This Week Oct. 8 to Oct. 14
October 8, 1923 – Tulsa hosts First Oil Exposition
Five thousand visitors brave torrents of rain for opening day of the first annual International Petroleum Exposition and Congress in downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma.
More than 200 exhibitors display the most complete line of oil country goods ever assembled and it is midnight before the last guest leaves the grounds.
In subsequent years, attendance grows to more than 120,000 and the Exposition moves first to the old Tulsa circus grounds, and then to a permanent home at the Tulsa State Fairgrounds.
The trademark Golden Driller statue is added in 1966 as attendance peaks. Economic shocks beginning with the 1973 OPEC oil embargo depress the petroleum industry and after 57 years, the International Petroleum Exposition closes for good in 1979 as a result of growing competition from the annual Offshore Technology Conference in Houston.
October 12, 1905 – Boom Times arrive in North Louisiana
Oil is discovered in Caddo Parish, creating a classic boom town in Oil City – and economic prosperity for northern Louisiana that would last for decades.
The Caddo Pine Island oil field, about 20 miles northwest of Shreveport, includes more than 80,000 acres. Five years later, another major discovery will extend the Caddo field by about 1.5 miles.
Formerly known as Caddo-Pine Island Oil and Historical Museum, the Louisiana State Oil and Gas Museum vividly tells the story of Oil City and Louisiana petroleum history using historic buildings, a collection of outdoor displays, and interactive exhibits.
Chevron donated a drilling rig now outside the main museum in Oil City.
“This part of Louisiana, of course, was built on the oil and gas industry, and those visitors interested in the technical aspects of oilfield work will find the museum particularly appealing,” notes the museum’s website.
“Across the street and next to the old train depot, an interesting collection of machinery, rigs and equipment further illustrates the character of oil and gas production.”
More petroleum exhibits can be found in Shreveport, where natural gas was discovered in 1870 by the American Well Works – which was digging a 961-foot water well for the Shreveport Ice Plant. A night watchman struck a match to see if the wind he heard blowing from the drilling site would blow it out, but the escaping natural gas ignited.
The newly discovered gas was subsequently used to light the ice factory and became the state’s first commercial use of natural gas.
The Spring Street Historical Museum is housed in one of the oldest downtown buildings – Tally’s Bank, built in 1865. Nearby, at 90 Market Street, a statue commemorates Louisiana’s first commercial natural gas well.
Both museums note that the oil booms brought 25,000 people to the region – and some of the lawlessness that sometimes accompanies an economic boom. Historians note the influx of such famous outlaws as Tom Star and his gang from Oklahoma and Diamond Dick. Later, Bonnie and Clyde Barrow are said to have often slipped in and out of Oil City.
October 13, 1954 – First Arizona Oil Well
Arizona becomes the 30th oil producing state when Shell Oil Company brings in the East Boundary Butte No. 2 well a mile south of the Utah border on Apache County’s Navajo Indian Reservation.
The well’s initial flow is small, just 2,200 cubic feet of natural gas and 11 barrels of oil per day from the Paradox Basin. Apache County remains the only petroleum producing county in Arizona.
Of more than 1,000 oil and natural gas drilled in the state since 1954, almost 90 percent have been dry holes (2009 data). The highest producing field, Dineh-Bi-Keyeh, produced less than 43,000 barrels of oil from 23 wells in 2009.
Nevertheless, more than 21 million barrels of oil have been produced since the first discovery, according to the Arizona Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which has statutory responsibility to regulate the drilling for and production of oil, gas, helium, carbon dioxide, and geothermal resources. About 65 percent of the nation’s copper is mined in Arizona.
October 14, 1929 – Discovery of Van, Texas, Oil Field
The discovery of oil in Van, Texas, by the Pure Oil Company creates an oil boom town 60 miles east of Dallas.
By December, three more wells have been drilled and construction started on a camp for oil field workers. By 1930, among “Cook Camp” buildings is the a sheet metal warehouse that today is the Van Area Oil and Historical Museum.
Pure Oil Company’s Jarman No. 1 discovery well initially produced 146 barrels per hour from the Woodbine sand (between 2,656 feet and 2,712 feet). The Van field adopts advanced production techniques – and becomes the nation’s first field to be completely unitized.
Unitization improves production efficiency by consolidating a petroleum field into a single entity. Usually, one or several of the companies involved are designated as operator. “The unitization is done without regard to surface boundary issues and merges all the involved gas and oil leases into one contract,” notes one legal expert.
The Van Area Oil and Historical Museum, which opened in 1987, has many reminders of East Texas oil boom days. It is located just north of I-20, on Hwy. 16 West. The community hosts an annual Oil Festival and Van Oil Queen Pageant in October and an Oil Museum Lighting and Open House in December.
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