April 1981
It appears that Spain could become a gas exporter, as Eniepsa’s gas strike in the Pyrenees is now pegged at 3.5 trillion cubic feet of reserves. $ An ENI report calls for much of West European refining and petrochemical capacity to eventually move to Middle East exporters in exchange for long-term, guaranteed crude supplies, which could diminish considerably the American clout in world petroleum markets. $ The mood in Canada remains grim, as the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors reports that 114 drilling and 16 service rigs have left the country since Fall and more are expected to follow. $ An Exxon vice president declares that the majority of oil companies agree that half of the oil still to be found in the U.S. is on or offshore Alaska and that American dependence on foreign crude could be slashed from 40% to 17% by the turn of the century, with Alaska leading the cut. (Didn’t count on the Bakken did you?)
U.S. active rig count – 3,628
April 1991
Four of approximately 600 wells burning in Kuwait, thanks to Saddam Hussein, have now been extinguished and the enormity of the project is just beginning to be felt. $ Environmental studies indicate that damage from the Exxon Valdez oil spill will last longer than first thought, in part because the spraying of the beaches with pressurized hot water ended up killing marine organisms. $ While BP expands its strategic alliance with Statoil covering joint R&D and international exploration, it continues to shop its Tex/Con Oil & Gas unit, one of its BP America units. $ The U.S.S.R. is reportedly negotiating to enter the ship demolition and scrapyard business, as new design criteria force tanker owners to scrap many older vessels. (This new Soviet venture has been nicknamed the “Red Fox Project.”)
Light sweet crude oil - $21.49/bbl; U.S. active rig count – 835
April 2001
The EIA forecasts 59% growth in worldwide energy consumption by the year 2020, with half of the projected growth to occur in the developing nations of Asia and Latin America. $ Royal Dutch/Shell’s run at Barrett Resources is just the beginning of another round of mergers and acquisitions according to a Wall Street energy investment conference. Other companies believed to be under the watchful eye of majors include: Burlington Resources, Devon Energy, Evergreen Resources, Forest Oil, and Triton Energy. $ The U.S. active rig count reaches its highest level in over ten years with 1,198 rigs working. $ The Girassol FPSO, the world’s largest floating production, storage, and offloading unit sets sail for Angola where it will employ its 200,000 bbl/ day production capacity and 2 million bbl storage capacity at the Girassol field.
Light sweet crude oil - $28.05/bbl; U.S. active rig count – 1,198
The Rest of the Yarn
This month we continue our look-back at the life and times of Sid Richardson, one of the “Big Four” oilmen who laid the foundations of a flamboyant lifestyle that would come to define the image of Texas Oil.
At some point the Richardson’s briefly relocated to Mineral Wells, where Sid’s sister Annie began dating a sharp young doctor named E. P. Bass, who was to have a profound influence on Richardson’s life. In 1909 after the family returned to Athens, Bass married Annie Richardson. Bass proved his merits after Richardson was badly injured when a buggy he was driving overturned, crushing his left leg below the knee. Doctors wanted to amputate the leg, but Bass managed to save it during an operation in which he removed two inches of bone and built a “trough” to connect the remnants. In time Richardson learned to walk unaided, but for the rest of his life he limped. He developed a walk involving taking long steps with the left leg and short steps with the right, thus lessening the extent of his limp. He claimed that the swinging walk of his was his own adaptation.
In September 1910 Richardson enrolled at Baylor University in Waco, but after two semesters of classes he did not return. In the Fall of 1911 he enrolled at Simmons College in Abilene. It is said that he was a bright but lazy student, more interested in whiskey than classwork. The dean of students continually lectured to him that he was squandering his abilities and that he had the brains and the personality to do whatever he wanted to do, but that he must lay aside his foolish ways and set his heart on becoming a man.
There is ample evidence that Richardson was a heavy drinker, which likely explains his tendency to engage in fistfights. Once, explaining why he disliked the game of golf, he quipped that the one and only time that he had played a complete eighteen holes, he had to drink an entire bottle of bourbon to get through it. His full-time carousing came to an abrupt end in 1912 when his father died. Suddenly there was no more money available for Richardson’s “education.” His brother-in-law, Doc Bass, was dabbling in the oil business, and it was probably on Bass’s suggestion that Richardson decided to try working in the oil field.
Next month, Richardson tries his hand as an oil scout, a cattle trader, and an oil trader. (Article excerpted from “The Big Rich.”)
History Quiz
What two critical wartime commodities were targeted for expanded production thanks to Standard Oil’s development of the first fluid catalyst refining unit in 1942?
If you would like to participate in this month’s quiz, e-mail your answer to contest@spe.org by noon April 15. The winner, who will be chosen randomly from all correct answers, will receive a $50 gift card to a nice restaurant.
Answer to March’s Quiz
The German immigrant who funded the building of the first commercial American-built diesel engine was Adolphus Busch.
Answer to February’s Quiz
When Standard Oil was dissolved, it was done on a state-by-state basis. The present day operator that results from a merger of the companies that were originally Standard Oil of New York and Standard Oil of New Jersey is ExxonMobil.
Congratulations to February’s winner – Bill Carpenter, who also corrected our erroneous reference to Al Gore, Jr. (of internet and global warming fame) as being the out-going senator on the Senate Finance Committee in February 1971. That was actually Al Gore, Sr., the father of the aforementioned. Thanks for setting us straight Bill.