This Week July 23 to July 30
July 23, 1951 – Desk & Derrick Clubs organize
The Association of Desk & Derrick Clubs of North America is formed with articles of association signed by presidents of the clubs of New Orleans, Louisiana; Jackson, Mississippi; Los Angeles, California and Houston, Texas.
Combined membership of the four charter clubs is 883. The association promotes “the education and professional development of individuals employed in or affiliated with the petroleum, energy and allied industries and to educate the general public about these industries.”
Today there are there are 61 clubs in seven regions throughout the United States and Canada.
July 24, 2000 – BP unveils New Logo
When BP – then British Petroleum – merges with Amoco in 1998, the company’s name changes to BP Amoco. U.S. Amoco stations eventually convert to the BP brand.
BP, in 2000 the official name of a group of companies that include Amoco, ARCO and Castrol, unveils its new corporate identity brand – replacing its “Green Shield” logo with a green and yellow sunflower pattern. The company introduces a new corporate slogan: “Beyond Petroleum.”
July 25, 1543 – Oil First reported in New World
The first documented report of oil in the New World is made near the Sabine River on the Texas coast – when a storm forces two of Spanish explorer Don Luis de Moscoso’s seven brigantines ashore.
After a discouraging expedition in East Texas, de Moscoso, who succeeded expedition leader Hernando de Soto, built the seven small vessels and sailed down the Mississippi, according to the Houston Geological Society. After reaching the Gulf of Mexico, the Spaniards decided to sail west along the coast. The storm hit and drove two brigantines ashore.
An account published in 1557 notes, “the vessels came together in a creek where lay the two brigantines that preceded them, finding a scum the sea cast up, called copee, which is like pitch and used instead on shipping where that is not to be had, they payed the bottoms of their vessels with it.”
Native Americans had previously used oil from seeps for medicine, tanning hides, waterproofing fabrics, and caulking their boats. Moscoso’s men used pitch from from the offshore oil seep they found west of the Sabine Pass. That seep remained active as late as 1903.
July 27, 1918 – Launch of First Concrete Oil Tanker
America’s first concrete vessel designed to carry oil, the Socony, is launched at its shipyard on Flushing Bay, New York. The reinforced concrete barge is 98-feet long with a 32-foot beam. Built for the Standard Oil Company of New York, the ship draws nine feet with a cargo of 370 tons.
“Bulk oil is carried in six center and two wing compartments, which have been oil-proofed by a special process,” explains the journal Cement and Engineering News. “Eight-inch cast iron pipe lines lead to each compartment and the oil pump is located on a concrete pump room aft.”
Steel shortages during World War Two will lead to the construction of larger concrete oil tankers.
July 28, 1924 — Oil Scouts form Association
The National Oil Scouts Association of America – today the International Oil Scouts Association - files its charter in Austin, Texas, bringing new standards to an important oilfield profession.
Since the birth of America’s petroleum industry in 1859, oil scouts have gathered field intelligence on drilling operations – including often sensitive information about the operator, location, lease, depth of well, formations encountered, logs and other data, which may yield a competitive advantage.
James Tennent, author of The Oil Scouts – Reminiscences of the Night Riders of the Hemlocks, proclaimed in 1915 that scouts “saved the general trade thousands and millions by holding market manipulators in check.”
Read more in “Scouts – Oilfield Detectives.”
July 29, 1918 – Burkburnett becomes a North Texas Boom Town
A wildcat well comes in on S. L. Fowler’s farm near a small North Texas community on the Red River. The subsequent drilling boom will make Burkburnett famous – two decades before “Boom Town,” the 1940 motion picture it inspires.
At the time of the Fowler No. 1 well’s discovery, future moviestar Clark Gable is a teenage roustabout in an Oklahoma oilfield. The well is completed at the northeastern edge of Burkburnett, founded in 1907 – and named by President Theodore Roosevelt, who two years earlier hunted wolf along the Red River with rancher Burk Burnett.
Although Wichita County had been producing oil since 1912 (thanks to a shallow water well west of town) Fowler’s decision to drill a well on his farm – an attempt called “Fowler’s Folly” by some – will bring an oil boom to Wichita County. Fifty-six drilling rigs are at work just three weeks after his oil strike at 1,734 feet deep. Six months later, Burkburnett’s population has grown from 1,000 to 8,000. A line of derricks two-miles long greets visitors.
The Burkburnett oilfield joins earlier discoveries in nearby Electra (1911) and Ranger (1917) that will make North Texas a worldwide leader in petroleum production. By the end of 1918, Burkburnett oil wells are producing 7,500 barrels per day. By June 1919, there are more than 850 producing wells in “the world’s wonder oilfield.”
At the time of the 1918 Burkburnett discovery well, Clark Gable is a 17-year-old roustabout working in an oilfield outside Bigheart, Oklahoma. Eventually, the oil boom dies out and by 1939 Burkburnett has a population of less than 3,500. At the same time, the movie “Boom Town” is adapted from a Cosmopolitan magazine article, “A Lady Comes to Burkburnett.” The MGM feature will be nominated for two Academy Awards.
Today, Burkburnett’s population exceeds 10,000, thanks to agriculture, continued production from its historic oilfield – and the 1941 establishment of nearby Sheppard Air Force Base. Among Burkburnett’s tourist attractions are the Bluebonnet Festival in April – and the Felty Outdoor Oil Museum.
A footnote of the North Texas oil boom is the “World’s Littlest Skyscraper” in Wichita Falls. Just 40 feet tall with 118 square feet per floor, it has survived since 1919. The building is a monument of the boom town era – and a Philadelphia con man. Read more in “Boom Town” of Burkburnett.
July 29, 1957 – Eisenhower begins Import Quotas
As America’s reliance on foreign oil continues to grow and discourage domestic production, President Dwight Eisenhower inaugurates a Voluntary Oil Import Program, including import quotas by region.
Eisenhower intends to ensure adequate domestic petroleum is available in case of national emergency. Using a presidential proclamation two years later, the president replaces the voluntary program with a Mandatory Oil Import Program. The program continues until suspended in 1973 as U.S. oil production peaks – and the Arab oil embargo begins.
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