This Week in Petroleum History, May 6 – May 12
May 7, 1920 – Erle P. Halliburton founds Well Cementing Company
Earle Palmer Halliburton founded the Halliburton Company as an oilfield well service and cementing company. The Wilson, Oklahoma, venture succeeded his New Method Oil Cementing Company formed a year earlier during the Burkburnett oil boom in North Texas.
The use of cement in drilling oil wells has remained an integral part of the industry because its injection seals off water formations from the oil, protects the casing, and minimizes the danger of blowouts. In 1922, Halliburton patented an innovative “jet-cement” mixer that increased the speed and quality of the mixing process. By the end of the year, 17 Halliburton trucks were cementing wells in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Arkansas.
The company also introduced cement pumps powered by truck motors rather than steam from rig boilers and a device that allowed testing of a formation without setting casing. Halliburton was the first to offer self-contained cementing units operating under their own power. More advances in cementing technology followed. Learn more in Halliburton cements Wells.
May 8, 1918 – Shreveport Gassers go Extra Innings
As baseball became America’s favorite pastime, the Texas League’s Shreveport Gassers played 20 innings against the Fort Worth Panthers before the game was declared a tie. The Gassers were one of many oilfield-related teams in the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues (today known as Minor League Baseball).
At the time, the leagues’ 96 teams included the Okmulgee Drillers, the Tulsa Oilers, the Independence Producers, the Beaumont Exporters, the Corsicana Oil Citys, the Wichita Falls Spudders, and the Iola Gasbags. In Oklahoma oilfields, the Okmulgee Drillers for the first time in baseball history had two players who combined to hit 100 home runs in a single season of 160 games. Learn more in Oilfields of Dreams.
May 8, 1920 – Burbank Oilfield discovered in Oklahoma
Drilling for natural gas on an lease 20 miles from Ponca City, Oklahoma, the Kay County Gas Company found an oilfield instead. Partner Marland Oil & Refining Company assumed control of the Bertha Hickman No. 1 well, which opened the 20,000-acre Burbank oilfield. With the region already booming since the Red Fork Gusher of 1901, producers agreed to using 10 acre spacing for oil conservation purposes. The Burbank field would annually produce up to 31 million barrels of oil for the next four years.
May 9, 1863 – Confederate Cavalry raids Oilfield
A brigade of Confederate cavalry attacked a thriving oil town near the Ohio River in what would soon become West Virginia. The raid destroyed equipment and thousands of barrels of oil.
The Burning Springs oilfield was attacked by Confederate cavalry led by Gen. William “Grumble” Jones. His attack along the Kanawha River marked the first time an oilfield was targeted in war, according to one West Virginia historian. About 1,300 Confederate troopers raided Burning Springs, destroying cable-tool drilling rigs and 150,000 barrels of oil.
The wealth created by the region’s petroleum industry helped bring statehood for West Virginia in June 1863. Almost a century earlier, George Washington had acquired 250 acres in the region because it contained natural oil seeps. Learn more in Confederates attack Oilfield.
May 12, 2007 – ConocoPhillips opens Two Oklahoma Oil Museums
The Oklahoma’s Conoco and Phillips Petroleum Museums opened in Oklahoma as part of the state’s 2007 statehood centennial celebrations.
The Conoco Museum In Ponca City today educates visitors about the exploration and production history of the company, which began in Utah as a small distributor of coal, grease, and kerosene. Conoco merged with Oklahoma’s Marland Oil Company in 1929. Phillips Petroleum incorporated in 1917 and merged with Conoco in 2002.
The Phillips Petroleum Company Museum in Bartlesville includes exhibits describing the development of high-octane gasoline and revolutionary plastic products like Marlex (learn more in Petroleum Product Hoopla). The museum tells the stories of brothers Frank and L.E. Phillips. Beginning in 1905, they drilled 81 wells without a single “dry hole.” Frank Phillips served as president of the company until 1938.
Recommended Reading: Erle P. Halliburton: Genius with Cement (1959); Textile League Baseball: South Carolina’s Mill Teams, 1880-1955 (2004); The Civil War and Northwestern Virginia (2004); Conoco: 125 years of energy (2000); Phillips The First 66 Years (1983).
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