June 17, 2020  –  Oil & Gas History News, Vol. 1, No. 6 

Oil & Gas History News 

Thank you for taking time to read this month’s American Oil & Gas Historical Society summary of petroleum history during these extraordinary times. Please forward articles from This Week in Petroleum History to your friends and consider becoming a supporting member. Individual donations help the society add more articles, maintain the website, and expand our historical database for educators, students, researchers — and you.  

Monthly Highlights from “This Week in Petroleum History”

Links to summaries from four weeks of U.S. oil and natural gas history, including new technologies, oilfield discoveries, petroleum products, and pioneers.  

June 15, 1954 – Launch of First Mobile Offshore Rig 

The barge drilling platform Mr. Charlie left its Louisiana shipyard and went to work for Shell Oil Company in the East Bay field near the mouth of the Mississippi River. Navy veteran Alden “Doc” LaBorde, a marine superintendent for Kerr-McGee Company, designed this first transportable, submersible drilling rig…MORE 

June 9, 1894 – Water Well finds Oil in Corsicana, Texas 

A contractor hired by the town of Corsicana to drill a water well on 12th Street found oil instead, launching the first Texas oil boom seven years before the more famous Spindletop gusher. Although the discovery would bring great prosperity, the city paid the drilling contractor only half his $1,000 fee. The agreement had been for drilling a water well…MORE 

June 4, 1872 – Robert Chesebrough invents Petroleum Jelly 

A young chemist living in New York City, Robert Chesebrough, patented “a new and useful product from petroleum,” which he named Vaseline. His patent proclaimed the virtues of the purified extract of oil distillation residue as a lubricant, hair treatment, and balm for chapped hands. Vaseline later helped launch a cosmetics empire…MORE

May 26, 1891 – Patent will lead to Crayola Crayons 

A new petroleum product would get its name from the French word for chalk, craie, and an English adjective meaning oily, oleaginous. Crayola Crayons began when Edwin Binney and C. Harold Smith of Easton, Pennsylvania, received a patent for their “Apparatus for the Manufacture of Carbon Black”…MORE 

Energy Education Articles 

Updated editorial content on the American Oil & Gas Historical Society website includes these articles: 

Oil from Alaska’s North Slope began moving through the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System on June 20, 1977. Four years earlier, a deciding vote in the U.S. Senate by Vice President Spiro Agnew had passed the Trans-Alaska Pipeline Authorization Act. The 800-mile pipeline system has since carried billions of barrels of oil to the port of Valdez and been recognized as an engineering landmark. See Trans-Alaska Pipeline History

Following the first commercial New Mexico oil well in 1922, the state’s petroleum industry took off with the discovery of the Hobbs field on June 13, 1928, by the Midwest State No. 1 well. Oil production attracted investors and drilling companies, transforming Hobbs from “sand, mesquite, bear grass and jack rabbits” to the fastest growing town in America. See First New Mexico Oil Wells

In 1923, near Big Lake in West Texas, on arid land leased from the University of Texas, a new Permian Basin oilfield was discovered after 21 months of cable-tool drilling (averaging less than five feet a day). Within three years of the discovery by the Santa Rita No. 1 well, royalties endowed the University of Texas with $4 million, which the student newspaper reported, “made the difference between pine-shack classrooms and modern buildings.” See Santa Rita taps Permian Basin

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To prevent fuel shortages from stalling the 1944 Normandy invasion, Operation PLUTO – Pipe Line Under The Ocean – became a top-secret Allied strategy. Pipe was wound onto enormous floating “conundrums” designed to spool off the pipe when towed across the English Channel. Each mile used over 46 tons of lead, steel tape, and armored wire, for crossing almost 70 miles from Isle of Wight to Cherbourg. Learn more in PLUTO, Secret Pipelines of WW II.
Thank you again for subscribing. Please share this newsletter with your friends — and visit our website often. Help promote using petroleum history in energy education programs and teacher workshops. Finally, support keeping the American Oil & Gas Historical Society operating during these iconic times. — Bruce Wells
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“Any survey of the natural resources used as sources of energy must include a discussion about the importance of oil, the lifeblood of all industrialized nations.” — Daniel Yergin, bestselling author and winner of the Pulitzer Prize


The American Oil & Gas Historical Society preserves U.S. petroleum history. Become an AOGHS supporting member and help maintain this energy education website and expand historical research. For more information, contact bawells@aoghs.org. © 2020 Bruce A. Wells.


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