In Russia Peter the Great initiated an investigative program of Ukhta oil shale in 1697.
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Other notable shale oil companies were the Broxburn Oil Company established in 1878 and the Pumpherston Oil Company established in 1892.
However, the discovery of cheap and abundant petroleum in the same region, starting with the Drake Oil Well at Titusville, Pennsylvania in 1859, put the American oil shale industry out of business by 1860.
In Australia, the first oil shale mine was commenced in 1865 at American Creek, Mount Kembla in New South Wales.
At the same year, the first shale oil was produced by the Pioneer Kerosene Works at American Creek.
Operations during the 19th century focused on the production of kerosene, lamp oil, and paraffin wax; these products helped supply the growing demand for lighting that arose during the Industrial Revolution.
The oil shale industry expanded immediately before World War I because of limited access to conventional petroleum resources and the mass production of automobiles and trucks, which accompanied an increase in gasoline consumption.
In 1919, five survived shale oil companies (Young's Paraffin Light & Mineral Oil Company, Broxburn Oil Company, Pumpherston Shale Oil Company, Oakbank Oil Company, and James Ross & Company Philpstoun Oil Works), were merged into Scottish Oils, a subsidiary of Anglo-Persian Oil Company.
First attempt to produce oil from the western deposits was made in Nevada by local businessman Robert Catlin by acquiring oil-shale properties in the 1890s and erecting the first retorts in 19.
The history of the oil shale industry started in ancient times.