October 1956

Dowell pumps the first “flood frac,” consisting of 250,000 gal of fresh water carrying 200,000 lb of sand at 52 bpm in a West Texas Spraberry well. The production results for what is believed to be the largest frac treatment on record had not yet been reported. The cost was a whopping $14,000. Overworked industry executives who think that there are just too many monthly activities to keep up with these days announce the formation of a new association, APSAMMOA (Association for the Prevention of Scheduling Any More Monthly Oil Activities). Would anyone out there like to resurrect this association? Here is an interesting after-hours phone call that arrived at one of the industry’s publications office…”Is Clea there?“ When told that the answerer was an after-hours security guard who did not know Clea, the caller responded, “Aw shucks. The garage is on fire and all of Daddy’s tools are burning up. Thank you anyway,” and she hung up. Sounds like someone was in for a bad day.

East Texas crude oil - $2.90/bbl
U.S. active rig count – 2,556

October 1981

In spite of the political friction that exists after two of their planes were downed by U.S. jets over the Mediterranean last month, Libya tries again to renew crude sales contracts with Occidental Petroleum, among others, without lowering their $39-40/bbl posted price. Three major U.S. petrochemical companies declare Alaska not a viable prospect for a world-scale petrochemical venture due to its economy being unable to support it at the present time. (Darn it! They could have had some cool product packaging images.) PEMEX reports expectations of reaching an export objective of 1.5 million bbl/day by year-end. Spain has become one of its biggest customers. (No need for additional labeling on those drums.) The new chief of the Economic Regulatory Administration (Lets hear it for more bureaucracy!) promises vigorous prosecution of crude and product price violations. Within a year, he plans to wrap up all of the ERA’s cases and its “raison d’etre.“ (Help me here John!)

U.S. active rig count – 4,344

October 1996

Smaller independents, including Lomak and Stone Energy, report in excess of 500% reserves replacement. Other larger independents, including Barrett, Newfield, and Nuevo, report the creation of $1.5-2 billion in market capitalization during the first one-half of the decade. Majors continue to pursue joint ventures with China, while Nigeria reports plans to privatize its oil industry. (International opportunities are everywhere!)

Light sweet crude oil - $25.48/bbl
Natural Gas - $2.41/MMBTU
U.S. active rig count – 845

The Rest of the Yarn

An Italian immigrant who came to the U.S. as a child, he grew up in New Jersey and attended high school in Philadelphia. He obtained a B.S. degree in electrical engineering from the University of Pennsylvania and subsequently accepted a position at Bell Laboratories. Bell Labs sent him to Columbia University where he earned an M.S. degree in physics.


After completing his graduate work, he noticed an ad on a billboard for a job in the Oklahoma oilfields and he headed west. There he met John Karcher, who was assembling a crew to test the “seismic method,” a new way to chart underground structures by creating and measuring shock waves traveling through the earth. He became Karcher’s crew chief and went on to prove the new method in field tests. He was then sent to Los Angeles to head up the western operations of Karcher’s new company, which eventually became Texas Instruments.


In 1933 during the Depression, he took out a loan to start his own oil exploration company, Western Geophysical. It grew from a $9,000 initial capital investment into a multi-billion-dollar leader in the exploration industry. In 1960 he sold the company to Litton and ran Grant Oil Tool. At this point in his life, he turned his attention to philanthropy and politics. His foundation has endowed programs at the Claremont Institute and the Heritage Foundation. In 1964 he arranged for Ronald Reagan to speak at a fundraising dinner for Barry Goldwater, and that speech launched Reagan’s political career.


He was a seismic pioneer, the founder of a multi-billion-dollar oil exploration company, a prominent philanthropist, and an advisor to several presidents. He was Henry Salvatori. 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@houston.spe.org.

History Quiz

In what year and by what operator was the 25,000 ft drilling depth barrier first broken?

Answer to September’s Quiz

Starting with the postulates…(1) Knowledge is Power and (2) Time is Money, Dilbert’s “Salary Theorem” is proven as follows:

     Since Power = Work/Time; Knowledge = Power; and Time = Money

     Then Knowledge = Work/Money

     Solving for Money, you get Money = Work/Knowledge

     Thus, as Knowledge approaches zero, Money approaches infinity

     Conclusion – The less you know, the more you make. Thus, engineers

                            and scientists can never earn as much as business

                            executives and sales people.

Answer to May’s Quiz

The two operators who partnered-up to install the world’s first offshore oil and gas production spar were Oryx Energy and CNG Producing.


Congratulations to May’s winner – Jeff Brienen with Occidental Oil & Gas