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Kitabgi, 1900 portrait by Eugène Pirou

General Antoine Kitabgi Khan was a Persian General of Georgian descent and the Director-General of Persian Customs. British Petroleum (formerly Anglo-Persian Oil Company) was born out of cooperation between Kitabgi and William Knox D'Arcy.

After retiring as Director General of the Persian Customs, General Kitabgi moved to Paris, where he led a lavish and playboy lifestyle. He was the Persian commissioner-general at the Paris Exposition of 1900.[1] At the same year, Kitabgi Khan, as a firm believer in future of Iranian Oil, met up with Sir Henry Drummond Wolff, former British Ambassador in Tehran and Reuter's private secretary, Monsieur Cotte, who had a report published by a French geologist called Jacques de Morgan entitled Note sur les Gites de Naphte de Kand-I-Shirin which claimed Persia was capable of having vast oil reserves. These three gentlemen discussed future prospects of Persian oil, and involved de Morgan and Cotte's brother-in-law in search of realising oil project in Persia.[2]

General Kitabgi successfully persuaded Wolff's friend William Knox D'Arcy, a British entrepreneur, to develop the country’s oil possibilities. After agreeing to finance this venture early in 1901, he sent Alfred Marriott, a cousin of his private secretary, to Tehran to negotiate for a concession to explore for oil in Persia. At the same time he sent a geologist, H.T. Burls, to make a technical report. Kitabgi and Cotte went too, and shrewdly D'Arcy told Marriott to keep in the background and leave the initial moves to Kitabgi, who was on personal terms with the Shah's first minister, the Atebeg or Grand Vizier.[3] In April 1909, the Anglo-Persian Oil Company was formed, which is now known as BP (British Petroleum).


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