Iraq Petroleum Company Archive

Scope and Content

The Archive is an important source of record for the history of the Iraqi oil industry up to nationalisation. It is also a source of record for social, topographical and political developments in Iraq during this period. In addition it charts the emergence of the oil industry, and social, topographical and political developments in parts of the Arabian peninsula and Levant.

The archive includes Board minutes, agreements, management files and reports, letter books, Group memoranda, accounts, photographs, maps, plans, Company magazines, and public relations material. The part of the photographic collection which is at BP Archive contains images relating to Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, and Aden.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Iraq Petroleum Company Limited was incorporated in 1911 as the African and Eastern Concessions Limited. It's name was changed to Turkish Petroleum Company Limited in 1912, and to Iraq Petroleum Company Limited in 1929.

By the San Remo Oil Agreement of 1920 the shareholding in the Company was arranged as Anglo-Persian Oil Company Limited (47.5 per cent), Shell (22.5 per cent), Compagnie Franaise des Petroles (25 per cent), C. S. Gulbenkian (5 per cent). A concession was obtained in 1925 and oil was first struck by the Company in 1927.

In 1928 the "Red Line" Agreement was signed after much debate between the groups. It rearranged the shareholding as follows: Anglo-Persian Oil Company Limited (23.75 per cent), Shell (23.75 per cent), Compagnie Francaise des Petroles (23.75 per cent), the Near East Development Corporation (23.75 per cent), and Gulbenkian (5 per cent). The Concession Agreement was revised in 1931. The 1928 Red Line Agreement was superseded by a Revised Group Agreement in 1948. The wholly owned subsidiaries of Basrah Petroleum Company Limited and Mosul Petroleum Company Limited obtained further concessions in 1938 and 1942 respectively. Pipelines to the Mediterranean were completed in the 1930s and 1940s. The Company also acquired significant interests in Middle Eastern concessions outside Iraq.

In 1961 the revolutionary regime of General Kassem promulgated Law 80 which deprived the IPC of over 99.5 per cent of its concessional areas in Iraq, leaving only producing oilfields. In 1971 Law 69 nationalised the remaining interests.

Reference: Iraq Petroleum Company Archive


The Archive is arranged by subject and document type.

Access Information

The Archive is closed for 30 years. Permission is required for access to the papers. Please contact BP Archive staff for further information.

Acquisition Information

This collection was acquired in a series of deposits from 1982 from the Iraq Petroleum Company.

Other Finding Aids

A paper shelf list is available for public use in the searchroom.

Conditions Governing Use

Copying of material is permitted at the discretion of BP Archive.


Further deposits are expected.

Related Material

A further photographic collection relating to the United Arab Emirates is outsourced. For more information please contact BP Archive staff.

The repository also holds the papers of the BP Archive, two other jointly owned subsidiary companies: Kuwait Oil Company Archive, and the Shell-Mex and BP Limited Archive; and the papers of the wholly owned subsidiary the Burmah Oil Company Archive.

The repository holds a significant collection of books relating to the oil industry.