Price River Petroleum Company was a small “poor boy” venture whose future would be determined by the success or failure of its first wildcat well, drilled with monies raised from stock sold to hopeful investors.

With only $250,000 capitalization, Price River Petroleum gambled on drilling a well in Utah’s Carbon County near the town of Price.

In November of 1928, the Deseret News noted, “Drilling at the Price well has been slow and discouraging during the past few months.”

The Salt Lake City newspaper described the necessity for the company to assess its shareholders with a one-half cent per share charge – to purchase new casing and tools for continue drilling.

Utah’s Department of Natural Resources Division of Oil, Gas and Mining notes that the well reached a depth of 3,335 feet without finding oil.

It was a dry hole, bankrupting the Price River Petroleum Company and rendering its stock valueless. Oil had first been discovered in Utah around 1891, but it wasn’t until 1948 that large-scale commercial production began.

After drilling for oil in Utah for more than 25 years, J. L. “Mike” Dougan, president of the small independent Equity Oil Company, completes the state’s first commercial well in the Uinta Basin.

Today, Utah is ranked 11th in oil and 9th in natural gas production.

A drilling boom continues today – thanks to giant reserves of coalbed methane gas. As of 2010, Utah has produced more than 8.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas valued at more than $1.7 billion.

Price River Petroleum stock certificates have value only to collectors.


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 © 2018 Bruce A. Wells.

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