10 June 2023
When we think about travel, we truly realise how much the action of describing it inseparably precedes it, accompanies it and follows it at all times. Be it writings, photographs, videos or press articles, all the materials in our historical archive that accompany and describe travel are an expression of the deep awareness of how great its value is, for ourselves and for others.
In the documentary archive we can find multiple traces of the exploits of oil industry pioneers travelling all over the world. Reports, notebooks, stories and travel diaries populate the files, offering a rich and detailed insight into many countries and different realities, observed from multiple points of view. It is a tale of exploration in search of hydrocarbons, of technical knowledge, of industrial, political and commercial connections, but also of discovering other cultures through which a true and lasting partnership can be established based on trust and respect.
In the mid-1950s, Enrico Mattei's Eni started to go abroad to carve out a space for itself in the international oil market. An important theme that has marked the history of our company is the journey being told in all its facets, through the testimonies of the historical archive with photos, videos, diaries of our researchers, engineers and workers. It is our pioneers who explore new lands often in complex situations, such as the Zagros Mountains in Iran, where in the late 1950s they went over 3,000 metres high to drill in extreme conditions, with the help of mules that carried their equipment.
Before each departure, our Eni colleagues were asked to take all kinds of pictures, not only geological ones but also of the local culture, of those faraway worlds, complex environments and different cultures. They are extraordinary shots that were shared after each trip with other colleagues who were soon to set off on the same adventure. But the new travellers would have had their route already mapped out, with travel notes giving them suggestions, warning them, informing them, accompanied by photographs that would have helped them deal with the task.
From the archive's valuable film photo collection relating to exploration and study trips made by Eni's engineers, geologists and technicians, there is a series comprising 88 16mm films shot by Agip Mineraria personnel between 1957 and 1961 in Iran. This is documentation collected during exploration, geological, geophysical, topographical and cartographic (with gravimetric and seismic surveys) and drilling campaigns in 3 specific areas of the country: the Persian Gulf, Zagros Mountains and Mekran.
As with the rest of the collection, these silent films contain images with exceptional geographical, anthropological, ethnographic value. Alongside the films, contemporary photo albums have been collected, as well as different types of papers (notes, plans, reports, letters, visas, articles, surveys, maps), dating from 1957 onwards. Of particular importance, especially for the campaigns in Mekran and the Zagros, was the use of aerial photography and aerial photo interpretation. Video interviews from the 2000s and subsequent articles have been added to the documents of the time.
In the sequences below: