On This Day in Oil & Gas: December 13th - Sir Francis Drake

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December 13th 1577, Plymouth, The Kingdom of England – A man stands on the quarter deck of the 22-gun galleon, Pelican, looking out over a calm but grey mid-winter sea. On his command the sails unfurl over this and four other ships rocking on the cold tide, and 165 men put to sea. He only stood 5’5" tall (165cm) yet would be regarded one of the biggest figures of his age – lauded and reviled in equal measure as war-hero and slaver, adventurer and pirate. The diminutive man was Francis Drake. His ship would be renamed the Golden Hinde, and he had just set sail on a voyage to circumnavigate the earth that would take three years, cover 58,000km, claim the lives of two thirds of his party and bring back a princely fortune to "The Virgin Queen" Elizabeth I.

This and Magellan’s voyage of discovery would blaze the trail for truly global seafaring. Nowadays, more than 50 per cent of the world’s oil is moved by tankers on fixed maritime routes, and last year the number of oil-ton miles - the distance a ship travels between load and discharge ports multiplied by the total volume carried - hit 7.8 trillion. A far cry from scurvy, grog, doubloons and neck ruffs



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