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20.12.2008
There have been 130 years since the startup of the first Russian oil pipeline. In the autumn-winter of 1878 the 8,5 verst oil pipeline with a throughput capacity of 80 thousand pood of oil a day was built on the Apsheron peninsula for the Nobel brothers’ oil company in accordance with the Vladimir Grigorievich Shukhov’s project. The oil pipeline connected the Balakhanskoe oilfield with the Nobels’ refinery located in the so-called Chyornyi gorod in the outskirts of Baku.

In 1878 841150 pood of oil were pumped through the first Russian oil pipeline, in 1879 – 5 million and 583 thousand pood. Taking into consideration the average throughput for 1879 and the maximum value, the oil pipeline was started up in November-December, 1878 (not later than December 20). In order to clarify the more exact date, it is necessary to carry out archival investigations by the November-December, 1878 newspapers in the archives and libraries of Baku, Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Constant fires, the pollution of residential neighborhoods with smoke black and soot in the 70s of XIX century forced the authorities to concentrate oil refining away from the Baku residential neighborhood in Chyornyi gorod. The delivery of oil from oilfields to the refineries of Chyornyi gorod was done in barrels and wineskins on bullock carts. More than 10 thousand carriers were engaged in the deliveries. This kind of delivery was extremely expensive. As far back as in 1863 when visiting Baku D.I. Mendeleyev recommended building a pipeline to pump oil from oilfields to the refinery.

In 1877 the branch of the engineer A.V. Bari’s Construction office, the main subdivision of which was located in Moscow, opened in Baku. The chief engineer of the office was Vladimir Grigorievich Shukhov and he got full freedom in designing and constructing the first Russian field pipeline. For the first time in Russia he was to design the full complex of pipeline facilities and implement the project.

Shukhov actively got down to the organizational works to prepare the pipeline laying. The construction of the pipeline was accompanied by constant counteraction of its opponents – owners of cooperages, offices for oil transportation and carriers themselves. The arson of the construction warehouse in Balakhany, tube crippling, many other obstacles during the construction compelled to resort to such measures as guarding of the line, outbidding of carriers, paying high wages to workers. The difficulties did not subdue V.G. Shukhov, the pipeline was constructed. The 1878 was traced in history as a year when the first field pipeline was constructed in Russia, and the pipeline itself appeared to be a forefather of a gigantic net of main lines being operated nowadays.


The advantage of oil pipeline was quickly appreciated by Nobels’ competitors and Bari office got orders for the construction of new oil pipelines. Already in 1879 V.G. Shukhov constructed the second Balakhany-Chyornyi gorod oil pipeline 12,9 km long, with a diameter of 70 mm, and after that another three ones: Balakhany – Surakhanskyi refinery, Surakhanskyi refinery – Zykhskaya spit and Balakhany – Chyornyi gorod. By 1881 in accordance with V.G. Shukhov’s designs there had been constructed over 130 steel cylindrical reservoirs-oil storages. Before that oil had been stored at the Russian fields in ponds in the open air and in the USA – in rectangular oil storages. By 1883 the total length of oil pipelines in the Baku region had made 96 km with the total throughput capacity of more than 200 thousand pod of oil a day. Pipelines actually excluded all other kinds of oil transportation.

In 1881 V.G. Shukhov published his paper “Pipelines and their use in oil industry”, which for many decades became a main guide for the pipeline designing. In this paper V.G. Shukhov determined the dependence between the flow rate of a fluid and its viscosity, proposed the formula of calculating the headfall depending on the regime of fluid flow, gave the methodology of determining the most favorable diameter of a pipeline, velocity of a fluid, thickness of the pipe walls. The graph-analytic method of positioning the intermediate pumping stations developed by him is being used nowadays as well.
 
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