Then & Now - December 2019

Then & Now - December 2019


Light oil flowing at 550 bbl per day from a rank wildcat 600 miles north of Perth promises to establish the first commercial oil production on the continent of Australia.

The first deep test for oil in Israel is spudded near the former Biblical city of Sodom (ironically, adjacent to a large salt deposit).

U.S. active rig count: 2,885

East Texas crude: $2.90/bbl


The world deepwater drilling record (3,461 ft, offshore Thailand) is in jeopardy by upcoming wells planned for, would you believe… offshore Suriname and offshore Newfoundland!

Exxon reports that good results from a test run on 16,000 tons of Texas lignite coal at South Africa’s huge coal-gasification complex could pave the way for a $2-$3 billion lignite SNG facility near Troup, Texas.

U.S. active rig count: 2,118


Industry shells out big sums to pay for accidents: Shell pays $19.7 million in fines for spilling more than 9,500 bbl of crude from its Martinez refinery near San Francisco. Phillips’ insurance claims from an explosion and fire that claimed 23 lives at their Pasadena petrochemical plant reach $1.5 billion.

Both events come on the heels of the North Sea Piper Alpha explosion that claimed 167 lives.

Meanwhile, a barge carrying 119,000 bbl of jet fuel broke loose from a tug tow cable and drifted for several days in the Gulf of Alaska, dangerously close to reefs near Prince Williams Sound, before the tug regained control of the barge

U.S. active rig count: 1,040

WTI crude: $19.92/bbl


This month, the media’s coverage of McCarthy spawns a new cultural icon.

Glenn McCarthy had become the Lone Star playboy, the swinging oilman who romances starlets between trips on his airplane to see his latest gusher. In the post-war years, many of the stories fueling this caricature emanated from Hollywood, where McCarthy and other wealthy Texans, like the nouveau rich of every American generation, were drawn by the glamour and glitz and welcomed by money-hungry movie producers and a bevy of young actresses all too happy to take up with Texas sugar daddies. As a Hollywood columnist wrote in 1954, “The Texas jillionaires seem to gravitate to the motion pictures like a moth to a candle.”

Among the first to arrive was Jack Wrather, a Dallas oil heir who, bored with life in the oil fields, moved to Los Angeles and married actress Bonita Granville in 1947. Wrather used his fortune to produce seven movies in the following several years, then branched into television, eventually producing Lassie and The Lone Ranger. In time, he purchased the Queen Mary entertainment complex in Long Beach, built the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, and became a founding member of Ronald Reagan’s “Kitchen Cabinet” of political advisors. 

By and large, though, the Texas playboys took home far more actresses than Oscars. The starlet Jane Withers wed an Odessa oilman and would-be producer named Bill Moss in 1947. After their divorce, Moss married Ann Miller, who couldn’t cope with Moss and his hard-driving oilman buddies, whose lives were a series of drinking binges.

“I simply didn’t have the energy or the patience to keep up with him, especially when we went to parties that lasted two or three days,” Miller wrote in her autobiography.

Next month, McCarthy and the legion of Lone Star playboys continues to grow.  


I was the first person to extinguish an oil well fire with explosives. I trained Red Adair, Boots Hansen and Coots Matthews, who applied my techniques to extinguish the fires of Kuwait. I was awarded The Order of the Rising Sun by Emperor Hirohito of Japan for extinguishing a gas well fire in 48 hours that had blazed for more than a week. Who am I?

If you would like to participate in this month’s quiz, e-mail your answer to by noon, December 15.

The winner, who will be chosen randomly from all correct answers, will receive a $50 restaurant gift card, courtesy of the ProTechnics Division of Core Laboratories. 


The famous Italian opera that was popularly believed to have been composed in honor of the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 was Aida. The composer was Giuseppe Verdi.  


Mark Glaser with Halliburton