Scottish shale Scottish shale

Caledonian Oil Co.

Company number:
Not known
Share capital:
6th April 1870
Registered office:

Haymarket ?

Oil works:

In 1862 Christian Salvesen, a Leith-based shipping merchant of Norwegian origin, and his brother Theador, established the Paraffin Oil Company of Mandal, and constructed Mandal Oil Works on the southern coast of Norway. Their initial intention was to import Boghead coal from Scotland and produce oil without need to pay royalties for use of Young's patent, which was not effective in Norway.

The expiry of Young's patent in 1864 and the increasing cost of Boghead coal soon undermined the economics of this arrangement and led to the formation of the Caledonian Oil Company which produced crude oil from local cannel at a works in Benhar, and exported this to Madal for refining. The Board of the Caledonian Oil Co, included Christian Salvesen and George Simpson, Coalmaster of Benhar and a figure who was to become renowned for sharp practice and dubious deals in the shale oil industry.

The Caledonian Mineral Oil Co. is listed under "oil merchants" in the 1868 Edinburgh Post Office Directory, as "Caledonian Oil Company; Haymarket" and in the1869 and 1870 editions as "Caledonian Oil Company; James McKelvie, agent, Haymarket". The 1871 edition only listed "Northern Mineral Oil Company; James McKelvie, agent, Haymarket".


  • Newspaper references
    • I, JAMES DUNSMURE, M.D., Queen Street, Edinburgh, hereby intimate that I ceased, on llth November 1869, to be a Partner of The CALEDONIAN OIL COMPANY, Oil Manufacturers at Benhar, near Whitburn; and at same time ceased to have any interest, as a Partner or otherwise, in The PARAFFINE OIL COMPANY of Mandal - JAMES DUNSMURE.

      Edinburgh Gazette, 29th March 1870


      THE Copartnership carried on by the Subscribers, the sole Partners, under the Firm of THE CALEDONIAN OIL COMPANY, Oil Manufacturers, near Whitburn, has been DISSOLVED this 6th day of April 1870. The said Copartnership have also ceased to be Partners in THE PARAFFINE OIL COMPANY of Mandal, Oil Manufacturers at Mandal, Norway. Any accounts due by the Caledonian Oil Company will be paid by the Subscriber, James M'Kelvie, Haymarket, Edinburgh. J. M'KELVIE. GEO. V. TURNBULL. CHR. SALVESON. GEO. SIMPSON.

      Edinburgh Gazette, 12th April 1870