Then & Now - May 2019

Then & Now - May 2019

MAY 1989

The U.S. monthly seismic crew count falls to its lowest point since the Society of Exploration Geophysicists began keeping a monthly count in 1974, with 129 land and marine crews. 

DOE Secretary James Watkins tells 10 DOE national laboratories to intensify research into electrolytic fusion following recent reports of a breakthrough in cold fusion.

WTI crude: $20.23/bbl

U.S. rig count: 751

MAY 1999

Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater reports that, due to the success of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, passed in response to the Exxon Valdez incident, in 1997 tanker spills were limited to 22,429 gallons out of 107 billion gallons of oil transported that year.

Chevron begins shutting down its beleaguered Point Arguello project off Santa Barbara, California, while they continue to look for a buyer for what was once touted as the biggest find ever on the US Outer Continental Shelf.

Light sweet crude: $18.22/bbl

Natural gas: $2.31/MMbtu

U.S. rig count: 494

MAY 2009

Chevron reports first production from the Tahiti field, the deepest producing field in the Gulf of Mexico (26,700 ft TMD), with expected daily production of 125,000 bbl of oil and 70 MMcf of natural gas by year end.

Heritage Oil Corp. reports the discovery of a giant oil field in Iraqi Kurdistan, with 2.3 to 4.2 billion bbl of oil in place, 50 to 70 percent of which appears recoverable.

Light sweet crude: $51.07/bbl Natural gas: $3.38/MMbtu

U.S. rig count: 945


This month, we continue our look back at the rise and fall of wildcatter Glenn McCarthy and the opening night of the Shamrock Hotel.

Bedlam it was, but many regarded the Shamrock’s gaudy, chaotic, diamond- strewn opening as an apt metaphor for the new Texas. It proved to be exactly the media event McCarthy yearned for, drawing coverage from around the world. Life magazine ran a five- page photo spread. “Shamrock Puts Eyes of Nation on Houston,” read the Houston Chronicle headline. Overnight, the Shamrock became the dominant symbol not only of Houston, but of Texas. People in Dallas, unsurprisingly, hated everything about it. Still, every reporter who wrote about Texas visited the Shamrock, until its fame overshadowed anything else in the state. Most Americans, a San Antonio columnist wrote, “think of Houston as a cluster of mud huts around the Shamrock Hotel, in the cellars of which people hide from the sticky climate, emerging at long intervals to scatter $1000 bills to the four winds.”

The morning after the hotel’s unveiling, McCarthy opened the doors for guests. Business was strong those first few weeks. Tourists from all over the world poured through the front doors, ogling McCarthy’s opulent “Texas Riviera,” as the gossip columnists quickly christened it. Dinah Shore and Mel Tormé sang in the Cork Club; Frank Sinatra was booked. ABC began broadcasting a weekly radio show from the Emerald Room, “Saturday at the Shamrock.” The pool became the showcase where Houston’s youngest, most beautiful and richest women went to see and be seen.

To an outsider, the Shamrock appeared to be exactly the shining new symbol of Texas McCarthy had dreamed it would be. Meanwhile, inside the New York offices of the Equitable Life Assurance Society, his lenders weren’t so pleased. The hotel was losing money, and fast. Red ink was to be expected in any new venture, but McCarthy’s spending was simply out of control. He was laying out $3,000 a year for a golf pro – never mind that he didn’t have a course – plus a half-million a year for a promotional magazine named Preview, which McCarthy labeled a “‘cowpuncher’ alternative to The New Yorker.

Next month, Equitable is on edge, but McCarthy just keeps on spending.


What member of the House of Representatives led Republican initiatives to reduce energy prices for American families and small businesses in 2009, thus increasing his exposure and laying the foundation for a major political promotion several years “hence”?

If you would like to participate in this month’s quiz, e-mail your answer to by noon, May 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 wildcatter who has buildings named in his honor at six different Texas universities, including Baylor, TCU, UT Austin, Rice, Texas Wesleyan & Hardin-Simmons, is Sid Richardson. 


Clayton Campbell