Edwin Drake drills the first producing oil well, in Titusville, PA.
John D. Rockefeller enters the oil refining business; forms Standard Oil (Cleveland, OH) to produce kerosene, for lighting purposes.
The Nobel family (minus Alfred, the dynamite inventor, who established the famous Nobel Prizes) drills for oil in the Baku area in Russia (today's Azerbaijan).
Thomas Edison invents the electric light bulb, endangering future petroleum markets.
The Rotschilds develop petroleum in Russia.
Royal Dutch develops petroleum in Sumatra (Indonesia).
Marcus Samuel forms Shell, to transport petroleum through Suez Canal.
Invention of the automobile (Daimler and Benz, Germany) resurrects the market for petroleum.
Petroleum discovered in Persia (Iran).
Petroleum boom in Texas (Sun, Texaco, Gulf).
Petroleum boom in California (Unocal).
Petroleum in Oklahoma.
Merger of Shell and Royal Dutch.
Petroleum boom in Persia (British Petroleum).
Petroleum boom in Mexico.
Dissolution of Rockefeller's Standard Oil cartel to form smaller oil companies, which eventually became Exxon, Mobil, Amoco, Sohio, Chevron, etc.).
Petroleum boom in Venezuela.
Petroleum boom in Iraq.
Standard Oil of California (Chevron) gets heavily involved in drilling for oil in Saudi Arabia.
Petroleum boom in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
Petroleum boom in Algeria and Nigeria.
Petroleum boom in Libya.
Formation of OPEC.
Petroleum discovered in Alaska (Prudhoe Bay), but not exploited until 1977.
Petroleum discovered in the North Sea, but not exploited until 1975.
First "energy crisis": Arab oil embargo against the U.S. in retaliation for U.S. support of Israel in the Yom Kippur war.
Second "energy crisis": Iranian revolution causes major disruptions in oil supplies from the Persian Gulf.
OPEC troubles begin: Iran/Iraq war.
OPEC establishes production quotas (and has occasional difficulties in having the member countries abide by them).
Third (mini) "energy crisis": Iraq invades Kuwait, causing another major disruption in oil supplies from the Persian Gulf.
The Baku region (and the Caspian Sea in general) again becomes the focus of interest of oil companies; may turn out to be the "Persian Gulf of the 21st century," but the key issue is how to transport all this oil to the open seas and the world markets.
Petroleum is again as inexpensive as bottled water, and as cheap as it was before the energy crises of the 1970s. How long will such a situation last this time around?
For fascinating details surrounding the events from 1860s to early 1990s, see Daniel Yergin's "The Prize: Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power".