February 1958

R&D labs, including those at Atlantic Richfield, Humble Oil Co., Phillips Oil Co., and Schlumberger Ltd., are reportedly working feverishly on a downhole device for measuring hole deviation from vertical and rapidly transmitting that information to the rig floor. While the Navy threatens to close down its Long Beach naval base because of disastrous subsidence caused by the Wilmington oil field, the California legislature begins work on emergency subsidence legislation. Shell Oil Co. begins testing of a deepwater drilling donut, a circular vessel with a hole in the center for drilling. (Don’t look now…but it may be back!) After exhaustive calculations performed on his slide rule, a Standard Oil Co. engineer reports that the most cost-effective way for a consumer to purchase and trade in automobiles is to purchase a two-to-three year old automobile, keep it until it is seven years old, trade it in and purchase another two-to-three year old model.

East Texas crude oil - $3.25/bbl; U.S. active rig count – 1,947

February 1983

President Reagan is pressured to establish a commission to consider natural gas decontrol. OPEC member Ecuador says that it is breaking from OPEC and will let market forces set the price for its crude oil. GHK Co. reportedly abandons its 29,313-ft Ordovician test in Oklahoma, the sixth deepest well drilled in the world, but will continue drilling a 24,000-ft wildcat planned to reach 33,000 ft for a Pennsylvanian Springer test. Amoco Production Co.’s plans to connect 50 CO2 wells in New Mexico’s Bravo Dome area to enhanced oil recovery projects in West Texas begin to take shape. Apache Corp. finally chokes off its 16-month-old gas well blowout, the Key 1–11 in the Texas Panhandle, at a total cost of $50 million from spudding of the 1–11 through completion of the replacement well.

U.S. active rig count – 2,388

February 1998

The foreign exchange crisis has grown so bad that South Korea has limited domestic oil importers from buying crude oil except on a cash basis. Texaco Inc. commits to invest $500 million to develop coalbed methane in China. Deregulation of electric power moves into full swing as telecommunications giant Pacific Telesis Group signs a power supply agreement with Enron Energy Services. (Proceed with caution!) Concurrent with its continuing hindrance of U.N. weapons inspectors, Iraq resumes loading oil at two coastal ports for delivery to Elf Aquitaine SA and Repsol YPF SA, among others.

Light sweet crude oil - $16.14/bbl; Natural gas - $2.12/MMBTU; U.S. active rig count – 996

The Rest of the Yarn

Many marriages don’t last as long as this union of geologist and engineer. As they approach their fourth decade as business partners and friends, they have much about which to be proud. The engineer was born in Brownsville and later split up his college education at Texas A&M with an intermediate stint in the army during WWII. Upon graduation, he worked as a roughneck in Abilene and later as an engineer in Alice. After a two-year stint for Texaco in Venezuela, he went to work for Jones Drilling Corp. in Midland.

The geologist spent his early years in Tulsa and attended the University of Oklahoma. He started his career as a scout and geologist for Amerada Petroleum Corp. in Midland. He too later went to work for Jones Drilling in Midland. It was here that he met his future friend and business partner.

The two men realized that their future at the drilling company was limited, and soon they had pooled their resources and were in business. Together they did not enough to pay themselves a salary for the first two months.

From their first well, they worked hard and built their business steadily. One’s ability to solve engineering problems complemented the other’s extensive geological background in the Permian Basin, and their business excelled and prospered. Together, they forged an international business that is involved in gas gathering and marketing, crude oil purchasing and resale, pipeline development, and other financial investments. They are Jack Brown and Cy Wagner, the founding fathers of Wagner & Brown Ltd. And now you know…The Rest of the Yarn.

Readers are encouraged to submit brief, ostensibly true stories about notable personalities from our industry’s storied past. Submissions should be e-mailed to contest@spe.org.

History Quiz

What was the fuel used in the first conceptual reciprocating engine?

If you would like to participate in this month’s quiz, e-mail your answer to contest@spe.org by noon, February 15. The winner, who will be chosen randomly from all correct answers, will receive a $50 gift certificate to a nice restaurant.

Answer to January ’s Quiz

In the late 1950’s, the deepest hydrocarbon production in Texas came from the Ellenburger formation.

Answer to December’s Quiz

In the mid- to late-eighteenth century, the metals cobalt, nickel, and molybdenum, which are key elements in refinery catalysts, were discovered by Swedish researchers.

Congratulations to December’s winner – Cameron Snow with Apache Corp.