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Mandal Oil Works

Location In the general area of: 58.021702, 7.456230,
Former parish and county N/A
Current local authority area Vest-Agder county, Norway
Construction history Built c.1861
Ownership history Paraffin Oil Company of Mandal
Demolition history Closed 1871. Vamplew notes "the factory itself was demolished and its stones and bricks embodied in the Riisoebank estate that Christian (Salvesen) transferred to his son Edward in 1895"
Current status of site Following demolition of the factory, a mansion used for recreational purposes was built by the Salvesen family on the site. In 1971-72 the area was sold by the family to the local government


Amongst his table of Scottish oil works, Redwood lists a "Paraffin Oil Works" located at "Mandell", noting this was active between 1864 and 1871. He makes no further reference to this enterprise, but seems likely to have been referring to an early oil works, assembled from Scottish equipment in the South of Norway.

The full story of this unique enterprise is told in "Salvesen of Leith" by Wray Vamplew (Scottish Academic Press, 1975). Christian Salvesen, a Norwegian who adopted British nationality, had extensive shipping interests based in Leith and realised that Young's coal-oil patent did not apply in Norway. In 1862, in association with his brother Theodor, he established the Paraffin Oil Company of Mandal with the idea of shipping Boghead coal to his home town on Mandal, on the southern coast of Norway, where it would be retorted to produce oil. A harbour and oil works were built at Riisoebank, about a mile from Mandal. Equipment, much of it second-hand, was purchased in Scotland and assembled in Norway by a Scots workforce, overseen by John Galletly who had previously been employed by Young's Bathgate works.

The enterprise was a modest success at first, but was hampered by the increasing cost of Boghead coal. In 1866 a co-partnership was signed with the Caledonian Oil Company; a firm backed by a number of Scots entrepreneurs including George Simpson. The Caledonian company produced crude oil at a works in Benhar, which was shipped to Mandal for refining. After struggling against competition from imported American oil, Mandal Oil Works were closed in 1871.


Archive Images

Our thanks to Ulf Aanonsen, Chairman Risobank IKS for the archive images, and for continuing the history of the oil works site in the Risobank estate.

"In 1895, the son of Christian Salvesen, Edvard, took over the whole property and restructured the area from sandbank to wood and beautiful beaches which today are the most valuable area of the little town of Mandal. Two houses that were leftovers from the factory are still existing in the area, but became too small for the family. In 1901 Edvard Salvesen therefore had built a mansion in the most beautiful area of the property and gardens, and made the park area around outstanding."

A full history of Mandal oilworks, published in the Norwegian magazine "Volund" can be downloaded here as a PDF

creative commons

We are happy to licence use of many images, extracts, and other resources of this website under a Creative Commons attribution, non-commercial licence (Scotland). See full copyright statement. Such material should be attributed to Almond Valley Heritage Trust and, where practical, a hyperlink provided to www.scottishshale.co.uk.