July 11th, 2008 – Oil Prices Reach a Historic High

Oil prices reached a high in July 2008 when they skyrocketed to $147.27 per barrel. New York Mercantile Exchange prices also peaked at $145.29 per barrel about a week earlier.

The prices quickly fell again when supply fears faded away. In January 2009, prices dropped to less than $37 per barrel. According to a 2016 study, price fluctuations were a result of changes in crude oil demands. These fluctuations date back to 1973.

The EIA (U.S. Energy Information Administration) has projected that U.S. production of oil and other fuels will continue to rise.

July 11th, 2013 – Physicists Complete Historic Pitch Drop Experiment

On July 11th, 2013, physicists completed one of the longest laboratory investigations in history at Trinity College when they photographed one of science’s most anticipated drips.

This experiment was set up 69 years earlier in 1944 and it demonstrated that a hydrocarbon (asphalt) flows slowly while at room temperature, even though it seems to be solid.

According to an article in Nature, the team at Trinity College estimated the pitch’s viscosity after monitoring the one drip. It was measured to be significantly more viscous than water; 20 billion times more to be exact.

July 12th, 1934 – Launching of Clark Oil and Refining Corporation

Emory Clark started what would be the Clark Oil and Refining Corporation in 1934. This was only a couple of years after he purchased a small, closed gas station in Milwaukee for $14.

Clark originally wanted to establish a chain of filling stations that sold premium gasoline. He named the product “Super 100 Premium Gasoline.”He didn’t offer other services commonly seen at filling stations like tire changing and maintenance. In 1949, sales reached over 21 million dollars.

The company was operating over 150 stations by 1953. Their brand name was “Clark Super 100.” Clark bought a refinery in Wood River, Illinois in 1967. He was able to sell gas from more than 1,500 stations three years later. The Clarks’ chose to sell off their holdings for $483 million to Apex Oil in 1981.


July 14th, 1863 – Rodolphe Leschot Give Patent for Boring Rock Tool

When Rodolphe Leschot was granted a patent for his “Tool for Boring Rock” in 1863, it would go on to forever revolutionize the oil drilling industry. The tool invented by this tunnel engineer was made of industrial-grade diamonds. It was attached to the tip of a drill rod and made to cut a tubular core. Water cooled the bit and washed cuttings away by pumping through the rod.

This system was successfully used to drill blast holes used for tunneling at Mount Cenis, an area located on the border of Italy and France. The use of diamonds for drilling oil wells was first seen in Pennsylvania in 1965.

According to historian Samuel Pees, it isn’t known if there was a connection between Leschot’s system and diamond core drilling in the U.S.

July 14th, 1891 – Rockefeller’s Empire Takes Shape

In 1891, John D. Rockefeller established Union Tank Line Company. He had thousands of tank cars transferred to Standard Oil Trust. Rockefeller obtained control of 3,000 oil tank cars in the United States. The fleet grew to 10,000 by 1904.

Until 1911, the Union Tank Line Company only shipped products by Standard Oil. Then, the Supreme Court ordered the dissolution of Rockefeller’s trust. Once becoming independent, the new name of the company was Union Tank Car Company. Still, the stock reporting mark kept the name UTLX.

The biggest tank car involved with rail service was introduced in 1963. The car had a maximum capacity of 50,000 gallons, which was entirely unprecedented for the time.

July 16th, 1926 – Seminole County Boom Comes to Oklahoma

A gusher erupted close to Seminole County, Oklahoma, 36 months after a successful well was discovered in nearby Bowlegs. Both of these events revealed potential for the industry in Seminole County, ultimately bringing about the Seminole book of the area. The Fixico No. 1 Well was just over 4,000 feet deep and located on the Wilcox Sands formation.

Independent Oil Company and R.F. Garland drilled the well. It became one of over 50 reservoirs discovered in the area. Six of these produced upwards of one million oil barrels each.

By 1935, Oklahoma became the world’s largest oil supplier.

July 16th, 1969 – Petroleum Products Make Moon Landings a Reality

The moon landing in 1969 was made possible by a petroleum product invented in the 19th century. Kerosene powered the engines of Saturn V on July 16th when the Apollo 11 was launched.  A few days later, Neil Armstrong declared, “The Eagle has landed.”

Approximately 2,230 gallons of “Rocket Grade Kerosene Propellant” were burned each second in the first stage of the launch. This generated millions of pounds of thrust.

This rocket fuel was highly-refined kerosene, Rocket Propellant-1. Roots can be traced back to coal oil used for lamps in the 1840s. In 1846, Abraham Gesner, a Canadian geologist started refining this fuel, he was also responsible for coining the word “kerosene.” The term comes from keros, a Greek word meaning wax. Today, RP-1 fuels boosters for SpaceX and Atlas rockets.

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