The industrial extraction of oil in Baku, Azerbaijan, began in the middle of the 19th century. It was transported in barrels and then in bulk along the Caspian Sea to Astrakhan and then along the River Volga. By the end of the century it has been reported that Russia was producing more oil than anywhere else on earth. In 1883 a railway was built between Baku and Batumi in Georgia, which gave Azerbaijani oil a new gateway to the international market – the Black Sea.
The Russian tanker Svet (deadweight: 1,700 tonnes) ordered by the Nobel Brothers Petroleum Company was built to export oil and kerosene.In 1885 she became the first tanker to enter the Black Sea.
Svet was 89.5 metres long and 11.6 metres wide with eight cargo tanks. Her load draft was 4.5 metres. Her rigging spanned 240 m2. The tanker’s top speed with sails set was 7.5 knots, she had a crew of 50.