October 1959
The Justice Department bows up to resist the planned merger of Superior Oil and Texaco. (Fast-forward fifty years and they are both merged out of existence.) $ Our continent’s most northerly wildcat is on the drafting table, as Round Valley Oil of Calgary announces plans to drill a well 1,700 miles north of Winnipeg and 800 miles from the North Pole. (Would you believe the Claus #1?) $ A new well log based on the phenomenon of nuclear magnetic resonance is announced by a cooperative research program of California Research Corp. and the Byron Jackson Division of Borg Warner (as in the precursor of BJ Services). $ Ties between the chemical and oil industries will grow closer in the next 10 years according to J. Peter Grace, president of W.R. Grace & Co. (Fast-forward thirty years and witness Peter riding herd over Grace Petroleum.)
East Texas crude oil - $3.25/bbl; U.S. active rig count – 2,139


October 1984
You’ve heard of house moving…how about refinery moving, as idled refineries in North America and the U.K. are purchased with plans for their movement to Hong Kong and the UAE, respectively. $ Tenneco president Philip Oxley tells an industry conference that domestic operators have their backs to the walls to identify domestic exploration opportunities with a reasonable potential for success, and that the grass looks greener in international fields. (Didn’t consider domestic gas shales now did you.) $ The U.S. Natural Gas Clearinghouse, Houston, conducts its first gas transaction, and since everybody involved knew and trusted each other, the gas started to flow essentially on a handshake. $ Mobil moves ahead with plans for the first field development in Mobile Bay off Alabama. (Maybe they should require red and while plaid hard hats in honor of “The Bear.”)
U.S. active rig count – 2,455


October 1999
In an effort to curb continuing unrest over petroleum operations in Nigeria, Lagos passes new rules for firms working in the country, including the provision of vital infrastructure for host communities and the implementation of poverty alleviation programs. $ A key refinery and oil storage facility in Chechnya are damaged by Russian air strikes, while Russian electricity officials recommend that Moscow cut the power supply to the breakaway republic, ostensibly due to nonpayment for electricity already supplied. $ The European Union turns its nose up at the U.S. and moves ahead with plans to fund oil-related projects in Iran, with the French and Italians leading the gold rush. $ Exxon-Mobil merger wins approval by the European Commission and now awaits approval by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for the $82 billion merger to be consummated.
Light sweet crude oil - $22.38/bbl; ; Natural gas - $2.91/MMBTU; U.S. active rig count – 721


The Rest of the Yarn
The Second Geological Survey of Pennsylvania was organized in 1874 under the direction of J.P. Lesley.  In his previous career in coal geology he had shown the importance of quantitatively contoured topographic maps and had introduced contours to represent geologic structure.  He assigned a civil engineer who had spent some years in the oil regions to prepare what was to be the first structural map of an oil field.  At the end of the first year’s work he published a progress report, which included a structure map of the area in which principal oil fields occur.

The fields themselves were not shown on this map, but they were shown on a larger map to the same scale in the same report.  The map showed no folding or faulting, but a very smooth and gentle dip to the southwest of about 20 ft to the mile.  The linear character of the oil pools was by now well established and the author of the report referred to them quite naturally as “belts” and “leads.”  The civil engineer who prepared this first structural map of an oil field was John Franklin Carll, the namesake of the SPE John Franklin Carll Distinguished Professional Award.  And now you know…The Rest of the Yarn.


History Quiz
In the mid-1890’s, with funding from Standard Oil, a former official of Ohio Oil Co. began drilling wells near Corsicana and refining the crude oil under the names of Corsicana Petroleum Co. and Corsicana Refining Co.  These entities became the nucleus of Magnolia Petroleum Co., which later became an important part of Standard of New York as Socony Mobil.  Who was this early Texas oilman?

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

Answer to September’s Quiz
The oilfield town that currently lays claim to the worst measured air quality in the U.S. is Bakersfield, California.

Answer to May’s Quiz
The Frenchman Etienne Lenoir is credited with building the first combustion engine fueled by coal gas in 1860.

Congratulations to May’s winner – Stephen Sakowski with Gaffney, Cline & Associates