Rostov-on-Don, in which 7 major companies producing kerosene participated: “Nobel Brothers”, “S.M. Shibaev and KO”, as well as members of the Baku Standard Al. Mantashiants, G. Lianosian, Budaghian, and… Tagiyev.
In total, these firms annually produced over 700 thousand tons of kerosene, of which about 272 thousand tons were produced by “Nobel Brothers.”
The goal of the negotiations was the creation of the Union of Baku Kerosene Plants, the actual owner of which would be the Nobel Brothers. Realizing that the monopoly of the export of kerosene would go to the Nobels and the Rothschilds, Al. Mantashiants refused to join this alliance.
Moreover, together with other Armenian manufacturers, he created an independent association. Its members on November 27, 1893, concluded their own “Agreement of the second group of the Union of Baku kerosene manufacturers”.
This was a serious blow to the monopolistic aspirations of the Nobels and Rothschilds. Thus, in February 1894, a new cooperation agreement was signed between the first and second groups, with the condition that each group would have considerable autonomy.
At the same time, an agreement was signed between the Armenian group of Al. Mantashiants and the Union of Baku Kerosene Plants, according to which foreign markets would be shared between Russian exporters.
That is, it is obvious that thanks to Al. Mantashiants, Armenian manufacturers received the opportunity to enter the world market without difficulty. Only after this, on March 2, 1895, E. Nobel and a representative of “Standard Oil” Libby concluded a preliminary agreement on the division of the world oil market. According to this agreement, the United States would receive 75% of the supply of petroleum products and Russia the rest.
One more important circumstance cannot be overlooked. Energy resources, specifically oil and oil products, haven’t yet become levers of influence in international politics since agreements were concluded not between countries but between companies. And in this sphere, Armenian oil owners played a huge role.
The deafening appearance of Al. Mantashiants in the oil industry was due to several main factors.
First, being the chairman of the board of the largest financial institution in the Caucasus, the Tiflis Commercial Bank, he managed considerable financial resources, and the oil industry constantly needed new investments.
Secondly, being in constant communication with and having contacts in Europe (in particular, in Manchester and Paris), Al. Mantashiants, in practice, mastered modern business management methods and mechanisms.
The third factor was his purely human virtues manifested in deep patriotism, kindness, warmth, and tolerance towards representatives of other nationalities and even competitors.
The business of Al. Mantashiants demanded a new development, and he took a radical step. Having paid a large amount to his partners – G. Arafelian, G. Tumaian, and A. Tsaturian – he became the owner of the company, leaving only M. Aramiants in the partners. In fact, there was a curious episode characterizing Al. Mantashiants as a person.
M. Aramiants did not want to leave the oil industry and said:
“Do not do this, Alexander. Do not forget that you came to Baku thanks to me.”
Mantashiants pondered for a moment and then replied with his characteristic Tiflis accent:
“Indeed, dear Mikel…”
They agreed as follows: Al. Mantashiants would own 75% of the shares of the future company, while the rest would go to Aramiants. In fact, the latter could not interfere in the business and would not receive profits from foreign transactions.
This allowed M. Aramiants not to delve into the most complicated vicissitudes of the oil business and to live a secure and carefree life. That is why he would later sell his luxurious mansion in Baku, move to Tiflis with 10 million rubles, and become one of the city’s famous benefactors.
Years passed, and, ironically, he would take part in the funeral of his close friend Al. Mantashiants and then pass away in 1922 in the capital of Bolshevik Georgia, deprived of his fortune and elementary living conditions, in utter poverty…
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, Armenians in The Management of The “Congresses of Baku Oil Owners” – 1884, Alexander Mantashiants – The Great Armenian Oil Magnate