Interior of pump house at Tampico oil refinery, Mexico, c 1913.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
With the discovery of oil in about 1900 by English and American geologists, the rapid development of the petroleum industry in the city of Tampico, Mexico, began. The great Tampico oil boom occurred between 1910 and 1925 with the huge oil fields providing a vital source of fuel for the British Navy during the First World War. The city prospered while much of the rest of Mexico was in revolutionary turmoil and it today rivals Veracruz as Mexico's most important seaport. British and American oil companies continued to exploit Mexico's oil reserves until 1938, when the Government of Lazaro Cardenas nationalised the Mexican oil industry.