Baku is one of the busiest streets in Vung Tau city. Most of new comers to the city are very curious about the meaning and origin of this street name. This name  originated from the special relationship between Vietnam and Azerbaijan, which was established after President Ho Chi Minh's visit to the Western Asian nation on July 23, 1959.

At that time, when visiting the oil field in Baku city of Azerbaijan, President Ho Chi Minh told leaders and petroleum engineers of the Soviet Union in general and Azerbaijan in particular, “Our country has sea, so we will definitely have oil. But we are at war, we cannot exploit it. I hope and believe that after the victory of the Vietnamese resistance war, you will help us find, exploit and process oil, build an oil and gas industrial park like in Baku.”

A corner of Baku street in Vung Tau city

This saying was historically meaningful to Vietnam’s oil and gas industry. President Ho Chi Minh showed his foresight when highlighting the important role of the oil and gas industry to the national development at the time Vietnam was busy at fighting foreign invaders and protecting the country. He set a target that Vietnam would not only exploit oil and gas but also build a strongly developed petroleum industry like one in Baku.

According to several historical documents, oil and gas were first discovered in Baku in the 8th century. By the 15th century, people in Baku had known how to extract oil and gas from open-pit and shallow fields to sell at the market. In the 19th century, Baku already had a huge number of oil wells located on the largest oil fields of the world. When Azerbaijan joined the Soviet Union, Baku became the center of the Soviet’s oil and gas industry. The city was also home to the Azerbaijan Oil and Chemistry Institute (now Azerbaijan State Oil and Industry University), the number one university in the oil and gas industry of the Soviet Union and also a world famous university at that time.

In response to President Ho Chi Minh’s suggestion, Soviet experts actively supported Vietnam to establish its own oil and gas industry. On November 27, 1961, the General Department of Geology and Minerals established an oil exploration group numbered 36 (Geological Group No.36), which was tasked to study, search and explore oil and gas resources in Vietnam's sea with support from Soviet experts. In 1966, the first eight Vietnamese students were sent to the Azerbaijan Oil and Chemistry Institute to study.

The number of Vietnamese students learning at the school increased significantly in accordance with the development of the country’s oil and gas industry. These students  became experts and leaders of the national oil and gas industry later on.

In the 1980s, Vung Tau city was developed to be the center of the Vietnamese oil and gas industry like Azerbaijan’s Baku. On the occasion of the twinning ceremony between Vung Tau and Baku cities, Nguyen Thai Hoc street in Vung Tau was renamed “Bacu” (the Vietnamese transliteration of the city of Baku). Also, Baku city has a new street named “Vungtau.”

Thanks to the great vision of President Ho Chi Minh and support from the Soviet Union and Azerbaijan, Vietnam’s oil and gas industry has developed strongly, becoming an important pillar of the national economy.

After 62 years of development, Geological Group No.36 is now the Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (Petrovietnam or PVN) with the total consolidated assets of more than USD 40 billion, consolidated equity of USD 21.5 billion and nearly 60,000 staff and employees operating in various aspects.

Translated by Trung Thanh