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The Largest Oil Refinery In The World

Detailed map of a section of the Karun River, on the Iran-Iraq Border, published by the British Admiralty.

The map extends to Abadan and the complex of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, which includes offices, bungalows, a hospital, docks, and other details.  Opposite the town of Abadan, there is a Seaman's Institute, School, Central Stores and other signs of Britain's presence.

To the west, Sheikh Mustafa's House appears opposite Gatah Island and Muhalla Island.

The inset map shows Karun Run, including the area upriver from Khorramshahr, with another Anglo-Persian Oil Company installation, Dry Dock, Customs House, Quarantine Station and British Consulate.  On the south side of Um Al Rasas Island, another Customs House, Cable House (Old Turkish Police Station), and Mubarrak House are located.


In 1847, Persia acquired Abadan from the Ottoman Empire. From the 17th century onward, the island of Abadan was part of the lands of the Arab Ka'ab (Bani Kaab) tribe. One section of the tribe, Mohaysen, had its headquarters at Mohammara (now Khorramshahr), until the removal of Shaikh Khaz'al Khan in 1924.

On July 16, 1909, after secret negotiation with the British consul, Percy Cox, Sheik Khaz'al agreed to a rental agreement for the island, including Abadan. The Sheik continued to administer the island until 1924.

The Anglo-Persian Oil Company built their first pipeline terminus oil refinery in Abadan, starting in 1909 and completing it in 1912, with oil flowing by August 1912  Refinery throughput numbers rose from 33,000 tons in 1912–1913 to 4,338,000 tons in 1931. By 1938, it was the largest in the world.

The Anglo-Persian Oil Company had been renamed the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company in 1935 (not reflected on the map), and in 1954 it was renamed the British Petroleum Company.

This update of the chart was issued during World War II when the nascent Middle East oil fields took on heightened geopolitical importance. The map was issued after the Anglo-Iraqi War of 1941.

British Admiralty Biography

The British Admiralty has produced nautical charts since 1795 under the auspices of the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (HO). Its main task was to provide the Royal Navy with navigational products and service, but since 1821 it has also sold charts to the public.

In 1795, King George III appointed Alexander Dalrymple, a pedantic geographer, to consolidate, catalogue, and improve the Royal Navy’s charts. He produced the first chart as the Hydrographer to the Admiralty in 1802. Dalrymple, known for his sticky personality, served until his death in 1808, when he was succeeded by Captain Thomas Hurd. The HO has been run by naval officers ever since.

Hurd professionalized the office and increased its efficiency. He was succeeded by the Arctic explorer Captain William Parry in 1823. By 1825, the HO was offering over seven hundred charts and views for sale. Under Parry, the HO also began to participate in exploratory expeditions. The first was a joint French-Spanish-British trip to the South Atlantic, a voyage organized in part by the Royal Society of London.

In 1829, Rear-Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort was appointed Hydrographer Royal. Under his management, the HO introduced the wind force scale named for him, as well as began issuing official tide tables (1833). It was under Beaufort that HMS Beagle completed several surveying missions, including its most famous voyage commanded by Captain FitzRoy with Charles Darwin onboard. When Beaufort retired in 1855, the HO had nearly two thousand charts in its catalog.

Later in the nineteenth century, the HO supported the Challenger expedition, which is credited with helping to found the discipline of oceanography. The HO participated in the International Meridian Conference which decided on the Greenwich Meridian as the Prime Meridian. Regulation and standardization of oceanic and navigational measures continued into the twentieth century, with the HO participating at the first International Hydrographic Organization meeting in 1921.

During World War II, the HO chart making facility moved to Taunton, the first purpose-built building it ever inhabited. In 1953, the first purpose-built survey ship went to sea, the HMS Vidal. Today, there is an entire class of survey vessels that make up the Royal Navy’s Hydrographic Squadron. The HO began to computerize their charts in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In 1968, the compilation staff also came to Taunton, and the HO continues to work from there today.