The Illinois Oil Fields
- H.A. Wheeler
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Transactions of the AIME
- Publication Date
- December 1915
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 533 - 564
- 1915. Original copyright American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc. Copyright has expired.
- 4.6 Natural Gas, 1.10 Drilling Equipment, 2.2.2 Perforating, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 1.6 Drilling Operations, 1.10.1 Drill string components and drilling tools (tubulars, jars, subs, stabilisers, reamers, etc), 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 1.2.3 Rock properties, 5.8.5 Oil Sand, Oil Shale, Bitumen, 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 4.2 Pipelines, Flowlines and Risers, 5.1.2 Faults and Fracture Characterisation
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Illinois has so recently attained the third place in the oil production of theUnited States that few realize its great importance, or are aware of its highlyprofitable character. Since 1907 Illinois has furnished about 15 per cent. ofthe United States output and about 10 per cent of the world's production. Thevalue of the output in 1913 is estimated at $30,000,000, of which about$20,000,000 is profit. The present prosperity dates from 1905, but efforts havebeen made since 1865 to develop production and geologists have been verysanguine as to its future for over 25 years. Had the oil operators been asconfident as the geologists, the field would have been opened at least 30 yearsearlier. For the rich Eastern Illinois oil field is located along the La Salleanticline, that was mapped 46 years ago by Professor Worthen in the firstgeological survey of the State. Prof. T. B. Comstock enthusiastically wrote in18872 about the highly promising character of this anticline, to which he againcalled attention in 1889.
The writer's studies in 1888 were convincing as to its oil future, yet to havethen advocated drilling would have earned the reputation of being a dreamer. Infact, as late as 1903 the writer's suggestion to a prominent Pittsburg oiloperator to prospect in Illinois met with contempt and derision, which wasrepresentative of the general feeling then held by the oil fraternity, yet thissame party made a large fortune four years later out of a block of Illinois oilleases.
The first commercial wells were brought in at Litchfield, 50 miles northeast ofSt. Louis, where in 1882, in drilling for coal, gas was discovered thatsupplied the town several years. Later, some oil wells were brought in thatuntil 1902 produced a lubricating oil that sold for $5 a barrel.
In 1887, at Sparta, 40 miles southeast of St. Louis, in drilling for water, gaswas discovered that supplied the town about 20 years, and in 1906 several oilwells were brought in half a mile northeast of the gas wells.
In 1890, in drilling for water, gas was discovered near Pittsfield, in Pikecounty, that later developed into a field over 10 miles long.
The present highly prosperous era dates from 1904, when a small gas well wasdrilled near Casey, in Clark county, by J. J. Hoblitzell, who was induced toprospect at Oilfield on the showing of oil and gas made by some old wells thathad been drilled in 1865 by Chicago parties. The latter drilled several wellson the evidence of oil and gas seepages, but, although a little was found, thewells were a failure from not casing off the water; i.e., they were drownedout. Several more small wells were brought in, but they were so discouragingthat they failed to interest the scouts that flocked in when leases were only$5 to $10 an acre. When a 40-barrel well was subsequently brought in, the"talent" promptly scurried after leases, which rapidly advanced to $100to $200 an acre, and since then the Eastern Illinois field has rapidlydeveloped along the La Salle anticline.
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