An experienced independent oil producer, W.D. Richardson orchestrated the merger of his own company, Lake Park Refining (incorporated 1918), with Dunn Petroleum and Davenport Petroleum to form Meridian Petroleum Company in September 1920.
Merger terms dictated one share of Dunn Petroleum for two shares Meridian Petroleum; one share of Lake Park Refining for two shares Meridian Petroleum; and one share of Davenport Petroleum Co. for 20 shares Meridian Petroleum.
The combined organization held assets valued at about $13 million, including refineries in Oklahoma: Okmulgee (3,500 barrel), Ponca City (2,500 barrel), and Hominy (1,500 barrel). There also were producing wells in Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas, as well as “promising acreage” in Wyoming.
With offices in Kansas City, Missouri, Delaware-chartered Meridian Petroleum was capitalized at $25 million. By the end of 1920, the new company reported a net profit of $1,076,828. At the company’s annual meeting in April 1921, at least 3,000 Meridian Petroleum stockholders re-elected W.D. Richardson and the company’s officers.
“Rarely have stockholders made so plain their confidence in the management of an oil company,” noted the The Oil & Gas News reported. At the same meeting, stockholders approved the issue of $2.5 million dollars in “first mortgage bonds to be used in retiring present outstanding indebtedness and to give the company additional working capital.”
Trade publications carried advertisements for Meridian Petroleum products such as “No. 1100 Straight Run Auto Oil” and “No. 22-600 S. R. Cylinder Stock (Light Green).” These and other lubricants were promoted with the Meridian motto, “The Line that Circles the World.”
But all was not well. The Oklahoma refineries depend upon crude oil deliveries, which were decling. Throughout 1921, only one of Meridian’s Petroleum’s three refineries operated at all, and it at half capacity.
Oil production from Meridian Petroleum’s own leases proved insufficient, although in July 1921, Oildom reported a hopeful development.
“The company’s big well in the Hominy district of Osage county, Oklahoma, which came in at 10,000 barrels and ceased flowing after several days, due to a caved hole, was put in commission again and was reported making 3,000 barrels natural (flow),” the publication noted.
A report in the American Investor valued the company’s stock at about 13 cents a share on the New York Curb Market in December 1921, down from a high of 22 cents a share for the year and far less than the original offering at $2 per share.
On April 1, 1922, Meridian Petroleum defaulted on a $100,000 debt and in June, U.S. District Court appointed a receiver as the $2.5 million mortgage approved by stockholders a year earlier went into foreclosure. The company also carried unsecured debt of $600,000 and never paid a dividend.
Despite predictions of a reorganization, by 1927 Meridian Petroleum was gone for good. W.D. Richardson quickly went on to form the Richardson Refining Company, capitalized at $250,000 in November 1922.
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.