Military Review

German oil at the turn of the war

19
German oil at the turn of the war

Documentary finds, even in topics that seem to have been repeatedly trodden down, are very interesting and overturning unshakable ideas. Here in the RGVA, in the fund of the Reich Ministry of Economics, I managed to find a document, the importance of which for the military-economic stories Nazi Germany is difficult to overestimate. This is a certificate on the oil balance of Germany for 1941-1943, drawn up on October 31, 1942 (Russian State Archive, f. 1458k, op. 3, d. 458, pp. 4-5).


This is, in essence, a full-fledged oil balance, which takes into account all sources of oil and oil products, all consumption, divided into military and civil, as well as all supplies to allies, dependent countries and occupied territories. A complete picture of where the Reich got the oil from and how it was used.

Oil balance of Germany


I have summarized all the figures of this document in a general table in the form of a balance, for ease of review. The data for 1943 are planned, but this circumstance as a whole does not prevent an assessment of the situation. All figures in 1000 tons:


* Norway, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, France, Serbia, Croatia, Greece
** Finland, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Switzerland, Sweden

The figures for 1943 represent an unbalanced balance, so the totals for that year indicate the wishes and the available options. The difference between them was 3350 thousand tons of oil products.

The reference to the import from Romania and Hungary means that these countries covered their oil needs on their own and sold their surplus production to Germany. Italy also had oil and gas production and a dramatic history of struggles to increase production.

The balance sheet for 1943 provided for the use of wood-fired generators, which would release 500 thousand tons of oil products, as well as from the middle of 1943 the flow of 300 thousand tons of oil from the Caucasus. The remaining 2550 tons indicated in the consumption bids would have been cut, as was done in 1942.

German rate on coal and synthetic fuels


В previous articles provided documents with an estimate of Germany's fuel consumption during the war, which were compiled in 1939-1940. Consumption in them was estimated in the range from 6 to 10 million tons. In general, the German experts were not mistaken in these assessments. The actual consumption in Germany, civil and military, in 1941 amounted to 8,7 million tons, and in 1942 - 8 million tons.

At the same time, estimates of the development of synthetic fuel production, which at the beginning of the war amounted to 2,5-3 million tons per year, turned out to be erroneous. In fact, German production of synthetic fuels was twice as large. And already in 1941 it reached 5,6 million tons, accounting for 64,3% of the actual German consumption of petroleum products.

This fuel source increased for almost the entire war, up to May 1944. New synthetic fuel plants were built. As of April 1, 1943, there were facilities under construction for the production of synthetic fuels and oils for 3841 thousand tons per year. And they were to enter service in the second half of 1943 and during 1944 (RGVA, f. 1458k, op. 3, d. 458, l. 2-3). The capacity could exceed 11 million tons, which would cover all of Germany's basic wartime fuel needs.


One of the German fuel projects is the oil shale gasoline plant in Kohtla-Järve, Estonia. The factory existed before the war, but the Germans intended to expand it.

This led to the fact that Germany reduced its dependence on crude oil, in particular - Romanian.

By the way, this certificate indicated that the supply of oil products from Romania is facing difficulties. And that this country, having significant domestic consumption, does not want to reduce it and replace oil fuel with coal. The Germans tried to exchange coal for fuel oil, which was used on the Romanian railways, but they got a long, unpleasant and not very productive saga. The Romanians tenaciously held on to their advantage.

Hence the following conclusion follows. The Germans initially relied on synthetic fuels from coal. The coal resources of the Ruhr, Silesia and, in the long term, Donbass were quite enough for them to cover the imaginable military and economic needs.

Redistribution of consumption of petroleum products


The German oil balance, which is in fact also the oil balance of all the countries controlled by Germany, quite clearly shows that the most important measure of balancing this balance was a sharp decline in consumption in the civilian sector.

The consumption of petroleum products in Germany proper fell from 6,2 million tons in 1938 to 3,9 million tons in 1941, that is, dropped to 62,9% of the pre-war level.

It would be interesting to see the structure of consumption of petroleum products in industry and the household sector and the changes caused by military mobilization measures. It is possible that such documents will be found later.

However, the reduction in domestic civilian consumption of petroleum products was most likely due to a drop in fuel oil consumption at power plants and its replacement with coal, a sharp decrease in the production of gasoline for private needs and kerosene for lighting, as well as a general decrease in road transport and the transfer of goods to rail and water transport. ...

The neutral countries of Europe in 1938 consumed 9,6 million tons of oil. And in 1941 their consumption amounted to only 1,75 million tons, or 17,7% of the pre-war level. In these countries, partly occupied, partly dependent, partly allied, only the most necessary needs for petroleum products remained, which Germany undertook to satisfy. These are fuel oil for ships, gasoline for cars and aircraft, and lubricating oils.


German truck with fuel in occupied Mozyr

Due to this sharp reduction in the consumption of petroleum products in the civilian sector of Germany and in the countries controlled by Germany, it was possible to allocate a quota for the supply of fuel to the German army, fleet и aviation... Essentially, the consumption of petroleum products was significantly redistributed in favor of the army.

Was there a fight for oil?


I mean, it was so vitally important for Germany to seize and use the oil of the Caucasus by all means?

The oil balance of Germany shows - no. There was no vital need to seize the Caucasian oil.

In his the previous article on the Maykop oil seized by the Germans, I concluded that she was not viewed as a source for supplying Germany, at least in the foreseeable future for them. This was a purely analytical conclusion, which turned out to be confirmed by another document.

The certificate on the oil balance of Germany was drawn up on October 21, 1942, that is, even before the end of the battles for the Maikop oil fields. Taking into account the speed of information transfer and the time for preparing the document, the certificate takes into account the state of affairs at best as of September 1942. They had at their disposal the destroyed oil refinery in Krasnodar and the eastern part of the Maikop oil fields. Assuming that from the middle of 1943, 300 thousand tons of oil products from the Caucasus would be received, it was precisely the Maikop oil and the temporary refinery in Krasnodar, which by March 1943, according to the Commander of the Technische Brigade Mineralöl, could produce 600 tons per day or 219 thousand tons per year.

This certificate did not say anything about either Grozny or Baku oil. Most likely, these oil fields were not considered as a potential source of fuel.

Firstly, because they could have been obtained in a badly damaged state (like the Maikop oil fields). There will be nothing to process oil due to the destruction of factories (as well as the Krasnodar refinery). And it will be very difficult to export oil products. Even for the supply of German troops, the export of oil from Baku (in the event of its capture) would have been impossible on a significant scale without the capture of the oil port in Stalingrad and the tanker fleet sailing along the Caspian Sea and the Volga.

Therefore, the Germans, in the situation that developed at the end of 1942, were primarily interested in cutting oil supply lines and isolating the Baku oil-producing region. Perhaps more in its destruction than in its capture and use.

So, the search direction is better to turn to the coal industry and the associated synthetic fuels industry. Since coal was Germany's main fuel resource, this is where one can hope to make interesting finds.
Author:
19 comments
Information
Dear reader, to leave comments on the publication, you must sign in.
  1. knn54
    knn54 April 12 2021 18: 38
    +1
    The plus article. In Germany, Austria there is a lot of brown coal. This is a low-quality (low-calorie) fuel. But it lies at shallow depths. That is, it is easier and cheaper to mine.
    At one time, specialists from South Africa were invited to the USSR (!) - in the Krasnoyarsk Territory, in Altai (and not only) there is a lot of brown coal. But given the huge reserves (at that time) of oil, they decided not to get involved with "synthetics".
  2. antivirus
    antivirus April 12 2021 19: 53
    -1
    the conclusions about the direction of development from WWI were correct and the development of Germany and the entire subordinate Europe was also coordinated. But it was not the crushers in the Kremlin, and in Washington and London, too. crackers crunch differently.

    it is interesting how Bulgaria and Turkey, Portugal and Spain (and the eternal neutrals-Swedes and doormen) were neutral in those conditions
  3. WHAT IS
    WHAT IS April 12 2021 21: 15
    +9
    There was no vital need to seize the Caucasian oil.

    The author is an artist, he sees it that way, but Albert Speer, Minister of Armaments and War Industry of the Third Reich, recalled about this:
    "We invaded Russia for oil. I know there were many other reasons, but I can assure you that Hitler's top priority was to supply us with fuel."

    The Romanians regularly supplied oil, but the possibilities of the Romanian oil industry were limited. What other options could there be? Only the Soviet Union. At that time it was the most powerful oil power on the Eurasian continent.
    So, the search direction is better to turn to the coal industry and the associated synthetic fuel industry.

    In this direction, everything is clear, other methods of industrial production of artificial fuel developed in the Third Reich - for example, from coal tar and even from alcohol. In a normal situation, such production was extremely expensive. In addition, the artificial product had significant limitations - synthetic gasoline completely lost its consumer properties at low temperatures. However, these methods of complete oil independence, as Hitler planned, did not succeed in solving the problem with these methods. South Caucasus and through North Africa - to the Middle East will fail. And in 1942, the Allies will begin air strikes against German artificial liquid fuel plants. By the end of the war, Germany's fuel situation would be catastrophic.
    Remarkable is the case described by the aforementioned Albert Speer, when during his night trip to one of the units of the 10th Army, occupying positions south of the Po River, he saw there "a convoy of 150 trucks, each of which was harnessed by four bulls." This was the only way the cars could move. And it was a complete "oil" failure of the military strategy of the Third Reich.
    1. Saxahorse
      Saxahorse April 13 2021 23: 15
      0
      Quote: WHAT IS
      In a normal situation, such production was extremely expensive.

      For comparison, in the United States, at the beginning of the 2010s, synthetic gasoline pays off even with oil at $ 70 per barrel. In South Africa, the payback threshold is $ 35-55, and the coal reserves in both countries are huge.
  4. Niko
    Niko April 12 2021 22: 56
    +1
    Interesting article. Thanks to the author. I always like it when the author tries to work with documents, plus it turned out rather succinctly but clearly.
  5. ABC-schütze
    ABC-schütze April 13 2021 12: 46
    +3
    The fact is known, but the details are interesting. Against this background, it is worth mentioning, however, that in besieged Leningrad, due to a shortage of auto fuel, several hundred trucks ran on ... hydrogen (Shelisch's military technician system). Already "then" ... It is clear that the designs were "suboptimal", but, as in the case of the above article, the war forced to use all possible options ...
  6. NF68
    NF68 April 13 2021 16: 42
    +1
    Previous articles have provided documents with estimates of German fuel consumption during the war, which were drawn up in 1939-1940. Consumption in them was estimated in the range from 6 to 10 million tons. In general, the German experts were not mistaken in these estimates. The actual consumption in Germany, civil and military, in 1941 amounted to 8,7 million tons, and in 1942 - 8 million tons.

    At the same time, estimates of the development of synthetic fuel production, which at the beginning of the war amounted to 2,5-3 million tons per year, turned out to be erroneous. In fact, German production of synthetic fuels was twice as large. And already in 1941 it reached 5,6 million tons, accounting for 64,3% of the actual German consumption of petroleum products.

    This fuel source increased for almost the entire war, up to May 1944. New synthetic fuel plants were built. As of April 1, 1943, there were facilities under construction for the production of synthetic fuels and oils for 3841 thousand tons per year. And they were to enter service in the second half of 1943 and during 1944 (RGVA, f. 1458k, op. 3, d. 458, l. 2-3). The capacity could exceed 11 million tons, which would cover all of Germany's basic wartime fuel needs.


    In 1941, the Germans received not 5,6 million tons, but only 4,116 million and 10 million tons of oil

    They could not exceed 11 million tons. since even in the first half of 1944, the amount of synthetic liquid fuel produced by 15 German German factories was very far below these 11 million tons:

    The second column indicates the amount of oil received by the Germans in thousand tons, the third indicates the amount of synthetic liquid fuel:

  7. NF68
    NF68 April 13 2021 16: 45
    +1
    Hence the following conclusion follows. The Germans initially relied on synthetic fuels from coal. The coal resources of the Ruhr, Silesia and, in the long term, Donbass were quite enough for them to cover the imaginable military and economic needs.In the meantime, there is no need to worry about it. ”


    A lot of electricity was needed to produce synthetic liquid fuels. The Germans did not have the opportunity to quickly build a sufficient number of power plants in the Donbas.
    1. Saxahorse
      Saxahorse April 13 2021 23: 11
      0
      Quote: NF68
      A lot of electricity was needed to produce synthetic liquid fuels.

      What for?
      1. NF68
        NF68 April 16 2021 16: 55
        0
        Quote: Saxahorse
        Quote: NF68
        A lot of electricity was needed to produce synthetic liquid fuels.

        What for?


        The whole process is based on electricity. At least at the time. Now, it is quite possible that they have come up with something else.
        1. Saxahorse
          Saxahorse April 17 2021 00: 56
          0
          Both the Bergius process and the Fischer-Tropsch synthesis are purely chemical reactions, albeit in the presence of catalysts. Electricity is needed in this case purely for auxiliary purposes in small quantities, and again, it was often generated on site from the available fuel.
          1. NF68
            NF68 April 22 2021 16: 21
            0
            Quote: Saxahorse
            Both the Bergius process and the Fischer-Tropsch synthesis are purely chemical reactions, albeit in the presence of catalysts. Electricity is needed in this case purely for auxiliary purposes in small quantities, and again, it was often generated on site from the available fuel.


            I do not know. I somehow came across an article in which it was emphasized that the Germans needed a lot of electricity to produce liquid synthetic fuel.
  8. NF68
    NF68 April 13 2021 16: 54
    +1
    At the same time, estimates of the development of synthetic fuel production, which at the beginning of the war amounted to 2,5-3 million tons per year, turned out to be erroneous. In fact, German production of synthetic fuels was twice as large. And already in 1941 it reached 5,6 million tons, accounting for 64,3% of the actual German consumption of petroleum products.

    This fuel source increased for almost the entire war, up to May 1944. New synthetic fuel plants were built. As of April 1, 1943, there were facilities under construction for the production of synthetic fuels and oils for 3841 thousand tons per year. And they were to enter service in the second half of 1943 and during 1944 (RGVA, f. 1458k, op. 3, d. 458, l. 2-3). The capacity could exceed 11 million tons, which would cover all of Germany's basic wartime fuel needs.


    The Germans did not have so much synthetics. 3rd column in million tons:



  9. Andrei Nikolaevich
    Andrei Nikolaevich April 14 2021 10: 08
    +1
    Thanks to the author. I read it with great pleasure. The author has done a great job to present all this data.
    I don't want to sound boring, but I have a small question:
    Is it possible to use synthetic fuels at low temperatures? After all, a big war was fought on the territory of our country, but our climate, excuse me, is not African ..
    1. wehr
      April 14 2021 10: 59
      0
      Can.
      Gasoline with the addition of benzene froze.
    2. Sergey Zilinsky
      Sergey Zilinsky April 15 2021 07: 28
      +1
      It seems to have frozen already at -17C, if I remember correctly. I don’t know if this is a bike or not, but once upon a time I read that in the besieged Leningrad, one professor-chemist, having seen the shot down Bf-109, took some fuel and examined it in the laboratory, revealing this fact and reporting it where it should be. It remained to wait for the frost harder.
      1. Andrei Nikolaevich
        Andrei Nikolaevich April 15 2021 07: 37
        0
        Sergei, I also heard about this, somewhere. Therefore, I asked. Yes. The Germans are great. You will not deny them practicality.
        1. NF68
          NF68 April 16 2021 16: 57
          0
          Quote: Andrey Nikolaevich
          Sergei, I also heard about this, somewhere. Therefore, I asked. Yes. The Germans are great. You will not deny them practicality.


          The Germans had no other option to obtain liquid fuel. And again, the quality of this gasoline was not very good. And the octane number of gasoline is a maximum of 97 units. At first, in general, it was not possible to get more than 94.
  10. EXPrompt
    EXPrompt 15 May 2021 01: 34
    0
    An interesting article, ideally, according to documents today, it is hardly possible to estimate at least quarterly at least 1941.
    The very influence of the fuel issue on the successes / failures of the Wehrmacht is interesting.
    Well, with such a tense problem with fuel, fuel crises should have taken place and, accordingly, stoppages of mobile connections at the most inopportune moment.

    And so everything is logical, to squeeze the consumption of civilians for the whole of the war, and to redistribute everything in the Wehrmacht and the Luftwaffe.
    And with the transport shoulder of the oil supply from the same Maykop, it is also clear, even after capturing the oil of the Caucasus, where and how to export it, where and how to transfer it.