Wietze: Hunaeus Bore - first successful oil strike in the world
The world’s first successful oil drilling did not take place in Texas or Dubai, but in Wietze in the Lueneburg Heath.
The search for the black gold in Wietze goes back almost 300 years and begins in 1652 with the excavation of oil-rich sand from so-called “Theerkuhlen” (“Tar Hollows”). After flushing out the oil, the farmers sold this “Devil’s lard” as lubricant.
About 200 years later Wietze makes history with its successful oil bore. In 1858, originally searching for underground lignite, Professor Georg Konrad Hunaeus “only” found oil. Today, the Hunaeus Bore is considered as one of the very first successful oil drillings worldwide and was reconstructed at the authentic location near the centre of Wietze in an industrial park.
The real oil-rush in Wietze finally begins a few years later in 1899, when Friedrich Hasenbein struck free-flowing oil while prospecting for the black gold. Many companies swarm to the place in order to take part in the search of the so-called “Wietze tar”.
The oil boom changed Wietze within a few years as its whole infrastructure became focused on oil production. An oil port and a railway line from Schwarmstedt to Celle were constructed without further ado along with a refinery. And as there were up to 52 local drilling companies competing with each other, more and more housing had to be created for their employees.
The oil reserves in Wietze were so substantial that between 1908 and 1910 about 80% of Germany’s domestic demand was met by oil from Wietze. The oil production in town lasted some 100 years, until the oilfield Wietze was finally closed down in 1963.
Old photos in the Oil Museum show some of 200 plus drilling towers, creating the impression that one could actually be in Texas.
Have a look at this part of German history and visit the
German Oil Museum Wietze as well as the Hunaeus Bore.