EGEE 120
Oil: International Evolution




This lesson will discuss the beginnings of the oil industry in Pennsylvania in the 1850s, the driving force for the early oil production, the key players, and the challenges, booms, and busts. The emergence, role, and importance of Rockefeller and Standard Oil in the early development of the oil industry and corporate structure in America will also be discussed. This lesson will also introduce the emergence of competitive oil industries in Russia and the Dutch East Indies in the 1860s.

Major Lesson Themes

  • Oil drilling discovery and cheap oil production in the 1850s: the driving force, technological innovations and key players
  • Pennsylvania as the dominant oil producing region, 1860-1890
  • Boom phenomenon with profits; backside of bust with depression
  • Early oil highly competitive industry with many players
  • Standard Oil’s emergence as the dominant firm and first modern corporation through the “Great Game” and “Our Plan”
  • The erosion of Standard Oil’s dominance by international competition from Russia and later in the Dutch East Indies
  • Marcus Samuel, Shell merchant and early key strategic player in international oil competition

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • identify the need that led to the discovery of oil drilling and the large scale production of oil;
  • outline the historical discovery and development of oil in the Oil Regions of Pennsylvania;
  • explain the causes of the booms and busts in the Oil Regions of Pennsylvania;
  • illustrate how Standard Oil evolved as a company and a trust;
  • explain Rockefeller's "Great Game," "Our Plan," and "good sweating;"
  • provide a historical account of the rise of Russian oil, and the evolution of Shell and Royal Dutch companies;
  • discuss the important roles of Marcus Samuel in the early oil development in Russia and the Far East.

What is due for Lesson 1?

This lesson will take us one week to complete. Please refer to the Course Syllabus for specific time frames and due dates. Specific directions for the assignment below can be found within this lesson.

Lesson 1 Checklist
Activity Location Submitting Your Work
Read The Prize: Chapters 1, 2, & 3 (select sections) No Submission
Read Online Lesson 1: The Rise of American Oil and the Competitive International Industry No Submission
Complete Lesson 1 Participation Activity Canvas
Take Lesson 1 Quiz Canvas


Each week an announcement is sent out in which you will have the opportunity to contribute questions about the topics you are learning about in this course. You are encouraged to engage in these discussions. The more we talk about these ideas and share our thoughts, the more we can learn from each other.