One of the most important resources in the world in the modern era has been oil, but arguably at no time more than during WW2 where many of the Axis' plans revolved around the procurement of a steady supply of the black stuff.

The main known locations for oil in the early 20th century were Texas, Venezuela, the Caucuses, and Indonesia. Venezuela was easily blockaded against Axis interests, and Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan made grossly over-ambitious plans to conquer the Caucuses and Indonesia respectively to supply their war machines. When we see stories involving alternate outcomes to WW2, it generally involves these plans somehow working out for the Axis.

However, it is one of the ironies of history that little did the Axis realise that had actually had been sitting on one of the world's largest deposits of oil in the world in Italian Libya. Today Libya clocks in at 48,363 million barrels of reserves.

Taking into account the historical constraints that existed at the time, what different course could the world have taken had Mussolini found this vital resource in 1937 in his own back yard?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ That's for you to imagine. This site is intended to provide answers to well-defined questions, not to develop the plot of your story for you. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Jul 27, 2019 at 10:09
  • $\begingroup$ FYI, Italy has some (small) oil rigs in the South, too. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Jul 27, 2019 at 14:33
  • $\begingroup$ I don't know about WW2, but in 2002, I am sure one country in particular would have declared war on Libya for sponsoring terrorism. $\endgroup$ Jul 27, 2019 at 15:31

1 Answer 1


Your story to write.

  • No significant difference.
    Italy was not in a position to exploit the find fast enough and get drill rigs, pumps, and refineries online before the Brits overran them. The oil fields became a footnote in WWII history.
  • Moscow falls in early 1942, Russia defeated.
    Knowing that an ally had oil, Hitler does not aim for southern Russia and the Caucasus. Instead he concentrates more forces on the north and center areas and scores a narrow win there. Stalin does not recover from this blow.
  • Germany defeated in 1944 or late 1943.
    By 1942, the oil fields and refineries produce a significant percentage of German gasoline and oil. Hitler orders the Afrikakorps to hold at all costs and the rest of the Wehrmacht to reinforce them at all costs. English and American carriers and subs are concentrated in the Med and turn it into a shooting gallery. The Normandy landings come one year early, against a much weaker western front.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .