The Burmah Oil Company Archive

Scope and Content

Records include those of Anglo Ecuadorian Oilfields Limited 1919-75, Assam Oil Company Limited 1893-1980, Lobitos Oilfields Limited 1908-1994, and Manchester Oil Refinery Limited 1930s-1970s. Records include General and Board minutes, shareholder information, strategic and marketing planning, research and exploration papers, annual reports, company magazines limited personnel information, photographs and films. There is a substantial photographic collection of life in Burma and India at the beginning of the 20th Century. Films include oil exploration in the 1960s and 1970s and some earlier pioneering material. There are a number of small deposits from employees, and these, together with the photographic collection give an invaluable insight into the life of colonial Britons in India and Burma.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Burmah Oil Company Limited was incorporated in 1886 to develop the Burmese oilfields, with major markets in India. The Company also invested in exploration in Iran and consequently owned 23 per cent of The British Petroleum Company until the mid 1970s. In 1963 the company left Burma and undertook new exploration in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Australasia, the Americas, Canada and the North Sea. Rationalisation in 1974 led to a withdrawal from exploration in 1986 to focus on lubricants (Castrol Limited), fuels and chemicals (including Expandite Limited, Dussek Campbell Limited, Sericol Limited and Foseco Limited.) The company was acquired by BP in 2000.

Castrol Limited was founded in 1899 as CC Wakefield & Company Limited. It sold lubricants to the railway, coal, marine, textile and motor industries. It was renamed Castrol Limited in 1960. The company was bought by The Burmah Oil Company Limited in 1966.

Reference: Deposit information.


The collection is awaiting recataloguing.

Access Information

The Archive is currently closed for cataloguing and is due to open at the end of 2003.

Acquisition Information

This collection was deposited in 2001 following a take-over of Burmah Castrol p.l.c. by BP.

Other Finding Aids

The Archive is currently uncatalogued.

Conditions Governing Use

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


Further deposits are not expected.

Related Material

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

The repository also holds the papers of the BP Archive and three jointly owned subsidiary companies: Kuwait Oil Company Archive, the Iraq Petroleum Company Archive, and the Shell-Mex and BP Limited Archive.

Papers of Castrol Limited are located at Swindon and form part of a Lubricants Archive there. The Archive relates to lubricants marketing, advertising and sponsorship of record-breakers in the fields of aviation, motor and motorcycle racing, water and land-speed achievement. Major subsidiaries in the Archive include Atlas Preservative Company Limited, Henry Pritchard and Company Limited, JB Pillin and Company Limited, WB Dick and Company Limited, Veedol Limited and Duckhams Limited. The Castrol collection illustrates the company's significant contribution to the development of transport from the beginning of the 20th century. For further information please contact Vanna Skelley, Archivist & Market Information Manager, Castrol, Wakefield House, Pipers Way, Swindon, SN3 1RE. Tel: 01793 452585 Fax: 01793 453476 e-mail:


Reference: T. A. B. Corley, A History of The Burmah Oil Company 1886-1924 (London, Heinemann, 1983 ).

Reference: T. A. B. Corley, A History of The Burmah Oil Company 1924-1966 (London, Heinemann, 1988 ).

Reference: Kirsty Seymour-Ure, Castrol, The First 100 Years (London, Bloomsbury, 1998).

Reference: Richard Graves, Achievements - Land Sea and Air: A Century of Conquest (London, Bloomsbury, 1998).