April 1, 1911 – First “Pump Jack Capital of Texas” Discovery
The April 1, 1911, well brought prosperity to Electra, Texas, where citizens celebrated the discovery’s centennial.
Just south of the Red River border with Oklahoma, near Electra, Texas, the Clayco Oil & Pipe Line Company’s Clayco No. 1 well launches an oil boom that lasts for decades.
“As news of the gusher spread through town, people thought it was an April Fools joke and didn’t take it seriously until they saw for themselves the plume of black oil spewing high into the sky,” notes one Electra historian. “That day secured Electra’s place in the history books as being one of the most significant oil discoveries in the nation.”
The gusher on cattleman William T. Waggoner’s lease settled into production of about 650 barrels per day from 1,628 feet. Hundreds of producing wells will follow, reaching the oilfield’s peak production of more than eight million barrels in 1913.
Founded in 1907, the Wichita County town is named after Waggoner’s daughter. Its population grew from 1,000 to 5,000 within months of the discovery. But as the Texas Handbook Online notes, the chaos often associated with oil booms was kept to a minimum – because much of the surrounding land had been leased. “Many who rushed to Electra seeking quick profits, however, just as quickly departed.”
Restoring Electra’s historic Grand Theatre today is a citywide project.
Thanks to several dedicated community activists, Texas legislators designated Electra as the “Pump Jack Capital” of Texas in 2001. Restoration of the historic Grand Theatre – built in 1919 – is underway as a citywide project.
In 2011, the Electra Clayco No. 1 centennial celebration included a parade and re-dedication ceremony of the well’s historic marker.
Among the centennial highlights were a pictorial display of petroleum history inside the Grand Theatre, a walking tour of antique oil equipment – and the popular Chuck Wagon Gang Lunch and chili cook-off.
April 1, 1986 – Oil Prices hit Modern Low
World oil prices fall below $10 a barrel – a new low for the modern petroleum industry.
Causes include excessive OPEC production, worldwide recession (increasing supplies with declining demand) and a U.S. petroleum industry heavily regulated by production or price controls.
The record peak of oil prices will be $145 per barrel in July 2008 – before a price collapse to below $32 by the end of the year.
April 2, 1980 – Carter signs Windfall Profit Tax
One year after lifting price controls on oil, President Jimmy Carter signs the Crude Oil Windfall Profit Tax (WPT) into law. The controversial WPT imposes an excise tax on oil production.
President Jimmy Carter signs into law the Crude Oil Windfall Profit Tax.
“From 1980 to 1988, the nation levied a special tax on domestic oil production,” explains historian Joseph Thorndike. Policymakers, “imposed an excise levy on domestic oil production, taxing the difference between the market price of oil and a predetermined base price.”
The base price is derived from 1979 oil prices and requires annual adjustments for inflation. A remnant of President Richard Nixon’s general wage and price freeze of 1971 – WPT is meant to limit increases in oil prices.
However, “the windfall profits tax has nothing to do, in fact, with profits,” observed the Washington Post in 1979. “It is an excise tax – that is, a tax on each barrel of oil produced.”
After eight years of the tax, domestic oil production falls to its lowest level in 20 years – increasing U.S. reliance on foreign oil. In August 1988, Congress decides to repeal the tax. “Few mourned its passing,” says Thorndike. Read the rest of this entry »