The discovery of oil in 1901 on the Spindletop dome, Texas, inaugurated anew industry on the Gulf Coast, an industry which has grown with the discoveryof successive fields, until today it engages the services of thousands ofworkers and employs enormous capital. New fields are being discovered from timeto time and doubtless some still remain to be found, though of late yearsdiscoveries have become more infrequent. Nowadays several hundred dry holes aredrilled each year in a fruitless and blind effort to discover new fields, foras yet geologic science has developed no effectual method of locating thecoastal oil deposits in advance of drilling.
Moreover, despite the occasional discovery of new fields, the totalproduction of the Gulf Coast is today no greater than it was in 1906, for theadded production of the new fields has been offset by the rapid decline andmore or less complete exhaustion of some of the older ones. Careful geologicwork within the fields has in some cases increased the production temporarily, but has developed no really new supplies. The Gulf Coast oil industry seems tohave passed its period of greatest expansion and to be declining at a fairlysteady rate, and this condition is naturally viewed with alarm by the morefarsighted operators.
In my opinion, the time has come for the adoption of radical and aggressivemethods of prospecting; and a fraction of the money wasted yearly in drillingshallow wells in hopeless locations might well be devoted to this purpose. Manyfacts lead me to believe that all the salt-dome oil has had a common origin;that it has migrated up from considerable depth along lines of structuralweakness; and that a deep well, properly located, stands an excellent chance ofdiscovering the parent reservoir and thus of developing new and probably greatsupplies. This paper is presented as a discussion - necessarily hypotheticaland based largely on personal opinion - of the possibility of encounteringdeep-seated oil deposits beneath the salt domes.
All of the oil produced in the coastal region of Texas and Louisiana isprobably associated with salt domes, though in Goose Creek, Edgerly, and one ortwo other fields no salt has yet been actually penetrated.