February 12, 1954 – Persistence pays off with First Nevada Oil Well
After hundreds of dry holes (the first drilled near Reno in 1907), Nevada became a petroleum-producing state. Shell Oil Company’s second test of its Eagle Springs No. 1 well in Nye County produced commercial amounts of oil. The routine test revealed petroleum production at an interval between 6,450 feet and 6,730 feet deep.
Although the Eagle Springs field would produce 3.8 million barrels of oil, finding Nevada’s second oilfield took two more decades. Northwest Exploration Company completed the Trap Spring No. 1 well in Railroad Valley, five miles west of the Eagle Springs oilfield in 1976.
Learn more in First Nevada Oil Well.
February 12, 1987 – Texaco Fine upheld for Getty Oil Takeover attempt
A Texas court upheld a 1985 decision against Texaco for having initiated an illegal takeover of Getty Oil after Pennzoil had made a legally binding bid for the company. By the end of the year, the companies settled their historic $10.3 billion legal battle for $3 billion after Pennzoil agreed to drop its demand for interest. According to a Los Angeles Times article, the pact was vital for a reorganization plan that dictated how Texaco emerged from bankruptcy proceedings, a haven it had sought to stop Pennzoil from enforcing the largest court judgement ever awarded.
February 13, 1924 – Forest Oil adopts Yellow Dog
An independent oil exploration company originally founded in 1916 consolidated with four other independent oil companies to form the Forest Oil Corporation – an early developer of secondary recovery technologies. For its logo, the new company included a two-wicked “Yellow Dog” oilfield lantern used on derricks.
Many believed the lantern’s name came from the two burning wicks resembling a dog’s glowing eyes at night. Originally based in Bradford, Pennsylvania – home to the nation’s “first billion dollar oilfield” – Forest Oil developed innovative water-injection methods to keep the Bradford oilfield productive.
Learn more in Yellow Dog – Oilfield Lantern.
February 13, 1977 – Famous Texas Ranger “El Lobo Solo” dies
“El Lobo Solo” – The Lone Wolf – Texas Ranger Manuel T. Gonzaullas died at age 85 in Dallas. During much of the 1920s and 1930s, he had earned a reputation as a strict law enforcer in booming oil towns.
When Kilgore became “the most lawless town in Texas” after discovery of the East Texas oilfield in 1930, Gonzaullas was chosen to tame it. “Crime may expect no quarter in Kilgore,” the Texas Ranger declared. He rode a black stallion named Tony and sported a pair of 1911 .45 Colts with his initials on the handles.
“He was a soft-spoken man and his trigger finger was slightly bent,” noted independent producer Watson W. Wise during a 1985 interview. “He always told me it was geared to that .45 of his.”
Learn more in Manuel “Lone Wolf” Gonzaullas, Texas Ranger.
February 15, 1982 – Atlantic Storm sinks Ocean Ranger
With massive rogue waves reaching as high as 65 feet during an Atlantic cyclone, the offshore drilling platform Ocean Ranger sank on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, Canada, killing all 84 on board. About 65 miles east, a Soviet container ship was struck by the same weather system and sank with the loss of 32 crew members. Described at the time as the world’s largest semi-submersible platform, the Ocean Ranger in November 1981 had begun drilling a third well in the Hibernia oilfield for Mobil Oil of Canada.
February 16, 1935 – Oil States form Compact Commission
The Interstate Oil Compact Commission began in Dallas with the writing of the “Interstate Compact to Preserve Oil and Gas.” The new organization would be headquartered in Oklahoma City following approval by the U.S. Congress in August.
Representatives from Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas agreed to begin implementing a series of provisions to “conserve oil and gas by the prevention of physical waste thereof from any cause.” Oklahoma Gov. Ernest W. Marland – who founded Marland Oil Company in 1921 – was elected the first chairman.
“In 1935, six states took advantage of a constitutional right to ‘compact,’ or agree to work together, to resolve common issues,” notes IOGCC, which added the word gas to its name in 1991. “Faced with unregulated petroleum overproduction and the resulting waste, the states endorsed and Congress ratified a compact to take control of the issues.”
Recommended Reading: Roadside Geology of Nevada (2017); The Taking of Getty Oil: Pennzoil, Texaco, and the Takeover Battle That Made History (2017); Images of America: Around Bradford (1997).
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