King's College London

Research portal

Britain, France, and Mesopotamian Oil, 1916–1920

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-45
Number of pages20
Issue number1
Published11 Mar 2015

King's Authors


This analysis centres on British and French policies concerning Mesopotamian oil between 1916 and 1920. Both Powers already had some degree of interest in oil matters before the war, but these concerns did not leave a particularly strong imprint on the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916. During the First World War, both Britain and France became aware of their lack of oil and identified Mesopotamian oil as a key war aim. Both Powers developed close relations with Royal Dutch-Shell to further their oil policies. After the war, the struggle for oil proved inseparable from the territorial settlement in the Middle East and relations with oil companies. All actors did not initially recognise this fact, and it was only during 1919–1920 that an increasing awareness developed that oil and territorial issues were inseparable. Combined with changes in political leadership, it made possible a “silent compromise” at San Remo in April 1920.

View graph of relations

© 2018 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454