April 24th, 1911 – The Magnolia Petroleum Company Takes Shape

In 1898, Corsicana, Texas was home to only one small refinery, however, it quickly lead to a boom that would bring countless other companies to the area.  In, 1911, these companies were consolidated into Magnolia Petroleum Company, an unincorporated joint-stock association.

In 1925, a New York company, Standard Oil Company started the process to acquire Magnolia. The Standard Oil of New York merged with Vacuum Oil Company in 1931. It was during this time that Socony-Vacuum Oil Company was formed. As a result, the number one affiliate for this nationwide company became Magnolia.

Magnolia had operations across 20 states and had 12,500 employees by the 1930s. To meet its rapid expansion, its headquarters were moved to the now iconic skyscraper in Dallas, Texas. The company used the Pegasus logo from Socony-Vacuum Oil (now Mobil) to represent their brand, and rotated the flying horse on top of Magnolia’s headquarter’s building.

April 25th, 1865 –  Col. Edward A.L. Roberts Ushers In Industry Change

Col. Edward A.L. Roberts, a veteran of the Civil War made waves in the oil industry when he was granted the first of his many patents in 1865. One of his first of these patents for “Improvement in Exploding Torpedoes in Artesian Wells.”  This invention fractured oil formations to increase production by controlling downhole explosions.

Gunpowder filled torpedoes were sent into wells and were set off using a weight that would be dropped onto suspension wires. Nitroglycerin was used instead of gunpowder in later versions. Prior to this invention, there was not much oil coming out of West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Roberts’ home state of New York.

This new patent was a huge advancement in technology for the oil industry in America, and it allowed the Roberts Petroleum Torpedo Company to charge $200 for each torpedo shot. It also charged a small royalty. While this was great for the company, some oilmen hired practitioners to work at night and use similar devices. This is where the term “moonlighting” was born.

April 26th, 1947 – American Petroleum Institute Launches First Campaign

The first advertising campaign by American Petroleum Institute began in 1947, ushering in a new era of marketing and advertising for the industry.  The institute launched a radio campaign that showcased the progressive nature of the industry on both the local and regional levels.

The campaign ran over a huge expansion of air time. Today, the API represents large American oil companies. It promotes safe use of equipment and good engineering practices.

April 27th, 1966 – Jim Buchwald Forms Corporation

Jim Buchwald, a former teacher with a mechanical engineering degree formed his own company in Ohio when he officially started the Ariel Corporation.

According to one historian, an unused room in Buchwald’s home became his first machine shop as he didn’t have any other way to pay for another building or store tools. Later, one of the adjoining rooms functioned as the engineering department for the entire cooperation.

The tools Buchwald did invest in were a vertical drill, a lathe, and a rotary table. This is where he created his own prototype of a gas compressor, which he completed in 1968. It was the fastest at the time running at 1,800 revolutions per minute. He decided to name the company for his favorite motorcycle, a 1948 Ariel.

April 30th, 1929 – Conoco Rises

After several high-producing oilfields were uncovered in Oklahoma, the Continental Oil Company was acquired by the much larger Marland Oil Company in a move that would ultimately lead to the rise of the Conoco brand.

The goal of the acquisition was to ultimately create service stations across 30 US states. Ernest Marland had Marland Oil almost a decade earlier in 1921 before becoming the governor of Oklahoma and was looking to expand his growing oil empire.

Continental Oil Company had been around since 1875 when it first  formed in Utah. After it was acquired, the Ponca City company kept their name but used the widely recognized trademark, the red triangle. They replaced the original text and changed it to CONOCO, ultimately forming the globally recognized logo that so many people know today.

Today, the company is known as ConocoPhillips a change that came after the 2002 Phillips Petroleum merger.

April 30th, 1955 – Professional Landmen Association formed

In 1955, Fort Worth Texas was the origin of a trade association for petroleum landmen. It is now known as the American Association of Professional Landmen.

This association has expanded its mission, but it started with a few simple goals. The association ensured that government regulations were being followed. They also used records to locate landowners, as well as negotiate deals and contracts.

The AAPL now has more than 15,000 members across the country and is a resource that supports the continuing education of landmen. The group also work with communities to increase opportunities in the oil industry and foster energy independence in America.

April 17th, 1919 – The Start of Another Texas  Oil Boom

In 1919, the Waggoner No. 1 Well produced 4,800 oil barrels every day starting another oil drilling boom in the Wichita County, Texas area.

S.L. Fowler’s farm was the location of a well that brought in a large number of organizations along Red River border in Oklahoma. This area was producing oil for about seven years by this time and it included Wichita Falls. Due to the amount of competition, most of the newly formed companies would not find success.

There were a number of wells found in the area later known as Northwest Extension Oilfield. The latest being the Waggoner well. The oilfield was made up of roughly 27 square miles of S. Burk Burnett horse ranch. Both of these oil booms in North Texas inspired 1940’s “Boom Town” starring Clark Gable.

April 18th, 1939 – Inventors Improve Old Oil Flow Methods

In 1939, a Los Angeles inventor named Ira McCullough patented a mechanical firing system and a multi-bullet shot perforator that would ultimately improve oil flow methods. The point of the invention was to perforate casing after its installation inside a well and when elements had been shot into the casing, through the formation.

Firing on multiple levels into the borehole enhanced oil flow. The device also included disconnectable means for safety. When charges entered then were lowered to the borehole it rendered the percussion inoperative. This served as a safety measure to protect against inadvertent operation.

Henry Mohaupt also made his own advancements over a decade later, creating an explosive that was hollowed out to perforate wells in 1951. He took advantage of anti-tank technology used in World War II to bring this innovation to life.

April 19th, 1892 – First Gas-Powered Automobile Takes It’s First Ride

On April 19th, 1892, Frank and Charles Duryea test drove an automobile powered by gasoline that they invented in their workshop in Springfield, MA. This is now credited as the very first automobile made for regular sale in America. The Duryea Motor Wagon Company ended up producing 13 of these cars and shortly after, manufacturers followed suit.

The Duryea brothers made their first automobile sale in 1896. It was named the Duryea Motor Wagon. However, initial usage of the vehicle didn’t go as smoothly as planned. According to one report, a motorist driving the Duryea Motor Wagon hit a cyclist and completed the first recorded traffic accident involving an automobile in America.

In 1900, eight years after the original invention, the automobile appeared at the first auto show in America, which was held in Madison Square Garden. Out of 4,200 of the models sold in the U.S. around 1,000 adopted this gas-powered model introduced by the Duryea brothers.

April 20th, 1875 – New Innovations Make Well Pumping Becomes More Efficient

Levi Streeter and Albert Nickerson from Venango County patented an improvement for well pumping in April 1875 that would go on to vastly improve efficiency in the oil industry. At the time, a single engine powered by steam to pump multiple wells, while the technology created by Streeter and Nickerson utilized a method of walking beams that were linked and balanced.

According to the patent, while one walking beam would lift from one well, a third well would also lift. Wells two and four would perform the opposite task at this time.

This system was the predecessor to the popular rod-line pulley and rope technology that was used throughout the 20th century.

April 20th, 1892 – Oil Boom Hits Los Angeles

In 1892, mining partners Charles A. Canfield and Edward L. Doheny made a discovery that would catapult the California oil industry when they discovered a massive oilfield in Los Angeles near the present-day Dodger Stadium. After drilling tar seeps in-between Colton Avenue and Beverly Boulevard–right in the middle of the city, the two found a Well that would go on to produce up to 45 barrels per day.

Over the next two years, more than 80 more wells were discovered under Los Angeles, bringing about a major oil boom in the city. By 1987, that number grew to over 500.

This Los Angeles field found itself producing an estimated 750 thousand barrels in 1895. This was above half of the roughly 1 million oil barrels that came out of California, which by 1925 was producing half of the world’s oil supply.

April 20th, 2010 – BP Well Accident Makes History

On April 20th, 2010, at around 10 PM an explosion took place on the Deepwater Horizon, near the Gulf of Mexico’s Macondo Prospect, in a tragedy that would lead to one of the biggest and most controversial oil explosions in modern history.

The rig was about 50 miles from the coast of Louisiana finishing a well when the explosion happened. This occurred just a few months after the rig had set a new record for drilling the deepest well in existence, going more than 4,130 feet below water at a vertical depth of 35,050 feet. Eleven of 126 total crew members on board were tragically killed and others 17 were injured. This semi-submersible vessel sank after being destroyed by fires and the explosion.

A large oil spill followed after the BP well was completely destroyed by the fire. It was amazingly capped in July of the same year. The Coast Guard, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (Regulation and Enforcement) and others investigated the issue eventually producing an official  accident report on the event in 2011.

April 22nd, 1920 – New Industry Appears in Arkansas

On April 22nd 1920, southern Arkansas became the official site of the first completed natural well. This gas well was located 2.5 miles away from El Dorado and produced as much as 60 million cubic feet of gas each day.

It was drilled to about 2,250 feet and brought the promise of oil in Nacatoch Sands. A different nearby well was not producing any commercial amount of oil just days before this.

The well was eventually named the Busey-Armstrong No. 1 and it responsible for kickstarting the Arkansas oil industry. The first commercial oil wells were established the following year and by 1922, the high-producing Smackover oilfield was discovered.

April 22nd, 1926 – Statue Rises in Skedee, Oklahoma

On April 22nd, 1926, a statue celebrating the friendship of Osage Indian Chief Bacon Rind and Colonel E.E. Walters was erected in the town of Skedee, Oklahoma.

Starting in 1912, Chief Bacon Rind and Colonel Elmer Ellsworth Walters used sales from mineral leases to raise millions of dollars for the area.

Notable men like William Skelly, E.W. Marland and like Frank Phillips bid in front of crowds of people in these auctions which took place in Pawhuska, under a large elm tree on the property of a building known as Tribal Council House.

April 10th, 1866 – The Densmores Usher in Change

James and Amos Densmore, inventors from Meadville, Pennsylvania were approved for a patent on their petroleum transporting system that lead to the Pennsylvania oil boom a year earlier.

The Densmore Brothers and America’s First Successful Railway Oil Tank Car, 1865

The cars shown in the patent had a simple yet reliable design for attaching two reinforced containers together on a standard railroad car. Despite the fact that the oil-tank cars were an improvement, they were quickly replaced the more practical designs used today.

The first tank car. Replica of a Densmore-type tank car.

Amos Densmore left the oil transportation business but had a new big idea in 1975. He had come up with a different way to arrange a typewriters’ keys. He did this so that letters that were often used would no longer collide. This arrangement, known as the “Q-W-E-R-T-Y” arrangement was a significant improvement. Densmore founded the Densmore Typewriter Co. following his success in the oil industry.

April 13th, 1974 – Bertha Rogers No. 1 Sets a Record

Bertha Rogers No. 1 set a record for well depth in 1974. After a total of 504 days and seven million dollars were put into the well, it ended at 31,441 feet because of liquid sulfur. This well was in the center of the Anadarko Basin in Oklahoma. The Bertha Rogers No. 1 held the record for deepest well in America for 30 years, before being overtaken in 2004.

Lone Star Producing Company and GHK Company owned by Robert Hefner III thought that natural gas reserves would be found in the depths of the basin. It extended all the way from the Texas Panhandle to West-Central Oklahoma. The attempt to reach the reserves began in 1967, two years later, they discovered the reserve at 24,473 feet.

Despite the natural gas discovery, a historian named Robert Dorman noted that gas sales could not make up for the high cost of drilling to this depth. This was because of price control by the government. It would cost over $6 million for the drilling, while the cost for a traditional well was a fraction of that.

In November 1972, drilling began on The Bertha Rogers No. 1. On average, progress of 60 feet was made each day. The temperature and bottom hole pressure had climbed to 475 degrees and close two 25,000 pounds per square inch respectively. Bottom hole cuttings took about eight hours to meet the surface, a staggering six miles above.

Bertha Rogers was finished as a gas discovery at 13,000 feet, despite the fact that there was no gas at its deepest point. The casing required (just over 1 million pounds) was the heaviest to be handled by any rig at the time. Work done on Bertha Rogers Well was credited with leading the way for technologies for deeper drilling and the gas plays in the 1990s.

Bertha Rogers Crude Oil Lucite Paperweight. The natural gas well drilled almost six miles deep in the Anadarko Basin of Oklahoma.

April 14th, 1865 – President Lincoln’s Assassination Has Ties to Oil Industry

John Wilkes Booth assassinated the President Abraham Lincoln on April 14th, 1865–and this infamous day actually had ties to the oil and gas industry. He did this after being unable to make a fortune in the oilfields of Pennsylvania. Booth and few of his friends had formed the Dramatic Oil Company after Booth abandoned a career in acting for an attempt to take advantage of an oil boom in Venango County.

Booth made several trips to Franklin, Pennsylvania in January 1864 when he decided to lease a farm on the Allegheny River. The Dramatic Oil Company did see oil production in their well, around 25 barrels per day, but Booth wanted to increase production. He decided to shoot the well in an attempt to accomplish this. He left the oil region in July 1864 once the well was destroyed. Months later he would go on to complete one of the most tragic assassinations in history.

John Wilkes Booth’s fantasy of Pennsylvania oil wealth abruptly ended in July 1864.

April 15th, 1897 – Oklahoma Emerges as Leader in Oil Production

On April 15th, 1897, dozens of people gathered around a well, Nellie Johnstone No. 1 near the Indian territory of Bartlesville in an area that would later become the state of Oklahoma.

A “go devil” was dropped into the well bore by one of George Keeler’s stepdaughters and was set off a placed nitroglycerin canister. That produced a gusher that jump-started the oil industry in Oklahoma. This event also lead to another big discovery in the Bartlesville-Dewey Field. It was Nellie Johnstone No.1. When Oklahoma reached statehood in 1907, it subsequently became the world leader in oil production.

Drilling started in the area started and Bartlesville would soon become incorporated with a population of 200 people that same month. Four months after that, the Nellie Johnstone No.1 Well showed signs that it would produce oil when drilling reached 1,320 feet. This well was named for the daughter of partner William Johnstone.

The Bartlesville area saw a lot of growth through the decade after the discovery. The population climbed to more than 4,000 people. The annual oil production for Oklahoma peaked at over 43 million barrels. Now, an education center and an 84 foot replica wooden derrick stand to keep the story alive. The land for this area was donated by the namesake of the well, Nellie Johnstone Cannon. It is known as Discovery 1 Park.

Nellie Johnstone No. 1 – Oklahoma’s first commercial well completed in 1897.

April 16th, 1855 – Rock Oil Shines With Yale Professor’s Discovery

A chemistry professor from Yale University, named Benjamin Silliman Jr., broke new ground with his discovery of “rock oil.” This substances could be turned into an illuminating oil once distilled. His report had a great impact, so great it convinced investors from New Haven, Connecticut to fund drilling efforts lead by Edwin Drake in northwestern Pennsylvania.

According to Silliman’s report, companies would be able to use the raw material, rock oil, and through a simple and inexpensive process, turn it into something much more valuable.

Now it was known that kerosene could be distilled from both oil and coal. This conclusion lead to the first commercial oil discovery in the United States. This took place in Titusville, four years after the report was published.

April 16th, 1920 – Arkansas Enters the Petroleum Industry

The very first oil well in the state of Arkansas was completed by Col. Samuel S. Hunter on April 16th, 1920. Hunter worked for a company in Shreveport, Louisiana known as the Hunter Oil Company. This well, Hunter No. 1 was drilled to just over 2,000 feet. It was later called the Lester-Hamilton No. 1 after its lease owners.

This well only produced a small amount of oil for Ouachita County but it lead to a bigger well discovery in the same area. The S.T. Busey well began to gush oil in January 1921. These wells launched oil production and the petroleum industry for the state of Arkansas.

The Standard Oil Company of Louisiana later purchased Col. Hunter’s original lease for more than $2.2 million. This lease included 20,000 acres and the non-commercial discovery well.

April 4th, 1951 – Williston Basin Revealed

In North Dakota, Amerada Petroleum struck oil and discovered the infamous Williston Basin when they dug down two miles below the Clarence Iverson farm. The company had struggled for several weeks, efforting to drill through major snowstorms, when they finally made their discovery in early April.

This basin actually extended much further than expected. It sprawls into areas of South Dakota, Montana and even into Canada. Oil companies quickly made their way to these regions and in just two months, over 30 million acres of the basin were leased.

In March of 1951, this well had peaked at a 10,500-foot depth before a major snowstorm halted progress. Drilling began again on April 4th. When the operation did begin again, this well was then perforated at 11,630 and 11,640 feet. Historian James Key notes that this was the biggest discovery of a geologic basin in decades. The result was an entirely new industry for North Dakota.

According to a 2008 geological survey done in the U.S., it was estimated that the untapped oil and gas in the Williston Basin area may be nearly four million barrels and close to two trillion cubic feet, respectively. A 2013 estimate by the USGS claims that real figures could be double the previously guessed amounts.

April 5, 1976 – Naval Petroleum Reserves Production Act

On April 5th, the Naval Petroleum Reserves Production Act of 1976 was signed in by President Gerald Ford. This act made it possible for companies to start commercial efforts on the three Naval Petroleum Reserves in the nation.

Years later in 1992, the Naval Petroleum Reserve in California produced its billionth oil barrel. This Elk Hills area reserve was under control of the Department of Energy until 1998, when it was privatized. The reserve created billions of dollars in profit, more than 17 billion for the United States Treasury.

April 7th, 1902 – The Texas Company Rises

Despite many companies being founded during the Spindletop boom, The Texas Company rose above and was one of the most successful in the petroleum industry at the time.

Arnold Schlaet and Joseph “Buckskin Joe” Cullinan started the company on April 7th, 1902 in Beaumont. The goal was to refine and transport oil in the area. They also built a facility in Port Arthur for refining kerosene.

Another well, named Fee No. 3 was discovered in January of 1903 in the Sour Lake Springs area. This was a huge factor in the company’s success, as it produced 5,000 barrels of oil each day.

The name “Texaco” could be seen on all of the companies products. This was taken from the telegraph address of the New York office. Soon after, in 1909, The Texas Company registered a red star featuring a green “T” as their first trademark. The Texas Company grew to be nationally recognizable in 1928. They spanned across 48 states with upwards of 4,000 gas stations. In 1959, the company officially dropped ‘The Texas Company” for the name “Texaco Inc.”

April 7th, 1966 – Offshore Technology Accelerated by Cold War Mistake

Robotic technology that was being used by the petroleum industry was first put to work retrieving a lost atomic bomb, before it went on to completely revolutionize the oil and gas industry. An underwater vehicle used attached cables to remove the weapon from the Mediterranean Sea at 2,850 feet. The bomb was originally lost in January after a B-52 crashed offshore near Spain.

According to Popular Science Magazine, “It was located and fished up by the most fabulous array of underwater machines ever assembled,” The petroleum industry continued to push forward and adopted deep-sea technology developed by the Navy at the time of the Cold War.

April 9th, 1914 – Launch of Ohio Cities

On April 9th, 1914, Fletcher Health and Beman Dawes founded the Ohio Cities Gas Company in Columbus, Ohio. In 1917, the company bought out a Pennsylvania oil company named “Pure Oil Company” and subsequently changed their name to Pure Oil.

The original Pure Oil Company had been formed in Pittsburgh in 1895.  It was founded to challenge the dominance that Standard Oil Company had over the market at that time. It was only the second united oil company other than Standard. This company had its headquarters in a skyscraper in Chicago that was finished in 1926. At the time, it held a title as one of the 100 biggest industrial corporations in America. Later, in 1965 it was acquired by Union Oil Company of California, now known as a part of Chevron.

March 27th, 1855 – Kerosene Trademarked by Canadian Chemist

Abraham Gesner, a Canadian chemist and physician patented a now very widely used process that distills coal and turns it into a fluid called kerosene. Gesenser claimed to have discovered and subsequently invented a way to manufacture the new matter. Since the fluid was sourced from coal, buyers often referred to it as “coal oil.”

When it became known that kerosene could also be produced with crude oil, it gave birth to the petroleum exploration industry in the United States. At this time, new oil field sprawling across Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania was discovered. Soon kerosene, which was very inexpensive, became the primary light source in the U.S., before the implementation of the light bulb.

Abraham Gesner is credited as one of the fathers of the petroleum industry in Canada. In 1842, he established Canada’s first natural history museum. The Petroleum History Society notes that today, one of the country’s most dated geological collections has its place in the New Brunswick Museum.

March 27th, 1975 –  Construction on Alaskan Pipeline Starts

On March 27th, 1975, construction started on the biggest private construction venture at this time in U.S. history with the creation of the Alaskan Pipeline.

This pipeline would cost an estimated $8 billion by the time it was completed. The Trans-Alaska Pipeline was 800 miles long and included the Valdez Marine Terminal, more pipelines, and pumping stations. It was finished in 1977.

This pipeline consisted of segments spanning 420 miles. These segments were laid with an alternating zigzag pattern to lend itself to further expansion. Today, it is still recognized as an engineering landmark.

March 28th, 1886 – Gas Boom in Indiana

The Eureka Gas and Oil company located a new gas field, known as the Trenton Limestone, after drilling about 700 feet in Portland, Indiana. The result was a natural gas drilling boom. During this period of time, Indiana was the leading producer of natural gas in the United States.

This gas field was found just a few months after Findlay, Ohio’s “Great Karg Well,” located less than 100 miles northeast of the area.

According to James Glass, a historian from Ball State University, Pennsylvania was home to very large amounts of natural gas. They completely changed the glass steel and iron industries, encouraging the use of more natural gas over coal.

The Trenton Limestone turned out to be a big producer and was later found in 17 counties spanning more than 5,000 miles of the state of Indiana. Over the next three years, 200 companies became able to drill, distribute and sell natural gas in the area.

March 28th, 1905 – Northern Louisiana Oilfield Discovered

In 1905, The Offenhauser No. 1 Well officially struck oil approximately 1,556 feet underground. It was a part of the massive oilfield in Caddo-Pine Island.

Unfortunately, this well only produced five barrels each and was later abandoned. However, it encouraged further exploration in the area and soon more wells were discovered and this northern Louisian oilfield became a major source of production.

In 1906, Louisiana went on to pass the first conservation law in the state in an attempt to quell growing concerns over flaring causing a loss in natural gas. Production in the Caddo-Pine Island Oilfield went on to climb as high as 11 million barrels per year by 1918.

March 29th, 1819 –  Edwin Drake is Born

The man credited as one of the fathers of the oil industry, Edwin Drake was born on March 29th, 1819 in Greenville, New York. It was near Titusville, Pennsylvania in summer 1859 when he came to a breakthrough–he drilled a well that was the first to be commercial in the U.S. using a cable-rig device that was steam powered. He also coined the method of sending a pipe down to protect the structure of the well.

Despite many technical and financial challenges, Drake created a landmark in the history of energy. He was at the forefront of new technology including drilling technology, and isolation with iron casing. He was searching on behalf of Seneca Oil Company to find oil to refine into kerosene and thanks to a shallow well, he ended up pioneering an entire industry.

According to a historian from Pennsylvania State University,  in 1959, Drake came up with the plan for sending a pipe downward through a drill. He, however, did not patent this idea.

March 29th, 1938 – The Founding of the Sensational Magnolia Oilfield

An Arkansas newspaper dubbed Southern Arkansas an “oil country sensation,” after a 100-million barrel well opened in a Magnolia oilfield. The well was called the Barnett No. 1.

Due to a lack of backers and the recession, Kerlyn Oil Company suspended drilling. Despite this, Dean McGee a geologist and vice president of the company continued on. At a depth of 7,650, he uncovered a giant oil discovery. McGee also went on to lead early efforts Gulf of Mexico offshore exploration.

April 1st, 1911 – “Pump Jack Capital of Texas” Sees First Well

The town of Electra, Texas, got its name from the daughter of  rancher W.T. Waggoner. It is said that he complained after finding oil when creating wells for his cattle to have water.

However, he didn’t just find oil, he would make a discovery that would lead to an oil boom that lasted several decades. On April 1st, 1911, below the Red River border close to Electra, the Clayco Oil & Pipe Line Company created a well named Clayco No. 1.

According to an Electra historian, people of the town were thinking the gusher that started was a joke for April fools. They didn’t think the gusher was real until they could see the black oil shooting towards the sky.

The well, that was dug on Waggoner’s land, reached a production level of 650 barrels per day.  In 1913, Electra had its peak in oil production at 8 million barrels after many more wells popped up. This trend in Texas continued, in Eastland County with the eruption of “Roaring Ranger” in 1917 and an eventual boom known as “Burkburnett.”

Electra was named the “Pump Jack Capital of Texas” in 2001 after a campaign by passionate activists in the community. Now, more than 2,800 people celebrate this discovery every year with what they call the Pump Jack Festival.

April 1st, 1986 – Rock Bottom Price on Crude Oil

The petroleum industry hit a major low in 1986. Globally, oil prices were less than $10 per barrel. This happened due to a culmination of the recession, excessive production by OPEC and price and production controls in the industry.

According to Bloomberg’s Mark Shenk, the market was flooded by Saudi Arabia during this time after previously changing their level of output to support the change. The oil prices dropped 69% in less than one year.

Oil prices bounced back by 1990. Oil prices were at their peak in the summer of 2008 at $145 for each barrel. The price dropped to under $32 before the next year.  These are shocking numbers when you look at the history of oil. Prices were between $2.50 and $3 for each barrel between 1948 and the 1960s, while the costs were less $25 during the mid-1980s through 2003 (adjusted for inflation).

April 2nd, 1980 – Crude Oil Windfall Profit Tax Signed by President Carter

The Crude Oil Windfall Profit Tax was signed in 1980 by  President Jimmy Carter. Eight years later, it was repealed.

The Windfall Profit Tax (WPT) was controversial and created an excise tax for the production of oil. This all came just one year after previously listing price controls.

Policymakers followed a levy on oil production. The difference between the original price and the market cost of oil was taxed. The WPT was put in in an attempt to limit price jumps for oil. The price used came from the oil prices in 1979 and was adjusted annually to account for inflation.

In the following eight years of the tax, the production of domestic oil dropped the smallest rate in 20. In August of 1988, Congress repealed this tax, which was great news for all who worked in this industry.

March 20th, 1919 – American Petroleum Institute Established

The American Petroleum Institute (API) was established in New York City in 1921 in an effort to fuel World War I. The API created a scale to measure liquid petroleum density against water in 1921, an innovation that is now referred to as API gravity.

March 20th, 1973 –  Pithole, Penn listed in Historic Registry

Pithole, Pennsylvania earned a place on the National Register of Historic Places as a former oil boom town. A Pithole Creek oilfield discovery lead to a boom in the budding oil industry in the United States.

The resulting oil production was the first step to the nation’s first pipeline. Known for its impressive production numbers, a single oil boom in this town lasted 500 days.

March 23th, 1858 – Official Birth of Seneca Oil Company

Former railroad conductor Edwin Drake and investors from New Haven, Connecticut founded the Seneca Oil Company on March 23rd, 1858–a company that would go on to forever change the oil and gas industry. These businessmen had bought leases of Pennsylvania’s Oil Rock Company, the first U.S. oil company in history, with the help of George Bissell.

Bissell was excluded from the deal, despite the fact he had studied oil steeps south of the area. “The New Haven men then put the final piece of their plan into place with the formation of a new company,” according to the book William Brice in Myth Legend Reality: Edwin Laurentine Drake and the Early Oil Industry.

The first American oil well was created in 1959 by Seneca and Drake. This was in part due to information on oil seeps, uncovered by George Bissell. Although they didn’t close the deal on Seneca Oil together, both Bissell and Drake would later be credited as the fathers of the petroleum industry in America.

March 24th, 1989 – Supertanker Exxon Valdez Strikes Ground

When the Exxon Valdez tanker struck ground at Bligh Reef in 1989, the accident would lead to one of the largest oil spills to date. The incident took place in Prince William Sound, Alaska came after years of similar passages without issue.

Out of eleven oil tanks, eight sustained damage. About 260,000 oil barrels spilled onto land and sea impacting hundreds of miles along the coast.

The accident is still hailed as one of the most damaging spills in history. The cause was an error in navigation by the crew. It is suspected that the accident occurred because of exhaustion or the crew being overworked.

The Exxon Valdez tanker was sold in 2012.

March 26th, 2012 — East Texas Oil Museum Unveils Buddy The Electric Lineman

A full size animatronic version of Buddy, the electric lineman, was placed in the East Texas Oil Museum in a ceremony on March 26th, 2012.

This lifelike animatronic met visitors as they entered the oilfield discovery exhibit. This addition to the museum was very popular with guests from America and abroad.

Buddy was described by one visitor as a Tommy Lee Jones look-alike with the fashion sense of Indiana Jones.

March 26th, 1930 – The Mary Sudik Well Erupts

A famous oil well in Oklahoma hit a high-pressure structure under Oklahoma City and caused an oil eruption in March of 1930. The Mary Sudik Well flowed untamed for 11 total days.

The well became known as “Wild Mary Sudik” after producing 200 million cubic feet of gas and 20,000 barrels of oil each day.

The large oilfield discovery in Oklahoma City caused a lot of buzz. It was highlighted in newsreels on the radio as the dangerous increase in pressure in the well was overlooked before the eruption occurred.

While there is still some debate on the official cause, one historian credits this disaster to the crew neglecting to fill the hole with mud.

December 9, 1921 — Lead Gas Introduced To Reduce Knocking

Gas with a tetraethyl lead additive, or ethyl as it was advertised, promised to reduce the amount of ‘knock,’ which was a problem with early automobiles.

Imagine worrying about your engine getting damaged every time you turned the key. That used to be the case with early automobiles. That is until 1921, when scientists working for General Motors discovered that adding tetraethyl lead to gasoline helps prevent this damage, also known as knocking.

Early automobiles frequently suffered from problems with mis-timed combustion in their cylinders. This would result in a jolt that reduced efficiency and power so much that it could damage the engine. Scientist Thomas Midgely Jr., working under Charles Kettering, tried several different chemical additives before finding a compound of lead that eliminated the knocking effect. This additive allowed the gas to compress further, preventing the early combustion.

Leaded gas was used for decades, but it was phased out in the late 70s. Lead poisoning had been shown to have a range of negative consequences, including physical, developmental, and cognitive defects. Since the ban, environmental lead levels have dropped greatly. Today, it is only used in a few places around the world.

December 10, 1844 – Future Big Spending Oil Heir Adopted

After years spending through his inheritance, John Washington Steele became a recluse and worked as a railroad station agent.

When the McClintocks, a couple of Pennsylvania farmers, decided to adopt a baby boy in 1844, they had no idea that the former orphan would go on to be one of the most prolific spenders ever associated with the oil business.

The McClintocks owned the plot of land where Edwin Drake would discover oil in 1858–kicking off the first oil boom in the US. The McClintocks leased their land to drillers, making a fortune off their royalties. When the McClintocks passed away their adopted son, John Washington Steele, inherited their fortune.

Nicknamed ‘Coal Oil Johnny,’ he became known as one of the biggest spenders of his era. In a few years he had spent his way through his inherited fortune and fell into bankruptcy. He spent the majority of his later life trying to avoid the public eye.

December 10, 1955 – Dysart Uranium Well Appears In Life Magazine

The Ambrosia Lake site produced over 100 acres of radioactive tailings in its nearly three decades of operation.

On December 10th, 1955, Life magazine did a feature on Stella Dysart and her uranium mine, which was one of the first features of its kind for a single wealthy woman. Mrs. Dysart made a fortune off the discovery after years of failed oil drilling.

Dysart spent decades drilling in McKinley County, New Mexico without striking oil. In 1955, a sample from one of the dry wells was tested and found to contain radioactive uranium. Dysart had discovered one of the richest uranium deposits of an unusually high-grade ore.

While she had been tens of thousands of dollars in debt just a few years earlier, when Dysart appeared in Life, she was wearing mink and standing in front of the uranium mine that made her rich.

December 10, 1967 — Nuclear Bomb Used for Fracking

After the explosion a rubble filled chimney was left behind.

Fracking has long been a popular procedure in the oil industry, designed to fracture the seams underground, allowing petroleum to flow more freely. However, in 1967, Project Gasbuggy attempted to take a new approach to fracking that utilized a nuclear device.

While fracking had been used for nearly 40 years, previous methods had used high pressure fluids or explosives like dynamite.

The project was part of an effort to find peaceful uses for nuclear devices. A hole was drilled to a depth of 4,000 ft near a few low producing wells. A 29 kiloton bomb was lowered into the hole and exploded. A huge cavern underground was created and immediately collapsed. Though the project did produce nearly 300 million ft2 of natural gas, it was radioactive and couldn’t be used.

Geologists and nuclear experts from the government and a private company were part of the project. The effort to use nuclear explosives for fracking would be abandoned after the experiment.

December 11, 1950 — Federal Government Claims Jurisdiction Over Offshore Drilling

The Outer Continental Shelf leasing program makes certain areas available for petroleum leases.

A 1947, the US Supreme Court decided to extend the area available for off-shore drilling from three nautical miles to 200 nautical miles. That decision gave the Federal government control over offshore drilling and the revenue from petroleum leases. In 1954, the first leases earned the US government over $100 million.

November 14, 1947 – First True Offshore Well Is Drilled

The drilling platform called Kermac 16 would go on to produce oil for nearly forty years after it was first drilled.

This offshore drilling platform, known as the Kermac 16, was the first of its kind, located 10 miles from shore, out of sight of land, in the Gulf of Mexico. Built by Brown And Root Company, it rested on pilings sunk over 100 ft into the sea floor and stood in 20 ft of water. It was built to stand up to gale force winds and would be put to the test barely a week after it had begun operation, withstanding a Category 5 hurricane.

Daniel Kerr of Kerr-McGee was behind the construction, with financial backing from Stanolind and Phillips Petroleum. At the time this was a unique drilling platform and required specialized equipment for drilling offshore. Kerr also purchased a number of surplus military vessels and other supplies to provide crew quarters and equipment for the rig. It would cost nearly nearly half a million dollars to complete the experimental drill rig, but the investment would turn out to be well worth it.

The rig was able to produce nearly 1,000 barrels a day. Before it was decommissioned in 1984, the rig produce nearly 1.5 million barrels in total.

November 14, 1947 – Pipelines Built During WWII Sold To Private Company

The Big and Little Inch Pipelines were built during World War II as an emergency measure to bring oil from Texas to the East Coast.

The Big and Little Inch pipelines were built during World War II to protect oil produced in Texas as they were transported by tankers vulnerable to German submarines. After the end of the war, this pipeline was put up for sale to a private company. The private company that would take advantage of this offer was the Texas Eastern Transmission Corporation. It had been formed less than a year earlier with the specific purpose of buying the pipelines and would go on to pay over $140 million dollars for the two pipelines.

As part of the terms of the sale, both pipelines were converted to transporting natural gas. Ten years later, the smaller Little Big Inch would revert to transporting oil.

November 15, 1906 – The Federal Government Breaks Up The Standard Oil Monopoly

This political cartoon shows Standard Oil as a giant octopus with its tentacles encircling major industries and political institutions across the United States.

Pushed by popular demand, Charles Bonaparte, the U.S. Attorney General, decided to break up the monopolistic Standard Oil. The company had actually been ordered to dismember a decade earlier, but a reorganization had allowed it to continue operating. The lower court would grant the Justice Department’s motion, but the case would go all the way to the Supreme Court before the company would be separated into 34 different companies in 1911.

November 15, 1952 — One Millionth Barrel of Oil is taken from the Williston Basin

This map shows the Williston Basin, which stretches across North and South Dakota, Montana, and southern Saskatchewan.

Oil in the northern US was first discovered in Montana thirty years earlier, but did not produce large amounts until further, richer oilfields were located in the 50s.

Oil in the northern US was first discovered in Montana in the 1920s; however, it did not produce significant amounts of oil; that is until new oilfields in the area were discovered in 1952.

Amerada Petroleum led the search, starting in 1946 but did not succeed with his efforts until 1951 when major fields were located in North Dakota. The largest were located in Mountrail, Williams, and McKenzie counties and were drawing from the Williston Basin formation. After these larger fields were located, they were producing around 350,000 barrels per month. A year later, in 1952, the fields produced its millionth barrel of oil.

November 17, 1949 — US Geological Survey Attempts To Locate Oil Reserves

The United States Geological Service is a government service which studies the landscape and natural resources of the country.

In 1949, the United States Geological Survey began a project that would investigate 22 states, as well as the then Alaska Territory, to locate prime locations for petroleum exploration. The effort involved 70 geologists and used some of the most advanced technology of its time. The USGS would continue to explore and locate oil reserves, as well as other natural resources.

November 19, 1927 — Iconic Phillips 66 is Unveiled

The United States Geological Service is a government service which studies the landscape and natural resources of the country.

While Phillips Petroleum was founded in 1917 to discover and develop new oil fields, they didn’t begin operating refineries and retail gas stations until 1927. The company offered its own brand of gas, called Phillips 66, at its first station. The name was chosen after a vehicle fueled with the new gas, and carrying a collection of company executives, got up to the, then quite high, speed of 66 mph on the historic Route 66.

The highway would soon play host to many Phillips stations, and the company would add 50 stations every month for several years. By 1930, there were nearly 7,000 Phillips 66 stations across the country.

The gas had a mix of gasoline and naphtha at a higher gravity than had previously been used. This mixture made it easier for cars to start when the engine was cold, causing the gas to specifically be advertised for winter. However, that marketing strategy was dropped in favor of promoting it year-round.

November 20, 1930 — Conrad Hilton Adds A New Hotel To His Oil Fueled Business

The Hilton Hotel was originally the site of the Sheldon Hotel, which was used as a headquarters for Mexican Revolutionaries.

In 1930, Conrad Hilton opened his first high rise hotel in El Paso, Texas. Construction began the previous year and continued despite economic upheaval caused by the Great Depression.

Hilton had bought his original hotel in Cisco, Texas a decade earlier. He had originally planned to buy a bank, but when that deal fell through he purchased a hotel instead. Roughnecks were flooding the area to work in the newly-discovered Ranger oilfield, which was fueling a boom in the area and the eventual boom for the Hilton brand of hotels.

September 25th, 1922 – First Commercial Oil Well Drilled in New Mexico

The Navajo Indian Reservation was the site of the first ever commercial well in New Mexico. The Midwest Refining Company finished the well and ultimately launched the oil industry in the state.

Close to Shiprock, the Hogback No. 1 produced 375 BOPD.  After that discovery, Midwest Refining finished 11 other oil wells in the Hogback Oilfield, which would establish the area as a major producer in the San Juan Basin. A pipeline was built two years later so that the oil could be refined in a facility located in Salt Lake City, Utah.

All this production led to more exploration. As a result, discoveries made in 1928 brought an economic boom to the town of Hobbs and the rest of Lea County.

September 26th, 1876 – California Oil

Charles Menty’s company, the California Star Oil Works had drilled three promising wells by 1876, however, their first gusher wasn’t discovered until September 26th of that year. It was named the Pico No. 4 and it was also the first commercial oil well in California. The well was drilled with a steam-powered, cable tool rig on land that was known for oil seeps. This discovery would later reveal this Pico Canyon oilfield near Los Angeles.

That Star Oil Works discovery led to California’s first oil refinery and pipeline being constructed. The well produced 25 BOPD at 370 feet. The refinery and pipeline were built so that axle grease, kerosene and other types of lubricants could be made. Stills on the foundations had the capacity to refine 150 BOPD.

The Standard Oil Company of California is now known as Chevron. Today, the establishment of the company is attributed to California Star Oil Works and the oil discovery in Pico Canyon.

September 26th, 1933 – Record Set by King Ranch Lease

Though W.S. Parrish, the president of Humble Oil and Refining Company, had reservations about leasing King Ranch, he eventually decided to put it up for rent. It was Wallace Pratt, a well-known geologist, that pushed for the company to lease the large, million-acre property in Texas. It was leased for close to $130,000 per year and a small royalty on any discovered oil.

The deal had the biggest negotiated contract in the United States. Early “dusters” on King Ranch were drilled by the Humble Oil and Refining of Houston, which was established several years earlier in 1917.

Other leases nearby granted Humble Oil and Refining millions of acres of mineral rights. These rights spanned between the Rio Grande River and Corpus Christi.  In 1947, Humble was running almost 400 productive wells on the lease from King Ranch. The company ExxonMobil has continued to extend the Humble natural gas and oil agreement since it went into effect in 1933.

September 26th, 1943 – First Oil Well Discovered in Florida

The Humble Oil Company finished Florida’s first commercial oil well in 1943. This well, known as the Sunnilan No. 1, was located along a railway near the Atlantic Coastline.

Humble Oil spent $1 million dollars and drilled to almost 12,000 feet to finish the well, which was located just 12 miles from Immokalee, near Naples and Big Cypress Reserve.

The petroleum in Florida had been eluding wildcatters since the turn of the century. By 1939, close to 80 wells were drilled. In a desperate attempt to gain tax revenue from oil production, Florida state legislators offered 50,000 dollars for the first productive discovery. Shortly after, the Sunniland oilfield was uncovered, and drilling looked more promising. By 1954, this field was producing half a million oil barrels each year from eleven wells.

Humble Oil claimed the $50,000 prize that the Florida legislature offered and contributed an additional $10,000 to it. The prize was then split and donated to Florida State College for Women and the University of Florida. Humble is now known as ExxonMobil.

September 27th, 1915 – Oklahoma’s Deadly Gas Explosion

A train car holding casinghead gas blew up in Ardmore, Oklahoma on September 27th, 1915, injury many and killed 43 people. The train car arrived the previous day and was preparing to go to a refinery close by. Casinghead gasoline (or natural gas) was critical to Oklahoma’s petroleum development. The state had 40 processing plants operating at the time.

The explosion, that took place at 2:20 PM, and occurred as a result of rising temperatures. The heat triggered a valve which started releasing gas pressure. According to the Oklahoma Historical Society, the Ardmore Refining Company sent an employee to take the dome off the top of the car, which unfortunately filled the area with vapors and gas.

The explosion was set off by an unknown source and the explosion all but demolished the Ardmore. The Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe Railway was held responsible and they paid just over $1 million resolving claims related to the incident. The society reported that as a result, companies changed their methods for extracting and transporting natural gas.

September 30th, 2006 – Roughnecks Tribute

The statue “Tribute to the Roughnecks” was placed near the Alamitos No. 1 Well, situated just 20 miles from Los Angeles. This well uncovered the Long Beach oilfield in 1921.

The Long Beach oilfield has produced over 1 million barrels of oil since it was discovered. A plaque notes that the monument is a tribute to petroleum pioneers and their success in the Signal Hill Oil Boom.

October 1st, 1908 – Ford’s Assembly Line Breakthrough With the Model T

In Ford’s Detroit plant, the Model T came off the assembly line for the first time, marking one of the biggest breakthroughs for the auto giant.

Ford had built around 15 million Model T cars from 1908 to 1927. The Model T Cars got their power from cheap gas. This was good for the oil industry because there was less demand for kerosene as electric lighting became popular.

More breakthroughs, including a find close to Beaumont, Texas, in 1901, would solve the industry’s problem. They would help meet the demand for what was previously a byproduct of refining: gasoline.

October 1st, 1942 – First Saltwater Injection Well Successfully Drilled

The first saltwater injection well was drilled by  East Texas Salt Water Disposal Company. The well was completed in the East Texas Oilfield, which at the time was only 12 years old.

About a decade earlier, the Federal Bureau of Mines found that injecting saltwater into formations would increase oil production and reservoir pressure. The Texas Railroad Commission saw how important this was as well pushing them to establish the company as a utility. It operated in the “Black Giant” field.

The company collected, handled, and re-injected around close to two million barrels of saltwater in just 13 years. As a result, the commission claimed that saltwater injection was one of the most significant oil conservation projects in history.

September 18th, 1948 – Utah Completes First Commercial Oil Well

In 1948, Utah’s first commercial oil well was completed in the Uinta Basin, by the leader of the Equity Oil Company, J.L. “Mike” Dougan. J.L’s small company did surprisingly well for its size, beating bigger, more advanced competitors like Union Oil, Standard Oil of California, Continental, and Pure Oil. J.L’s initial discovery is what started a deep-drilling oil boom.

J.L. drilled past the normal depth (1,000-2,000 feet), and his discovery was named Ashley Valley No 1. At 4,000 feet, it produced 300 BOPD. Soon, a big production boom hit this area and it is estimated that 1 million barrels of oil came from the field every year.

The success of the basin eventually encouraged other companies to start to drill even deeper wells to nearly 10,000 feet. Now, it’s said the Uinta Basin holds 10,000 cubic feet of gas, covering an area of over 15,000 square miles.

September 21st, 1901 – First Oil Well in Louisiana

The “Lucas Gusher” was found in January 1901, in Spindletop, Texas. Before the end of the year, another notable oilfield was discovered 90 miles east of the infamous site with the discovery of the Jules Clements No. 1 Well.

On the Jules Clements farm in Louisiana, W. Scott Heywood completed a well that produced 7,000 BOPD. The exact location was about six miles from Jennings. Heywood first became successful after drilling wells at Spindletop Hill. However, when the Jules Clements No. 1, became the first commercial well in Louisiana, he found a new level of financial prosperity he couldn’t ever have imagined.

The Jennings Daily News reported that this well destroyed crops on the farm. It flowed oil and sand onto the land for several hours, creating a pool of the substances over the area.

However, the discovery of the well would later open Jennings Field. Heywood secured leases and used storage tanks and pipelines to develop the field. During peak production in 1906, the Jennings oilfield produced more than 9 million barrels of oil. Louisiana’s petroleum industry expanded even more when oil discoveries were made in the northern part of the state.

September 23rd, 1918 – Wood River Refinery Opens Its Doors

The Roxana Petroleum Company began refining oil at their Wood River facility in  September of 1918. During its first year in operation, the facility processed over 2 million barrels of oil from fields in Oklahoma.

In 1912, the Roxana Petroleum Company was established by the Royal Dutch/Shell group, the organization also responsible for establishing the American Gasoline Company.

While the purpose of that company was to distribute gas to the West Coast, Roxana Petroleum was initially founded to produce the high-quality oil coming from across Oklahoma. This oil would later be refined at Wood River.

Today, Wood River is the biggest refinery owned by Phillips 66, processing over 300,000 BOPD.

September 23rd, 1933 – California Geologists and Saudi Arabia

Standard Oil Company of California geologists were invited to the Port of Jubail by King Abdel Aziz. He was the king of Saudi Arabia. While the geologists searched for “kindred bituminous matter” and petroleum, they uncovered a huge oilfield. This discovery would lead to a partnership between Standard Oil and Saudi Arabia known as Aramco, or the Arabian American Oil Company. American companies like Texaco also joined Aramco later on.

September 23rd, 1947 –“Horton spheres” Get Their Patent

A spherical storage vessel was first invented by the Chicago Bridge and Iron Company’s (CB&I) founder in the 1920s. In 1947, the company received a patent for improvements on this invention. The purpose of the vessel was to hold and store propane, natural gas, other petroleum products. This sphere was considered one of the most efficient and innovative technologies used on the oil patch.

CB&I created the “Hortonspheres” in 1923. The invention was named for the company’s founder, Horace E. Horton.  In 1889, he started the company to build bridges over the Mississippi River. In 1892, Chicago Bridge and Iron finished their first elevated water tank in Fort Dodge, Iowa. According to CB&I history, that steel plate tank was one of the company’s first innovations. It was also the first elevated water tank built with a hemispherical bottom.

However, the innovation didn’t end there. Soon after, Chicago Bridge and Iron built the first field-erected spherical pressure vessel in Port Arthur, Texas. Today, CB&I has built over 50 percent of the planet’s field-erected spheres.

September 24th, 1951 – Bazooka Technology Developed After Oil Technology

Name it a “downhole bazooka.”

In 1951, war veteran Henry Mohaupt, signed up to license his “Shaped Gun and Charge Assembly” which would eventually become the bazooka. He did this based off technology the oil industry used during WWII.

Mohaupt took the lead in an army program looking to create an anti-tank weapon. The idea to use a hollowed out explosive to guide and focus the energy from detonation led to the creation of the rocket grenade that would be used inside the bazooka.

The Well Explosives Company noticed the potential in the downhole grenades. This Texas-based company saw how the grenades could help oil flow from oil-bearing formations. Well Explosives would later employ Mohaupt where he helped develop technologies that would safely pierce pipe and cement casings.

Page 3 of 20« First...23451020...Last »