April 1956


A crafty operator comes up with an “Enronian” approach (Yes, I coined it.) for minimizing “dry holes.” In this company''s annual report they state that “Of 507 wells drilled, 337 have been producers, 101 test holes, and 69 geological exploration holes.” Not a “dry hole” in the lot. The Russians utilize a somewhat different strategy for minimizing “dry holes.” An escaped geologist reports that behind the Iron Curtain it is a criminal offense to drill a dry hole, and the geologist that drills one is apt to end up in Siberia . (I would certainly never support such harsh treatment of geologists…but lawyers that try frivolous law suits, maybe!)  The world''s deepest oil well delivers its first barrel of oil from a record-breaking depth of 21,443 ft near Port Sulphur, Louisiana. To get that first barrel of oil cost the Richardson/Bass/Mecom boys $2.5 million of their hard-earned money. (At today''s prices, you could probably just about get surface pipe set before that $2.5 million runs out.)

East Texas crude oil - $2.90/bbl
U.S. active rig count – 2,682


April 1981

The Northeast-Midwest Congressional Coalition reports plans to hold hearings to develop an alternative national energy policy that will help alleviate their debilitating dependence on crude oil supplied by OPEC and the oil-rich states to the south and west. (They got the frost and we got the oil.)  A USGS study predicts that by the year 2000 the industry will be able to operate in the Gulf of Mexico at water depths in excess of 10,000 ft. (OK…I''ll give you that one.)  Kuwait plans the first OPEC leap into the American market, with the announcement that Kuwait Petroleum will team with Hawaii-based Pacific Resources for energy activities in the Pacific basin. (What…the sheiks chose the Pacific basin over the Permian basin to get their sandals wet in a U.S. venture!)

U.S. active rig count – 3,696


April 1996

Downhole video capabilities utilizing fiber-optic technology make it possible to transmit downhole video images in real-time. $ On the heels of its announced plans to spinoff its shipbuilding unit, Tenneco now reports plans to divest its energy unit. $ DuPont Power Marketing, Houston, a unit of Conoco parent DuPont, exercises the first electricity futures trade. (Guess who is not far behind?) $ While U.N. General Secretary Boutros (X2) Ghali pushes hard to try and resolve the Iraqi oil-for-food proposition impasse, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz frets over its threat to Iraq''s “very integrity and sovereignty.”

Light sweet crude oil - $22.50/bbl
Natural gas - $2.31/MMBTU
U.S. active rig count – 725


History Quiz

Name the first oil field discovered in the state of Arkansas.


If you would like to participate in this month''s quiz, e-mail your answer to contest@houston.spe.org by noon , April 15. The winner, who will be chosen randomly from all correct answers, will receive a gift certificate to a nice restaurant.


Answer to March''s Quiz

In the early days of refining, a “sweaterman” operated a device that extracted or “sweated” solid-phase waxes out of lube oil stocks.


Answer to February''s Quiz

One of the earliest forms of a “water frac” began being pumped in the San Juan basin in the mid-50''s. Owing to the fact that these early water fracs consisted of angular river sand pumped at low concentrations in San Juan River water, they were nicknamed “River Fracs.”


Congratulations to February''s winner – Tim Brunson with W&T Offshore