February 1951
Advertising Age, a magazine that keeps tabs on periodicals of all kinds, reports that in 1950 the magazine with the most total pages of advertising was not Life or Saturday Evening Post but the Oil and Gas Journal. $ A survey of the most frequently misspelled words in both general and technical writing revealed the following oft-misspelled words: accommodate, occurred, accelerated, embarrass, separate, desiccant, interpret, incidentally, affects and effects, benefited, changeable, fulfill, grievous, harass, indispensable, noticeable, occasioned, parallel, permissible, precede, referred, seize, supersede, recommend, commitment, descent, existence, prejudice, proceed, stationary, dependent, exaggerate, principle and principal, serviceable, borne, iridescent, furthest, and sizable. (Yes, we have spell-checker now, but one day we might just have to hand-write an important document, so brush up!)
East Texas crude oil - $2.65/bbl
February 1971
Alarmed at the growing crude oil gap it feels is developing in the U.S., Shell Oil Co. reports plans to break out of its domestic cocoon and move exploration efforts outside North America for the first time. $ Senator Gaylord Nelson, a Democrat from Wisconsin, replaces Al Gore of Tennessee on the Senate finance committee…one oil industry critic replacing another! (This must have given Al the time to invent the internet and discover global warming.) $ The active rig count in the U.S. drops to a modern-day low of 886, the lowest total since the war year of 1943. $ In a move designed to bring pressure to bear on OPEC to ease its price-pushing tactics, Great Britain grants Russian-owned Nafta a license to import 30,000 BOPD of Soviet crude for a year.
U.S. active rig count – 886
February 1991
Persian Gulf ties to the former Communist bloc are growing as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the U.A.E. report plans to lend the U.S.S.R. $4 billion to accelerate perestroika (Remember that word?). $ Key senators propose energy legislation requiring oil companies to contribute 9% of their total crude imports to the Defense Department or Strategic Petroleum Reserve. $ U.S. independent producers, not major oil companies, reportedly profited the most from crude price increases following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, according to the EIA.
Light sweet crude oil - $22.23/bbl; U.S. active rig count – 997
The Rest of the Yarn
This month we begin a look back at another one of the “Big Four” oilmen who laid the foundations of a flamboyant lifestyle that would come to define the image of Texas Oil, namely Sid Richardson.
For a man who would one day be proclaimed America’s richest citizen, who at his death controlled more petroleum reserves than three major oil companies, Sid Richardson left few footprints on history. He attracted no biographer. In life he earned exactly one magazine profile of note, and while he gave newspaper interviews over the years, they consisted largely of aphorisms and apochryphal stories. Oil industry histories largely ignore him. A lifelong bachelor who lived before the age of prying reporters, Richardson disdained letter-writing, preferring the telephone or delegating the preparation of important documents to one of his assistants. He once told evangelist Billy Graham, “Don’t put anything in writing. If you use the telephone, they can never use it against you.”
Since his death, Richardson’s heirs have adorned several Texas universities with Sid Richardson buildings: a Sid Richardson Hall at the University of Texas, a Sid Richardson College at Rice University, a Sid Richardson Physical Science Building at Baylor University, and a Sid Richardson Science Center at Texas Christian University. Yet his family went out of its way to obscure the facts of Richardson’s career. A portrait of Richardson hangs in the Permian Basin Hall of Fame and Museum in Midland, but Richardson’s is the only biographical file at the facility that is restricted—reviewable only with the family’s approval.
Next month, Sid’s humble beginnings; lessons learned from his father; and his early friendship with Clint Murchison. (Article excerpted from “The Big Rich.”)
History Quiz
When Standard Oil was dissolved, it was done on a state-by-state basis. What present day operator results from a merger of the companies that were originally Standard Oil of New York and Standard Oil of New Jersey. 
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 card to a nice restaurant.
Answer to January’s Quiz
In 1999 there were 26 rigs working in the deepwater (1,000 ft or more water depth) Gulf of Mexico. That number climbed to a record-setting 40 in the year 2000. At the close of the year 2000, there were 7 rigs working in the 5,000 ft or greater ultradeep water depths.
Answer to December’s Quiz
Due to the fear of explosions, oil was initially not a common cargo on ships. The first successful bulk oil tanker, introduced in 1878, was the Zoroaster.
Congratulations to December’s winner – Kitty Duhon with Oxy USA