Germany and Oil

Discussions on the economic history of the nations taking part in WW2, from the recovery after the depression until the economy at war.
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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 17 Jun 2005 03:44

Wasn't Stalingrad an important transit hub for the oil from the Caucasus anyway?Ships etc transported Soviet oil needs along the Don River?Railway trains connected with the Caspian?

By cutting this link,at least, the Soviets couldn't access the Baku oil either?

Or were their oil pipelines further east of the Don in that era?

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Post by Andreas » 17 Jun 2005 06:34

Paul Lakowski wrote: Thus a lighting mobile strike to the south would have meet little resistance , provided the soviet strategic reserves had been thrown in to save Moscow from encirclement.
Paul

While I agree with your theory in principle, I think that in practice the Germans would not have been able to fix Soviet strategic reserves outside Moscow. While I do not have the details on the Soviet force deployments at this time, ISTR that they were actually on the offensive around Rhzev during the summer and autumn, so they had surplus formations in the sector that could have been used to thwart any German attack. While on the other hand the Germans only had enough forces to attack in the AGS sector, and hold elsewhere. They no longer had the ability to conduct two strategic offensives in different directions, as Stalingrad showed.

If e.g. 11. Armee had gone to attack Moscow instead Leningrad, it is arguable that 18. Armee at Leningrad may have collapsed during the September offensive by Zhukov. In that case Hitler would have had a major problem on his hands, not Stalin, since in my view he would have had the following:

- desaster looming in the north
- stalemate outside Moscow
- success in the south

All the best

Andreas

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Post by Andreas » 18 Jun 2005 10:22

Peter H wrote:Wasn't Stalingrad an important transit hub for the oil from the Caucasus anyway?Ships etc transported Soviet oil needs along the Don River?Railway trains connected with the Caspian?

By cutting this link,at least, the Soviets couldn't access the Baku oil either?

Or were their oil pipelines further east of the Don in that era?
The Volga river could have been interdicted without seizing Stalingrad. Just reach it somewhere, and put guns on your side of the river. No need even to cross it.

The question of pipelines is answered on the Transneft site here. Transneft is the Russian Federation pipeline operator.
The fascist troops advancing in the Caucasian direction caused enormous damage to the Soviet oil industry in the south. In 1942, oil fields in the Krasnodar Territory were entirely put out of production, oil extraction in the Grozny area reduced by half. Those were especially hard times for the Southern oil fields. Having destroyed the main line which connected Baku with the center of the country, the fascists blocked the Volga River and took hold of the Armavir - Trudovaj pipeline. During winter of 1942 - 1943, oil products from the Caucasus were delivered to the central regions of the country by a long route - through Middle Asia and Kazakhstan. The transport could not cope with moving-out oil products. A few million tons of them transported from Baku oil storages were kept in hollow mountains. Later, the stock was used to feed the front and the rear. Astrakhan - Urbakh - Saratov kerosene pipeline and Kizlyar - Astrakhan railroad which were built in 1943 played an important role. The pipeline construction under the order of the State Defense Committee, started in April 1941. The construction was carried out despite constant enemy air raids. To cover the pipe, reinforcement and equipment shortage, it was necessary to dismantle the Baku - Batumi-2 oil pipeline, part of the Grozny - Tuapse oil pipeline, and 60-km transit of Kosh - Armavir. Pipes and equipment were urgently moved to the construction site. Almost all work was done manually, including arc-welding of the pipe joints. The total length of the water passages was 11.2 km. A 655-km kerosene pipeline with eight pumping stations was built within unprecedented short periods: from April to November 1943. Construction of the railroad Kizlyar - Astrakhan and the kerosene pipeline Astrakhan - Urbach - Saratov allowed to carry out at Astrakhan tank farms new transshipping activities using other kinds of transport.
I think it is quite clear from this passage that to deny the Soviets the use of Caspian oil completely, the Axis had to physically seize the oilfields. Already however, they had managed to make access far more difficult. Yet the Soviet war effort did not collapse, and I think it is doubtful it would have even with full Axis control of these oilfields.

All the best

Andreas

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Post by tommy303 » 19 Jun 2005 06:23

"Yet the Soviet war effort did not collapse, and I think it is doubtful it would have even with full Axis control of these oilfields."

Particularly since the Germans lacked a powerful strategic bombing force which could interdict fuel transport and production far enough from the front to completely disrupt distribution.

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 19 Jun 2005 12:27

I think it all gets back to fuel limitations also limiting a Luftwaffe long-range bomber arm.

A US B-24 bomber with a range of 2100 miles needed 2360 gallons of aviation fuel.

A comparasion of German,US oil production as well:

Oil Production In Tons

Year Germany USA
1939 8 million N/A
1940 6.7 million N/A
1941 7.3 million N/A
1942 7.7 million 184 million
1943 8.9 million 200 million
1944 6.4 million 223 million

http://www.angelfire.com/ct/ww2europe/stats.html

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Post by tommy303 » 19 Jun 2005 19:03

Quite so, Peter. It becomes something of a vicious circle. Part of the problem too was the Luftwaffe was organized and built around a tactical war concept, but not with a long term strategic plan until forced upon them by the changing war situation. By that point in time Germany was locked into a long term war she had not the resources to fight effectively. It is difficult to conduct an effective war on a shoestring budget.

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Post by Paul Lakowski » 19 Jun 2005 19:51

tommy303 wrote:Quite so, Peter. It becomes something of a vicious circle. Part of the problem too was the Luftwaffe was organized and built around a tactical war concept, but not with a long term strategic plan until forced upon them by the changing war situation. By that point in time Germany was locked into a long term war she had not the resources to fight effectively. It is difficult to conduct an effective war on a shoestring budget.
It originally was built along what Knauss refered to as an 'high risk' strategic bomber force [1935]. This was to be built around ~400 Ju-89 mutli engined bombers [1937-1939] to be replaced by the He-177 when that came on line in 1940/41. Changes in Luftwaffe command put tactical leaders inplace of strategic leaders, so not only was the strategic bomber force scrapped but the hugh potential of the He-177 was sqandered on another heavier dive bomber...much like the Ju-88 was similarly sqandered.

A comment on the Oil figures. German fuel consumption was a fraction of the USA due to only having a fraction of the population and even less proportion of automobiles per capita. Also we cannot deny that USA wealth was built on this oil industry and its exports, which must have been considerable at that time? I think one of the key German strategic failures was not to invest more in synethic fuel production.

They could have been pumping out 10-12 million tons of fuel by mid war had they followed Karin Hall synthetic fuel production program. Yes its reported to be too expensive but relative cost was minor [ > 1 billion RM per year when defence budget was 34-55 billion RM in the first years]. Given the strategic nature of fuel production one would think it deserved a higher priority. According to Dunn Jr , the soviets produced 90 million tons of oil products during the war compared to 60 million for the germans.

Finally while the german historical oil production figures where indeed small [UK was consuming about 10 million tons per year at the start of the war], they overran most of europe with that production. So I would not rule them out just on the basis of insufficent oil production.

Some times I think Stalingrad operation was pursed due to Hitlers grasping for 'temporary solutions' to apparently solve 'temporary problems', he didn't have a long term strategic military vision, just a political vision.

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Post by Andreas » 19 Jun 2005 20:39

Paul Lakowski wrote:Finally while the german historical oil production figures where indeed small [UK was consuming about 10 million tons per year at the start of the war], they overran most of europe with that production. So I would not rule them out just on the basis of insufficent oil production.
I am not sure that is correct - IIRC the initial wars were fought on production and existing stocks, and consumption exceeded production. Therefore, once the stocks had run down, production itself could no longer cover the need. This would have been less of a problem (or maybe no problem at all), if someone had not decided to invade a country with huge distances, a weak railway net, and a horrific road network.

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Post by Paul Lakowski » 19 Jun 2005 23:09

Andreas wrote:
Paul Lakowski wrote:Finally while the german historical oil production figures where indeed small [UK was consuming about 10 million tons per year at the start of the war], they overran most of europe with that production. So I would not rule them out just on the basis of insufficent oil production.
I am not sure that is correct - IIRC the initial wars were fought on production and existing stocks, and consumption exceeded production. Therefore, once the stocks had run down, production itself could no longer cover the need. This would have been less of a problem (or maybe no problem at all), if someone had not decided to invade a country with huge distances, a weak railway net, and a horrific road network.
War with Russia was inevitable as long as Germany was fascist and Russia was communist. Most every one in Europe thought of this in their prewar politics. While German fuel production exceeded consumption, thats what you what to happen. You need to build up an inventory of fuel reserves that can be tapped into for each campaign cycle. Offensive campaigns consume fuel at 2-3 times the rate during 'down time' between campaigns. Prior to Barbarossa the gasoline consumption was running at 140K tons per month when production was ~150 K tons. The first month of Barbarossa it shot up to 320K.

When continous war resulted from Barbarrossa, the basic monthly gasoline consumption quickly settled at 140-160k and would reach 180k per month by early 1944.At that time gasoline production was running at only ~ 200k. This left precious little for seasonal campaigns. Fuel stocks in mid 1940 would reach 680 K tons which was the highest in the war. By mid 1941 the best inventory peaked at only 540k and 460k in mid 1942 and again in mid 1943.By early 1944 it would peak @ 510K, less than the 1941 peak....although by then the fuel industry was in a free fall due to allied bombing campaign and would plummett to below 300k by mid 1944 and 140k by the end of that year[ the lowest it was in the entire war].

As it was german motorization levels were really poor [1/10 at best] , when there were enough vehicles produced in 1939-40 to motorize the entire army. Problem was that would have doubled fuel consumption , when the fuel production barely kept up with consumption during that time.

This was an ongoing problem for the germans. If you look at Zplan for the KM, the cost over 10 years was estimated at 33 billion RM for the 10 years it would take to build the fleet up. Ship construction would account for 1/3 of that amount ,while expansion of the fuel industry to meet the consumption needs of such a large force, would consume about another 1/3. The rest would be personel , infrastructure and industry expansion costs. KM fuel consumption would reach an estimated 8 million tons annually at the end of that program [6 million tons per year of bunker fuel oil and 2 million tons of marine diesel fuel to be produced].

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Post by Jon G. » 20 Jun 2005 07:07

Paul Lakowski wrote:As it was german motorization levels were really poor [1/10 at best] , when there were enough vehicles produced in 1939-40 to motorize the entire army. Problem was that would have doubled fuel consumption , when the fuel production barely kept up with consumption during that time.
I doubt if enough motor vehicles were produced in 39/40 to motorize the entire German army. Halder's oft-quoted KTB entry stated that the Wehrmacht was allocated 1/4 of all trucks produced, or 4000 new trucks each quarter, which, Halder continues, was not even enough to keep up current motorization levels.

In fact the German army partially de-motorized its infantry divisions twice during the early war years - both in the winter of 1939/1940, when the establishment vehicle strength was cut in half, and again in the winter of 1940/1941, despite the addition of a lot of captured French trucks (and a lot of captured fuel too, by the way)

Apart from scarce oil motorization requires even scarcer rubber, and in any case a fully motorized Wehrmacht would not necessarily have made the German army that much more formidable - motorization is great for tactical and operational mobility, but for strategic mobility the Germans still relied on railroads just as they did in 1914-1918.

Incidentally German resource management does not seem to have been that meticulous in the early parts of the war; rubber was still being used also for civilian purposes in 1942, and while civilian use of oil was heavily restricted in Britain fuel rationing was more generous in Germany.

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Post by Andreas » 20 Jun 2005 07:14

Paul Lakowski wrote:When continous war resulted from Barbarrossa, the basic monthly gasoline consumption quickly settled at 140-160k and would reach 180k per month by early 1944.At that time gasoline production was running at only ~ 200k. This left precious little for seasonal campaigns. Fuel stocks in mid 1940 would reach 680 K tons which was the highest in the war. By mid 1941 the best inventory peaked at only 540k and 460k in mid 1942 and again in mid 1943.By early 1944 it would peak @ 510K, less than the 1941 peak....although by then the fuel industry was in a free fall due to allied bombing campaign and would plummett to below 300k by mid 1944 and 140k by the end of that year[ the lowest it was in the entire war
Hi Paul

Thanks for all the info. The point I was trying to make was that it was okay to count Germany out on the basis of fuel production, since its production was not enough to keep up even with the comparatively low requirements. This then led to the ill-advised summer campaign 1942, when it would have been militarily preferable to not undertake major operations at all.

All the best

Andreas

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Post by Paul Lakowski » 20 Jun 2005 20:36

Try about 3/4 million vehicles of which at best 1/3 went to military and the rest to civilian sources. Army needed ~1.2 million and had 600,000 in mid 1941 and >800,000 in mid 1942....even with loses thats enough to motorise the entire Heer.

Shrek wrote:
Paul Lakowski wrote:As it was german motorization levels were really poor [1/10 at best] , when there were enough vehicles produced in 1939-40 to motorize the entire army. Problem was that would have doubled fuel consumption , when the fuel production barely kept up with consumption during that time.
I doubt if enough motor vehicles were produced in 39/40 to motorize the entire German army. Halder's oft-quoted KTB entry stated that the Wehrmacht was allocated 1/4 of all trucks produced, or 4000 new trucks each quarter, which, Halder continues, was not even enough to keep up current motorization levels.

In fact the German army partially de-motorized its infantry divisions twice during the early war years - both in the winter of 1939/1940, when the establishment vehicle strength was cut in half, and again in the winter of 1940/1941, despite the addition of a lot of captured French trucks (and a lot of captured fuel too, by the way)

Apart from scarce oil motorization requires even scarcer rubber, and in any case a fully motorized Wehrmacht would not necessarily have made the German army that much more formidable - motorization is great for tactical and operational mobility, but for strategic mobility the Germans still relied on railroads just as they did in 1914-1918.

Incidentally German resource management does not seem to have been that meticulous in the early parts of the war; rubber was still being used also for civilian purposes in 1942, and while civilian use of oil was heavily restricted in Britain fuel rationing was more generous in Germany.

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Post by Jon G. » 21 Jun 2005 10:20

Even if we put considerations about oil aside for a moment, Germany's auto industry was certainly not large enough to motorize the entire Heer.

I quoted Halder's KTB entry from February 1940 a little unclearly above - it was 1000 trucks that were allocated to the army each quarter; i.e. 4000 trucks a year, which was a quarter of total production. No doubt this number rose later during the war, and other arms would be allocated additional trucks; I would assume Kriegsmarine and Luftwaffe truck allotments to be modest, but the Waffen-SS had a much higher degree of motorization than the Heer.

The Wehrmacht's transport companies suffered 50% losses in the Polish campaign, which in turn forced the 50% de-motorization of infantry divisions that I mentioned above.

16,000 newly built trucks a year is not a very impressive number. In 1939 Germany had one four-wheeled motor vehicle per 70 inhabitants, or a ratio of about 1:70 for a total of about a million. Compare that to the USA's 1:10.

As early as on May 20th 1940, 10 days after the campaign in the west had started, Wagner the Quartermaster-General at OKH phoned the German transport minister and demanded that 'all lorries of Germany' be put at his disposal immediately, lest the campaign break down for want of supplies.

Even in 1940-1941 the Germans again had to partially de-motorize their infantry divisions, despite huge amounts of captured French equipment - no less than 88 divisions had French equipment.

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Post by Lars » 21 Jun 2005 11:18

The best possible way for Germany to deal with the oil famine would be to forget about the Caucasus pipe-dream and use diplomacy, money and drilling equipment:

-to get more oil out of Rumania,

- to get the east Polish oil fields, which in 1939 came under Soviet occupation but was captured by the Germans in July 1941, back into production (they produced ½ mio. tonnes pre-war),

- to exploit the small fields in Austria and Hungary even quicker, and

- to expand the synthetic oil pogramme even more in 1939-41.

All in all this might have given the Germans, say, 2 mio. tonnes more fuel each in 1941 and 1942; perhaps the difference between failure and succes in Russia.

As it were, the Germans were starved from oil in late 1941 as Rumanian stocks ran down, and lost a lot of drilling equipment and technicians in the Caucasus in early 1943. Men and equipment could have been better used in Rumania, Poland, Austria and Hungary.

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Post by Jon G. » 21 Jun 2005 11:49

Germany only secured Romania as a stable oil supplier in 1940, when Romania was brought into the German sphere of influence - BTW in direct competition with Italy, who also had no reliable source of oil in sufficient quantities for war.

Barbarossa did not fail for want of oil, though you might think that the Germans concluded that this was the case when you look at the rationale behind Fall Blau.

There were also large stocks of captured French oil after the fall of France - to the order of five million tons if memory serves, but I forget where I read it.

Synthfuel was AFAIK used mostly by the Luftwaffe, and they only experienced serious shortages from 1944 onwards. I can't help but think that Göring's presidency over the Nazi Four Year Plan and his alleged favouring of 'light' (=chemical?) industry must have had something to do with the synthfuel industry favouring the air force, but I'm searching for good literature on the subject.

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