History of Oil: The New Oil Economy The first oil had actually been discovered by the Chinese in 600 B.C. and transported in pipelines made from bamboo. However, Colonel Drake’s heralded discovery of oil in Pennsylvania in 1859 and the Spindletop discovery in Texas in 1901 set the stage for the new oil economy. In 1875, crude oil was discovered by David Beaty at his home in Warren, Pennsylvania. This led to the opening of the Bradford oil field, which, by the 1880s, produced 77 percent of the global oil supply. However, by the end of the 19th century, the Russian Empire, particularly the Branobel company in Azerbaijan, had taken the lead in production. Almost a third of the U.S.’s total crude-oil production comes from the Permian Basin where the reserve was found, making it the biggest shale-oil-producing region in the U.S.