This Week May 14 to May 20
May 14, 2004 – Oil and Natural Gas Museum Opens in Louisiana
The first public museum in Louisiana dedicated to the oil and gas industry opens in Oil City, 30 miles northwest of Shreveport.
The Louisiana State Oil and Gas Museum, originally the Caddo-Pine Island Oil and Historical Museum, includes the historic depot of the Kansas City Southern Railroad. The museum preserves the many Caddo Parish oil and natural gas discoveries – and the economic prosperity brought by a North Louisiana petroleum boom.
With the first oil wells drilled in the early 1900s, by 1910 almost 25,000 people are working in and around Oil City, which becomes the first “wildcat town” in the Arkansas-Louisiana-Texas region.
The museum documents the historical importance of the first oil discovery in 1905 – and the technology behind the May 1911 Ferry No. 1 well at Caddo Lake, one of the nation’s earliest over-water oil wells. Gulf Refining Company completed this early “offshore” oil well on Caddo Lake, where production continues today.
Natural gas was discovered in Shreveport in 1870 while drilling for water for the Shreveport Ice Factory. “A night watchman struck a match to see if the wind he heard blowing from the site would blow it out, but it ignited,” notes the Caddo Parish website (which includes a good collection of photos).
The 1870 Shreveport natural gas well was used to light the ice factory — the first documented use of natural gas in Louisiana.
The Louisiana State Oil and Gas Museum tells these stories and others about the Oil City region’s history, starting with the culture of Caddo Indians. Visitors learn petroleum heritage from photographs and full-sized replicas of early Oil City homes.
Visitors also view scaled down, functional oil and natural gas equipment as it once operated in the most famous oilfield of Northwest Louisiana. Chevron donated a derrick and other oilfield equipment that help draw tourists to the museum, which is a 20-minute drive from Shreveport.
May 15, 1911 – Standard Oil Breakup
After reviewing 12,000 pages of court documents, Chief Justice Edward White issues the U.S. Supreme Court’s majority opinion that mandates dissolution of the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey.
The historic ruling, which will break Standard Oil into 34 separate companies, upholds an earlier Circuit Court decision that the John D. Rockefeller company’s practices violated the Sherman Antitrust Act. The company is given six months to spin off its subsidiaries. Five years earlier, President Theodore Roosevelt’s Justice Department had launched 44 anti-trust suits, prosecuting railroad, beef, tobacco, and other trusts.
“Between 1897 and 1904, a total of 4,227 firms merged to form 257 corporations,” notes digitalhistory. “The largest merger combined nine steel companies to create U.S. Steel. By 1904, some 318 companies controlled nearly 40 percent of the nation’s manufacturing output. A single firm produced over half the output in 78 industries.”
May 16, 1934 – “Stripper Well” Association Founded
The National Stripper Well Association is organized in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Stripper wells – marginally producing wells – make up about 80 percent of all U.S. wells, almost 20 percent of domestic oil and natural gas production. A Stripper well produces 10 barrels of oil or 60 thousand cubic feet of natural gas per day or less.
America is the only country with significant stripper well production, the association notes. Although each individual well contributes a small amount, there are about 400,000 wells still producing – contributing more than 291 million barrels of oil in 2007, when oil production generated $728 million in tax revenue. NSWA says the tax revenue from natural gas reached more than $600 million.
Higher prices and new technologies for enhanced recovery methods could add up to 200 billion barrels of recoverable oil in the United States. Information about the latest stripper well technology — including a “Stripper Well Consortium” managed by the Pennsylvania State University — is posted at the Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy.
May 16, 1961 – Natural Gas Museum Opens in Southwestern Kansas
A small museum over a giant natural gas field opens today in southwestern Kansas.
The Stevens County Gas & Historical Museum in Hugoton educates visitors about one of the largest natural gas fields in North America.
Operated by Gladys Renfro, curator, and a few dedicated volunteers, the museum serves “as a memento of the Hugoton gas field and the progressive development of Stevens County.”
The 14-county Kansas gas field, part of a larger group extending 8,500 square miles into the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles, has produced more than 29 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, notes the Kansas Geological Survey (KGS).
About 11,000 wells produce both oil and gas in the Kansas portion of the Hugoton area — and thousands of miles of pipeline carry Hugoton gas throughout the United States.
“Hugoton production is a major source of natural gas and oil for the state and the nation,” KGS says, adding that the economic value produced in 14 counties of southwest Kansas exceeds 50 percent of all gas and oil produced in the state. “The major gas fields of this area have produced enough gas to supply every household in Kansas for 364 years.”
Although natural gas had been discovered as early as 1922, near Liberal, Kansas, that well did not produce oil – so it was considered of little value and remained unused for several years, explains KGS.
“In 1927, gas was discovered at the Independent Oil and Gas Company’s Crawford No. 1, about 2,600 feet below the surface southwest of Hugoton,” says KGS. “In 1929, Argus Pipe Line Company started construction of a pipeline to furnish gas to Dodge City.”
A 2004 Hugoton Asset Management Project brought a collaboration between KGS and eight industry partners in the Hugoton field – to build a “knowledge and technical base required for intelligent stewardship, identification of new opportunities, and continued improvement in recovery strategies.”
The Stevens County Gas & Historical Museum, 905 S. Adams Street in Hugoton, today includes early oil patch equipment, restored buildings – including an historic Santa Fe Hugoton Train Depot – an 1887 school house and home, a grocery store, and a barber shop. A natural gas well drilled in 1945 is still producing at the museum. Hugoton hosts as an annual “Gas Capital Car Show” in August.
Beginning in the 1930s, Phillips Petroleum company produced Hugoton natural gas from 3,000 feet deep in Texas County, Oklahoma. “This field with subsequent deeper discoveries of oil and gas has provided landowners with royalty revenue and cheap fuel,” the company explains on an historic marker in a Guymon, Oklahoma, park.
“There are nearly 8,000 producing oil or gas wells in Texas County today,” the historic marker notes. “For 75 years, the county has been one of the largest sources of revenue for the state of Oklahoma through taxes on oil and gas production.”
Editor’s Note – Recent natural gas shale discoveries (and advanced production technologies) have overtaken the Hugoton’s once dominant role. In 2009, the Hugoton gas area produced 328 billion cubic feet of natural gas, making it the ninth largest source of gas in America.
Significant natural gas shale discoveries in the Fayetteville, Arkansas, region (2004) and Haynesville, Louisiana, region (2008) have estimated production volumes of 517 billion cubic feet and 204 billion cubic feet respectively in 2009.
May 17, 1912 – First Liquefied “Bottled Gas”
America’s liquefied petroleum gas industry is born when gas cylinders are installed on the farm of John W. Gahring near Waterford, Pennsylvania. The American Gasol Company of West Virginia hires A. F. Young Hardware and Plumbing Company for this first installation of the cylinders of “bottled gas” to be used for cooking and heating.
May 18, 1882 – 646 Mystery Well production Revealed
The true – and at that time massive – oil production of the closely guarded secret discovery well in the Warren County, Pennsylvania, township is revealed today…with a devastating impact on oil prices.
As this oil patch community’s historians explain: “The hilltop settlement of Cherry Grove saw national history in the spring and summer of 1882 when the 646 Mystery Well ushered in a great oil boom.”
The sudden news about the mystery well, operated by the Jamestown Oil Company, sent shock waves through early oil market centers. “The excitement in the oil exchanges was indescribable,” notes an account of historian Paul H. Giddens. “Over 4,500,000 barrels of oil were sold in one day on the exchanges in Titusville, Oil City and Bradford.”
According to Giddens, the Cherry Grove discovery demoralized the market and drove the price down to less than 50 cents per barrel. Despite this, hundreds of derricks appeared around Cherry Grove and thousands of people moved there while the boom lasted. It was short lived, according to the dedicated volunteers of today’s Cherry Grove Old Home and Community Day Committee, which hosts special oil patch events on the last Sunday in June.
“Before the railroad could lay a new line to Cherry Grove, the boom went bust,” notes Walt Atwood, president of the Cherry Grove Old Home and Community Day. “Thousands of people moved on. Those who remained kept the memory of the Oil Excitement alive with reunions that became known as Old Home Day.”
In 1982 and again in 2007, a group of Cherry Grove Old Home Day regulars rebuilt a replica of the 646 Mystery Well. The volunteers worked with the township supervisors to secure grants and bring in a work crew from the Pennsylvania Conservation Corps.
“Come join us on June 24, 2012, for the 130th anniversary of the great 1882 Oil Excitement in Cherry Grove,” says Walt Atwood.
May 20, 1930 – Birth of Society of Exploration Geophysicists
In 1937 the society adopts the name by which it is known today, the Society of Exploration Geophysicists. SEG fosters “the ethical practice of geophysics in the exploration and development of natural resources, in characterizing the near surface, and in mitigating earth hazards.”
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