The Iraq Petroleum Company, known prior to 1929 as the Turkish Petroleum Company, is an oil company which, between 1925 and 1961, had a virtual monopoly on all oil exploration and production in Iraq. Today, it is owned by some of the worlds largest oil companies and is headquartered in London. In June 1972, the Baathist government in Iraq nationalised the IPC, the company Iraq Petroleum Company still remains extant, however, on paper and one associated company – the Abu Dhabi Petroleum Company – also continues with its original shareholding intact. The related Iraq Petroleum Group was an association of companies played a major role in the discovery. The first interest was shown by Imperial German banks and companies, already involved in the building of the Berlin-Baghdad railway, followed by British interests. In 1911, in an attempt to bring together competing British and German interests in the region, in 1912, this company became the Turkish Petroleum Company, formed with the purpose of acquiring concessions from the Ottoman Empire to explore for oil in Mesopotamia. The owners were a group of large European companies – Deutsche Bank, the Anglo Saxon Oil Company, the driving force behind its creation was Gulbenkian, and the largest single shareholder was the British government-controlled Anglo-Persian Oil Company, which by 1914 held 50% of the shares. TPC received a promise of a concession from the Ottoman government, Deutsche Bank brought with it a concession granted to the Anatolian Railway Company to explore for minerals and oil along a 40 km -wide strip either side of its proposed railway in Mesopotamia. On 28 June 1914, the Turkish grand vizier confirmed the promise of a concession to TPC, a rising demand for petroleum during the war had demonstrated to the big powers the importance of having their own sources of oil. Since one of the partners of TPC had been German. This was agreed by the San Remo Oil Agreement, much to the annoyance of the Americans who felt excluded from Middle Eastern oil and demanded an open door. After prolonged and sometimes sharp diplomatic exchanges, U. S. oil companies were permitted to buy into the TPC, the concession required the company to select 24 rectangular plots of 8 square miles each for drilling operations. During the 1925/6 season, a geological party, comprising representatives of the shareholding companies together with an American contingent. Two wells were selected for drilling at Pulkanah and one each at Khashm al Ahmar, Kirkuk was included as the sixth location. The well at Baba Gurgur was located by geologist J. M. Muir just north of Kirkuk, drilling started, and in the early hours of 14 October 1927 oil was struck. Many tons of oil were spilled before the well was brought under control. TPC was to be organized as a company, registered in Britain. The company itself was allowed to refine and sell to Iraqs internal market
Kirkuk district: an oil gusher spouting with a stream of oil in foreground.
IPC assistants welding pipes together on the Esdraelon stretch in the 1930s.