What if the Japanese discovered the Liaohe oil field?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Zachariah, May 11, 2017.

  1. Admiral Fischer Well-Known Member

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    And the Japanese local commander saw no reason to move because the site was strategically unimportant.

    It was the General Staff Office that ordered the local troops to attack the Soviet position.

    The problem is that, for technical reasons I have listed before, Japan still need to import oil from America, unless they're willing to prosecute their war in China without fuel. And it wasn't just oil, they still need to import other things like machine tools, scrap iron, copper, rubber, etc, the list goes on.
     
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  2. The Gunslinger NQLA agent

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    There might not even be an embargo here. I just don't envision Japan being as aggressive with the west in a TL where they have oil in China. Without an occupation of Indochina it probably takes an additional year or two to force a proper embargo and by that time there's already a good chance America is involved in the war in Europe.

    And even if there is an embargo on the same date as OTL, that gives Japan nearly five years to nail the refining process (plus additional time when the embargo kicks in to when they run down existing stocks). Everything else can be bought on the open market (at a mark-up). There will be a contraction of the Japanese economy but with oil it won't be the death blow to the economy as seen in OTL.
     
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  3. Obergruppenführer Smith Chasing the Man in the High Castle

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    Japan actually used mostly heavy fuel for the navy and diesel for the army, so the refining issue is actually less of a problem. Sure, aviation is definitely an issue, but for most of Japan's needs, there aren't that many technologically major issues.
     
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  4. Green Painting Ship of Theseus

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    First of all, the dominant geological theory at that time did not support oil generation in Manchuria. Daqing and Bohai Bay oil fields are from terrestrial facies, in those days people didn't realise they could generate oil.

    Secondly, even if Japan discovered oil in Manchuria, they still needed to invade China to capture a captive market they needed.
     
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  5. pattersonautobody Well-Known Member

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    Surprised no one brought up Japanese - USSR relations. Finding significant oil changes the internal Japanese calculus. After the lost border-battles with Russia, Japan will have to invest heavily to defend Manchuria. When Germany invades Russia, Japan may have more serious preparations to make a move in Mongolia and the Soviet pacific ports. If, due to the butterflies, the embargo has not happened yet, I expect Japan joining the war against Russia and avoiding making enemies out of the uS just yet. May be the straw that broke the Russian Bear's back.
     
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  6. Obergruppenführer Smith Chasing the Man in the High Castle

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    Except we're talking about Liaohe, which had oil seeping up to the surface. That was why Japan was drilling in the region in the first place, and also trying to work out shale oil.
     
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  7. James Ricker Own your mistakes

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    They don't go to war with the United States they bankrupt themselves fighting in China
     
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  8. lionhead Pretty fly for a white guy

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    Situation with the Soviets will make it difficult to face China and defend the Northern border. There are surely going to be more border conflicts as the Russians see a highly appeasing location on Manchuria now.

    The Japanese won't attack though, not even after Germany attacks the Soviets in the west. They are committed to China and have no invasion army on the border with the Soviets. They would loose any war with the Soviet Union, they know that because of Khalkhin Gol. and there will be a battle similar to that and the Soviets will win that.

    Reinforcement of the border will come and go i suppose, for both sides. Eventually both sides are cmmitted to wars elsewhere and will leave behind what they left OTL. At least thats what i think. Its just an oil filed, not a rocket feul field or anything.

    Another matter though, if WWIIr starts and ends pretty much OTL, will the Soviets after invading Manchuria give the territory back to China like OTL or will they keep it because of the oil? Or just that province maybe? That would spell trouble for the Communist chinese i'd say.

    But i'm unclear about that time and who occupied what once the Soviets left, did the communist take full control of all of it right away? I know about the Liaoshen campaign but that happened way later than Soviet occupation of the region.
     
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  9. The Gunslinger NQLA agent

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    This could happen. They drive deeper and deeper into China for... reasons? Every victory is tainted by the fact that they don't have the logistics nor manpower to finish the campaign and at home the economy is under increasing strain due to steadily rising military budgets and erosion of trade with America.
     
  10. marathag Well-Known Member

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    In the USA before WWI, a lot of Wildcatters went broke drilling dry holes in areas that had surface seeps, and the Majors invested a lot in Geologists so they wouldn't waste effort in areas like that
     
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  11. Admiral Fischer Well-Known Member

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    But why?

    When the Second Sino-Japanese War broke out the British and the French supplied and supported China, which caused the Japanese anger and eventually the invasion of Indochina. See the case of the Tianjin incident, which almost caused the Pacific War 2 years earlier and signaled the world that Japan is firmly against the West, and that was before the Hull note, before the Embargo and before the Tripartite Pact.

    What makes Japan not to move against the West, for the very same reason, in this scenario?

    Five years to nail the refining process. On what basis do you think so?

    You talked about 1935 before, so let's take a look. Japan in 1935 refined 38047 barrels per day and consumed 74593 barrels p/d. We see a deficit of 36546 barrels here, and so they imported 49660 barrels of fuel from external source. Those weren't crude oil, but refined petroleum products. And this was before the war, peacetime demands.

    Since the crude oil is not those high-quality, foreign imported but heavy crude oil from Manchuria, just got discovered recently and hence totally unknown to the Japanese before, there would be a problem, because those refineries were operating on light crude oil and were orienting toward gasoline production to meet the rising demands. So refineries would first have to adjust to the new source, experimenting here and there, and rebuild their lines to accommodate Manchurian oil.

    That is rather mounting task, because at that time Japan had little domestic developments. I talked about iso-octane before, and Japan tried to build those iso-octane producing facilities too in Heungnam, North Korea from 1939, except the project ended up botched because they had no trained engineers to operate the plants, had no automation technologies, the plant capacity was lacking, the technologies and methods used in the production was so inefficient that the plant's projected consumption of mercury amounted half of the total Japanese domestic mercury production, and even after wasting all those resources the end product could not achieve 100 octane rating. This was Japan at the time and this is the situation what we're talking about.

    So that is just one problem with Japan's domestic refining capacity, technological backwardness, and then there's economic issue, because domestic refining capacity is rebuilding to accept heavy crude there would be production gap, and then there's gasoline problem which demand was skyrocketing but production would certainly be curtailed with heavy crude reorientation. To not get a 'death blow' from the Embargo those imported crude oil and products would have to be replaced by Liaohe oil production and domestic refining capacity, but as I have pointed out, Lioahe field can't cover up all oil demands and products, and also as I have pointed out, Japan's domestic capacity was so lacking that she had to import half of peacetime fuel consumption from external sources, let alone wartime consumption. They have to, literally, double their refining capacity to match up their internal consumption. And building refineries aren't cheap business. Building one single refining facility at Yokkaichi costed the Imperial Japanese Navy 250000000 Yen and that's about as same as the cost to build two Yamato-class battleships. Now, on what basis do you think so?

    And, that 'open market'. What open market, may I ask?

    Only for ships. Gasoline and diesel is still necessary to move motors and heavy fuel can't replace these. While diesel was used for tanks, the Army still need gasoline to move up all their other automotives. Then there's issue with aviation fuel. How these aren't problems? And as for 'technologically major issues', see above.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2017
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  12. The Gunslinger NQLA agent

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    Well the 1935 number is from the OP, it's the original discovery date. Japan may not go to war against the west because they may need to war with the west. There could be a more heavy emphasis on Manchuria than OTL because it's seen as more economically vital than historically. Soviet moves along the border might evoke a different stance if Japan knows its economic security is imperilled.

    Theres nothing in your data that suggests that they can't support the vast majority of their fuel needs with domestic production. Fuel oil, diesel and gasoline could all be met with existing technology though nav gas and other high end fuels will still be giving them grief. If anything, it fits with what Japan was doing with other sectors of the economy at the time. They expanded the number of sugar plantations in Formosa during the era even though sugar from the East Indies was of higher quality and cheaper simply because they were trying to implement greater autarky. Japanese fuel might not be of high quality, and you'll see more knocking in engines but it'll do in a pinch for most non-military goods. What you'll probably end up seeing is a continued import of high end fuels for military purposes while domestic production covers general economic needs until an embargo if it occurs.

    As for the cost of refining and production, they will be high. Which is why I think it spurs an emphasis on protecting the region from Russia. But some of the cost will be deferred by being able to sell the final product domestically, and some perhaps abroad.

    As for the open market, I was referring to goods such as scrap iron, copper, etc. All things that could be sourced by nations other than America at a premium, not petrochemical goods. That could have been more clear on my end.
     
  13. Admiral Fischer Well-Known Member

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    What I have tried to point out is that the Japanese escalation in China was what eventually caused the Japanese escalation in Indochina and subsequently the Pearl Harbor. If we assume the West - the Great Britain, France, and the United States would continue to lend their support to China, then there's no reason why the militarists wouldn't blame the West as the reason why the war in China is prolonging, and why they wouldn't seek to cut the supply route China and the West was using so that Japan could win the war.

    And yes, with oil Manchuria would be more vital for Japan, but as I have pointed out before, even without oil it ALREADY was very very important to Japan, the land was called the life line of Japan for a reason. When the militarists, Nagata from the Toseiha and Araki from the Kodoha, debated in 1933 whether they should invade the Soviet Union or go after China, both countries were targeted solely because these two presented threats to the Japanese domination of Manchuria and hence one of them were to be eliminated via a preventive war so that Japan could secure Manchuria. Again, What I am saying, is that while I do agree that Liaohe will add tremendous strategic values to Manchuria, Manchuria's value to Japan was so invaluable already to the point that I don't see why such added values would change the militarists' world view and their hostile approach to the West. I believe it would be worth to point out that, when the so-called Hull Note was presented, which called for the Japanese withdrawal from 'China', the Japanese government assumed that the word China included Manchuria as well, and thus came to the conclusion that they were being demanded by the American government to surrender Manchuria. Which was unacceptable, and then the Pearl Harbor happened. In a way, Japan started the Pacific War because of Manchuria. They were willing go war, and actually went to war, for Manchuria without oil, so why would that change with oil?

    To produce fuel oil is one thing, gasoline and diesel is another.

    [​IMG]

    Source

    Yes, nav gas and other high end fuels will give them grief, and yes, I agree on your point, in many way it would fit with what Japan was doing with other sectors, trying to substitute imports with domestic sources, but there are products that cannot be substituted, and gasoline is one of such products in this case, I believe.
     
  14. fasquardon Cosmonaut

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    I wonder what such a windfall of heavy oil for ships would do for Japan?

    And did the Japanese have power plants that could burn heavy oil? As I remember, Japan struggled to produce enough electricity once the US embargo closed down, if the Liaohe oil changed this, it could have interesting (but hard to guess) effects.

    I must say, I have a hard time seeing this oil windfall making the Japanese less aggressive. The Japanese army was drew heavily on Prussian training and doctrine and the navy drew heavily on British training and doctrine. Both notably aggressive organizations. Both doctrines were rational systems forged in Europe's many wars and then refined by the Japanese experience in the Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese wars. The offense was seen by the Japanese officers in both services as being the best defense. Faced with a situation that seemed hopeless and where the apparent choices were slow strangulation at the hands of an America that saw them as an island of inferior yellow monkey-men and then being hammered by a vengeful China risen from the ashes of the warlord era or rolling the dice and depending on luck and superior Japanese elan to fight out of the corner they were in. I just don't see how the Liaohe oil would change the overall dilemma, though it might make the Japanese more willing to take a more methodical and less risky approach to it.

    fasquardon
     
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  15. Obergruppenführer Smith Chasing the Man in the High Castle

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    I'm reminded of the Wonsan Oil Refinery:

    [​IMG]

    Established in 1935, completed in 1938. Basically a comprehensive facility based on American technology, doing everything from gasoline to aviation fuel to lubricants to heavy fuel.

    Again, this was 1935. If Japan were to find Liaohe in 1935 as our scenario has it, there is a high likelihood that Japan would squeeze up the capital to invest in large constructions of similar facilities, which would help alleviate some of its oil needs. Since good relationship with the US is paramount in this scenario, I feel that the political calculus would change to being (at least temporarily) passive to be on the US's good side. Plus, as I have mentioned before, this would be the first major oil find in East Asia, and Japan has all the incentives to have support in keeping it.

    So let's say 1935 find, start of mass investment in 1936, slow buildup to 1941 where Japan is able to replace 1/3 of its oil needs through US technology/investment. The question then would be, would Japan still be aggressive or not?
     
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  16. fasquardon Cosmonaut

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    It already had a number of reasons to stay on the good side of the US in OTL - the issue was that from the Japanese PoV, the US had an irrational dislike to Japan exercising its will in its own back-yard.

    Also, those who need to be convinced aren't the industrial elite or the politicians, but rather the officers of the Kwangtung army. To those officers, as soon as they created new "facts on the ground", the US would come around because they'd already seen the US get alarmed and then calm down when they annexed Manchuria.

    So I think this is a good point, and you might be right about how Tokyo will approach the international politics. However, I suspect that it is more likely that relations would chill just as fast as OTL if the Japanese go after the European colonies (which they are likely to if they are at war in China in TTL), even if relations are warmer during the late 30s.

    fasquardon
     
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  17. Obergruppenführer Smith Chasing the Man in the High Castle

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    Except the whole Manchurian Incident was the head honchos in Tokyo not having the political will to restrain the Kantogun. Liaohe could be the trigger for Tokyo being much stricter on what happens to in Manchuria, even if it means having the purge the officers there (so preemptive post-2.26?). That's the political calculation that can change.
     
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  18. Anarch King of Dipsodes Overlord of All Thirst

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    There was a lot of anti-German sentiment in Britain before WW I. There were thrillers like best-selling The Riddle of the Sands (1903), which was based on an alleged German plot to invade Britain. There was jingo rhetoric from the likes of Kipling about "... the Goth and the shameless Hun!" ("The Rowers", 1902). There was tabloid paranoia - one newspaper claimed that German waiters working in Britain were all army reservists, ready to serve as a 'Fifth Column' (though that specific phrase was not used, as it was not coined till the 1930s). There was the great battleship panic of 1909: "We want eight and we won't wait!"

    And at this time, Britain and Germany had never fought a war, the British royal family was almost entirely German, Kaiser Wilhelm was Victoria's devoted grandson (and an honorary Admiral of the Royal Navy)...

    IOW, even superficially good relations could be simultaneous with underlying hostility.

    Meanwhile, in the 1930s, Japan had fought a war with China in the 1890s, helped put down the Boxer Rebellion in 1900, and invaded Manchuria in 1931.
     
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  19. marathag Well-Known Member

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    That makes the nasty Sour Crude from Venezuela like West Texas Intermediate in comparison.

    That's not Crude Oil, but Tar with some Crude Oil in it.
     
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  20. Admiral Fischer Well-Known Member

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    It was much more complicated issue than that.

    See what happened when the civilian government signed the London Naval Treaty. Because the Naval Treaty was, according to the detractors, a military affair, the cabinet had no right to sign the treaty without approval from the military. The cabinet was accused of violating the Tosuiken - Emperor's prerogative of supreme command, the prime minister was shot, a military coup was attempted, and then, the Kantogun happened.

    The civilian government was already collapsing. After the whole Tosuiken kanpan debacle they were deprived of any means to control the military, because it was established that the cabinet had no right to order the military and any attempt to do so is the violation of the Emperor's prerogative, traitorous, and hence any prime ministers trying to do so would be assassinated.

    Except how? The Great Depression was still in full effect and the public opinion was firmly in a militarist mood. Issuing the Emperor's edict would be political suicide since neither the public nor the military would accept it, see what happened to Katsura Taro when he tried silence the opposition with the Emperor's edict.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2017
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