In 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.
The well flowed an estimated two million cubic feet daily – and the company used some of this natural gas to fire drilling rig steam boilers rather than buying coal. But with no market for its gas, Midfields Oil tried to get the Hanley Company of Dayton, Ohio, to build a carbon black and gasoline extraction facility nearby.
The plant was never built and Midfields Oil was left without a buyer for its natural gas production.
After completing a third well in search of oil in November 1922 and reportedly “due to a general business depression,” further development stalled.
The company’s fourth and final effort to find commercial quantities of oil ended without success the following year, with last mention of the Midfields Oil Company appearing in the Wray Rattler on December 13, 1923. Its stock was assessed as “valueless” in 1924, but certificates appear periodically online for sale by collectors on scripophily sites.
The stories of exploration and production companies joining petroleum booms (and avoiding busts) can be found updated in Is my Old Oil Stock worth Anything? The American Oil & Gas Historical Society preserves U.S. petroleum history. Please support this AOGHS.ORG energy education website. For membership information, contact email@example.com. © 2018 Bruce A. Wells.