January 1958

Midcontinent refiners register concern over reports that foreign oil is being moved up the Mississippi River by barge to be refined in Memphis. Superior Oil Co. management reports receiving a contract to sell 10,000 bbl/day of its Lake Maracaibo crude to customers in the United States. Richfield develops a punch card database for all of its California wells, thus moving to the next level in data retrieval. (OK. How many of you can remember doing your programming with punch cards? Remember, it was back during the "fountain pen" era.) Who will be the oil legislation "movers and shakers" in the 1958 Congress? Would you believe Senator J.W. Fulbright, author of the gas bill and chairman of the senate banking committee, and Representative Wilbur Mills, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Both come from the state of Arkansas!

East Texas crude oil - $3.25/bbl; U.S. active rig count – 2,4325

January 1983

Consistent with other government labs, the Department of Energy begins a solicitation aimed at selecting a nonprofit operator for its Bartlesville Energy Technology Center. How did the majors do in the way of full-year earnings for calendar year 1982?
Exxon $4.18 billion
Shell $1.6 billion
Texaco $1.28 billion
Mobil $1.38 billion
Atlantic Richfield $1.7 billion

The largest commercial hot water geothermal project in the United States is planned in California’s Imperial Valley. Start-up capacity in January 1985 would be 25,000 kw, which could double within 3 years. Because of declining pressures in its reservoirs, Iran reports plans to spend $1.6 billion on gas reinjection in mature fields.

U.S. active rig count – 2,721

January 1998

Norway’s Statoil and Sweden’s Sydkraft begin work on a pilot project involving underground gas storage in steel-lined artificial caverns. If successful, storage facilities could be placed in closer proximity to major gas-consuming areas. Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, in an effort to help thaw U.S.-Iranian relations, proposes an "exchange of professors, writers, scholars, artists, journalists, and tourists." (The unspoken emphasis was likely on "tourists.") Afghanistan’s Taliban militia surprisingly signs an agreement to allow a planned gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan to pass through Afghanistan. (One has to wonder what promises were made under the table.) Princeton University is granted a U.S. patent for a nonpetroleum gasoline substitute composed of a blend of ethanol, natural gas liquids (NGL), and a cosolvent. It is reported to be cost-competitive with gasoline and meets the requirements of the Clean Air Act amendments of 1990.

Light sweet crude oil - $17.57/bbl; Natural gas - $2.24/MMBTU; U.S. active rig count – 1,003

The Rest of the Yarn

He was an offshore pioneer before he became a twoterm governor of his state. He founded Southeastern Drilling in 1947 as an onshore firm but then took his company offshore. The company grew from two rigs operating in 10 ft of water in 1954 to the world’s largest offshore driller by the mid-1980s.

He served as U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense under Presidents Nixon and Ford in the 1970s. In 1979, he became the first Republican governor of his state since the 19th century and later served a second term beginning in 1987. The SPE awarded him its Public Service Award in 1987.

He later became embroiled in a controversy over athletic recruiting practices and athlete financial improprieties and a subsequent cover-up at his alma mater, suffering a blow to his credibility in the process. Nevertheless, he was an industry pioneer and a loyal state and federal servant. He was William (Bill) Clements, two-term governor of the state of Texas. 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

In the late 1950s, the deepest hydrocarbon production in Texas came from what formation?

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

Answer to December’s Quiz

In the mid-to-late 18th century, Swedish researchers discovered three metals that are key elements in refinery catalysts: cobalt, nickel and molybdenum.

Answer to November’s Quiz

The Goose Creek field in Harris County, which opened up major oil production in our own backyard, and the Salt Creek field in the Powder River basin, the first significant oil field in Wyoming, were both discovered in 1908.

Congratulations to November’s winner – Robert Anderson with GeoResources