chapter  41
3 Pages

Middle East and North African Oil

Oil production began in Iran (Persia) in 1912; in Iraq in the 1920s; in Saudi Arabia in 1939; in Kuwait in 1945. By the mid-1950s the Middle East was supplying three-quarters of Europe’s needs. The Arab countries of North Africa then began to produce oil. By 1960 the Middle East and North African oil-exporting states – all of them Arab, except Iran – were producing 25% of world output; by 1970 they produced 40% of it. Their oil was plentiful, easily accessible (even in the offshore fields, which lie under relatively shallow water) and thus cheap to extract. Much of it came from desert areas, and it enriched formerly poor countries such as Saudi Arabia and Libya.