Oil Production - A Continuing Challenge
- John R. Suman (Consultant)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- December 1955
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 10 - 12
- 1955. Original copyright American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc. Copyright has expired.
- 5.2 Reservoir Fluid Dynamics, 5.6.1 Open hole/cased hole log analysis, 4.6 Natural Gas, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 1.10 Drilling Equipment, 1.6 Drilling Operations, 1.6.9 Coring, Fishing
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In 1855 "rock oil" (petroleum seepages), which sold for 30 to 40 dollars a barrel, was used for medicinal purposes and widely advertised is "good for man or beast." We are all familiar with Col. Drake's "rock oil test" which was drilled near an "old oil spring" at Titusville, Pa., in 1859. After drilling into hard rock at 36 ft, "Drake's Folly" became the joke of the countryside. After many disappointments, the test struck oil at 69 1/2 ft to open the first oil boom in the United States. Many wells were drilled in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and New York during the next few years forcing the price of oil down to 10 to 20 cents per barrel.
Transportation and refining facilities as well as markets (mostly for lighting and lubrication), increased steadily during the next 40 years. Consequently, oil prices were generally sufficiently low to encourage new uses for oil, and they were sufficiently high to provide a reasonable profit for the new industry.
The completion of the gusher at Spindletop in 1901 by Capt. Anthony F. Lucas ushered in a new era in production and marketing, with the use of fuel oil being expanded rapidly during the next 10 years. It is significant to note that the initial flow of the Lucas well was 75,000 to 100.000 B/Dequal to 50 per cent of the daily oil production in the United States during 1900. In 1901 Capt. Lucas presented a paper on the Spindletop discovery before the AIME. One of the interesting points in his discussion concerned formation evaluation.
Almost before the excitement of the Spindletop discovery had subsided, overproduction became a pressing problem, During the next 25 years, markets as well as daily oil production increased steadily. The ability of the United States to supply the fuel needs for the machines of war during World War I was considered to be an important factor in winning the war. Following World War I, oil production continued to increase. In 1927, E. B. Reeser, president of Barnsdall Oil Co., wrote an article for the Oil and Gas Journal entitled, "A Challenge to the Oil industry." The theme was: "Overproduction must be regulated by cooperation or government supervision. Leaders should develop a plan."
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