July 19, 2023  –  Oil & Gas History News, Vol. 4, No. 7


Oil & Gas History News


Welcome to our latest look at America’s petroleum history milestones. July’s sizzling summaries include a 1929 Permian Basin oilfield discovery that tested voluntary proration; establishment of a heating oil reserve in 2000; a New Jersey refinery fire that made early Edison newsreels; and the 19th century creation of gas utilities. Also featured is the CIA’s covert Soviet sub-lifting vessel that would be converted into the pioneer of all modern drillships. There’s much more oil patch history this month — like a 19th century petroleum product that now fuels rockets and the independent producer who discovered 11 Texas oilfields by 1945 and then built Houston’s famed Shamrock Hotel. Thanks for subscribing, and let us know your thoughts about this month’s edition.


This Week in Petroleum History Monthly Update


Links to summaries from four weeks of U.S. oil and natural gas history, including new technologies, oilfield discoveries, petroleum products, and pioneers.


July 18, 1929 – Darst Creek Oilfield discovered in West Texas


With initial production of 1,000 barrels of oil a day, the Texas Company No. 1 Dallas Wilson well revealed a new West Texas oilfield at Darst Creek in Guadalupe County, about five miles from the southwestern edge of the Luling oilfield. The new field would be developed by Humble Oil and Refining (later Exxon), Gulf Production Company, Magnolia Petroleum (later Mobil), as well as the Texas Company (later Texaco)…MORE


July 10, 2000 – DOE establishes Home Heating Oil Reserve


President Bill Clinton directed Energy Secretary Bill Richardson to establish the Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve (NEHHOR) for use during severe winters and other supply emergencies. The reserve of 2 million barrels was expected to last 10 days, the time required for tankers to bring more heating oil from the Gulf of Mexico to New York Harbor…MORE


July 5, 1900 – Edison films Standard Oil Refinery Fire in New Jersey


An early morning lightning strike at the Standard Oil Company refinery at Bayonne, New Jersey, set off explosions in three storage tanks, each with a capacity of 40,000 barrels of oil. Within minutes, the company’s fire department and tugboats rushed to fight the blaze…MORE


June 26, 1885 – Natural Gas Utility charted in Pennsylvania


Peoples Natural Gas Company incorporated — the first Pennsylvania natural gas company chartered by the state to regulate production, transmission, and distribution of natural gas. A similar utility incorporation had taken place a year earlier in New York City when six competing companies combined to form Consolidated Edison…MORE


Energy Education



The former 1970s top-secret CIA vessel Hughes Glomar Explorer (above) in 1998 would be converted into the world’s largest and most advanced drillship, spending the next 17 years working in deep-water sites around the globe. Photo courtesy American Society of Mechanical Engineers.


Secret History of Drillship Glomar Explorer


With members of the original engineering team and ship’s crew among the attendees at the presentation in Houston on July 20, 2006, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) designated the ship Glomar Explorer, an “historic mechanical engineering landmark.” The remarkable vessel’s story began in 1972 with Howard Hughes Jr. and a high-tech ship was ostensibly built to mine the sea floor. It actually was designed and built to secretly recover a lost Soviet ballistic missile submarine. After a $180 million shipyard conversion decades later, the Glomar Explorer began its record-setting career as a ultra-deep drillship. One offshore expert proclaimed the ship, “was decades ahead of its time and the pioneer of all modern drillships.”


Learn more in Secret History of Drill Ship Glomar Explorer.


Featured Articles


Fueling the Saturn V Rocket


A 19th century petroleum product made America’s July 20, 1969, moon landing possible. Five engines of the Saturn V’s first stage burned “Rocket Grade Kerosene Propellant” at 2,230 gallons per second — generating almost eight million pounds of thrust. The fuel was a highly refined kerosene RP-1 (Rocket Propellant-1) that began in 1846 as “coal oil” for lamps.


Learn more in Kerosene Rocket Fuel.


“Diamond Glenn” McCarthy strikes Oil


Glenn H. McCarthy on July 21, 1935, struck oil 50 miles east of Houston, extending the Anahuac field. The well was the first of many for the Texas independent producer, who would discover 11 oilfields by 1945. He later invested $21 million to build the 18-story, 1,100-room Shamrock Hotel, spending another $1 million on its opening gala, which newspapers dubbed, “Houston’s biggest party.”


Learn more in “Diamond Glenn” McCarthy.


News & Research


Hidden History at Texas Land Office


The oldest state agency in Texas, the Texas General Land Office, includes Archives and Records (established in 1837) that preserve more than 35.5 million documents and 45,000 maps, dating back to the 16th century. It has just added “Texas Hidden History,” which uses mapping software to produce Story Maps.


175th Anniversary of Washington Gas Light 


Washington Gas Light (WGL), established by Congress on July 8, 1848, installed manufactured gas lights in the House and Senate chambers, the White House, and along Pennsylvania Avenue. In 1931, President Herbert Hoover opened a pipeline valve to bring natural gas from fields in Kentucky and West Virginia.


Seeking Standard Oil’s Naptha History


A writer working on the history of lighting in New York City has noted Standard Oil produced almost all of the naphtha in the United States at the end of the 19th century. On the AOGHS Research Forum, he is seeking more information about how and where Standard Oil produced naphtha.



Thanks for reading our July issue and for sharing it with friends. This really helps bring new visitors to the AOGHS website, which needs annual supporting members. Financial support of any amount is appreciated and goes directly to keeping the website in operation. Adding editorial content also continues, as does linking to energy education resources. A recent request from the Texas General Land Office has made it the latest addition to our state resources page. Thank you again for subscribing. See you again next month!


— Bruce Wells



Preserve U.S. Petroleum History




© 2023 American Oil & Gas Historical Society, 3204 18th Street NW, No. 3, Washington, DC 20010, United States, (202) 387-6996

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This