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6 The Golden Age of Shale Oil (c.1900-c.1914)
Scotland’s shale oil industry reached its zenith at the turn of the 20th century. Six shale oil companies survived, and there was major investment in new oilworks, mines and worker’s housing. The industry was amongst the first to introduce electrical power and other innovative technologies. The Pumpherston Oil company was most vigorous of the companies, operating a number of crude oil works to feed their refinery at Pumpherston. Despite efforts to establish marketing alliances, the Scottish companies continued in wasteful competition with each other and failed to grasp the opportunities of the international oil market. As overseas production of liquid petroleum increased, the significance of the Scottish industry declined. By 1900 Scottish shale oil represented less than 1% of global oil production, and much of the oil used in Britain was imported from the US, Russia, or Romania.