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tv   1950 Documentary Oil Across Arabia  CSPAN  September 20, 2014 8:00am-8:46am EDT

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world was saudi arabia. in this vast desert without rivers, streams, they were far apart.
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it was built more than 1000 years ago on a caravan from baghdad. since those days, they eked out a meager existence in a lost world. ♪ on the same desert through the summer and winter of 1947, motor caravans appeared. camps were set up, the sorts never seen here before. airplanes on a reconnaissance mission roared overhead. they were carrying arabs and americans, surveying the route for a great pipeline, a pipeline along western europe, the middle east, and the stability of the world. ♪ ♪ oil is scarce in many areas
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today. the cause is they lack of economical distribution. the logical source of oil for u.s. is the middle east. here are more crude and readily accessible reserves than in all of north and south america together. the region is rapidly being developed. in eastern saudi arabia, the arabian american oil company discovered five major fields during the decade after the first commercial producing well was completed in 1938. the output was over 400,000 barrels. this posed a problem of transportation.
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the arabian sea, the red sea, and the gulf of suez and the privately owned suez canal. a toll of $.18 per barrel was imposed. that amounted to $40,000 in the amount of each load of oil in the tankers. to increase the volume of oil delivered to europe, more tankers would be needed, plus expanded ports and loading facilities. the companies decided it was a pipeline system from the oilfields of the persian gulf plotting a direct course across the arabian desert to the mediterranean. a little more than a thousand miles.
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against 3500 miles by c. this would affect substantial savings. to construct and operate this pipeline, the company was formed. the trans-arabian pipeline company was formed. international incorporated was to perform the work of construction in saudi arabia on the pipeline. this amounted to 80% of the entire project. a service organization was set up in san francisco and in march 1947, planning for the project got underway. it was to be a major feat of logistics. everything would have to be shipped nearly halfway around the world from the united states to the persian gulf. special equipment of all sorts was designed. more than 7000 different kinds of items had to be requisitioned.
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not counting spare parts. of these alone there were over , 30,000 different types. hundreds of skilled men, engineers, office workers, machinists, welders, equipment operators, and many others had to be recruited in various parts of the united states and in carefully screened. they were hired only if they were eligible in all respects to serve in the persian gulf area for an employment contract period of 18 months. then they took off from new york on an aerial journey across the atlantic and across europe to the middle east. in two days, they got their first view of saudi arabia as their plane landed at headquarters. thus began their venture. -- adventure. in july 1927, with a temperature
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-- 1947, with a temperature around 120 degrees, a little group of arabs and americans set up tents northwest. their task was to assemble the supply depot. was called the camel drivers stick. it offered one of the few good routes for traders along the western coast of the persian gulf and it gave ready access to the saudi portion of the pipeline. arab laborers and craftsmen were integrated into the project. others were trained on the spot. some have already learned trade with iranco. policy from the very beginning was to employ as many arabs as
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possible. local clay was turned into brick. these bricks were used by arab laborers for the construction of some of the permanent buildings. rock from a nearby quarry was dumped into the shallow water of the gulf to make piers for barges. because of the shallowness of the water, oceangoing freighters could not approach closer than 2.5 miles. at the outset, everything from canned goods has to be sent to shore. five or six barges were unloaded every day. they could carry up to five tons of freight. before long, it was well stocked. as more and more material arrived, construction went on at
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a faster pace. concrete foundations were used as shops and warehouses. tanks were erected for the storage of water as well as fuel. as the work of construction went on, there was one conspicuous difficulty, length. -- language. at first, a few of the arabs knew english, but hardly any of the americans knew the language. patients and good humor on outsides broad understanding. -- brought understanding. the americans adjusted themselves to arabian customs. five times a day, they said their prayers. radio communication was of vital importance to operations extending across the desert. base and outlying camps had to
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be equipped for two-way shortwave transmission. a few months after the first tent was pitched, the camp became a modern city with its own power supply, water and sewage system, warehouses, laundry, mess halls, hospitals, and comfortable quarters. for its population which in outnumbered nearly 500 americans and 1500 arabs. in addition, it had its own airfield. where large transport planes arrived daily with mail, freight, and passengers. each flight brought more skilled craftsmen. from america. the recruits were taken in hand by personal officers who drove them from the airfield a mile into camp.
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each man was assigned to living quarters in one of the barracks. his roommate was usually an old hand who could show him the ropes. the next step was a physical examination by the resident physician. although the recruit had passed rigorous test and had been inoculated against various maladies before leaving the states, he still had to be found fit at the job site. having met the requirements, the recruits sign their employment contract and were welcomed into the project. an orientation lecture given by the personal manager. he made it clear that they were guests in a country not their own and must abide by its laws and customs. with a growing backlog of skilled manpower and the base camp well-established, the project is ready to begin
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receiving a very important kind of freight -- pipes. back in the united states, at the end of september 1947, this was the birth of steel for the great trans-arabian pipeline. white-hot slabs were conveyed. they were reduced to plates to the required dimensions. the plates were delivered to the california plant of the consolidated western steel corporation. here they were to be fabricated into the largest diameter pipe ever designed for the passage of oil. from a quarter of an inch to 7/16 according to the pressure they would have to withstand. fed into one end of the plant,
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as plates they would emerge as , pipe joints ready for shipment. they passed through one great machine after another. they were leveled out. their edges were trimmed. now they were tipped into giant roles which gave them their the first semblance of pipe joints. ♪ the plates, which had now become cylinders, the outside scene was welded first. then the inside seam was welded. ♪ the operator study the growing metal reflected in a mirror. they were placed and hydraulically expanded. to make imperfectly round and straight and to test and strengthen them.
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now there ends were smoothed and , beveled. for field welding. an inspector examined the measured each joint. no surface remained unseen. the inspector examined the inside as thoroughly as the outside. finally, joint after joint rolled down. skids to a railroad site. the joints were fabricated in 31 foot length. and into diameters. the smaller joints within the larger ones, a new and ingenious idea for transportation of pipe. the pipe was moved 15 miles. it was taken aboard the ship, his destination was the persian gulf, 12,000 nautical miles and 45 days across.
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the pacific. towards the end of december, 19 47, they dropped anchor as close as they could get. she was the before the project first of the pipe ships. before the project was finished, there would be 100 ship loads pipe another cargo delivered, totaling 3 billion. tom miles. half of the pipe joints were 30 inches in diameter, the rest of them were 31 inches. both having been nested with the smaller inside the larger. the result was a 50% saving in shipping cost. each barge carried about 100 joints.
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roughly3/5 of a mile of pipe. at the landing, a crane lifts the pipe onto a waiting trailer. the loads were hauled to a nearby pipe yard. the pipe yard was more than just a place to store pipes. it had been carefully designed for the performance of a series of precise operations. from the trailer, the pipe was guided over ramps and rollers stingit reached thede-ne
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operation. it was fitted to the inner join to hold it firm. the outer joint with switch to another part of the plant to be dealt with separately. the joint was prepared for welding. each and it was cleaned. -- was cleaned. endthe joint move forward to a lineup. already in place with other joints of the same diameter. when the two joints came exactly end to end, they were ready for welding. an automatic welding machine was adapted for use in the field. for the first time in history. designed by engineers, it averaged four or five complete rounds per hour. four of these machines were installed here. the joints were united to form sections 93 feet long. the operation cut down by two-thirds the amount of welding that would have to be done
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manually. along the right-of-way. the 93 foot sections were loaded onto the trailer. more and more pipe was scheduled to arrive over a period of many months. in all, the system would take 265,000 tons. additional facilities were unloading the pipe were constructed. an installation originally developed in the pacific northwest as a means of moving logs was adapted here for the first time to bring cargo ashore. there were two dozen of them in all extending and 700 foot integrals over a distance of three miles.
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from the towers, to strong cables were suspended from hooks or jacks. the cables were anchored. they were called skylines. pipes from freighters onto the deck could be carried swiftly to shore. the skyline served as overhead rails on which it could travel. approaching the tower -- it slowed down to a walk. between towers, it gained a maximum speed of 35 miles per
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hour. the skyline was self-propelled. it was equipped with a gasoline engine to run forward or backward. it told itself -- it pulled itself along by traction cables. with three machines running in tandem and taking about 20 minutes, it could deliver more than a thousand times a day. -- a thousand times a day. --a thousand times a day on the pipeline itself
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could now go forward. the trans-arabian pipeline system 1068 miles was to comprise two distinct divisions. the first was to be a 350 mile gathering line owned and operated connecting present or potential oilfields up to a point where it would be metered. the second to the mediterranean. an uninterrupted artery. by clearing and leveling began february, 1948, of the direction from a point 40 miles north. this would become a proving ground for most of the new series in the engineering for the greatest crude oil pipeline system ever undertaken.
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through this area, sand had to be pushed aside. thousands of cubic yards were disposed of every day. drag lines and bulldozers were brought to bear. the soil was so moist and corrosive, the lines would have to be supported above ground. a piledriver about 40 feet tall was used to drive piles at 66 foot intervals. the piles went down 10-20 feet. the tops were cut off and turned into cross pieces to support the
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pipe. these existed on the first hundred miles of the route. no more piledriving would be necessary farther along. on sandy stretches, a machine raised about a mile a day. four feet wide and five feet deep, the machine was effective so long as it did not encounter hard rock. here and there, limestone called for other equipment. the most spectacular was the giant river. it was a 20 ton goliath.
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three times the size of the largest river ever seen before on construction jobs. behind the river came arabs would wagon drills. -- with wagon drills, sinking holes for dynamite where the rocks would not be displaced otherwise. the powder monkey's job is one the arabs took to readily. they enjoyed setting off firecrackers. they were well instructed and safety precautions, however. when the charge was said, everybody was well behind the firing line. the broken rock was cleaned out by a backhoe was operator never complained about a lack of exercise. all told more than 2.5 million , cubic yards of earth and rock would have to be moved before the project was done.
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among the phenomena of saudi arabia, a violent northwest wind across the open plains and over the dunes whipping up curtains of dust and sand. sometimes lasting days on end, it immobilizes almost every living thing in the desert. everything, that is, but the pipe liner. it was in mid-february 1948 that the first load of pipe came to the right away. the truck trailer unit was one of 150 such giants that would eventually be used on the project. the trailer carried nine or 1093 foot sections of pipe weighing as much as 40 tons. section after section was lifted off. by a big side boom tractor.
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following the pipe stringers came the welding crew. the 93 foot sections were brought into place by tractors. an automatic clamp was brought into position. when the two sections were brought together, the clamp expanded inside the pipe until it gripped and held both ends in precise alignment. the stringer bead was applied to the joint. the internal clamp traveled on its rollers through the pipe to its position for lining up the next section.
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the operation was repeated mile after mile. the pipe liners endured wind and dust and flies and the annoying monotony of the desert. behind the stringer man were follow-up welders who made additional passes with different size rods and give it all the strength of the pipe itself. wherever there was a change of direction on the line, anchors were installed. as the aboveground portions of the line were erected, they became barriers. joints in the pipe were held stationary.
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when the time came to tie in the final joint between anchors several miles apart, the crew was faced with a delicate operation. an automatic acetylene torch was attached to the pipe to make a true cut. the two ends were quickly brought together. so they could be welded before a change in temperature might cause them to octal or drift apart. the union had to be made at approximately 90 degrees. it was a ticklish business.
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there were is no margin for error. signals had to be explicit and movement exact. at last, the stringer bead was applied. the critical moment was had. the crew did not yet relax. the pipe had to be lowered into its final position. then the girders were bolted together to hold it firm. in areas where the pipe was to be buried, the procedure was more conventional. the floor of the ditch had to be smoothed out and patted. many of the arabs were desert
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tribesmen. once the trench was ready, tractors led to the pipe and supported it in motion. on roller cradles. behind them came a self-propelled machine. cleaning and priming machine. its function was to clean off rust and apply a coat of primer. arab workers touched of any -- touched up and he spots that were missed. in the wake of the cleaning machine, this also self-propelled coat of the pipe with hot liquid asphalt. from a big cattle and wrapped it with glass fiber and encoded it again. now the pipe was ready to be put underground. it was lowered gently into its trench, but not to rest. its life was only beginning.
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the great stockpile of pipe continued month after month to feed the plant where the 31 foot joints were automatically welded together. each with its 40 ton trailer load lined up for inspection and they rolled out of the base camp and headed for the right-of-way. they were always on the move. each succeeding trip was a little longer than the last. pipe went convoy after convoy of all manner of equipment with building materials and foodstuffs and fuel. the truck trailer combination carried the tonnage of the freight train. the freight was growing into a total of 150 million miles.
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such loads could not be delivered with dependable regularity. men and machines forged ahead building and maintaining access roads that would stand up under constant heavy traffic. more than 1200 miles of highway and access roads were built, not only serving the immediate needs of the construction and operation, but opening up in artery for commercial for the first time across saudi arabia between the persian gulf and the mediterranean. it was a big job just to keep in repair the low-pressure tires used along. -- used on all the trucks, trailers, and greater. there was the giant tractors for hauling pipe and hundreds of other vehicles of various types. besides their earthmoving machinery. there was about $18 billion worth of equipment, all of which had to be maintained. at the outlying camp, mechanics and machinist were kept busy the
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clock around. new camps were set up at convenient intervals for the construction group. -- construction crew. all of the buildings could either be dismantled or picked up and carted from place to place as needed. each kept its own self-contained system so that men who came in from a hard days work tired and dirty could relax under a shower. each camp had a mess hall where food was plentiful. besides canned goods, there were frozen fresh food and vegetables all kept in refrigerator boxes. there was a commodity a commodity of far greater immediate value than oil. that, of course, was water.
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52 wells were drilled at strategic locations and 40 of them brought in water. most of it was brackish, but it was plentiful. and all of it was precious. a new water supply was created for future pump stations, but also for their livestock. as one well after another was brought in, the word spread among the tribes. soon, thousands of camel, and goats and sheep the new watering stations were regarded as permanent public utilities. life became easier for man and beast in a harsh environment. in the spring of 1949, construction was started on the first of four pump stations.
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averaging 170 miles along the right-of-way, there were to be six stations for the entire pipeline system, all within saudi arabia. there were to be pumping units for the capacity exceeding 300,000 barrels of oil per day and accommodations at all facilities for permanent staff. in the tremendous programmer of transportation and construction, arabs outnumbered american spies as many as 14 to one. more than 14,000 arabs were at work. through on-the-job training, they were playing increasingly important roles. most are employed by arab some -- subcontractors. men who only had never seen modern machinery were operating equipment of all sorts.
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the majority of these men had been reared in an atmosphere that changed little in a thousand years. when they came to work with americans on the project, every american had to become a teacher. the arabs proved surprisingly adaptable. they managed to bridge a wide cultural, and linguistic gap. their basic thinking continued to abide faithfully. by the precepts of the prophet. as originally planned the , pipeline was pushed simultaneously from both ends. the situation delayed fieldwork at the mediterranean and until the fall of 1949.
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the scenery was in sharp contrast. to that of arabia. the city of beirut, the capital of lebanon, with headquarters. -- was headquarters for the western division. 35 miles to the south, the terminal site for the pipeline, the seaport with castles built by the crusaders. the right-of-way on rugged hillsides. the route continued uphill. another stronghold of the crusaders.
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,beaufort's castle. the right-of-way went from lebanon into syria and then to jordan and saudi arabia. this comprised the western division, 214 miles. whose construction was assigned by cap lines to williams brothers overseas company. by september 1950, they were putting the finishing touches on the terminal. 16 180,000 storage tanks. all of the other stations were put up by the chicago bridge and iron company. the pipe liners were tying in some of the last of the shorelines that would carry crude oil. from the stores tanks for the loading of tankers. along the right-of-way from
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saudi arabia, installations had arisen on the empty desert and this was the magic of the arabian nights. the modern magic from which they sprang resulted in painstaking planning and the hard toil of hundreds of americans and thousands of arabs under the severest conditions nearly halfway across the world. all four of the pump stations were now in the final stages of cleanup and testing. soon each of these stations , would be dispatching its daily quota of oil. it would take 6 million barrels of oil, more than all of the oil pump in a day from all wells of the united states. one of the most extraordinary of all engineering and construction projects ever carried out a private enterprise was now about to bear fruit. the cost would be in the neighborhood of $230 million.
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it was financed by standard oil company of california, a texas company, new jersey, without government support of any kind. of these companies, that are half a million private. stockholders. the pipe liners were nearing the end of their stretch. month after month perfectly , coordinated teams of arabs and americans had been finishing more than a mile of pipeline every day. in areas where solid blocks, the pipe was mounted on concrete piers. around the end of the section of pipe, four men gathered wednesday in mid-september.
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one was an executive of trans-arabian pipeline company, two were executives of international bechtel incorporated and the other was a construction superintendent. there is was an informal visit. they were inspecting the north bend of the continuous line. leading 854 miles from the oil center. this was it. this meant the windup of another contract. the last few hundred yards remained. all that lay behind was oil already coursing through it from pump station to pump station. the machines ground forward and
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the arabs and americans guiding it performed their various jobs as though this day was no different from any other. suddenly, their machine reached its goal. in a few days, the crew from the mediterranean would be along with airlines to make the final tie-in. now through the trans-arabian , pipeline system, the oil and -- flows the oil of saudi arabia to the storage banks and into the blue waters of the mediterranean sea. the submarine lines load the oil into tankers. the initial output of the line was 300,000 barrels per day. it could be increased to half a million barrels. through government royalties, education, and industrial activity, the arabs are benefiting enormously. at the same time, the
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organization and their investors to be rewarded for their courage and imagination. the ready supply of oil made available by the pipeline system will strengthen it for peace. ♪ tonight at 6 p.m. eastern on the civil war, author stephen
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davis discusses the fall of atlanta and highlights the role of the four commanders who have the greatest impact on the atlanta campaign. confederates john bell hood and joseph johnston. and union leaders william tecumseh sherman and george thomas. onanta fell to union forces september 2, 1864, bringing general sherman's for month-long campaign to a close. that is on the civil war, american history tv's weekly program that delves into the events that shaped the outcome of the war. next, author and history professor thomas divide discusses henry wallace's 1948 campaign for president as the nominee of the progressive party. he served as vice president under fdr before being replaced by harry truman for the 1944 election. professor devine argues that his campaign strategy of focusing on courting minorities in the jim
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crow south alienated much of the white electorate. despite his efforts, mr. devine says the majority of african-americans decided to vote for president truman. wallace came in fourth in the general election, finishing with fewer votes than the other third-party candidate or i strom thurmond. this is about one hour. >> i don't think i will need these pet thank you. i appreciate the introduction and there's two people i want to thank before i start. and the truman library institute and the kauffman institute that supporting this other want to add my thanks to lisa sullivan who has been so helpful over the last few weeks getting me prepared a together and making sure everything goes off well tonight. i thank her as well. two other people i want to thank -- one unlucky enough to hav


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