With an orbital test on March 27, 1999, the Ocean Odyssey, a converted semi-submersible drilling platform, became the world’s first floating equatorial launch pad. Photo courtesy Sea Launch.
Converted Offshore Drilling Rig launches Rocket
The Ocean Odyssey, a self-propelled, semi-submersible drilling platform designed to endure 110-foot North Atlantic waves, became a floating rocket launching pad. On March 27, 1999, a Russian Zenit-3SL rocket — fueled by kerosene and liquid oxygen — placed a demonstration satellite into geostationary orbit from the Ocean Odyssey’s remote Pacific Ocean launch site (Latitude 0° North, Longitude 154° West). “The Sea Launch rocket successfully completed its maiden flight today,” Boeing announced. “The event, which placed a demonstration payload into geostationary transfer orbit, marked the first commercial launch from a floating platform at sea.”
Learn more in Offshore Rocket Launcher.
An 1886 Indiana Natural Gas Field
Exploration companies rushed to Portland, Indiana, on March 28, 1886, after a giant natural gas field was found at a depth of only 700 feet. The discovery came just months after a spectacular gas well about 100 miles to the northeast – the “Great Karg Well” of Findlay, Ohio, that revealed the multistate Trenton limestone formation.
Learn more in Indiana Natural Gas Boom.
Spindletop Boom leads to Texaco
About one year after the famous gusher at Spindletop Hill, Texas, Joseph “Buckskin Joe” Cullinan and Arnold Schlaet established The Texas Company on April 7, 1902. Headquartered in Beaumont, the company driller Walter Sharp — future partner of Howard Hughes Sr. — would discover another giant oilfield at the spa town of Sour Lake Springs.
Learn more in Sour Lake produces Texaco.
“Wild Mary Sudik” featured in 1930s Newsreels
On March 26, 1930, highly pressured natural gas from the 6,500 foot-deep Wilcox Sand proved too difficult to control in the giant Oklahoma City field. Within a week of the “Wild Mary Sudik” gusher, Hollywood newsreels featured it in theaters across the country. A radio program gave daily updates on efforts to control the well.
Learn more in World-Famous “Wild Mary Sudik.”
Museums & Events
Summer brings Energy Education
As summer approaches, staff and volunteers at community oil and gas museums are preparing exhibits, visitor programs, and other educational events. Support these energy educators and their museums by visiting. Plenty of oil patch festivals are taking place too, including last week’s 38th Annual East Texas Gusher Days at Gladewater, Texas. Next Wednesday, Corsicana’s Derrick Days celebrate an 1894 oilfield discovery.
Oil History Symposium and Field Trip
The annual gathering of a dedicated group of historians is set for May 11-13 in New Harmony, Indiana, as the Petroleum History Institute (PHI) hosts its popular Oil History Symposium and Field Trip. The latest gathering will include an Illinois Basin field trip and presentations to be published in the next PHI journal, Oil-Field History. It’s not too late to register.
In addition to encouraging comments on articles, the American Oil & Gas Historical Society updates its website forums for sharing research information and leads.
Old Star Oil Company Sign
A Chicago college student seeks oil history research suggestions about a porcelain sign from the Star Oil Company. “All I have to go off of is the sign with the name of a building in Chicago in the bottom corner,” he explains in his email. “I’m hoping you could help me find out even a little information about this company, I’m not looking to sell or anything.”
Learn more in Seeking Star Oil Company.
Identifying a Circa 1915 Gas Pump
The lead mechanic at the San Diego Air & Space Museum writes, “I’m hoping someone visiting the American Oil & Gas Historical Society’s website can help me identify the gas pump we are restoring here at the San Diego Air and Space Museum. I believe it’s a Gilbert and Barker from 1915 or so.”
Learn more in Petroleum History Research Forum.