If what could have happened is limited purely to what did happen, there'd be no reason to play war games. I think there is an excessive dependency on "official records" as relates to Germany's Petrol industry during WW2. Granted, I see a lot of these things in "conspiratorial terms" - i.e. Standard Oil and Shell's relationships with IG Farben. This is not to say that Germany was not handicapped in terms of oil, but if they really wanted more oil, there were companies selling it - and Germany had plenty enough war booty to buy it... of which there's still plenty that still has not turned up. Whether the records indicate that or not can be compared with unofficial sales from a company like Gazprom in conjunction with various offshore companies.
Leastwise, according to several intelligence reports, Germany didn't have enough oil to last the duration of 1942, say nothing of 1943 or 1944. If everything was based upon "official records" they probably would have collapsed by the end of 1942. But, most governments are not that transparent, much less Hitler's regime (or more to the point, the corporations behind his regime). Not to be inflammatory, but if we have the kinds of things going on today in an era of "openness and transparency" (cough) we can guess that a fair amount of the same was going on back then.
The whole oil issue really should be broken down into the drilling and refining/production. Considering that the production and refining would need to be done at or close to the site, we can forego the need to transport it back to Germany for all but the higher grade fuels.
So, let's start with the drilling. At Baku, up through the 16th century, there were hand-dug wells producing naptha as shallow as 35 FEET. Large scale oil drilling started in 1872 sponsored by a collection of international investors (British, Belgian, Swedish, etc.) - and by 1900 there were over 3,000 wells; 65% of which were producing on an industrial scale - and at that time, accounted for half the world's oil production. Easy money, just ask the Rothchilds. So, even if the Russian Army was able to destroy, completely and irrevocably each and every last one of those drills... had the Germans reached Baku, they would only need to be drilling down 100 - 200 feet (and they had enough documents from Shell to know where to look).
It's obviously easier to set up a drill today then back then. Today, a 2,000 foot well can probably be dug in a week and completed in 3-4 weeks; but we're talking a fraction of that kind of depth. A couple hundred feet could've been excavated by hand if Germany wanted to put POW's or anyone to be placed in concentration camps to work. Either way - figure some combination of salvaging some portion of those 3,000 wells (some of which might have not been blown), getting new drills in, and in some cases, and maybe just plain massive digging - and Germany has more oil.
But, then - it's not just a matter of having the oil - but the right quality/purity/composition. How long would it take to set up a refinery? That's where what I know ends, but I think for starters Germany's engineers would be taking an incremental approach. Diesel would not likely be a problem, but Germany's vehicles didn't use diesel (most of Russia's did though). For a tank... I don't have a clue - but would guess that low grade vehicle fuel would not be particularly difficult and could be done in some volume starting fairly fast. It's not like they were running the kind of high performance engines we run today. Aircraft fuel would be a completely different story.
Here's the kicker though... Baku was not always a happy part of the Soviet Union. Baku is the capitol of Azerbaijan and is a mostly Muslim oriented culture and history, having been part of Persia. Azerbaijan was made part of Russia in the early 1800's following two wars with Russia. Following the collapse of Tsarist Russia, it declared its independence (briefly in conjunction with Armenia & Georgia) - 1918. Lenin had other plans, asserting that the Soviet Union could not survive without Baku's oil - and invaded it (again), costing 20,000 Azerbaijan lives in 1920.
Anyways - it is worthwhile to point out that Grozny (the second major oilfield) is the capitol of... Chechnya.
Aside from Hitler's regime having relatively "very good" relations with several Islamic sects/groups/organizations, there's the simple fact that from this region of the world - Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkestan, Kazakhstan, etc. - some 400,000 volunteers/conscripts were raised in and fought alongside Germany AGAINST RUSSIA/US/England. (Though not always with enthusiasm, some certainly did). Azerbaijan had a population of about 4 million, but from that were drawn enough men to fill over a dozen battalions... and probably a lot more would have volunteered for Axis service had they not already been conscripted by Russia and under the supervision of NKVD and commissars.
So, there's a very good question as to whether or not "ALL" of those oil wells would have been blown - Russian Army or not. 750 or so of them were shut down which cut production down by about half. If the Axis forces were that close to Baku - one could surmise that native Azeri's would not be thrilled seeing their entire industry collapsed by a government that was itself collapsing (in such event as Germany was approaching).
Even if the Russian Army did manage to destroy 90% of all the wells and production in Baku, that would still have left 2 million (maybe 3 million) metric tons per year, probably more with German efficiency - if the fields were retained. That equates to about 1/3rd of total German oil production from all sources, including synthetic.
There's no lack of oil in Azerbaijan, it's still producing oil today, lots of good contracting jobs there (including a need for English Teachers), and has the second longest oil pipeline in the world.
So, everything considered as relates to the need for oil to run a war machine, the shot at the Caucasus was not quite as far fetched as it may seem. A logistical nightmare of epic proportions? Yes, but one can imagine that if Germany sank as much into the effort to reach Grozny and/or Baku as it did just to take Stalingrad, I think it comes really close to a 50-50 situation for Baku and an absolute certainty for Grozny.
(Edited to clarify Baku's drilling depth)
< Message edited by USXpat -- 1/31/2012 4:18:33 AM >