Oil

   From the final decades of the 19th century to the end of World War I, the petroleum needs of the Habsburg Empire were supplied by oil fields that had been opened during the 1850s in Austrian Galicia, today in Poland. Cut-rate imports, largely from the United States, were a further important source. The first systematic exploration for specifically Austrian reserves began in the neighborhood of Vienna in 1913. The development of these and other resources discovered in Upper Austria got underway in 1925 under the aegis of an Austrian subsidiary of the American Standard Oil Company. Serious production began in 1934.
   The Nazis heavily exploited Austria’s oil reserves between 1938 and 1945, and a great deal of the petroleum industry’s capital came from Germany. Treated as German property by the Allies, all but a very small fraction of Austria’s oil fields came under the control of the Soviet Union after World War II. Austria reacquired them only after the State Treaty was signed in 1955. A nationalized administrative body, the Austrian Oil Management Company (Österreichische Mineralverwaltung, ÖMV) directed production, refinement, and marketing.
   Austria pumped 3.66 million barrels of oil in 1955, the highest annual output the country would ever record. In 1956, reserves were estimated to be about 58 million barrels. By the 1990s, production had dropped below one million barrels, and it continues to fall. The ÖMV, however, continues to be one of Austria’s most successful business operations, as it acquires new resources in Eastern Europe, especially Romania, and initiates cooperative ventures in the Middle East.
   See also Foreign Policy; Trade.

Historical dictionary of Austria. . 2014.

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