Oil and Natural Gas History, Education Resources, Museum News, Exhibits and Events

 

 The Uinta Basin witnessed its first drilling boom following a 1948 oil discovery oil at 4,152 feet deep. The boom continue today - thanks to giant reserves of coalbed methane gas. Photo courtesy of the Utah State Historical Society.

The Uinta Basin witnessed Utah’s first drilling boom following a 1948 oil discovery. A modern boom would return  thanks to coalbed methane gas. Photo courtesy Utah State Historical Society.

After decades of expensive failed exploration attempts, the first Utah oil well finally was competed on September 18, 1948, in the Uinta Basin.

“The honor of bringing in the state’s first commercial oil well went not to the “Majors” but to an “Independent” – the Equity Oil Company,” notes Osmond Harline in a summer 1963 article in Utah Historical Quarterly.

The Ashley Valley No. 1, about 10 miles southeast of Vernal, Utah, produced about 300 barrels a day from 4,152 feet, Harline explains. “It is interesting to note that J.L. (Mike) Dougan, president and general manager of Equity Oil Company and a Salt Lake City resident, had been drilling for oil in Utah for over 25 years.”

Dougan beat out larger and better financed competitors, including  Standard Oil of California, Pure Oil, Continental and Union Oil. The Utah discovery launched a deep-drilling boom. Unlike the earlier attempts, Dougan had drilled beyond the basin’s typical depth of 1,000 feet to 2,000 feet. Read the rest of this entry »

 

Building a community oil museum is not for the faint of heart.

“Money and volunteers, volunteers and money,” are the biggest challenges, according to John Larrabee, board president for the Illinois Oil Field Museum and Resource Center on the outskirts of his hometown of Oblong, Illinois.

The Illinois Oil Field Museum is located in Oblong, Illinois, on Highway 33, southeast of Effingham. First opened in 1961, the community museum moved into a new building in 2001 and today continues to add new exhibits.

“The first thing you have to have is a goal and the determination to keep at it, no matter what. Don’t give up, whatever happens,” Larrabee explained in a 2004 interview with historical society Contributing Editor Kris Wells.

It helps to know something about the oil business, said the third generation Illinois Basin oilman. “The museum began way back in 1961 with a fellow named Enos Bloom, Larrabee noted. “In those days, the city of Oblong provided and maintained a building that housed donated artifacts.” Read the rest of this entry »

 

Sound-Cities-Gas-and Oil Co-stock-aoghs

Washington is not a petroleum-producing state. Extended, significant commercial oil production has never occurred.

But in the mid-1930s, drilling about 40 miles south of Seattle, Sound Cities Gas & Oil Company, Inc., became one of the few companies to make a strike that excited interest.

The company, which had offices in Seattle and Tacoma (Puget Sound cities), wisely decided to drill where flaming gas seeped from the ground.

Using a cable-tool drilling rig near the town of Enumclaw, the company drilled the Bobb No. 1 well seeking a hillside anticline. Geologists had long recognized anticlines – created by the up-folding of rocks, similar to an arch – as potential oil and natural gas traps. Read the rest of this entry »

 

Midfields-Oil-Stock-Colorado-AOGHSIn 1918, a number prominent citizens of Yuma and Wray counties in Colorado got together to form the Midfields Oil Company, capitalized at $100,000 with H. F. Strangways as president.

The local newspaper, the Wray Rattler, followed the company’s progress and published advertisements. Stock was offered at $10 per share.

“The control of the company is in the hands of honest, capable, well known business men of Yuma County, and is in every way a home institution,” proclaimed one ad.

Although oil was the objective (natural gas pipeline infrastructure being nonexistent), Midfields Oil’s first drilling attempt 16 miles south of Wray produced “a showing” of gas in the “Black-Wolf Basin” and was abandoned.

A second well in 1919 proved to be the discovery well for the Beecher Island natural gas field in the Niobrara shale formation, which remains active today. Read the rest of this entry »

 

Texas Production Company was incorporated on June 18, 1917, with capitalization of $1 million.

By 1919, this company brought in the Renner No. 1 well at 475 barrels a day from the Waggoner oilfield, near Electra and the recent extension of the Burkburnett field.

According to the Texas Historical Commission, oil exploration and production in this area was minimal until April 17, 1919, when the Bob Waggoner Well No. 1 blew in at 4,800 barrels per day. It was the first well in what became known as the Northwest Extension Oilfield, comprised of approximately 27 square miles.

Oil had been found in 1912 west of Burkburnett in Wichita County, followed by another oilfield in the town itself in 1918. The Wichita Falls region’s drilling booms inspired a 1940 Academy award-winning movie. See “Boom Town of Burkburnett.”

The company also appears to have drilled productive oil wells in the in the Humble oilfield of Harris County, bringing in the Bissonnet Np. 1 well to a depth of over 4,000 feet, one of the deepest in the field at the time.

That well produced up to 2,000 barrels of oil a day in 1921. In the same year however, a Texas Production Company investor sought advice from a leading financial publication. The answer was not promising.

“So far as we can make out you bought into an oil production of little or no merit, which has simply gone the way of any number of such enterprises,” United States Investor noted.

“Shares of the Texas Production Company are now being offered at a few cents a share by unlisted brokers which would indicate that a sale of your stock would net you little,” the magazine added. “There is no way for you to get your money back.”

United States Investor encouraged its readers to avoid investing in any questionable petroleum-related bonds.

“This may be a time for strong companies to invest in oil at a low figure,” Investor  proclaims, “but a company which must bond itself to pull itself out of a hole can’t do much in the way of speculation on the future price of oil to get back for its stockholders what has been already taken by unscrupulous promoters.”

Note that the company’s certificate includes a vignette of derricks commonly seen on those of other companies formed (and failed) in oil regions: Centralized Oil & Gas Company, the Double Standard Oil & Gas Company, the Evangeline Oil Company, the Texas Production Company and the Tulsa Producing and Refining Company! See “Is my Old Oil Stock worth Anything?”

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