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Very recently, I came across this statement from Wikipedia:

In 1938, two thirds of German oil supply came from the United States and Latin America.

It has a citation, some book reference that unfortunately I do not have. However, that was in 1938. What I want to know is for 1941 Jun 22. Ah, well, June 21 I guess.

At this time, where was Germany getting its oil? How much oil did Germany have stockpiled? What money or resource did Germany use to purchase oil overseas? How many marine vessels did it have to import oil, including any captured from France? Were any of these vessels able to operate through the British blockade?

Before I found that wikipedia statement, I had just assumed that Germany got all its oil from Romania, the USSR trade, and synthesized from its own coal. Also, that wiki statement is in relative terms. I'm hoping for absolute numbers in metric tons of oil.

  • Wiki page says that "Germany possessed oil stocks totaling only 3.1 months of usage". – Explorer Aug 4 '17 at 7:34
  • @Explorer Yes but it does not state how much oil, in absolute terms (metric tons), that is. – DrZ214 Aug 4 '17 at 7:45
  • Yes, that's why I couldn't post an answer. ;-) – Explorer Aug 4 '17 at 7:58
  • Are we exploring the "Hitler attacked USSR mainly for oil" scenario? Maybe a better perspective of 1941 German oil "crisis" is this: Romania was by far the main source. Germans only laid hands on half of Romanian production and paid a lot for it. If Hitler simply annexed Romania, the "cirsis" would be solved, Soviet import retained and no oil used for massive anti-Soviet offensive. – kubanczyk Aug 4 '17 at 11:21
  • @kubanczyk: But oil wasn't the only resource Nazi Germany was looking for... – DevSolar Aug 4 '17 at 13:56
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Some of this research gets much easier if you can search in German. ;-) All translations are my own.


The German WP article on synthesized coal gives the following numbers on Germany's fuel supply:

Year    Mineral oil (kilotons)   of which synthesized   percentage
1939           8,200                    2,200              27%
1940           7,600                    3,348              44%
1941          10,000                    4,116              41%
1942           9,500                    4,920              52%
1943          11,300                    5,748              51%
1944           6,830                    3,830              56%

This forum thread cites more interesting numbers from this seminal work:

Import in t      Crude Oil      Fuels and Lubricants
1933               546,000         2,157,000
1934               623,000         2,535,000
1935               846,000         2,946,000
1936             1,198,000         3,235,000
1937             1,198,000         3,109,000
1938             1,326,000         3,641,000

(Expertise Tomberg in "Das deutsche Reich...", book 1, page 354

---

Import of mineral oils and "Rückstände" (destilates?), in t
1939              4,694,000, of which   5,000 from the USSR
1940              1,806,000, of which 617,000 from the USSR
1941 (first half)   816,000, of which 248,000 from the USSR

(Friedensburg, Kriegslieferungen in "Das deutsche Reich...", book 1, page 358)

---

Oil production in Germany (area of 1937) in t
1938     552,000
1939     741,000
1940   1,056,000
1941     901,000
1942     743,000
1943     710,000
1944     720,000

(Statistisches Handbuch … in "Das deutsche Reich …", book 5/2, page 438)

---

Fuel production of the Hydrier- und Synthesewerke in t
        aviation        fuel             total
1938      63,600        766,400        830,000
1939     218,800      1,049,600      1,268,400
1940     591,200      1,288,800      1,880,000
1941     970,000      1,494,400      2,464,400
1942   1,365,200      1,584,800      2,950,000
1943   1,867,600      1,924,000      3,791,600
1944     965,700      1,127,500      2,093,200

(Statistisches Handbuch … in "Das deutsche Reich …", book 5/2, page 439)

---

Oil production in Austria, in t
1937    32,900
1938    56,700
1939   144,300

(Schausberger, Die Bedeutung Österreichs in "Das deutsche Reich …", book 1, page 323)

---

Fuel consumption in t
              total      of which Wehrmacht
1940         5,865,000      3,005,000
1941         7,305,000      4,567,000
1942         6,483,000      4,410,000
1943         6,971,000      4,762,000

(Eichholtz, Kriegswirtschaft in "Das deutsche Reich …", book 5/2, page 440)

---

Mineral oil supplies at beginning of the war, in t
                  own production    stores
Gasoline            95,000         451,000
Aviation fuel       41,500         492,000
Diesel fuel         28,000         298,000
Bunker fuel (navy)  51,000       1,129,000
Motor oil            9,950         141,000

(Kaspar, Erdölgewinnung in "Das deutsche Reich …", book 1, page 259)

---

Fuel situation in October 1939 in t
                        fuel oil     diesel    aviation   gasoline
Consumption Economy
in  eptember              25,000    125,000        -      110,000
Consumption Wehrmacht
in September              80,000     33,000     54,000    107,000
Own production
per Month 1939/40         46,000     63,000     63,000    108,000

(Das deutsche Reich …, book 5/1, page 435)

---

Stores in t
                    1940      1941      1942
Aviation fuel     613,000   254,000   333,000
Gasoline          497,000   225,000   180,000
Diesel            280,000   157,000   169,000
Marine diesel     256,000    91,000    69,000
Bunker oil (navy) 521,000   280,000   136,000

("Das deutsche Reich …", book 5/2, page 439-440)

But I think this one is the one you're most interested in:

Mineral oil volume in t
          total      synthetic    import     from occupied territories 
1939    8,200,000    2,200,000   5,165,000   -
1940    7,600,000    3,348,000   2,075,000   -
1941   10,000,000    4,116,000   2,807,000   332,000
1942    9,500,000    4,920,000   2,359,000   370,000
1943   11,300,000    5,748,000   2,766,000   576,000
1944    6,830,000    3,830,000     960,000   360,000

(Eichholtz, Kriegswirtschaft in "Das deutsche Reich …", book 5/2, page 440)

As for shipping, this forum thread quotes a newspaper article from Die Neue Zeitung, 21. September 1948, reading...

The merchant fleet (in 1939) commanded over 4.5 million gross tons of shipping space. Three millions were devoured by the world war unleashed by National Socialism, and another million -- all remaining major vessels -- had to be surrendered to the Allies as partial reparation for ships sunk by Germany as a result of the Potsdam Agreement.

The same thread quotes from "Die Deutsche Handelsflotte 1939-1945":

Since outbreak of the war, 109 merchant ships with 657,722 gross tons returned from overseas as blockade runners. An additional 18 ships with 62,417 gross tons were transferred from western Spain to France after the end of the Battle of France.

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    Thanks these are some pretty useful numbers. 2 Major questions tho. What exactly is "mineral oil"? If that's just the same thing as crude oil, well, I've never heard it called that before. The merchant fleet gross tonnage is not enough info. We need to know how much of that tonnage was in tankers that could carry crude oil. P.S. Why would West Spain transfer anything to France? – DrZ214 Aug 4 '17 at 16:56
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    @DrZ214: When petroleum was less important than it is today, it was sometimes called mineral oil to distinguish it from whale oil and vegetable oils. It's not clear if the figures above are for crude oil. The synthetic oil never goes through a crude oil stage; the molecules are built up by chemical processing, rather than having to "crack" heavy oil compounds down to lighter ones. – John Dallman Aug 5 '17 at 19:53
  • @JohnDallman Ah I see, thanks. I think in the really old days, they just separated the lights from the heavies and didn't crack anything. I think they even threw away the really heavy fraction of crude oils (later they found uses for it in asphalts, waxes, lubricants). And until very recently, most sites just flared (burned) off the natural gas instead of trying to use it. It's pretty mind boggling how much that last part alone wasted fuels. – DrZ214 Aug 5 '17 at 21:35
  • @DrZ214: The burning-off of gas is still very commonly done wherever the cost of transport is too high. – DevSolar Aug 6 '17 at 8:09
  • Flaring of gas in the US is limited to isolated stripper wells. Law requires most to be collected. When you see a flare in a refinery , there is an upset that requires venting ( there are small "pilot" lights burning to ignite emergency gas releases. ). – blacksmith37 Aug 6 '17 at 16:52

protected by T.E.D. Aug 4 '17 at 19:32

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