The 'Steaua Română' ('Romanian Star') oil refinery is located in Câmpina, a town on the Prahova River, about 35 kilometres north-west of the county seat Ploiești. Oil deposits have been known in the Prahova River valley since the 17th century. In the middle of the 19th century, industrial oil extraction and processing began, financed by foreign investors.
Construction works for the Steaua Română started in February 1897 on an area of 2.5 ha. The refinery expanded several times in the following decades and was rebuilt after being severely damaged during both World Wars, until the current expansion of around 18 ha. Production began in August 1897. With a significant upscaling financed by Deutsche Bank in 1904, the refinery could process 400,000 tons of crude oil annually, becoming the largest refinery in Europe. During its first years, the refinery triggered a local economic and demographic boom.
In both World Wars, the refinery, like the country's entire oil industry, became an important part of the war economy; it supplied much of the fuel for the German war machinery and was therefore targeted several times by Allied air raids. After the destruction caused by bombing in World War 2, reconstruction work took 4 years before full production capacity was restored.
In 1948, the refinery was nationalised for almost half a century and specialised in the production of paraffin oils and paraffin according to the socialist principles of division of labour. In the 1990s, the Romanian state privatised the refinery and sold it to the newly founded company "Steaua Română". In 2003 and again in 2008, the company fell into an economic crisis; after several years of insolvency proceedings, it filed for bankruptcy in 2021.
The initiative group 'Rafinăria la prezent' ('the Refinery Now!') is campaigning for an inventory and the preservation of the industrial heritage of the refinery and its consideration in the new-use plans to be developed.