July 27, 1918 – Standard Oil of New York launches Concrete Oil Tanker – 

America’s first concrete vessel designed to carry oil, the Socony, left its shipyard at Flushing Bay, New York. Built for the Standard Oil Company of New York, the barge was 98-feet long with a 32-foot beam and carried oil in six center and two wing compartments, “oil-proofed by a special process,” according to the journal Cement and Engineering News.

Rare images of Standard Oil of New York concrete oil tanker Socony.

Socony, the first concrete oil tanker, launched in 1918. Below, a second version of the oil barge.

“Eight-inch cast iron pipe lines lead to each compartment and the oil pump is located on a concrete pump room aft,” the journal explained. Steel shortages during World War II would lead to the construction of larger reinforced concrete oil tankers.

July 28, 1924 – Oil Scouts form National Group

The National Oil Scouts Association of America — today the International Oil Scouts Association (IOSA) — filed its charter in Austin, Texas, bringing new standards to an important oilfield profession.

Since the 1860s, oilfield scouts have gathered field intelligence on drilling operations — including often sensitive information about the operator, location, lease, depth of well, formations encountered, logs and other data, which may yield a competitive advantage. Learn more in Oil Scouts – Oil Patch Detectives.

July 28, 1953 – Final Oilfield Patent for Zero Hour Bomb Company

Manufacturer of oilfield products since 1932, the Zero Hour Bomb Company of Tulsa, Oklahoma, received its last U.S. patent relating to electric timer explosives for fracturing geologic formations. The service company patented its device for positioning blasting cartridges in wells — a “well bridge”  that automatically opened, “when the time bomb or weight reached a position at the bottom of the well.”

The downhole apparatus was never built, because company executives already were manufacturing and marketing a new, “cannot backlash” fishing reel invented by Jasper “R.D.” Hull, who they had hired in 1947.  Zero Hour Bomb Company changed its name to Zebco in 1956. Learn more in Zebco Reel Oilfield History.

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July 28, 1977 – Trans-Alaska Pipeline delivers Oil to Port of Valdez

The first barrel of oil from the North Slope’s Prudhoe Bay oilfield arrived at the Port of Valdez after an 800-mile journey through the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System. At peak flow in 1988, 11 pumping stations moved 2.1 million barrels of oil a day. The 48-inch-wide pipeline has been recognized as a landmark of engineering. Learn more in Trans-Alaska Pipeline History.

July 29, 1918 – Giant Oilfield discovered at Burkburnett, Texas

Less than a year after the “Roaring Ranger” discovered an oilfield to the south, the Fowler No. 1 well at the cotton farming community of Burkburnett, Texas, revealed a new giant field at a depth of 1,734 feet. Within three weeks 56 rigs were drilling near the Fowler Farm Oil Company site along the Red River in North Texas.

 "Burkburnett, Texas, the World's Wonder Oil Pool," dedrick in oilfield

Circa 1919 photo captioned, “Burkburnett, Texas, the World’s Wonder Oil Pool,” showing eight months phenomenal development, viewed from the northwest side, opposite Fowler farm.” A. Newman Photographic Company photo courtesy Library of Congress.

Fowler’s decision to drill a well on his Wichita County farm had been called “Fowler’s Folly” until his oil discovery brought hundreds of oil companies to the county. By January 1919, Burkburnett’s population reached more than 8,000 people — with a line of derricks two-miles long greeting new arrivals.

As the “World’s Wonder Oil Pool” made national headlines, teenager Clark Gable was a 17-year-old roustabout working in Oklahoma; in 1941, he would star in a popular Hollywood version of events. Learn more in Boom Town Burkburnett.

July 29, 1957 – Eisenhower begins Program to Limit Oil Imports

As America’s reliance on foreign oil continued to grow — discouraging domestic production — President Dwight D. Eisenhower established a Voluntary Oil Import Program with import quotas by region. The intent was to ensure adequate domestic petroleum in case of a national emergency. Using a presidential proclamation two years later, Eisenhower made the program mandatory. By 1962, oil imports were limited to 12.2 percent of U.S. production. The program continued until suspended by President Richard Nixon in 1973 as domestic oil production reached new highs during the OPEC oil embargo.

July 30, 1942 – U-Boat sunk, found in 2001 by Pipeline Survey

A Navy patrol boat attacked a German U-boat in the Gulf of Mexico soon after the submarine had torpedoed and sunk a U.S. freighter. Despite being depth charged, the U-166 was believed to have escaped — until a natural gas pipeline survey revealed it 59 years later.

The U-166’s identity was not learned until advanced geophysical survey technologies arrived in 2001, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration explained in March 2013. The discovery resulted from an archaeological survey prior to construction of a natural gas pipeline by the British company BP and Shell Offshore Inc.

Sonar image of sunk U-166 Nazi Sub and photo of its deck gun.

A natural gas pipeline survey revealed the U-166 about 45 miles off the Louisiana coast in 2011.

An autonomous underwater vehicle using side scan sonar revealed the U-166 separated from its last victim, the Robert E. Lee, by less than a mile. As a result of the discovery, BP and Shell altered their proposed pipeline to preserve the site.

Other World War II vessels have been discovered during Gulf of Mexico oil and natural gas surveys, because the petroleum industry is the principle user of advanced underwater technologies for seafloor mapping. Learn more in Petroleum Survey discovers U-boat.

August 1, 1872 – Iron Pipeline delivers Pennsylvania Natural Gas

The first recorded large-scale delivery of natural gas by pipeline began when gas was sent to more than 250 residential and commercial customers in Titusville, Pennsylvania, home of America’s first oil well, drilled in 1859. The two-inch iron pipeline carried the natural gas five miles from a well producing four million cubic feet of natural gas a day.

The mayor of Titusville and other investors had formed the Keystone Gas & Water Company to construct the pipeline for delivering “the most powerful and voluminous gas well on record.” The historic gas well produced into the 1880s, according to the Drake Well Museum and Park in Titusville.

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Recommended Reading: The Oil Scouts – Reminiscences of the Night Riders of the Hemlocks (1986); Wildcatters: Texas Independent Oilmen (1984); Eisenhower: Soldier and President (1968); The Extraction State, A History of Natural Gas in America (2021); Torpedoes in the Gulf: Galveston and the U-Boats, 1942-1943 (1995). Your Amazon purchase benefits the American Oil & Gas Historical Society. As an Amazon Associate, AOGHS earns a commission from qualifying purchases.

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The American Oil & Gas Historical Society preserves U.S. petroleum history. Join AOGHS as a supporting member today. Help maintain this energy education website and expand historical research. For more information, contact bawells@aoghs.org. Copyright © 2021 Bruce A. Wells. All rights reserved.

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