January 1950
A salt mine cave-in 10 miles southwest of Houston swallows up a warehouse-office building and a salt-press building, while a nearby operator reports increased gas production following the cave-in. $ Core laboratories of this era now include such “modern” test equipment as mercury capillary pressure instruments, Boyle’s Law porosimeters, permeameters, flood pots, and resistivity equipment for approximating formation resistivity factors for use in electric log interpretation. $ One year ago, the slogan for Scurry County, Texas was “Scurry CountyWhere Farmers Ranch and Ranchers Farm.” This year, with 180 drilling wells, it’s “Scurry CountyWhere the Oil Flows and Cotton Grows.” $ Substantial oil production is reported in southern Vera Cruz, Mexico by the Mexican American Independent Oil Company. (How did Pemex let this happen?)
East Texas crude oil - $2.65/bbl; U.S. active rig count – 2,000


January 1975
Libya ends its 14-month-long oil embargo on crude oil shipments to the U.S. (Its 10-year-low oil production levels may have compromised Libya’s political posture.) $ The government of Venezuela decides to take 99% of Venezuela’s largest oil producer, Exxon affiliate Creole Petroleum Company’s, profits from last year. (Can’t blame this one on Hugo.) $ The Iraqi Government is preparing to “negotiate” a take-over of the remaining foreign holdings in Basrah Petroleum Company. (Yes, Saddam had his finger in it.)
U.S. active rig count – 1,618


January 2000
In a watershed agreement signifying a possible thaw in Middle East relations, Egypt agrees to sell natural gas to Israel through what is being called a “pipeline of peace.” $ McMoRan and Texaco ink an agreement giving McMoRan the right to explore all of Texaco’s 90 tracts on the Outer Continental Shelf, leaving Texaco to focus on its deepwater program. $ The U.S. natural gas industry expects to reap the benefits of a recent court ruling that upholds an EPA rule prohibiting the use of lignite fuel in new power plants. $ In an effort to assist its UK business customers in managing their gas portfolios more efficiently, BP Amoco launches an internet-based gas trading service called “e-EnergyTrade.”
Light sweet crude oil - $24.87/bbl; Natural gas - $2.18/MMBTU; U.S. active rig count – 786


The Rest of the Yarn
This month we continue our look back at some of the famous (and infamous) historical sites in Houston which had connections with the oil industry.

The Kennedy Bakery is recognized as Houston’s oldest commercial building still standing on its original site. Nathaniel Kellum built the structure in 1847 and in 1860 John Kennedy, an Irish baker, moved into the narrow structure at 813 Congress. Kennedy was an Irish immigrant who came to Houston in 1842. Poor when he arrived, the hardworking Irishman quickly amassed his own Houston bakery, gristmill, retail store, and several thousand acres.

During the Civil War, Kennedy used his bakery to make hardtack for Confederate soldiers. It passed from the Kennedy family in 1970 and is now La Carafe, considered to be Houston’s oldest bar, and the site where many an oil deal was first outlined on a bar napkin. Its wine selection and atmosphere prompted one magazine to name it one of America’s finest bars. Some say the building is haunted, complete with exploding bottles, eerie shadows, and cold spots. And now you know…The Rest of the Yarn. (Article excerpted from “Houston Then & Now.”)


History Quiz
Why did Standard Oil adopt that name when it was first incorporated in 1870?

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 chosen randomly from all correct answers, will receive a $50 gift card to a nice restaurant.

Answer to December’s Quiz
In December 1949, Scurry County, Texas, with more than 140 rigs running, was proclaimed to be the most active oil area in the world.

Answer to November’s Quiz
The first commercial natural gas liquefaction plant was built in Cleveland, Ohio by Hope Natural Gas Co. and Gas Machinery Corp.

Congratulations to November’s winner – David Deaton with Landmark-Halliburton Software