Then & Now - March 2019

Then & Now - March 2019

MARCH 1989

Texaco reports an economic solution to disposal of some oilfield waste in the application of their coal gasification process to produce fuel-grade synthesis gas from tank bottom sludge.

Japan, Iran’s biggest customer for crude oil, is under pressure from its government to cut Iranian crude imports as a result of Ayatollah Khomeini’s call for the death of UK author Salman Rushdie.

WTI crude: $18.51/bbl

U.S. rig count: 761

MARCH 1999

For the first time since 1951, there are no drilling rigs operating in North Dakota. Just two years prior, there were an average of 18 rigs operating on any given day, with 260 wells drilled per year and a labor force of almost 10,000 employees. (We’re back!)

Oil and gas sector respondents report being fully prepared to prevent the feared Year 2000 computer problems, otherwise referred to as being “Y2K ready.” (Much ado about nothing!)

Light sweet crude: $14.19/bbl

Natural gas: $1.86/MMbtu

U.S. rig count: 534

MARCH 2009

With the support of the US Minerals Management Service and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, Shell reports plans to challenge the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that said Shell was improperly granted permission to drill in the Beaufort Sea.

Bakken operator Encore reports that refracs performed 9 to 18 months after initial completion are returning 80,000 bbl of incremental reserves at a cost of $500,000, and that multiple refracs may be possible for many wells.

Light sweet crude: $43.26/bbl

Natural gas: $4.16/MMbtu

U.S. rig count: 1,170


This month. we continue our look back at the rise and fall of wildcatter Glenn McCarthy, as the gala opening night for the Shamrock Hotel evolves into near chaos.

As the crowd waited impatiently in the Shamrock’s lobby, McCarthy stepped up to the podium to make the announcement for the crowd to enter the ballrooms, only to find that the PA system didn’t work. Some of his waiters tried to shout at the people to take their seats, but no one moved, and MC Pat O’Brien couldn’t be found. When Dorothy Lamour took the stage, they decided to go live with the nationwide radio broadcast anyway, with or without an audience in the Emerald Room.

As the broadcast started, listeners around the country heard Lamour welcome them to the gala opening of the Shamrock Hotel. Word quickly spread through the packed lobby that the show was beginning. Chaos ensued. Hundreds of tuxedoed men and fur-clad women began to push their way into the Emerald Room, knocking over chairs and a table or two. A cacophony of shouts, curses and wolf whistles erupted as everyone attempted to find a seat. Amid the din, Lamour’s radio audience heard little but crowd noise, interspersed with curses from the control room. After seven minutes of a radio broadcast replete with swearing, NBC took the show off the air, citing technical difficulties. Lamour, now joined by Van Heflin and a comic named Ed Gardner, tried to get the crowd’s attention, but it was no use. No one could hear them.

Next month, the bedlam that defined the Shamrock Hotel’s opening night turns out to be the media event McCarthy had yearned for.


What former Standard Oil executive moved to Texas and formed an independent operating company that would later become a major E&P company, built the first refinery west of the Mississippi, and formed another operating company that would become a second major E&P company?

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


Jeffrey Skilling – of Enron fame – was selected as the inaugural winner of the New York Mercantile Exchange award for “Global Vision in Energy.”