June 14, 1865 – First Edition of Pennsylvania Oil Region Newspaper –

Pennsylvania’s oil region got its first daily newspaper when brothers William and Henry Bloss published a four-page broadsheet, the Titusville Morning Herald. Initial circulation was 300 for the community newspaper, which is still published – the Titusville Herald. The first edition’s articles included a reference to John Wilkes Booth’s visits to the region and his August 1864 oil interests.

The Titusville Herald masthead

The Pennsylvania newspaper’s first edition in 1865 noted John Wilkes Booth had oil interests.

A brief story in the first edition included a report about a failed-oilman-tuned-assassin: John Wilkes Booth purchased one-thirteenth interest in the territory in August 1864. We are credibly informed that this Homestead well in which Booth was interested was destroyed by fire on the day he assassinated President Lincoln.  Learn more in Dramatic Oil Company.

June 15, 1954 – Launch of First Mobile Offshore Rig

The offshore barge oil drilling platform, Mr. Charlie left its Louisiana shipyard and went to work for Shell Oil Company in a new oilfield in East Bay, near the mouth of the Mississippi River. The vessel’s design, which would revolutionize the offshore industry, originated with Alden “Doc” LaBorde, a marine superintendent for the Kerr-McGee Company in Morgan City, Louisiana.

Mr. Charlie, the first mobile offshore drilling unit (MODU).

Beginning in 1954 and capable of drilling wells in water up to 40 feet in depth, Mr. Charlie was the first mobile offshore drilling unit (MODU). Photos courtesy Murphy Oil Corporation.

Despite Kerr-McGee’s experience with many post-World War II offshore technologies, including drilling the first oil well out of sight of land in 1947, the company decided against LaBorde’s idea for a transportable, submersible drilling barge. The inventor, a Navy veteran, later found support from Charles Murphy Jr., founder of Murphy Oil Company.

Mr. Charlie offshore rig at dock in Louisiana

A major offshore technology advancement, Mr. Charlie used a column-stabilized design.

LaBorde formed the Ocean Drilling & Exploration Company and contracted with J. Ray McDermott Company to build Mr. Charlie. A barge 220 feet long and 85 feet wide supported the drilling platform 60 feet above the barge. Mr. Charlie became the first truly mobile offshore drilling unit (MODU). Mr. Charlie today provides energy education as the International Petroleum Museum and Exposition. Learn more in Mr. Charlie, First Mobile Offshore Drilling Rig.

June 18, 1889 – Rockefeller builds Giant Refinery in Indiana

Standard Oil Company of New Jersey incorporated a new subsidiary, Standard Oil Company of Indiana, and began processing oil at a new refinery at Whiting, Indiana, southeast of Chicago. The refinery, which became the largest in the United States by the mid-1890s, added pipelines connecting it to Kansas and Oklahoma oilfields in 1910.

 Standard Oil Company logo and refinery in Whiting, Indiana

The Standard Oil refinery in Whiting, Indiana, today owned by BP, remains the largest refinery in the United States.

When the Supreme Court in 1911 mandated the break up of John D. Rockefeller’s companies, Standard Oil of Indiana emerged as an independent company, opening Amoco branded service stations in the late 1950s. Amoco merged with British Petroleum (BP) in 1998 – the largest foreign takeover of U.S. company up to that time.

Learn more in Standard Oil Whiting Refinery.

June 18, 1946 – Truman establishes National Petroleum Council

At the request of President Harry S. Truman, the National Petroleum Council (NPC), was established by the Department of the Interior to make recommendations relating to energy issues. Transferred to the newly established Department of Energy in 1977, the council became a privately funded advisory committee with 200 members appointed by the Secretary of Energy. The NPC website notes that “the NPC does not concern itself with trade practices, nor does it engage in any of the usual trade association activities.”

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June 18, 1948 – Service Company celebrates 100,000th Perforation

Fifteen years after its first perforation job, Lane-Wells Company returned to the same well near Motebello, California, and performed its 100,000th perforation. The return to Union Oil Company’s La Merced No. 17 well included a special ceremony; Walter Wells, chairman of Lane-Wells, was present for both events.

In 1930, Wells and an oilfield tool salesman, Bill Lane, envisioned a downhole gun that could shoot steel bullets through casing. They created a multiple-shot perforator that fired bullets by electrical detonation. After many tests, success came at the La Merced No. 17 well. By late 1935, Lane-Wells had established a small fleet of trucks for well-perforation services. The company merged with Dresser Industries in 1956 and later became part of Baker-Atlas. Learn more in Lane-Wells 100,000th Perforation.

June 20, 1977 –  Oil begins Flowing in Trans-Alaska Pipeline

The Trans-Alaska Pipeline began carrying oil 800 miles from Prudhoe Bay to the Port of Valdez at Prince William Sound. The oil arrived 38 days later, culminating the world’s largest privately funded construction project at the time.

june 15 petoleum history

Construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline began in April 1974. Photo courtesy Alaska Pipeline Authority.

The Prudhoe Bay field had been discovered in 1968 by Atlantic Richfield and Exxon about 250 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Construction of the 48-inch-wide pipeline began on April 19, 1974. It cost $8 billion, including the terminal and pump stations. Above-ground sections of the pipeline (420 miles) were built in a zigzag configuration to allow for expansion or contraction of the pipe because of temperature changes. In some permafrost areas the supports included special two-inch “heat pipes.”

The pipeline’s annual flow would account for about 20 percent of U.S. oil production. In 2001, the pipeline carried approximately 17 percent of the U.S. oil supply. Tax revenues earned Alaska $50 billion.

Learn more in Trans-Alaska Pipeline History.

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Recommended Reading:  Around Titusville, Pa., Images of America (2004); Offshore Pioneers: Brown & Root and the History of Offshore Oil and Gas (2011); Whiting and Robertsdale, Images of America (2013)The Great Alaska Pipeline (1988). 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. Become an AOGHS supporting member and 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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