Old Oil Stocks – in progress “N” researchers probably will not find lost riches – see Not a Millionaire from Old Oil Stock. The American Oil & Gas Historical Society, which depends on your donations, does not have resources to research of corporate oil histories.
However, AOGHS continues to look into forum queries as part of its energy education mission. Some investigations have revealed little-known stories like Buffalo Bill’s Shoshone Oil Company; many others have found questionable dealings during booms and epidemics of “black gold” fever like Arctic Explorer turns Oil Promoter.
Visit the Stock Certificate Q & A Forum and view company updates regularly added to the A-to-Z listing at Is my Old Oil Stock worth Anything? AOGHS will continue to look into forum queries, including these “in progress.”
Nanticoke Oil Company
Nanticoke Oil Company was incorporated in 1901 — and harshly reviewed in June of that year by United States Investor as being overcapitalized ($500,000) while claiming to have 20 acres in the Sunset district of California. “Whether it owns it in fee simple or by lease, Holleman & Rippey (Nanticoke Oil agents) refuse to state. In fact, they refused to give any information whatsoever about the company,” the publication explained. “We consider the stock a very poor gamble.”
The Los Angeles Herald reported the Nanticoke Oil Company to be “rigging a well” in the McKitterick-Sunset field, but records at the California Department of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources do not indicate the well was ever actually drilled.
In its April 29, 1905, issue, United States Investor affirmed its earlier critical evaluation of the exploration company: “When both Bernalilio and Nanticoke oil companies were brought out, we reported adversely on them and intimated that it was very doubtful if anything would ever come of them. Nothing has been heard of these companies for some time, and the supposition is that they have found their just end – oblivion. The stocks have no market value, and intrinsically they are not believed to be worth more than the paper they are printed on.”
National Consolidated Oil Company
In its August 20, 1921, issue, United States Investor assessed the value of National Consolidated Oil stock, noting “There have been during recent months quotations in the neighborhood of five cents per share.”
The publication reported National Consolidated Oil was combining several companies, including Pleasant Grove Royalty Syndicate, Toyah-Bell Oil, Oklahoma Texas Petroleum Products, Garrison Coal & Oil, Progressive Lease Syndicate, and Manhattan Consolidated Petroleum.
The newly consolidated organization incorporated in Delaware on September 19, 1921, and operated out of Fort Worth, Texas. Capitalization was $10 million. According to Oil Weekly, by March 1922 the company had drilled one dry hole (No. 1 Nussbaum) and was down to 2,960 foot depth on its second well (No. 1 Coleman) near Streetman in Texas’ Freestone County.
Oil Weekly reported that by April 15, the No. 1 Coleman well had to be “fished” at about 3,400 feet deep (read about the technology in Fishing in Petroleum Wells). Afterwards, little drilling or financial records remain about National Consolidated Oil or its stock certificates.
National Energy Corporation
National Energy Corporation stock was identified as a “Non-Transferable Securities Certificate” authorized for destruction by the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2004; CUSIP Number (Committee on Uniform Securities Identification Procedures) 635809106. The Depository Trust Company destroyed certificates, “representing positions in securities for which transfer agent services are no longer available.” The Destruction of Non-Transferable Securities Certificates Program was introduced to address the costs and risk relating to the increasing percentage of non-transferable physical certificates in the depository’s vault.
National Oil Company (Noco Petroleum Company, North American Oil Company)
National Oil Company (of Oklahoma) incorporated in Delaware on August 22, 1916, with capitalization of $15 million. Producing properties in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas enabled the company to prosper and pay dividends to investors. However, production eventually diminished to about 1,500 barrels of oil a day and declines in oil prices forced the company to reorganize as Noco Petroleum in November 1919.
Oil & Gas News reported that the new Noco Petroleum Company would declare a five percent dividend to shareholders in May 1920, but a year later, United States Investor’s review of the company noted, “We do not consider it as having attained yet those characteristic which appeal to the investor.”
The assessment proved prophetic. On September 15, 1922, Noco Petroleum merged with nine other companies to form North American Oil Company. For Noco Petroleum stockholders, the exchange basis was five preferred shares or two common shares for one share of the new North American Oil Company. North American Oil Company began trading on the New York Curb Market Exchange on November 23, 1923, but chaos ensued before the Exchange intervened and suspended the company. North American Oil was “stricken from the stock list” on January 15, 1923, and litigation began. William A. Foster was charged with fraud.
Subsequent testimony before a New York Court of General Sessions described fictitious transactions, ”published upon the New York Stock Exchange as purchases and sales of stock of the North American Oil Co., a corporation, pretended purchases and sales whereby no actual ownership and interest of such stock was there.”
On April 30, 1924, a jury convicted W.A. Foster “of feloniously causing to be reported fictitious transactions in securities.” Subsequent appeals failed. By 1924, Moody’s Industrial Manual had “no recent information” to report on National Oil Company, Noco Petroleum, or North American Oil Company.
National Oil Refining and Manufacturing Company
California entrepreneur George Calhoun organized the National Oil Refining and Manufacturing Company in 1901 with capitalization of $1 million.
Calhoun’s company was to refine oil into gasoline, kerosene and a variety of lubricating oils, as well as “road oil” and asphalt. (All products of growing importance as Americans began buying automobiles, see Cantankerous Combustion and Asphalt Paves the Way.)
Newspaper ads promoted stock sales, proclaiming “Fortunes in Asphaltum” and that each 10-cent share of stock, “will positively advance to 15 cents per share.”
After building a refinery in Bakersfield in 1904, the company manufactured Black Eagle asphalt and lubricating oils branded as Golden State, Pioneer and Superior. The plant had the capacity to produce 1,200 tons of asphalt monthly, but securing enough oil to refine became problematic and led to extended contract litigation. George Calhoun died in August 1920. His company left few records.
National Petroleum Company
The National Petroleum Company was incorporated in 1917, capitalized at $500,000 with stock par value set at 10 cents by the company, whose officers included four gentlemen named Stablein, Wiswell, Ringle and Thomson. National Petroleum Company’s registration with Montana regulators expired in 1957.
National Petroleum Lease Corporation
In July 1961, Mark M. Weiss, president of National Petroleum Lease Corporation, published a promotional brochure entitled, “How to Lease Your Way to Wealth and Security; A Second Income From Oil Can End Your Toil!”
Weiss’ business model resulted from public excitement over recent oil discoveries in New Mexico. National Petroleum Lease Corporation aimed to acquire large New Mexico leases at auction and then profit by subdividing and selling off 40 acre lots. Theoretically, as new discoveries extended, all investors had to do was for oil companies to rush in (also see First New Mexico Oil Discoveries.)
However, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission took notice when investor complaints began to accumulate. In March, 1963, National Petroleum Lease was reported to be in “violation of the Securities Act registration requirement in the offer and sale of investment contracts, consisting of assignments of oil and gas leases on tracts of land situated in certain counties in New Mexico, coupled with contemporaneous representations and undertakings concerning development of said tracts.”
The SEC enjoined the company to desist, which it promptly did, but Weiss was then charged by the state of Ohio with fraud. He had acquired 82,000 acres of government-owned land described as having “little chance of yielding oil,” for 22 cents an acre. He then sold 40-acre packages for $10 an acre, allegedly netting $365,000 from the scheme. By September 1963, Weiss was fighting extradition to Ohio and his company was effectively defunct.
New England Petroleum Company
By 2012, thanks to new technologies for drilling and new discoveries of “tight oil” in the shale of Dakota’s Bakken Formation and Williston Basin, North Dakota ranked second only to Texas in oil production. In 1916, it had none.
The New England Petroleum Company formed in Reading, Massachusetts on August 8, 1916, with capitalization of only $10,000. The same year, the venture was paid $520 by the town of Reading for “oiling streets.”
What incentive that brought these investors all the way west to explore for oil in North Dakota is not apparent, but by January 1919, North Dakota state regulators – the “Blue Sky” Commission – approved New England Petroleum Company “to prospect, and bore” for oil (also see Wyoming-Dakota Oil Company).
New England Petroleum was one of the first to rely upon and submit samples for further study to the new North Dakota State Geological Survey. Many petroleum exploration ventures received such help from the survey as the state encouraged the search for oil and natural gas resources.
But New England Petroleum was either unable to obtain sufficient capital to begin operations or convinced by geologists to look elsewhere. In either case, North Dakota would have to wait for its first commercially successful well until April 4, 1951, when the Clarence Iverson No. 1 came in and began producing about 240 barrels of oil a day. Learn more in First North Dakota Oil Well.
Newfield Gas & Oil Company
Newfield Gas and Oil Company originally organized under South Dakota law as the Empire State Gas & Petroleum Company in 1917, was renamed as the Rochester Oil Company in 1919, and then renamed again as the Newfield Gas & Oil Company in 1920. The company also went by Newfield Oil & Gas instead of Newfield Gas & Oil.
Licensed to do business in New York, the exploration company held leases on 4,699 acres and with $85,000 in stock sales, drilled six producing gas wells in Livingston County within two miles of Dansville. Newfield Oil & Gas built a two-mile pipeline to supply its natural gas to the Dansville Gas and Electric Company and other customers.
But by June 1922, the Company’s cash assets were down to $380 with debts of over $12,000. In February 1923 the company ran afoul of Rochester’s public service commissioner, who publicly chastised company president and principle stockholder J.J. Leighton.
“I don’t want any more references to the Public Service Commission used for the purpose of selling stock in this company,” the commissioner proclaimed. Defending his failing company, Leighton later replied, “That was the only way we had to do business; to get our money to develop the property with.”
Nordon Corporation was a Canadian company formed in 1929 with five million shares of stock. Its purpose was to invest in oil leases and royalties rather than to drill for oil. Nordon offered 450,000 of shares to the public at $3 each. It also traded 1.5 million shares for leases on 24,000 acres of potential production, plus another 76,800 acres already generating royalty revenue.
On April 25, 1930, the company reincorporated as Nordon Oil Corporation with holdings in both the United States and Canada. The former stock was exchanged with the new “share for share” but sold for less that a dollar per share by the end of the year, according to an Ottawa Citizen article on December 3, 1930.
In the ensuing years, Nordon operations moved to Oklahoma City. George Platt became CEO in 1966, beginning a convoluted path for the company ultimately described in The First Junk Bond: A Story of Corporate Boom and Bust, published in 2002.
By 1967, Nordon had expanded into “acquiring and developing oil and gas properties and drilling for, producing, and selling crude oil and natural gas,” noted the Securities and Exchange Commission’s News Digest of September 18, 1967. The company acquired J.C. Trahan Inc. of Shreveport, Louisiana, for $17 million in Nordon stock, which added interests in 900 wells to Nordon’s original eight wells.
The company continued with an aggressive growth strategy and became an oil and natural gas producer. In 1970 Nordon changed its name to Texas International Petroleum Company. Complex debt management and financing led Texas International Petroleum as it responded to oil markets, prices and opportunities.
Securities and Exchange Commission documents record name changes as the original 1929 Canadian Nordon Corporation, Ltd. continued to evolve through mergers. In 1972, Texas International Petroleum became Texas International Company. After having lost money in 12 of 13 years, Texas International emerged from bankruptcy to become the Phoenix Resource Companies in 1990.
In 1996, Phoenix was acquired by Apache Corporation (Oklahoma’s third largest gas producer at the time) for $396 million. Shareholders received “three-quarters of an Apache share plus $4 in cash for each Phoenix share.”
North Coast Oil & Refining Company
North Coast Oil and Refining Company drilled its first well along the California coast, just north of Crescent City in 1921. At a depth of 832 feet, the borehole collapsed and the well was lost. The company notified the California oil and gas supervisor in San Francisco that it was “skidding” the cable-tool rig “58 feet east” and drilling a new hole.
The second well reached a depth of 1,240 feet before work was suspended and the well abandoned in December 1922. No further drilling was undertaken before the company went out of business circa 1926. Former President Richard Hansen advised the state supervisor that each stockholder, “received a few cents per share return on his stock at the time of the dissolution of the company, which dividend was obtained from the sale of the salvaged material.”
Northern Oil Company
Northern Oil Company was one of several failed oil exploration ventures of a woman wildcatter who would not give up. In 1938 Stella Dysart acquired 800,000 shares of the struggling company for $30,000 and hoped to change its luck. But Dysart found no oil and ended up in court when sued by investors. Available online is a transcript from the United States Circuit Court of Appeals (9th Circuit) No. 9576 that determined her liability. See Mrs. Dysart’s Uranium Well for more on her adventures – and eventual success.
In 1933 Jonas Johnson and William LeSage operated gasoline filling stations in Hibbing and Virginia, Minnesota, before they pooled their interests and created the Northwest Petroleum Company. They leased their properties to Zenith Petroleum Company but soon became dissatisfied with the “upkeep, sales, and personnel.”
Zenith was a troubled company and went into receivership, precipitating lawsuits that embroiled Barnsdall Refining Corporation (provider of gasoline to the filling stations) as well as Northwest Petroleum Company. Johnson ultimately bought out his partner LeSage and changed the company’s name to Range Ice & Fuel Company. The filling stations in Minnesota became part of the new company and distributed ice and fuel.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. © 2020 Bruce A. Wells.