August 21st, 1897 – Olds Motor Vehicle Company Officially Opens in Michigan

Ransom Eli Olds was a pioneer in the automotive industry beginning when he established the Olds Motor Vehicle Company in Michigan in August of 1897. This company was the first auto manufacturer in Detroit. In 1899, Olds Motor Vehicle was renamed to Olds Motor Works.

In R.E. Olds: Auto Industry Pioneer, George Mays says that by the early 1900’s Olds had made eleven prototypes. Out of the eleven prototype vehicles, at least one used each power mode of gasoline, steam and electricity respectively. Olds was the only American to manufacture and sell each type of automobile.

Olds also created the concept for modern assembly lines utilizing a stationary assembly design. Henry Ford was the first person to use a moving assembly line. In 1901, the first mass-produced automobile was sold by Olds Motor Works.

August 24th, 1892 – “Prophet of Spindletop” Discovers Gladys City Oil Gas and Manufacturing

In 1892, Patillo Higgins founded the Gladys City Oil, Gas and Manufacturing Company. He was later to nickname the “Prophet of Spindletop.”

Higgins was a self-taught geologist and a Sunday School teacher. He and his partners leased over 2,500 acres of land in Texas, near the city of Beaumont. Higgins thought that Spindletop Hill, also nicknamed “Big Hill,” contained oil even though many scientific experts doubted the possibility.

One Sunday, when bringing his class to a regular trip on the hill, Higgins spotted natural gas and oil in the area. Higgins decided to name his company after his favorite student from Sunday School.

In 1895, Higgins made his departure from Gladys City Oil Gas and Manufacturing Company. However, the company still made its mark on the oil industry. The Spindletop field soon became the most prolific oilfield in the United States and more productive than all other oilfields in the world combined.

Patillo Higgins’ trust in the “Big Hill” allowed for the eventual formation of oil companies like Sun, Mobile, Texaco, and Gulf.

August 24th, 1923 – Discovery Leads to University of Texas’ First Royalty Payment

On August 24th, 1921, Santa Rita No. 1 Well uncovered a new oilfield on land owned by the University of Texas. The site was located in the Permian Basin. Three months after this discovery, the University of Texas got their first royalty payment, totally $516.

The 4 ½ square-mile field was found in Big Lake and was uncovered after the Texon Oil and Land Company drilled for 21 months. Petroleum royalties provided the university with over $4 million dollars in just three years.

The well’s walking beam and more equipment were moved to the university’s Austin campus in 1958. According to the student newspaper, this well improved conditions at the university. In one statement, it was said that this allowed the campus to go from shack-like buildings to modern classrooms.

August 24th, 1937 – Oil Gusher Makes a Bang in Music Mountain

In 1937, a gusher in McKean County surprised many, including the company that drilled it, when it began sprouting from the ground. The Niagara Oil Company, started drilling the well on Music Mountain, ultimately uncovering the first oil discovery in the area in over 70 years.

This well reached unprecedented depths at the time with a total recorded depth of 1,630 feet.

The producing well was located under the Bradford Sands, which had been discovered more than 50 years earlier. This region’s oil is known as one of the best lubricants on the planet. A refinery in Bradford, now the American Refining Group, has been refining oil in McKean County since the early 1880s.

August 27th, 1859 – Petroleum Industry Gets Its Start

The American petroleum industry officially got its start in Titusville, Pennsylvania when Edwin L. Drake, a former train conductor and William Smith, a former blacksmith, were hired by Seneca Oil Company to drill land in the area. They went on to discover the first commercial well in America. The well was drilled at around 70 feet near Oil Creek, and it eventually produced 25 BOPD.

Prior to this, small amounts of oil were found by spring pole and cable-tool drillers. The little amounts of oil were an unwanted by-product at the time. Still, Drake drilled for that oil. His investors planned to refine it into kerosene which was in high demand at the time.

Drake developed new drilling methods at Oil Creek. One of these methods was to drive an iron pipe into the well and preserve the integrity of the bore. Unfortunately, after months of drilling problems and setbacks, the people of the town named the well “Drake’s Folly.” Investors then addressed letters with “Colonel” Edwin Drake, in an attempt to improve his reputation.

Oil was seen floating at the top of a pipe by one of Drake’s drillers. “Uncle Billy” Smith made the discovery in the summer of 1859. A bit reached what was later called the First Venango Sand. Drake used a kitchen water pump to pump the oil.

August 27th, 1959 –  Centennial Petroleum Stamp Dedicated By U.S. Postmaster

In Titusville, Pennsylvania a crowd gathered for “Oil Centennial Day,” where the U.S. Postmaster General Arthur Summerfield spoke to a captivated audience. He introduced the new stamp, costing just four cents.

The keynote speaker called dedicating a stamp to commemorate 100 years of the oil industry one of his “greatest pleasures.” He also described the impact that petroleum had on peace and war in America.

Summerfield stated Americans have a good reason to be grateful to the industry. He went on to say that the American way of life wouldn’t have been possible without petroleum providing power.

In 2009, the U.S. Postal Service Stamp Advisory Committee refused requests for another oil industry stamp to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the petroleum industry. However, before this, Kermit the Frog and nine total muppets had been given a stamp.

August 15th, 1945 – Gas Rationing Comes to an End

The gas rationing that began during World War II ended in 1945. In 1942, when it started, the Office of Price Administration gave out coupon books and priority stickers in an attempt to conserve resources. Almost every civilian’s vehicle had an “A” sticker, which allowed them to have four gallons of gas per week.

A nation-wide speed limit of 35 miles per hour was put into place reduce gas consumption, but it wasn’t the only rationing effort that came as a result of the war. People also rationed food, tires, coffee and shoes.

August 16th, 1861 – McClintock Discovery Becomes Known as Oldest Producing Oil Well

A well completed close to Rouseville, Pennsylvania, the McClintock No. 1 Well became known as the oldest oil-producing well in America. The well reached just over 600 feet and produced 50 BOPD, located just 14 miles from Titusville where America’s first commercial well discovery took place.

The Oil Region Alliance for Business, Industry, and Tourism states that the McClintock is the oldest well that still produces oil at its initial depth. This organization promotes this well and other important historic landmarks in northern Pennsylvania.

In 1995, the well was donated by Quaker state. The Alliance claims that it still produces up to ten barrels of oil every month. While a marker is close to the site identifies the McClintock Well, many people pass the well every year and have no idea it’s there. In the Drake Well Museum, souvenir bottles of oil from this well are available.

August 16th, 1927 – Phillips Petroleum Fuels Air Race From California to Hawaii

The Phillips Petroleum Company developed high-octane fuel that allowed a monoplane to travel over the Pacific Ocean and that would eventually instigate the start of a deadly air race. August 16th, 1927, eight aircrafts took flight from Oakland, California in front of a crowd of more than 50,000 people watching this event.

The race started in California and was to end in Hawaii, where the Dole Pineapple Company offered up $25,000 prize for the person who took first place. This came just three months after Charles Lindbergh became the first person to make a solo flight across the Atlantic ocean.

Phillips Petroleum provided the fuel that powered the winning plane, as a special fuel was needed to make the 2,439-mile flight over the Pacific Ocean. The fuel, known as Nu-Aviation gasoline was the latest Phillips product and was developed to power a single-engine monoplane known as the Woolaroc.

Unfortunately, at the airport in Oakland, two fuel-heavy planes crashed during takeoff. After the crash, the remaining five planes flew out over the Pacific. Out of the five, only two were able to make it to Hawaii.

August 17th, 1785 – Oil Discovered Floating on Pennsylvania Creek

Just two years after the Revolutionary War ended, oil was found floating on a creek in Pennsylvania. U.S. Army General William Irvine revealed the area was labeled as Oil Creek because of the matter found floating at the surface.

According to General Irvine, the natives claimed this oil cured ailments including ulcers and rheumatic pains. According to the general, the creek emptied itself into the Allegheny River and the water flowed from a spring. The oil was on top of the water, much like Barbados tar and a single person alone could collect several gallons of the oil each day.

Oil Creek State Park used to be filled with barges and wooden derricks looking for more oil lurking beneath the surface. Now, it attracts many people with nearly 10,000 acres that are great for biking, backpacking and hiking.

August 18th, 2007 – Crater Exhibit Opens at Oklahoma Museum

The Astrobleme Museum opened in Ames, Oklahoma in 2007 and featured an exhibit shows the impact of a meteor and how it lead to a huge oil discovery in the area. The discovery was made by Harold Hamm almost 500 million after the meteor struck.

The location of the oil was about 20 miles from Enid and it was buried by almost 10,000 feet of sediment, making it virtually invisible. Impact craters were believed to be an unlikely place to find petroleum prior to this discovery.

Even though other wells were uncovered close by, no one had dug into the deep and hidden Ames crater of Major Country until 1991 when then Hamm’s Continental Resources drilled down to nearly 10,000 feet. This was unusual for the area, yet the drillers were able to locate oi and what would become one of the most prolific craters. It produced just over 17 million barrels of oil and close to 80 billion cubic feet of gas.

Independent producer Lew Ward of Ward Petroleum noted that the Ames Astrobleme was incredible discovery and one of the most observed geological features on the planet thanks to its massive impact on the economy.

Thanks to this discovery, oil companies across the globe began to see the potential of craters.

August 19th, 1957 – Oil Discovery in Washington

The Sunshine Mining Company drilled the first commercial oil well in Washington state in August of 1967. The well was called The Medina No 1 and produced just over 220 BOPD. The well was located in Grays Harbor County near Ocean City and had a depth of 4,135 feet.

Another well that was discovered 6 months before this produced more than 30 BOPD. However, it was labeled as non-commercial and later deserted. In contrast, the Medina produced almost 13,000 barrels until the well was capped in 1961.

According to a report in 2010, over 600 wells have been drilled in the state. Despite that, commercial production never occurred. In fact, no oil production has taken place in the state since 1962. However, some companies still continue to search for methane to this day.

August 7th, 1933 – Permian Basin Comic “Alley Oop” Hits the Presses

Even though the cartoon “Alley Oop” appeared for the first time in August 1933, the story behind this comic actually dates back much earlier. It all started with a 1926 oil discovery in the Permian Basin. A small Texas oil town would later be named the inspiration for artist of the comic, Victor Hamlin.

Iraan was first identified as a booming town in 1926 after the discovery of the productive Yates oilfield. The town’s name merged names of landowners Ira and Ann Yates. During the oil boom, in Permian Basin, Hamlin was as a cartographer for an oil company. He had a fascination with paleontology and geology which ultimately led to the development of his comic strip.

August 7th, 2004 –Well Control Expert, Paul “Red” Adair Passes Away

On August 7th, 2004, Paul “Red” Adair, a famed firefighter and well control expert passed away at age 89 in Texas. Adair, born in 1915,. Served on the bomb disposal unit for the U.S. Army during World War II. After his service, he worked for Myron Kinley, a pioneer in oilfield firefighting from California.

Adair established his own business, called the Red Adair Company in 1959. He created new technologies designed for “wild well” control. Over the years, his organization put out upwards of 2,000 well fires and blowouts all over the world.

The oilfield firefighter’s expertise was documented in the 1968 John Wayne film Hellfighters. These skills were put to the test in 1991 when Adair and his organization put out 117 oil well fires in Kuwait that were started by Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi Army.

August 9th, 1921 – Reflection Seismography Discovered in Oklahoma

Dr. J.C. Karcher, a physicist from Oklahoma, pioneered research that led to the first reflection seismograph in the world.  In 1921, this geologic section was measured close to Ardmore.

According to the Oklahoma Historical Society, the state was the first location where this technique for oil exploration was used. The method records reflected seismic waves as they move through the earth, resulting in the location of productive oil formations.

The Arbuckle Mountains were selected for a pilot survey on this technique due to the number of exposed formations in this area.

August 9th, 1922 – Psychic Helps Locate Oilfield in Texas

The United North and South Oil Company had a breakthrough with the Rafael Rios No. 1 Well close to Luling, Texas, thanks to insight from an unexpected source; a psychic by the name of Edgar Cayce.

This discovery came after they had just drilled six dry holes. In 1922, another oil field was uncovered. It was over 10 miles long and more than a mile wide. Two years later, the field had nearly 400 wells that produced oil, yielded more than 10 million barrels of oil.

This company was the first tap oil production in the area, thanks to president President Edgar B. Davis who locals claim was the one to contact the psychic.

Davis later sold his leases to the Magnolia Petroleum Company for more than $10 million. It was biggest oil deal in Texas to date. The psychic, Cayce, claimed that he had great success helping many wildcatters. However, he failed with his own oil company, only drilling dry holes. According to Reader’s Digest, Luling now has a yearly Roughneck BBQ and Chili Cook-Off to celebrate the discovery,  They are said to have the best ribs in the nation.

August 10th, 1909 – Dual-Cone Roller Bit Hits the Market

Howard Hughes Sr. of Texas made “fishtail” drill bits obsolete with his invention of the dual-cone roller bit. This patented design was made of two turning cones that could pulverize hard rocks, leading to deeper and faster drilling.

According to many historians, there were several people trying to improve drill bits at this time. Hughes and business partner Walter Sharp were the ones who found success. Months before receiving their patent in 1909, they founded the Sharp-Hughes Tool Company. They did this so that they could manufacture their bit.

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers noted that rather than scraping at rock, like the fishtail bit does, the Hughes bit adopted a different approach that instead burrowed in to the rock. On August 10th, 2009, 100 years after the initial discovery, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers named the invention a historic mechanical engineering landmark.

The ASME added that by chipping and powdering rock formations, the Hughes Two-Cone Drill Bit could reach a great depth and tap into reservoirs thousands of feet below surface level which would have a lasting impact on the oil industry.

August 12th, 1930 – Western Kentucky Oil Men’s Association Takes Shape

Independent producers from Eastern Kentucky joined the Western Kentucky Oil Men’s Association in August of 1930. During the meeting, held in Frankfurt, articles of incorporation were revised that would go on to establish a statewide organization. This organization is now known as the Kentucky Oil and Gas Association.

In 1919, oil was discovered close to Pellville in Hancock County, Kentucky. This started an oil boom in the area. Historians also claim this state was home to the first commercial oil well in America. Oil was initially found here in 1829 while boring for salt brine on a farm close to Burkesville.

August 13th, 1962 – Norman Rockwell Appears in Oil and Gas Journal

The Oil and Gas Journal used a now infamous drawing from artist Norman Rockwell to promote their publication in 1962.  It was called “Where Oil Men Invest Their Important Reading Time.” Rockwell’s depictions of American became popular in many magazines including Leslie’s Illustrated WeeklySaturday Evening Post and more.

Rockwell created artwork for the American Petroleum Institute in 1959. They sponsored a “first day of issue”  for the U.S. postal service celebrating the birth of the oil industry in the United States, which took place 100 years earlier.

According to a collector, Rockwell’s drawing incorporated the phrase “Oil’s First Century 1859-1959, Born in Freedom Working for Progress.” The illustration portrayed men of science and the extraction of crude oil and ended with a depiction of an attendant at a service station.

August 1st, 1872 – First Current Pipeline Distributed

The biggest gas distribution by pipeline started in August of 1872 when gas was transported from a well in Pennsylvania to a location nearly five miles away. The well produced 4 million cubic feet of gas every day, establishing itself as the biggest well in the area.

Leaders of the Titusville and the Cornerstone Gas and Water Organization created their pipeline with a sing mission in mind: to bring one of the most powerful wells on record to over 250 clients in Titusville.

Author David Waples stated that at this time, before it was introduced by George Westinghouse, the use of commercial gas was considered to be dangerous.

August 2nd, 1938 – Goodbye Hog Bristles, Hello Nylon Toothbrushes

The Weco Company made advancements on its toothbrush in 1938 when they created the first toothbrush to have synthetic nylon called the Miracle-Tuft. Scientific experts at DuPont created it only 36 months earlier. Upon the reveal, New York Times stated that Americans in the future would brush their teeth with nylon instead of hog bristles.

An advertisement in Life magazine promoted the nylon bristles. Previously, all toothbrushes were made with animal hair bristles. The Miracle-Tuft contained DuPont’s interesting new fiber called EXTON.

Weco Items sold their toothbrushes for 50 cents a piece and assured buyers that there would be no shedding. Within the next year, the company Johnson and Johnson came out with a nylon toothbrush. Previously, the Royal Society of Chemistry observed that the world relied on toothbrushes made with hog bristles.

August 2nd, 1956 – First Interstate in the United States Begins Construction

Missouri was one of the first states to get construction funding for an interstate. Construction was authorized 8 weeks earlier by the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956. On August 2nd, 1956, work officially began on Route 66.

The Highway-Aid Act provided all federal funding for a system of interstate highways. That made it possible for states to afford the construction of limited access highways. These highways stretched across more than 40,000 miles. Leaders said the interstate was the best development of transportation in the history of the U.S.

August 3rd, 1769 – Spanish Explorers Discover First Asphalt Pits

In 1769, La Brea pits were discovered during a Spanish expedition by Franciscan Friar. In his diary detailed the expedition, the explorer wondered whether the tar was causing so many earthquakes.

Someone else on the expedition, Juan Crespi coined the expression “bitumen” to describe these sticky pools throughout southern California. Petroleum had been leaking in the waterfront plain dregs for over 40,000 years, eventually Americans would utilize the substance to waterproof bins and canoes.

Even though they were called tar pits, the pools at Rancho La Brea were black-top, not tar. Tar comes from the refining of woody materials while the black-top in the pits is a shaped substance made from hydrocarbon particles.

August 3rd, 1942 – War Brings Oil Pipelines to the United States

War Crisis Pipelines, Inc., started developing the longest oil pipeline in America in 1942, beginning the construction on what would eventually be called it the “Big Inch line.”

The purpose of this line was to supply fuel requests from the war. It also served as an answer to U-boat’s assaulted oil tankers. Big Inch and Little Big Inch were named the greatest government to industry collaboration.

The plan was to deliver 300,000 BOPD, an ambitious  goal that spearheaded the development of the two pipelines. The Big Inch was first and it traveled from East Texas all the way to Illinois. The Little Big Inch, which stretched from New York to Philadelphia came next. The effort went on to cost $95 million dollars total. Currently, the Trans-Alaska pipeline spans across over 800 miles.

March 13th, 1974 – End of OPEC Embargo

A five-month long oil embargo on the U.S. ended was officially ended on March 13th, 1974 by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ (OPEC) Arab members. The embargo was originally applied as a response to the United States providing resources for the Yom Kippur war effort to the Israeli military.

This created a shortage of gasoline and caused President Richard Nixon to come up with a solution. That solution came in the form of voluntary rationing of gas and a Sunday sales ban on gas; it was quickly approved by Congress. The OPEC discontinued the embargo when Israeli troops were withdrawn from some of Sinai, following a negotiation with Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger.

March 14th, 1909 – California Rattled By Lake View Gusher

On the morning of March 14th, a California well called Lake View at Midway-Sunset erupted, causing disturbances and heavy vibrations throughout the region. San Joaquin Valley experienced many gushers during this time including the Shamrock Gusher (1986) and the Midway Gusher, (1909).

However, the Lake View Number One had the biggest impact. In addition to the physical vibrations from the gusher, the well spilled 18,000 barrels every 24 hours for about 18 months.

This gusher nearly became the most famous in American history, right behind the Spindletop Hill gusher of 1901. Lake View was eventually contained in October of 1910. Fortunately, a device designed to prevent blowouts and while capping wells was introduced in 1922, putting a halt to the gusher issues that plagued wells around the country.

March 15th, 1946 – Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners Association Established

In 1946, Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners Association was formed in an effort to protect the right to survey and manufacture oil and gas. It was created by a group of Independents wanting to protect their rights and maintain their own quality of life.

Until that time, when a number of oil fields were discovered, it often lead to an overproduction and disputes with large oil companies. These difficult disputes are what pushed these Independents to form their own trade association.

March 16th, 1914 – Completion of Main Street Oil Well

In 1914, a well that Ripley’s Believe It or Not would hail as the World’s Only Main Street Oil Well was officially completed. This well held oil from below the town of Barnsdall, Oklahoma, about 1,700 feet down.

This Oklahoma town, in Osage County, was first named  Bigheart for James Bigheart, former Osage Chief. It was later renamed for the owner of Barnsdall Refining company, Theodore Barnsdale. Today, this company still exists as a wax refinery. In 1916, Barnsdall went on to discover several additional oil fields in the area.

The well still exists today, and in 1997, it earned a place in the National Register of Historic Places.

March 17th, 1890 – Sunoco Expands to Ohio

Four years after the Peoples Natural Gas company was organized by Edward Emerson and Joseph Pew in an effort to supply gas to the city of Pittsburgh, the company made a move to Ohio in an expansion effort. It was later named The Sun Oil Company of Ohio.

This company obtained promise leases around Findlay near the turn of the century. They began to make a mark in the industry of producing carbon oil, rock oil and petroleum. The business also transported, stored, refined and purified this oil and their products.

Sun Oil also ppened and promoted Sunoco Motor Oil service locations in both Pennsylvania and Ohio in the 1920s. In 1929, they then got into the business of equipment. At this time, a partnership between Sunoco and Sperry Gyroscope, called Sperry-Sun was formed.

March 17th, 1923 –  Oklahoma Oilfields Discovered

A major Seminole area boom was created by a well known as the Betsy Foster Number 1. This was a gusher that spilled 2,800 barrels each day close to Wewoka in Seminole County, OK.

The following year, more wells were uncovered nearby including Cromwell and Behel, while Seminole and Earlsboro were eventually discovered in 1926. Following these discoveries, more wells were eventually found in the Oklahoma City area, establishing what would be a highly profitable industry for the city.

There were 39 oil fields in total developed in this region and surrounding counties at the time. However, this rapid expansion proved to be too much of a good thing, as overproduction caused prices to dip down to 17 cents per barrel.

March 17th, 1949 – Hydraulic Fracturing in Business

Stanolind and Halliburton company experts crossed paths around one oil well near Duncan, Oklahoma area when they performed commercial hydraulic fracturing for the first time.

A few years earlier, in 1947, an experimental well fractured a gas field near the town of Hugoton, Kansas, introducing the promise for a future climb in productivity.

The strategy was created and patent protected by Stanolind (now called the Pan American Oil Company). A license was given exclusively to Halliburton Company to allow them to use this method.

This license was granted to all other recognized oilfield companies four years later. Since then, it has been said that hydraulic fracturing is one of the most effective of all techniques to boost recoverable reserves.

The first venture to boost petroleum production in a well started in the 1860s. Erle Halliburton created a technology in 1921 that increased productivity in the production of oil. It also protected the environment through well cementing.

March 18th, 1937 – Explosion Takes the New London School

Just before the end of an otherwise normal day,  New London High School was destroyed by a natural gas explosion. The school was located in Rusk County, TX.

An odorless gas, also known as casing gas, leaked into the basement of the school causing an explosion that was felt for miles. Texas oil workers and reporters quickly made their way to school grounds. Despite rescue attempts, 298 people died that day, with many others passing away late from related injuries.

The source of the explosion was an electric sander in the wood shop that sparked the gas that collected below the building and in walls. After this tragedy, Texas and other areas around the country passed laws to prevent future disasters. They required gases and malodorant to be combined to provide quicker detection for gas leaks.

Every week is filled with petroleum facts. Some only pertain to the time it happened. Others have affected us for generations. Here are a few that took place in March between the 6th and 12th.

March 7, 1902 — Sour Lake: From Resort to Boom Town

On March 6th, 1902, Sour Lake, Texas was a sleepy resort town with one hotel and a population of just 50 people. When oil was discovered one day later, it became the latest Texas boom town and soon was flooded with as many as 10,000 employees and visitors.

At its peak, Sour Lake Oil Field produced 50,000 barrels of oil daily. As the wells dried up, so did the population. Eventually, the town settled into a citizenship that fluctuated between 2000 and 3000 citizens. Sour Lake and the area where the Sour Lake Springs Hotel stood were owned back in the early 20th century by the Texas Company. This organization eventually became known as Texaco.

 

March 11, 1829 — Kentucky’s Earliest Commercial Oil Well

Most people think of Texas when it comes to the early history of oil discoveries. In reality, what was considered one of the first commercial oil setups began a few hundred miles east in Kentucky. This is in great thanks to a man by the name of Martin Beatty.

A salt maker by trade, Beatty dabbled a bit in oil. However, it wasn’t until the late 1820s that he discovered a large deposit of oil. Though only drilled down to 171 feet, the first Great American Oil Well produced a gusher which spilled oil into the Cumberland River as far down as 50 miles. The oil caught fire and burned for nearly three weeks.

Fortunately, the oil well ended up producing 50,000 barrels of crude into the start of the Civil War.

 

March 11, 1930 — Exploring Geophysicists Get Their Own Society

While many people associated advancements in the oil field with wealthy business tycoons, it is really geophysicists that can be thanked for many of these advancements.

These scientists study the physical processes and physical properties of the Earth and its surrounding space environment. In other words, they make sure things are going to be okay before a well is drilled.

In 1930, a number of these scientists got together and created the Society of Economic Geophysicists. After playing around with a few name changes, the organization eventually became the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG). Since its inception, the Tulsa-based group has grown to over 33,000 members, has produced the publication GEOPHYSICS for decades, and has become one of the innovators to study the Earth across the globe.

March 12, 1912 — Dry Hole Slick strikes a Oklahoma Gusher

Today, Cushing, Oklahoma is known as the crossroads of the pipeline world with its delivery capacity of 90 million barrels of oil across the country. Yet, that might not have been the case if Thomas Baker Smith hadn’t come to the area.

In 1912, the man known as “Dry Hole Slick” struck a gusher east of Cushing, and made his well one of the most successful between Oklahoma and Tulsa. For two decades afterward, Slick struck successful well after successful well, to the point that he was honored with the title “King of the Wildcatters.” Slick has been honored as one of the state’s petroleum leaders with a display at the state’s Museum of Natural History.

March 12, 1914 — USS Texas, the Last Coal-Powered Boiler Battleship

When the U.S. Navy  left the Age of Sail in the early 1880s for a modern, steel-hulled force, it relied on coal-powered engines to propel it across the waters. While they were able to succeed in battles like those in Manilla and Cuba during the Spanish-American War, the process of shoveling 2,000 tons of coal into the engines, the dark smoke and ash didn’t help. So, once the 20th century began, Naval officials decided to make the move toward a fuel-based fleet.

The last of the coal-powered battleships to be commissioned was the USS. Texas. The second naval ship to bear the name of the state, this armor-plated battleship had an impressive record. She was the first U.S. battleship to mount anti-aircraft guns and one of the honored U.S. craft to serve with the British Grand Fleet. The USS Texas served during both WWI and WWII on numerous convoy missions. Today, she stands as a powerful memorial docked at Houston’s ship channel.

March 12, 1943 — Oil Drillers Head to Sherwood Forest

Robin Hood and his Merry Men? Well, the Oklahoma roughnecks who arrived in England weren’t stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. Actually, they were making sure a nation wrecked by Germany had the fuel they needed in World War II.

It was an incredible secret. With tankers constantly at risk in the Atlantic and British oil wells producing a mere 300 barrels a day, something needed to be done. So, British officials covertly made their way to Washington to seek help. The result was a team of drillers, derrickmen, and other petroleum employees who were quietly sent to England aboard the HMS Queen Elizabeth. The team used their proactive skills to drill approximately one well each week in the forest. Today, a statue named “Oil Patch Warrior” stands in in the city of Nottingham to commemorate the brave Americans who helped keep England going.

March 12, 1968 — Oil is Discovered in Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay

Prudhoe Bay, in Northern Alaska, is cold with long winters. Yet, it can be one of the most populous towns in the state several months a year thanks to the discovery of the largest oil field in not only the United States but in North America.

The field itself is over 215,000 acres and originally contained the equivalent of 25 million barrels of oil. The field was originally pinpointed by Tom Marshall, a  petroleum geologist who lived in the new state of Alaska was given the task of finding the right piece of land for investment. Prudhoe Bay caught his eye — it reminded him of the large oil basins of Wyoming — and the rest was history. For his work, Marshall received only a citation from the state government.

Every week is filled with petroleum facts. Some only pertain to the time it happened. Others have affected us for generations. Here are a few which took place between February 27th to March 5th.

February 28th, 1935 — Nylon is Invented

On February 24th, 1938, the first toothbrush made with Nylon bristles was sold. This wouldn’t have happened if not for the creation of the synthetic polymer approximately three years before. This is all thanks to Wallace Hume Carothers. Originally an accountant, Wallace decided to embark on a career in chemistry. In 1924, while working on his study of polymers, DuPont Laboratories hired him to create a man-made fiber.

After many attempts, Carothers became frustrated. It wasn’t until a colleague recommended using amines, rather than glycols, to produce polyamides that his experiments turned the corner. A year later, Nylon began to be sold commercially. At the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City, there was even a large Nylon-stocking foot display to honor the creation, and the massive statue drew a great deal of attention.

A few years later, the fiber was a major equipment component utilized during World War II.

 

 

March 1, 1921 — New Cementing Technology from Halliburton

Though many in the 21st century know the name Halliburton from scandals during the George W. Bush presidency, its roots go back nearly a century. In fact, it was the technological leader in extracting oil from under the Earth’s surface in the early 1900s; cementing its oil field wells as early as 1919.

In 1921, the process, invented by Erle P. Halliburton, was officially patented. Before the company bore his name, Haliburton titled it the New Method Oil Well Cementing Company.

This cementing technique helped to decrease the amount of abandoned wells from excess water by isolating the various down-hole zones. This protected the interior of the well from collapse and the exterior from oil leaks.

 

 

 

March 2, 1922 — A One Million Dollar Oil Lease for the Osage Nation

160 acres. This is how much oil-rich land the Osage Nation decided to auction off to the highest bidder in the late winter of 1922. And their efforts more than paid off. Utilizing the auctioneering powers of Colonel Elmer Ellsworth Walters, The Oklahoma-based tribe was able to collect $1 million dollars for the parcel.

The auction took place in what is now called the Million Dollar Elm. Colonel Walters, who became the official auctioneer for the Osage Nation in 1916, spent several hours underneath the elm in order to win the $1 million bid jointly paid by Skelly Oil and Phillips Petroleum Company. When all the papers were signed, the sale of this land became the first million dollar mineral lease in history. Impressed with Colonel Walter’s ability to maximize their profits, the Osage Nation presented him with a medal to thank him for his contributions.

 

 

March 2, 1944 — War Emergency Pipeline Sends Petroleum to the East Coast

World War II was a time of loss and sacrifice but also a time of invention out of sheer need. This included a need to be able to deliver needed fuel to the East Coast, something they had been sort of since German U-boats began attacking tankers at the start 1942.

Enter “Little Big Inch.” Requested by Secretary of the Interior, Harold Ickes, as early as 1940, this 12-inch pipeline delivered refined fuel from the Eastern Texas coastal cities of Houston and Beaumont to Linden Station, New Jersey only a few months before D-Day. The pipeline’s big brother, “Big Inch” delivered crude oil through a 20-inch pipeline. Between the opening of these two pipelines and the end of the war, 350 million barrels of crude oil and refined product were delivered to the East Coast.

 

 

March 3, 1879– Creation of the U.S. Geological Survey

Currently, the United States Geological Survey (USGS), an agency within the Department of the Interior, has over 10,000 employees and a budget of $1 billion. Back when then-President Rutherford B. Hayes signed it into law to survey the territories of the United States.

At the time, the USGS was designated to classify public lands, examine geological structures, review mineral resources and determine the products of the national domain of those Western territories. Many of the agency’s discoveries resulted in the discovery of oil and other valuable minerals. Today, the USGS provides a wealth of scientific data on more than just the geology of America. Its current role is to review and try to come up with solutions to natural hazards which threaten lives and natural resources we rely on for our environment.

March 3, 1886 — Lighting up Kansas with Natural Gas

Remember the name Paola. This small Kansas city and current seat of Miami County became something much more important in March of 1886. It turned out to be the very first town in Kansas to be lit up at night by natural gas.

This historic moment was thanks to a natural gas discovery in 1882 when the Kansas Oil and Mining Company was discovered through borings on land seven miles east of town. According to Miami County historical records, the deposit could light a city of one million people. Once the first lamps where light in 1886, the city council asked to purchase 50 more at $8.75 per unit. A year later, the city held a Natural Gas Jubilee to celebrate the continued flow of the natural power supply.

 

March 4, 1918 — West Virginia Well Named World’s Deepest

If you look at the current records of the West Virginia Geological & Economic Survey, you’ll see a number of wells of numerous depths. The deepest reached over 20,000 feet. In 1918, an oil well on the Martha Goff Farm in Harrison, West Virginia, was deemed the deepest in the world.

According to the book A Century of Service, which details the history of West Virginia’s oil and gas industry, the well was 7,386 feet deep, which beat one previously dug in Germany. The Martha Goff Well would hold its title until 1919 when a well in Marion County beat the standing record.

 

March 4, 1933 — Oklahoma Governor Declares Martial Law on Oil Field

Back in 1928, the Oklahoma City Oil Field produced most of the state’s crude oil. Because it was discovered within city limits, it posed numerous issues when it came to the amount of production and location of wells. Between 1929 and 1930, Oklahoma City Council halted drilling several times and restricted it to only certain locations in the city. This resulted in numerous violations, and frankly, a great deal of chaos.

Enter Governor William H. “Alfalfa Bill” Murray. On March 4, 1933, Governor Murray declared martial law on the oil field for a period of ten days. This allowed the situation to calm down and gave the state government time to put together set of regulations to allow for drilling without overusing the area.

Every week is filled with petroleum facts. Some only pertain to the time it happened. Others have affected us for generations. Here are a few that took place between February 20th to the 26th.

February 20, 1959 — The First Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Tanker Docks in England

The Methane Pioneer may not seem like a perfect name for an experimental tanker, but for the Comstock Liquid Methane Corporation, there was no better moniker. After a three-week journey from Port Charles, Louisiana, the Pioneer arrived at Canvey Island, England. It became the first LNG tank and was a milestone for international cargo delivery.

The Methane Pioneer wasn’t designed from the bulkhead up. Instead, it was a refurbished cargo freighter from World War II with a storage capacity of 2,000 tons. The project was a joint effort by Comstock and The British Gas Council to determine if natural gas could be exported across many thousands of miles.

The Methane Pioneer remained in service until it was scrapped in 1972.

February 21, 1887 — A New Refinement Process for Rockefeller

John D. Rockefeller wouldn’t be known for his philanthropic achievements today if not for the enormous wealth he accumulated in the 1880s with Standard Oil Company. He also wouldn’t have owned almost 90% of the nation’s oil refineries if he didn’t look for improvements in the filtering process.

If he didn’t, his fortunes may have stopped with the 40 million barrel stockpile of sludgy and smelly oil he pulled from fields near Lima, Ohio. This Skunk-Bearing Oil was of little use due to its sulfurous aroma. That is, until Herman Frasch came along. A former Standard Oil employee, Frasch patented a process to mitigate the sulfur presence in the oil to sweeten it, thus increasing its value. The process allowed Frasch to return to Standard Oil and made both he and Rockefeller quite wealthy.

 

 

February 22, 1923 — Carbon Black Goes Into Production at the First Factory in Texas

Once upon a time, automobile tires were pure white — the natural color of the rubber. Of course, they darkened over time due to contact with soot and dust, which could be frustrating for auto-owners looking to maintain the look of their vehicle.

Enter Carbon Black. In the early 1910s, B.F. Goodrich Company founded the process to increase the durability of its rubber tires. Addition of the product to the rubber-vulcanizing process increased a tire’s strength and gave it the black color we know today.

In 1923, Carbon Black production joined oil refining boom in Texas when J.W. Hassell & Associates was granted approval by the state’s Railroad Commission to build a plant in Stephens County. The success of the plant  joined that of oil refinement to increase the state’s tax revenue.

February 23, 1906 — Caney Gas Well Fire Makes National Headlines

When a gas fire burns for nearly a month, the national press and its numerous readers are going to take notice. This occurred in 1906 when a New York Oil and Gas Company well approximately four miles from Caney, Kansas, burst into flame after a lightning strike.

The bright, high flames could be seen up to 40 miles away. They provided enough illumination to allow residents of surrounding towns to read by its light. Postcards of the fire were created and sent out with people describing how the ground shook due to the constant explosions.

In all, nearly 70 million cubic feet of gas was dispersed was released into the air daily by the fire until it was extinguished on March 29th. Kansas and the rest of the nation, had time to breathe again … until the Great San Francisco Earthquake three weeks later.

February 24, 1942 — Bankline Oil Refinery Shelled by Japanese Submarine

As the United States entered World War II, fears of the nation getting attacked rolled through the minds of its citizens. Many felt New York or Washington D.C. would be the main targets of the Axis. However, it was California’s vulnerability that was first taken advantage of.

Around 7 P.M. Pacific Time, around one of President Roosevelt’s Fireside Chats, the Japanese sub 1-17 surfaced off the California coast near the town of Goleta and targeted the facilities of the Bankline Oil Refinery. The 1-17 shelled the refinery and the surrounding shoreline for approximately 20 minutes. Of the shots fired, only two landed at the refinery to damage an oil derrick pier and pump house. In total, the estimated cost of damage was $500.

While the damage was minor, blackout conditions and the fear it incited in the population of Southern California continued to remain throughout the war.

February 24, 1938 — The First Nylon Toothbrush Goes on Sale

Did you know people used to brush their teeth using bristles made of pig hair? This was commonplace, until the Weco Products Company of Chicago started manufacturing toothbrushes made of nylon bristles.

At the end of the 1930s, Weco released Dr. West’s Miracle-Tuft Toothbrush which was made with nylon bristles. However, “Dr. West” wasn’t the real inventor. That was Wallace Carothers. A Harvard professor working for DuPont Labs, Carothers spent 10 years working with different materials until he came up with the bristles which were trademarked as EXTON.

Weco captured the market in the late 1930s, by selling the new toothbrush for just 50 cents. However, their monopoly on the market didn’t last long. Just 12 months later, Johnson & Johnson released a competing product.

February 25, 1897 — “Golden Rule” Jones Becomes Mayor of Toledo, Ohio

Samuel “Golden Rule” Jones was a noteworthy individual during the heydays of the Western Pennsylvania and Ohio Oil Rush of the late 1800s. Searching for and finding an oil field on the outskirts of Lima, Ohio, Jones created the Ohio Oil Company, which eventually purchased by Rockefeller’s Standard Oil. He then moved to Toledo started the S.M. Jones Company which sold oil manufacturing tools.

In both companies, “Golden Rule” Jones paid his employees high wages and offered benefits. He also asked them to employ the “Golden Rule” of working hard and being honest. It was during his time in Toledo that the Republican Party asked him to run for Mayor under a “Golden Rule” platform. He won and took his honesty into politics by offering government workers the same rates he gave to his factory employees, establishing free kindergartens and designing lodgings for the homeless. Frustrated by “Golden Rule” Jones’ progressive traits, the Republican Party shunned him during the 1899 election. Nevertheless, he still won the next three elections as an Independent.

February 25, 1918 — The Creation of the Pawnee Bill Oil Company, Inc.

Pawnee Bill is not a government law. Instead, it’s the show name of Gordon William Lillie, a member of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. Gordon received the nickname when he became the show’s Pawnee translator.

During and after his time at the show, Pawnee Bill invested in numerous industries, including oil. As World War I came to a close, he incorporated the Pawnee Bill Oil Company in Oklahoma to, according to a 1919 Petroleum Age, help the allies and Uncle Sam save the world. However, with the war over, there wasn’t much need for so much oil anymore. Still, the oil company was able to provide a dividend to its investors in 1921.

Though he seemed to have shut down the oil company at some point, Pawnee Bill kept active by opening Pawnee Bill’s Old Town in 1930 and allowing his ranch to be used as a film location.

February 25, 1919 — The First Gasoline Tax is Established

Oregon is only one of two states which doesn’t permit drivers to pump their own gas. With this in mind, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this Pacific Northwest was the first to enact a gasoline tax. The simple reason: improved roads.

The measure for a gas tax was introduced by state legislator Loyal Graham in connection to a campaign by Oregon’s Highway Commission to help build a better road system. The hope was the system would prevent so many cars getting stuck in the mud. The bill was approved in 1919 and, from that moment on, a one cent tax was applied per each gallon of fuel. The total in the late 1910s, including the price per gallon was 26 cents.

February 25, 1926 — Wyatt Earp: Gunfighter, Lawman, Oil Investor

Many know that Wyatt Earp was a prominent player at the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona in 1881. However, he had other ventures and attitudes. Earp was an avid gambler and opened a gambling house in Seattle right around the start of the 20th century.

In the mid-1920s, as he reached the ripe old age of 75, Earp decided to invest in California oil fields. He asked his common law wife, Josephine, to submit the papers and claim fees. However, she gambled away the fees for the claim, which eventually became valuable. Earp eventually put the claims under his sister’s name instead.

February 13, 1924 – Bradford, PA. A Mysterious Past for a Fiery Dog

In February of 1924, four independent petroleum companies and an exploration firm performed a consolidation merger, they emerged under the new moniker Forest Oil Corporation. The company, which would go on to become the globally-recognized Sabine Oil became an early leader in the field of technology known as Secondary Recovery.

Secondary Recovery works on regulating pressure levels of existing wells by using external energy forces such as water or cO2.

With a new company came the need for a new emblem, and Forest Oil Corporation opted to include a Yellow Dog Lantern in the logo. The ‘Yellow Dog’ is an iconic symbol in the oil and petroleum world. First patented in 1860, the two-wicked lamp’s etymology remains murky. Some say it gets its name from the two flames looking like the eyes of a dog, others saying that the flames together would cast a shadow of a dog on the ground below.

The company was originally based in Bradford, Pennsylvania, which was fast becoming one of the first billion-dollar oil fields in the United States. It was at the vanguard of important and innovative ventures; such as water injection. This technology has proven itself to be one of the most economic and efficient methods of secondary extraction, by assisting in maintaining the pressure in the well, increasing production of hydrocarbon reserves and reducing environmental impact.

The yellow dog lantern was developed specifically with oil regions in mind, where dropping and breaking a regular lamp could spell serious danger for all nearby.

February 16, 1935 – The Interstate Oil Compact Commission Forms

On February 16, 1935, brought about the official birth of the Interstate Oil Compact Commission (IOCC). The organization, which was based in Oklahoma City, had received congressional approval the summer before and was looking to revolutionize the oil and gas industry in America.

The organization got to work fast. They drafted up the ‘Interstate Company to Preserve Oil and Gas’ to propose that all states who signed the agreement would work towards minimal physical waste of oil and gas, decommission any unsafe or inefficient wells, and work against undue flooding and unsafe drilling of wells. The Law of Capture culture of the time, as well as the Great Depression ravaging the United States, meant that there was a lot of waste and unfeasibly low prices, and thus a need for some cooperation and self-regulation.

Representatives from Illinois, Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado and New Mexico conferred in this unique multi-state body to start implementing the provisions set forth in the agreement. It was first chaired by the Governor of Oklahoma Ernest W. Marland, founder of Marland Oil Company. Marland, perhaps surprisingly for an Oklahoman big oil man, ran as a Democrat, and created more than 90,000 new jobs in downtrodden Oklahoma with his FDR inspired Little New Deal during his time as governor.

It is now known as the IOGCC, with the word ‘gas’ being added to the title in 1993, and claims to have helped establish effective regulation within the oil and natural gas industry. Through a variety of programs the IOGCC has been able to disseminate information, technologies and regulatory guidelines in an effort to honor their founding father, the late Ernest W. Marland.

According to the commission, their goals for the future are simple, to ensure the future of the nation’s energy is a successful one.

Ernest W. Marland lost his fortune in oil twice over but continually worked to make the industry safer to work in.

February 17, 1902 — Lufkin Foundry and Machine Company Makes its Debut

When the pine industry began to dwindle in Lufkin Texas, a sawmill machinery repair shop called the Lufkin Foundry and Machine Company saw opportunity in the fledgling industry of petroleum drilling. This had much to do with the historic turn of the Century ‘gusher’ 100 miles or so away in Beaumont, Texas.

In 1925, when inventor Walter Trout was working for the company, he designed a new means of pumping oil that is still used to this day. His idea would have a working prototype by the end of the year, and soon after his counterbalanced pumping unit was on the market. Installed first on a Humble Oil and Refining Company well in Hull, Texas, trout confessed that even though the pump was perfectly balanced and fit for purpose, that the aesthetics brought with it much ridicule and criticism.

The familiar sight of the nodding pump is often seen even today and Lufkin Industries manufactured and sold more than 200,000 of Trout’s ‘thirsty bird’ before being bought out by General Electric in 2013 for $3.3 billion. The original and historic foundry in downtown Lufkin was closed in 2015.

Lufkin Foundry and Machine Company newspaper advertisement

February 17, 1944 –Alabama Makes a Major Splash in the Oil Industry

The state of Alabama took its place on the national oil map when H.L. Hunt, a Texan who had found previous success in Arkansas, drilled the No.1 Jackson Well in Choctaw County. In 1944, Hunt drilled a wildcat well— revealing the Gilbertown Oilfield. His efforts proved there is merit in the old saying “patience is a virtue” as 350 previous attempts to drill in the state of Alabama had returned dry.

Gilbertown was discovered at a depth of 3,700 feet in the Eutaw Sand and it produced 15 million barrels of oil. Unfortunately for Hunt, the search for another oilfield was all for nought as he spent another 11 years turning up nothing by dry holes. It would not be until the 1960s that more oilfields were discovered in the state of Alabama, and according to the Independent Petroleum Association of America, between 1944 and 2014, more than 16,500 wells have been drilled there.

The discovery was in part due to the work of historian and geologist Ray Sorensen, who discovered a report on the Drake well by Michael Tourney which documented reports of a discovery of an oil seep near Oakville in Lawrence County. Tourney noted “tar, or bitumen, floats on the surface, a black film very cohesive and insoluble in water,” this was a rare, but accurate sign that there was oil nearby.

H.L. Hunt incorporated oil field first found oil in Oklahoma in 1944.

February 19, 1863 –Early Attempts at Pipeline Reveal Challenges for Oil Industry

Inventor and entrepreneur J.L. Hutching of New Jersey makes an early attempt at transporting oil from the field to a refinery via pipeline. Using a pipeline that stretched two and a half miles from Oil Creek to the Humboldt Refinery, and measured two inches in diameter. However, the newly patented pump was not fit for purpose. Structural weaknesses and flaws in the technology rendered it useless due to leaks, resulting in oil waste. It would not be until 16 years later, in 1879, that the first crude oil truck line was built in the Tidewater region of Virginia.

February 19, 1889 – Ohio Launches New Conservation Act Prevents Wasted Gas

A Conservation Act “to prevent the waste of natural gas and to provide the plugging of all abandoned wells” was enacted by the Ohio House of Representatives in 1899, making the Buckeye state one of the original states to legislate conservationist measures for the oil industry.

Known as the ‘Trenton Field’, located in Eaton and Portland, it was at the home and epicentre of the Indiana gas boom. It stretched over 5,120 square miles and into 17 Indiana counties. Parts of it even reached into Ohio, and within three years of the discovery, 200 enterprises were established drilling, distributing and selling gas from the Trenton field.

Ohio is now one of the leading producers of gas and oil in the nation. It has drilled 275,000 wells to date, surpassed only by production giants in Texas, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania.

Flambeaux exhibition in Indiana at the height of its gas boom.

February 7, 1817 – The Advent of a New Technology Born in Baltimore

The nation’s first gas fuelled public street lamp lights up a street in Charm City and with that the Gas Light Company of Baltimore becomes the first commercial gas lighting service in the United States. Baltimore was the first city to begin using gas lit street lights outside of Europe, 110 years after they were introduced in London.

In a move away from using oil to illuminate the streets, the enterprise used distilled wood and tar to produce the gas that would light up the darkness of Baltimore’s streets. This continued until electric lights began to be used more progressively throughout the 20th century, beginning after the First World War, with the final gas lamp being extinguished in 1957.

Forty years later, in 1997, a monument to the first ever street gas lamp was erected on the corner of North Holliday Street and Lemon Street, where a street lamp— a replica of the 19th century standard—stands decorated with a plaque reading “Site of the First Gas Street Lamp in America, February 7, 1817.”

Esteemed Baltimore portrait artist and museum curator, Rembrandt Peale, following his brother Ruben’s footsteps in curating the Museum of the City of Philadelphia, presented a modern view of the city with the whole museum lit by gaslight. This innovation stunned local socialites and capitalists. In turn, Peale was able to acquire vital gas lighting patents and was able to establish the Gas Light Company of Baltimore (today known as BGE a subsidiary of Chicago based Exelon), an innovative enterprise which utilized incredibly smart technology for the time. With his “Gas lights, without oil, tallow, wick or smoke,” Peale changed the way American twilight looked forever.

A replica of the first gas powered street lamp in Baltimore, Maryland

February 9, 2013 – Drilling Makes it Way to Mars

Drilling expanded its horizons out into the galaxy on February 9, 2013. NASA received images from its Curiosity Rover stationed on Mars showing that it had bore a small hole in the surface of Mars, the first feat of its type by mankind on another planet in our solar system. At only 2.5 inches deep, the sampling hole is based in the Yellowknife basin of the Gale crater on the red planet, our second closest planetary neighbour in the solar system.

The rover, which is only slightly larger than a terrestrial Mini Cooper, used its 7-foot robotic arm to carve a hole into a outcrop of flat rock to retrieve dust samples intended for analytical equipment within the rover itself. The findings are intended to determine whether Mars has ever offered a favourable environment for microbial life, and the findings have been ‘tremendously exciting’ according to Dr. Jim Green, Director of NASA Planetary Sciences Division at NASA HQ.

Upon drilling into the sedimentary rock, the resulting vibrations revealed a whitish powdery substance, thought to be calcium sulphate and other rust coloured dirt. The breathtaking images received from Curiosity show two drilling sites. The first is a shallow depression, marked only by the rotary-percussion drill bit being tested on the surface, then next to it, the fully bored well. The drill was of a low percussion to ensure that the bedrock was not shattered in the process of drilling.

The current design of the Curiosity Rover will be the precursor to the next planned Rover mission to Mars, scheduled for 2020.

Stunning photos from the drilling expedition on the surface of Mars.

February 10, 1910 — Buena Vista Oilfield Established by Honolulu Oil Company

In 1910, one of the oldest and most prolific oil fields in the United States was discovered along the Kern River near Bakersfield. The Buena Vista oilfield was discovered by the Honolulu Oil Company and while originally used as a gas well, further drilling unveiled rich, oil-producing sands.

The oil field was known as ‘Honolulu’s Greatest Gasser’ until steam injection, an increasingly common method of extracting crude, helped extract between 3,000 to 4,000 barrels of the highly viscous heavy California oil.

Prior to the First World War, in 1912, under President William Taft, the United States Navy began to move from coal to oil for its warship boilers. The Buena Vista oilfield then became the Naval Oil Reserve No.2  following in the footsteps of the original reserve in Wyoming.

San Joaquin Valley, Bakersfield California

February 10, 1917 – Establishment of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists in Tulsa

As oil use began to proliferate around the world from industrial to domestic usage, the demand for oil grew. In turn there was more of an economy for oil, but the methods of determining where a discovery could be made were still primitive, and the science was equally dubious.

Enter the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), who organised as the Southwestern Association of Petroleum Geologists in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Convening in Henry Kendall College (later renamed Tulsa University), the association was a group of 90 scientists dedicated to promoting the science of geology in the Petroleum industries, but also in order to focus on technological “improvements in the methods of exploring for and exploiting these substances.”

However, the main objective of the association was to establish a consensus group where only the most credible and reputed petroleum geologists would be given admittance.

They established Bulletin, a bi-monthly, peer-reviewed scientific journal was published by the AAPG, and included papers written by the leading contemporaneous geologists of the day.

By 1920, the group’s membership had grown exponentially, but fears grew that some new members were less scrupulous than the original patrons. As noted in an oil trade publication, the group was trying to mitigate any “fakers” and “unscrupulous men inadequately prepared” for the geological work that stood in the way of the oil. Membership of the AAPG grew throughout the years, reaching 10,000 members by 1953. In the interim, in 1945, the AAPG teamed up with Boy Scouts of America by recognising the Geology Merit Badge.

AAPG Headquarters at 1444 S. Boulder Ave.,Tulsa Oklahoma

February 10, 1956- H.C. Price Company Tower Opens in Bartlesville, Oklahoma

The founder of H.C. Price Company, oil and natural gas pipe laying company, Harold Sr., opened the company’s new headquarters, the famous H.C. Price Company Tower in downtown Bartlesville, on February 10th, 1956.

The tower was designed by the eminent architect Frank Lloyd Wright, including globally-recognized  Solomon R. Guggenheim building in New York. For Bartlesville, the Price Tower is a landmark and monument all in itself.

The Price Company has been involved in two of the United States’ largest and most ambitious oil and gas undertakings. This includes the construction of Big Inch Pipeline, running from New Jersey to Texas, that was built as an emergency measure during the Second World War. They were also instrumental in the development of the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline System, or TAPS, which ran from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez, Alaska. TAPS was an innovation in its own right, as the development brought with it myriad obstacles, namely permafrost. It was the first American pipeline which had to traverse isolated, frozen landscapes, and therefore required specially developed manifolds to withstand freezing temperatures.

In 1974, the Price Company Tower was added to the National Register of Historic Places and today the ‘Prairie Skyscraper’ hosts an art center, an inn and restaurant all under its roof.

The Price Company Tower

February 12, 1954 — Nevada Finally Becomes an Oil Producing State

Nevada finally becomes a commercial oil producing state in 1954 after decades of failed drilling attempts, beginning with an almost 2,000 ft attempt in Washoe County, Southwest of Reno in 1907. Shell Oil Company, famous the world over, struck oil on its second sortie into its Eagle Springs No. 1 Wellin Railroad Valley.

Starting out as a routine test, Eagle Springs bore more fruit than could ever have been expected, when it became a discovery well for the Railroad Valley Field— Nevada’s first significant oil field. More than 3.8 million barrels of oil came from Railroad Valley, while other oil fields of significance in Nevada were not easy to find.

It would not be until 1976, more than two decades after the discovery in Reno, that another discovery would be made that resulted in commercial production. It was the work of the Northwest Exploration Company, with Trap Spring No.1 who made the discovery a whole 5 miles to the west of its Eagle Spring sister.

February 12, 1987 — Texaco Inc. Pays Up in Largest Single Oil Settlement To Date

After three years held up in court, a jury in the 1st District court of Houston upheld a decision made against Texaco Inc. for initiating a takeover of Getty Oil, following what was deemed a viable, binding agreement for Pennzoil to take control of the company.

On February 12th, 1987, Pennzoil was awarded the largest single settlement in American judicial history when they won a suit against Texaco Inc. The lawsuit took over three years of court proceedings until a jury in the 1st District Court of Houston upheld their decision.

Pennzoil was suing Texaco Inc. for initiating a takeover of Getty Oil, following what was deemed a viable, binding agreement for Pennzoil to take control of the company.  The interference, deemed deliberate by the jury, awarded $10.53 billion to Pennzoil in damages. This would later be settled for $3 billion in punitive damages.

According to a 1985 LA Times article, the outcome of the suit would set forth the standards and practices of morality in American business for years to come. It would dictate a plan that would restructure and guide how Texaco would act in the case of bankruptcy proceedings, which was a refuge sought to prevent Pennzoil from attaining the entirety of the revenue from the settlement.

Texaco’s world famous logo, changed in 1981.

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