In 1910, while digging a drainage channel on his land, Jan Medlen, a local farmer from Gbely, encountered flammable gas leaking from the ground. He managed to construct a primitive reservoir and a brick conduit to supply his house with the gas, which he used not only for heating, but also to forge iron. The conduit was linked to a fireplace to ensure continuous ventilation through the chimney.
However, one day in 1913, the gas accumulated in the house to the point where it caused an explosion which blew the farmer’s house to smithereens and jeopardized the operation of a nearby railway track.
In October of 1913, an exploratory well was drilled in Gbely, not far from the site of the explosion, under the direction of Mine Manager A. Thon using the then state-of-the-art Trauzl-Rapid drilling rig.
At a depth of about 145 m, the well encountered a gas deposit which subsequently produced over 7 thousand m3 daily. Drilling operations continued until the memorable day of January 10, 1914, when contrary to everyone’s expectations the crew hit a large deposit of light oil. This was the first oil discovery in the Vienna Basin. The well produced roughly 1.5 tons of crude oil and released 12 thousand m3 of gas every day.
This discovery in Gbely started a new chapter in the development of the oil industry within the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and also signaled the beginnings of commercial oil production in South Moravia.