Last week, Houston-based SURGE (an accelerator that provides access to capital, customers, and mentors to E&P software and other energy-related companies) extended invitations to 11 of the world’s most promising Energy Startups….

More than 500 companies vied for a seat at the SURGE table and the opportunity to break bread with an elite group of SURGE alumni…

From this year’s applicant pool, SURGE accepted less than 2% of the total applicants. And, with members of the class hailing from such places as Chicago, New York, and San Francisco — Oklahoma City’s GreaseBook is damned proud to round out the mix.

e&p software accelerator

That’s right, SURGE thinks GreaseBook is onto something hot, and has extended a formal invite for GreaseBook to join the ranks of this increasingly elite group of energy & oil software startups!

What does this mean for GreaseBook?

In addition to seed funding, GreaseBook will be given access to 100+ mentors representing the world’s leading experts, policymakers, scientists, decision makers, and influencers in the energy arena…

Surge is only in its third year, and its previous two classes have already gone on to raise $25 million in funding while creating more than 150 jobs…

Some of the industry’s most well-known players (Halliburton, BP, Chevron, ConocoPhilips, Shell, ABB, Schlumberger, RigNet) are plugged into the SURGE community. Essentially, by joining SURGE, GreaseBook will be granted access to the industry that simply can’t be found anywhere else…

What does this mean for you, the E&P Software User?

While SURGE offers access to leading experts on design and infrastructure of GreaseBook’s operations, when it comes to influencing the direction & functionality of the app, our best asset is YOU — the independent operator.

Not only can our clients going to get a better app, they can also expect an even more dynamic group of folks to service and stand behind it…

We have a whole slew of app enhancements that we’ll be rolling out to our users in the coming months. And guess what? They were all ideas submitted by the GreaseBook community… engineers, owners, admin, supervisors, and pumpers like YOU.

Thanks to the SURGE Accelerator, GreaseBook is ‘pumped’.

Thanks to mobile technology, independent operators are able to scale every last man hour — and squeeze every last drop of oil — from their operations.

Pump more oil. Waste less time. Make more money.

E&P Software

**In November, Surge moved into its own building, a 58,000-square-foot space that also serves as a co-working space for technology entrepreneurs and other E&P Software upstarts.


Just recently, The OGM (Global Oil & Gas Industry News) featured GreaseBook’s founder & CEO (Greg Archbald) as one of its Up & Coming “Industry Disruptors”!!

From exploring Greg’s definition of “success” to disclosing his role model (W. Axl Rose, notorious front man of 80s rock band Guns ‘N Roses), the article gives the reader some interesting (and fun!) insight into Greg’s life and how he got to where he is today.

We’re proud of everything Greg has accomplished, and even more grateful to The OGM for recognizing his hard work — check out the full article by clicking here:


Oil Production Software meets smartphones and tablets…

There’s a big problem in oil & gas: getting the production information from the oilfield back to headquarters.

And, while the mega operators have always had the capacity to collect production information via sensors and telemetry — to the independent oil company, the ‘digital oilfield’ has always been something that lay just out of reach.

Why was this so?

Two reasons:

  • Most operators are spread too thin. Not only are field data collection systems expensive, but they also require a high level to design and deploy.
  • A large majority of the independent operator’s production portfolio consists of marginally producing wells (better known in the industry as ‘stripper wells’). Simply stated: retrofitting these wells with sensors the cost doesn’t justify the means.

However, now the independent operator has options. . . check out the video below (ie sit back and relax while the Big Boys seethe with envy!! 😉 )

**Update: 1/15/2015: We get a lot of people inquiring about this video. Since time of filming, GreaseBook has accomplished nearly everything we set out do in our pitch…

  1. CTO onboarded? Yes, and man this guy is gooooood…

  2. Customer Success Manager and help desk Staff online? Check!

  3. A GreaseBook in every pumper’s truck in America?  At 14,000,000bbls of oil flowed through the app (and counting!), we’re closer than you might think 😉

During SURGE Day at the House of Blues in downtown Houston, GreaseBook pitches its new oil production software platform to a group of more than 500 investors, thought leaders, and potential clients in the energy industry…

Attended by heavy hitters like ShellStatOilConocoPhilips, and Schlumberger, GreaseBook explains how what once was only available to the largest of operators can now be replicated by the independent oilman, with better results, in less than 20 minutes…

Through the expansion of the app’s features like the ability to track and monitor well testing, allocations, and downtime app has enabled GreaseBook to compete with the best (read: most expensive) oil and gas production allocation software on the market

Being an independent operator has never been so good!! 🙂

The other day, the Oil & Gas Awards rolled into Oklahoma City to celebrate and recognize all sorts of advances made in the industry over the past 12 months… Among the likes of Halliburton, Continental Resources, and Chesapeake, the Oil & Gas Awards committee named the GreaseBook App (essentially, E&P Tanks Software which assists pumpers in monitoring their oil & gas production) as one of their finalists…

For which award you ask?

The Future Industry Leader Award!

GreaseBook was honored to take part in the ceremony, but was more satisfied knowing that a large number of small to mid-sized operators are recognizing that consumer electronics (ie iPads and iPhones) and cost-effective apps (like GreaseBook!) are enabling them to work smarter, not harder.

The Oil & Gas Awards Committee recognized GreaseBook for “having attained and demonstrated an impressive depth of technical knowledge in its field, and showing an innovative approach to its work.”

For us, that’s code for:

Eliminating those greasy Run Tickets

Empowering your pumpers (thus increasing your oil production…)

Thwarting greedy oil purchasers

**Side note: don’t be shy — click one of the links above!**

Thanks to the Oil & Gas Awards Committee, GreaseBook is humbled.

Thanks to mobile technology, independent operators are able to scale every last man hour — and squeeze every last drop of oil — from their operations.

Pump more oil. Waste less time. Make more money.


GreaseBook, an iPad app explicitly for oil well monitoring, was recently featured in Hart’s E&P Magazine… check out the article below!

Smart technology provides relief for reporting headaches.

Over the last five years, there has been a major paradigm shift in the source of innovation.

Although the supermajors of the oil and gas industry still contend for the top spot in industry innovation (as demonstrated by their success in exploiting ever deeper, more remote basins), some of the larger E&Ps are resisting the call to mobilize their working environment. These companies are saying no to connectivity, restricting the use of smartphones and tablets, and overlooking the applications and convenience their employees have come to enjoy and even depend on in everyday life.

oil well monitoring

Why is this so? Old habits die hard. Large companies look at mobile and pervasive computing from the IT mindset – control and compartmentalize – ahead of the benefits the organization will gain by enabling its teams through the mobile medium. However, with the employee time savings and relative affordability that the mobile medium has to offer E&P companies, smaller operators are taking note. Many of the small- to medium-sized independents have started to look to consumer electronics and cost-effective apps to work smarter, not necessarily harder. Thanks to mobile technology, independent operators are able to scale every last man hour – and squeeze every last drop of oil – from their operations.

David vs. Goliath

The GreaseBook app allows operators to use consumer technology to streamline their wellsite reporting. (Image courtesy of GreaseBook)

Monitor your oil well with an app

For years, the standard protocol of large production companies has been to monitor and execute all deepwater drilling activities via sophisticated satellite networks. Most wells over a certain capex are fitted with real-time optimization tools and sensors. However, for many smaller industry players, the digital oil field has always been a mirage that lay just out of reach.

Most operations managers and field engineers feel they are already spread too thin. Many field data collection systems require a high level of expertise to design, deploy, and operate. These systems also require general IT, control theory, and petroleum engineering skill sets to properly manage. While continually updating risk assessments, quantifying uncertainties, and integrating data across autocratic domain knowledge silos might all be part of an average day at one of the majors, for the smaller players, the cost and energy required does not justify the means.

While large independents and supermajors have entrenched themselves in advanced analytics software, data repositories, and massive IT departments to oversee it all, smartphones and tablet computers have been piggybacking their way into smaller companies. How? In the pockets and purses of the employees who work there.

Oil Well Monitoring: The pen and paper live on

It may surprise most people to learn that in a large majority of independent operating companies, the pen and paper method still remains the dominant form of field data collection. However, this is quickly changing. In most operations, field personnel are contracted to oversee and troubleshoot an operator’s leases. These field personnel usually fill out industry-standard paper gauge sheets. All oil, gas, and water production measurements are handwritten, and (if the operator is lucky) pumpers include any special commentary before mailing or faxing these figures to headquarters.

Although technologies like remote operations and SCADA have sought to address productivity and efficiency issues, many independent operators are of the mindset that a marginal well is going to produce what it is going to produce regardless of whether its production is monitored or not. Even in the case of high-flow wells, most operators require that their pumpers visit these sites several times a day, trumping some of the potential benefits a wireless monitoring device may tout.

When it comes to smaller operators, telemetry providers promoting real-time information may have missed the mark. Many operators are not concerned about immediate information. What they truly desire is a way to streamline the redundancy, reporting, and productivity issues that come with field data collection. What is more, they want a way to make sense of it all. And, with many pumpers fast approaching retirement age, operators are now searching for effective ways to transfer the intimate knowledge they have gained about their production properties to the next generation of engineers, managers, and field workers.

Some forward-looking E&P companies are addressing this through consumer electronics. Because of the shared repositories of information on which these mobile devices subsist, intimate knowledge of a company’s oil and gas assets is not stored away deep in a file cabinet or in some “autocratic domain silo” but is easily accessed via the cloud.

Rather than focus on the management and operations of onsite data servers, a majority (if not all) of the smart device software apps are hosted on the cloud. For the smaller operator, this means that employees can focus on what they are best at: overseeing oil and gas production, not managing complicated IT structure. Every piece of historical production information is stored offsite at a cloud storage provider, from which a relief pumper or a newly hired engineer can easily access needed information for review.

Smaller operators also are becoming more cognizant of the free apps on the iPad and iPhone that are the perfect complements to their business. Many of these apps only take a few minutes to set up but have the potential to yield days in productivity increases from operations managers, field engineers, and pumpers every year. For example, pumpers generally have a task list of things they need to do on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis to keep their leases running in top form. By forming pumper message groups in Apple’s Reminder app (which comes standard on every iPad and iPhone), oil and gas operators have an effective way to deliver daily, weekly, and monthly to-do lists (e.g. drop soap sticks, pump maintenance, chemical schedules, gas chart calibration, etc.).

Engineers who oversee the operations of small producers are employing free file sharing services such as Dropbox to store and deploy important documents like well completion reports and workover information. Once files are uploaded into Dropbox, employees are no longer tethered to their desktop computers. A field engineer can view a well history file from his tablet or smartphone in the field and share this same file with his team of field personnel.

Pumpers also have been quick to realize that by using the camera function on their smart devices they are able to save an employer thousands of dollars each year. By taking photos or video of problems in the field and posting them to messaging applications, veteran foremen and engineers can visually engage with their production assets. Where once issues could only be resolved through verbal descriptions over the telephone, companies are now able to visually troubleshoot problems from the office, thus avoiding costly onsite service calls.

A new breed of specialized apps has begun to crop up in the oil and gas industry. GreaseBook, an iPad application for operators and their pumpers, has eliminated the need for the traditional paper gauge sheet workflow. The company designed the app to work in oil-producing areas with zero mobile connectivity, and the app touts zero setup time and no contracts. The company has set out to improve the way pumpers record and interact with the vital production information they collect in the field, and the app can potentially eliminate 99% of all in-house, field-related administrative duties.

Operators are happy to outsource many of their core computing and operations processes to third-party companies because of the convenience and amount of time that is saved. What is more, company employees actually want to use these smart devices, which means management does not have to endure the typical push-back of new initiatives.

The platforms on which these smartphones and tablets run are nothing to scoff at. Take Apple, which according to market value surpassed ExxonMobil as the world’s most valuable company in 2011. The apps that run on these smart devices are backed by cloud computing heavy hitters like Microsoft and RackSpace Cloud systems and are connected by mobile communications giants like Verizon and AT&T. Essentially, operators feel more comfortable leaving the responsibilities of their core computing and operations processes to third-party consumer companies, not only because of the convenience and amount of time they save but also because these companies dedicate 100% of their resources to providing and perfecting these services.

Democratization of the oil field

Despite the success operators are having with the implementation of these easy-to-use, cost-effective apps, many of the larger operating companies are resisting the call to mobilize their working environment. The cost of not going mobile comes in many forms. It comes in the form of not attracting the strongest candidates to replace the industry’s aging work force. And it comes in the form of not making the best decisions due to limited information. These petite E&P companies may soon find themselves the envy of their larger, more “sophisticated” brethren. Something happens when people start to use smart technology. Their focus shifts from “how things get done” to “how things need to get done,” and for owners and managers of E&P companies, this is a welcome transformation.

GreaseBook well production data app for operators was recently featured in an article written by the energy editor of The Oklahoman. The article was aptly entitled, “Local software company aims to digitize oilfield”, and addresses GreaseBook’s goal of making  (consumer friendly) technology available to small and mid sized oil and gas producers.

Well production data

Although the concept of the “Digital Oilfield” is nothing new, GreaseBook recognized that the efficiencies gained in the oilfield from going digital have always been a mirage that lay just out of reach for the small E&P. However, with the advent of consumer technology (iPads and iPhones), the larger, “more sophisticated” Super Majors and large independents are eyeing the small(er) producer with increasing envy…

Check out the article here:

Last week, The Energy Makers Show interviewed GreaseBook to find out a little more about the app’s approach to oil and gas data management for lease operators in the oil patch…

In the clip below, Russ Capper (Owner/CEO of The Energy Makers Show) talks with Greg Archbald (Founder of GreaseBook) to understand exactly how the app replaces the paper gauge sheet…

The EnergyMakers Show is a weekly video podcast featuring interviews with energy innovators, thought leaders and public policy makers discussing the challenges of the world’s rapidly increasing thirst for energy.

We were thrilled to be a part of the interview, and even more grateful to the Energy Makers Show for spreading the word about GreaseBook — be sure to pay Russ a visit at!

July 4th, 1906 – Louisiana Conservation Act Enacted

As Louisiana joined many oil and gas producing states, a new law was passed to help reduce waste and to protect natural gas fields. This law enforced penalties for damaging pipelines, failing to cap wells and wasting natural gas by burning it.

The idea for the new measures came following issues that plagued the Indiana Gas Boom. As the Hoosier State and other states ran into issues when producing natural gas, states such as Louisiana wanted to be proactive when it came to their own industries.

July 6th, 1988 – North Sea Explosion Brings Tragedy and Fatalities

The most fatal offshore disaster in the oil industry took place in the North Sea. A fire and explosion on Occidental Petroleum’s Piper Alpha production platform ultimately killed 167 people.

The Piper Alpha, created to produce oil, was receiving gas from other platforms. It would then export gas to a compression platform. A safety consultant noted that the explosion happened because of a misunderstanding that resulted in a gas condensate pump’s safety valve being removed.

Following this tragedy, new changes were made to the safety guidelines on offshore rigs. These included new platform designs, operation engineering, safety procedures and evacuation technologies.  It was an innovative effort and included more than 106 recommendations were made and accepted by the industry.

July 7th, 1947 – Sid Richardson Launches Foundation to Help Texas Schools and Hospitals

A foundation to benefit schools and hospitals in Texas was established by an independent producer named Sid W Richardson, a Texas oil tycoon, was one of the richest men in America in the 1940s when he decided to start his own foundation to benefit schools and hospitals throughout the state of Texas. It was estimated that he was worth nearly $800 million dollars at the time.

After struggling for more than 10 years, Richardson started making oil discoveries in 1919. Thanks to a small investment and a friend with insider industry knowledge, Richardson was able to start his very own oil enterprise; ultimately becoming the president of several companies in the Lone Star State.

Richardson also began collecting paintings by Charles M. Russell and Frederic Remington. Today, the foundation supports this collection, which is still on display at the Sid Richardson Museum in Fort Worth.

July 8th, 1937 – Plans Launched to Begin Explorations in Gulf of Mexico

In 1937, plans to build a pier in the Gulf of Mexico were approved by President Roosevelt’s Secretary of War. The plans would launch the early stages of off-shore oil drilling and exploration in the United States.

Drilling began close to McFaddin Beach in Texas and the Humble Oil and Refining Company (now Texaco) took on the work. The lease was in Galveston County, close to High Island.

Humble Oil constructed the pier and used three drilling rigs in an attempt to locate oil, but all the wells were dry. In 1938, the pier was destroyed by a hurricane. Now, tourists can visit the drilling rig museum and education center, located near the original drill spot on Galveston Island.

July 9th, 1815 – Oil Discovered on West Virginia River Banks

Captain James Wilson accidentally discovered oil in present-day Charleston, West Virginia when he began to drill a salt brine well. Historians note that in 1775 a surveyor, George Washington, noticed the first signs of potential oil fields in the area when he noticed“burning springs” on the Kanawha River.

However, it wasn’t until Captain Wilson’s drilling efforts that the true depth of the oilfield was fully realized.

July 9th, 1883 – Former Oil Executive Publishes the Wizard of Oz

Before writing The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum started an oil company in Syracuse, New York. This business offered oils, greases, and lubricants and was known throughout the area for “Baum’s Castorine” This product was a popular axle oil.

Frank Baum’s father worked for the company as the chief salesman. The business still operates today. A local Syracuse newspaper covered the opening of the store reporting that Baum’s Castorine was rust-resistant and “smooth enough to make horses laugh.” Of course, after his work of fiction reached its peak popularity, L. Frank Baum abandoned his career in oil for one in literature.

January 23, 1895 – Oil Exchanges Closed By Standard Oil Price Fixing

The downtown commercial historic district was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.

Standard Oil had an incredible amount of power in the early years of oil production in the United States, controlling nearly ¾ of the producing and refining potential. This allowed the purchasing agents for Standard Oil to set the price at which they would buy oil from independent producers, rather than the price set by the open market.

Oil exchanges were markets that specialized in trading in oil speculations. However, when petroleum giant Standard Oil began to control the overall price for oil, there was little money to be made by investing in oil prices. Standard Oil’s purchasing headquarters in Oil City, Pennsylvania became the third largest financial exchange in the United States behind the New York and San Francisco Stock Exchanges.

Ultimately, this caused Standard Oil to run a monopoly on the market, as all other oil exchanges ended up shutting down operations.

January 23, 1991 – Iraqi Army Opens Kuwaiti Pipeline Valves, Causing Huge Oil Spill

The oil slick created by the Gulf War oil spill was over 100 miles wide and 5 inches thick.

While there have been several large oil spills in recent years, the largest in the world was back in 1991. This disaster occurred when retreating Iraqi soldiers opened pipeline valves on the Kuwaiti coast in hopes of preventing US Army forces from landing.

The total estimated amount of oil spilled varies depending on the source, but it was anywhere between 6 and 11 million barrels. Most of that oil ended up in the Persian Gulf. During the war, several hundred Kuwaiti oil wells caught fire. It would take months before the last of these fires was eventually put out.

January 24, 1895 – Pure Oil Company Created To Counter Standard Oil

Starting in the late 1920’s, it became common practice for gasoline companies to offer free road maps with the locations of their service stations marked.

In 1895, oil producers, refinery owners and pipeline operators all came together to form the Pure Oil Company. They did this in order to effectively compete with Standard Oil who ran the entire exchange industry at the time.

Standard made a practice of vertical integration, meaning that they controlled as much of their production and transportation as possible. Standard drilled their own wells, owned their own pipelines and refineries, and even made their own barrels. Pure followed their example, becoming the second vertically integrated oil company in the United States.

Pure successfully competed with Standard Oil, selling kerosene in several cities in the eastern United States and breaking their monopoly. Pure Oil would later be bought by Ohio Cities Gas Company, which would adopt the Pure brand.

January 26, 1931 – Size of Huge East Texas Oil Field Revealed

A crowd gathered at the Lathrop No. 1 Well as it neared completion, expecting a gusher similar to the other two that tapped into the East Texas Oil Field.

While the East Texas Oil Field was expected to be quite large, the true size of infamous field was not revealed until the Lathrop No. 1 Well struck oil miles north of two other high producing wells. The wildcat well was the work of Monty Moncrief, an independent operator out of Fort Worth. The Lathrop No. 1 Well produced over 7,000 barrels a day.

The two earlier wells that helped create this trifecta were the Daisy Bradford No. 3 Well that had been completed a few months earlier, and the Lou Della Crim No. 1 that was completed only a few days after Christmas, 1930.

January 28, 1969 – Oil Spill Off the Coast of Santa Barbara, CA

An aerial view of the oil platform and the spill. After the spill was stopped at the surface, the pipe at the seafloor began to leak oil. The bubbling water to the left of the rig is caused by this underwater leak.

An offshore drilling rig ran into a problem while replacing a drill bit causing a devastating spill along the California coastline. The mud used to keep pressure on the well ran low resulting in a blowout that ultimately spilled tens of thousands of barrels of oil. The oil slick spread six miles to the southern California coastline, coating beaches and marine habitats. The spill was controlled after only 12 days, but in that time thousands of birds and marine animals were killed in the process.

The spill ultimately helped to turn public opinion against offshore drilling. It also was part of the motivation for creating the Environmental Protection Agency the following year. Continued study of the oil seeps in that area has led to the discovery that the natural pressure forces tons of oil out into the environment every day. Oil drilling and exploitation has relieved some of that pressure, reducing the amount of oil that comes from the seeps.

January 28, 1991 – Oil Rig In Downtown Elk City Becomes Tourist Attraction

The 17 story tall Parker Rig No. 114 can be seen just off the historic Route 66.

When it was originally constructed in the 1960s, the Parker Rig No. 114 was one of the largest drilling rigs in the world. It was created to drill deep wells to test nuclear bombs. However, the rig was eventually used by Parker Drilling to dig some of the deepest oil wells using conventional drilling methods, reaching as far as 4 miles down.

The rig was used specifically to drill wells into the Anadarko basin, an oil bearing geological formation below Oklahoma and Texas. More recently, it serves to attract tourists to Elk City, Oklahoma.

January 29,  1886 – The Internal Combustion Engine Is Born

Karl Benz’s wife financed the development of the original motor wagon. Technically, that would have given her rights to the patent. However, in 1885 Germany a woman could not apply for a patent.

The Benz Patent Motorwagen, considered to be the first true automobile, revolutionized automobile engines when it utilized gasoline for internal combustion. Developed by Karl Benz, from Mercedes Benz, the engine used a four stroke, single cylinder model, and it was mounted on a three-wheeled chassis. Until that point, automobiles had used steam or electric power.

Karl’s wife, Bertha Benz, financed the car and was the first to drive it over a long distance. While it meant she technically should have owned the patent, women couldn’t own patents in Germany at the time. While Karl ultimately got the rights to the patent, the feat would bring worldwide attention to the German engineer’s invention and the potential for the German auto industry.

January 18, 1919 – Church Refuses Permission To Drill In Cemetery

The East Texas Oil Field is the second largest in the lower 48 states and has produced the most oil since its discovery.

World War I had created a huge demand for oil and gas, and even when the war ended, the demand continued well into the post war-years. Oil wells were being drilled all over North Texas as speculators sought to cash in on the boom.

Oil men tried to buy up the rights to every part of the landscape that might contain petroleum. They even attempted to buy the drilling rights for the Merriman Baptist Church’s cemetery for $100 million. Drilling would require the disinterring and moving of corpses and the congregation voted to turn the offer down. They even put up a sign telling the oil men to ‘Respect the Dead.’

The cemetery, which has never been drilled on, still exists near a modern church building.

January 19, 1922 – Geologists Predict US Oil Fields Running Dry

Low producing, or stripper, wells are designed to continue pumping oil after the reservoir’s pressure has fallen.

In another of a long line of dire predictions, the U.S. Geological Survey prognosticates oil reserves running dry sometime in 1940, causing widespread panic. There have been many projections that claim an end to the oil supply over the years, and this marked one of the biggest panics insinuated by one of these predictions.

However, as oil exploration continued and the true size of petroleum reserves has come to be understood, these “predictions” started holding less weight.

The first of these predictions actually took place in 1879, when the state geologist of Pennsylvania predicted that there was only enough oil to produce kerosene for an additional four  years. Other such predictions include the Model T Scare of 1916, a scare during the Cold War and caused major concern at a time where the US believed they needed oil the most.

January 19, 1965 – Robot For Underwater Construction Patented

Howard Shatto is standing beside his invention, the Mobot.

In 1965, Howard Shatto patented the first remotely operated underwater robot, a remarkable invention that would go on to change offshore drilling efforts forever. Dubbed the ‘mobot’ — for manipulator operated robot — it was described in the patent as an underwater manipulator with suction support device.

Shatto would continue his work on remotely operated robots, becoming a world respected inventor in the field. His work would eventually lead to the modern remotely operated vehicle, or ROV, which are widely used in offshore drilling. Shatto would first work with Shell Oil, helping it to become an early innovator in offshore oil exploration and exploitation.

The earliest remotely operated robots were used on land for working in radioactive areas too dangerous for humans. Shatto’s robot was similarly designed to work in areas too dangerous for people, though in this case it was for use in water too deep for divers.

January 20, 1886 – Natural Gas Well Erupts In Ohio

This plaque, located in Findlay, Ohio, commemorates the discovery of the Great Karg Well.

The pressure at the Great Karg natural gas well in Findlay, Ohio builds to more than the technology of the time can handle. The well erupted with natural gas and the flow was initially over 10 million cubic feet in one day. The gas caught fire, becoming a pillar of flame that burned for four months straight. The flaming well served as a tourist attraction for the area.

The Great Karg well was not the first natural gas well drilled in Ohio, but it was the largest of its kind. It also launched a boom that brought people and businesses to the areas. In particular, the cheap cost of natural gas caused by the boom attracted glass companies. Bottle makers, a light bulb manufacturer, and a tableware glass maker, among others, all eventually opened factories in Findlay.

January 21, 1865 – Oil Well Torpedo Is Demonstrated For The First Time

The torpedo developed by Edward Roberts explodes to force open the cracks in the surrounding rock, fracturing it to improve the flow of oil to the well bore. This was an early form of what has become known as ‘fracking.’

The first ever oil well torpedo was introduced to the world in 1865 when Col. Edward Roberts began his experiments in hopes of improving oil production. This involved using controlled explosions at the bottom of a well, exploding a ‘torpedo,’ or metal casing full of black powder.

This first experiment took place deep in a well in Titusville, Pennsylvania.

The experiment improved the production of the well, going from just a few barrels a day to over 40. The process became known as ‘shooting a well.’ Later, nitroglycerin became a more common explosive due to its effectiveness, despite its instability. Roberts patented the invention, which used an iron tube filled with an explosive. The well was filled with water to prevent the explosion from escaping up the well.

This early form of fracking was used to remove paraffin buildup in the bottom of the well. Earlier methods for dealing with this problem involved pouring dangerous chemicals, such as benzene, into the well to dissolve the buildup.

January 22, 1861 – Kerosene Refined In Pennsylvania For the First Time

This panoramic view of oil boomtown Titusville, Pennsylvania was drawn by Theodore Fowler, who drew similar views of many boomtowns.

A new type of refinery using multiple stills was built in Pennsylvania near the oil boom town of Titusville. The refinery was designed to produce kerosene, used for illumination at that time. It would produce both the purer white kerosene and a less expensive yellow kerosene. The refinery’s efficiency was low compared to modern versions, one barrel of crude producing only 20 gallons of refined kerosene.

William Barnsdall built the refinery to process oil produced from his oil well, the second successful well drilled, after Edwin Drake’s famous first well.

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