TLW's Petroleumscope™ (Petroleum Historyscope)
By T.L. Winslow (TLW), the Historyscoper™
© Copyright by T.L. Winslow. All Rights Reserved.
Original Pub. Date: Aug. 27, 2017. Last Update: Jan. 9, 2019.
Westerners are not only known as history ignoramuses, but double dumbass history ignoramuses when it comes to the history of Petroleum. Since I'm the one-and-only Historyscoper (tm), let me quickly bring you up to speed before you dive into my Master Historyscope.
In 1271 Kublai Khan officially creates the Great Yuan (Mongol) Dynasty (ends 1368); meanwhile the Polos begin their 2nd trip from Europe to Asia (ends 1275), accompanied by Niccolo Polo's 17-y.-o. son Marco Polo (the Younger) (1254-1324), stopping in Jerusalem to get oil from the lamp of the Holy Sepulchre as requested by Kublai Khan, sailing to the SE Turkish port of Ayas, then traveling E by caravan across the entire width of Asia through E Turkey (noting that Mt. Ararat is too hard to climb), Georgia and Azerbaijan (noting "a fountain from which oil springs in great abundance", which is good for burning but no good in a salad), Armenia (with 30 lb.-fat-tailed sheep), Persia (noting the cool soft Kerman "shals"), Badakhshan (seeing salt mined and rubies dug), then via camel along the S Silk Road through the Taklamakan Desert and Great Sand Sea (Gobi Desert) (noting sandstorms and mirages), visiting Balkh, the Pamir Plateau, Kashgar, Khotan, Lop Nor, Tangut, and Kanchow, homeland of the Mongols, finally reaching Chandu (Shangtu) (Xanadu), becoming the first Westerners in a generation to cross the Wakhan Corridor to China; during his visit to Baku, Azerbaijan on the shores of the Caspian Sea, he sees oil being collected from seeps, writing the soundbyte: "On the confines toward Georgine there is a fountain from which oil springs in great abundance, in as much as a hundred shiploads might be taken from it at one time. This oil is not good to use with food, but 'tis good to burn, and is also used to anoine camels that have the mange. People come from vast distances to fetch it, for in all the countries round there is no other oil."
In 1546 Glauchau, Saxony, Germany-born "Father of Mineralogy" Georgius Agricola (Georg Bauer or Pawer) (1494-1555), De Natura Fossilium; first attempt to categorize rocks, minerals, and sediments since Pliny's "Natural History; in their 1912 English tr., Herbert and Lou Hoover wrongly claim that he coined and first used the term "petroleum" (Lat. "rock oil") here.
On Jan. 17, 1858 the town of Canon (Cañon) City, Colo. in Fremont County on the Arkansas River in SC Colo. (modern-day pop. 16K) is laid out by people who never live there, after which in late 1859 a new party jumps their claim, putting up the first bldg. in Feb. 1860 as a commercial center for mining in South Park and the Upper Arkansas River; in 1861 the town sends two cos. of volunteers to serve with the 2nd Colo. Infantray, fighting in N.M., Okla., and Mo. until 1865; in 1862 A.M. Cassaday strikes oil 6 mi. N of town, becoming the first commerical oil well W of the Mississippi River; after gold is discovered in Cripple Creek in 1891, several smelters are built; it goes on to become the home of nine state and four federal prisons, incl. the Colo. Territorial Correctional Faciity (1871), with a Welcome sign reading "Corrections Capitol of the World"; it also calls itself the climate capital of Colo.
On Aug. 27-30, 1859 after financial backers pull the plug on their Penn. Rock Oil. Co., persistent Greenville, N.Y.-born "Colonel" Edwin Laurentine Drake (1819-80) and Hanover, N.H.-born "Father of the American Oil Industry" George Henry Bissell (1821-84) (inventor of the idea of drilling for oil) strike oil in a 65-ft. well in Titusville, Penn. (eight barrels), starting the "golden flood of petroleum", the U.S. petroleum boom; after this paraffin oil begins to replace the use of sperm whale oil; despite the success of others, Old Man Drake dies broke, living on a $1.5K pension voted him by the state of Penn. in 1872, calling him a "crazy man".
In Sept. 1861 the Empire Well in Penn., brought in by two Cleveland oil prospectors yields 3K barrels of crude oil a day, glutting the market and dropping the price to 10 cents a barrel, while teamsters charge $3 and up per barrel to move it to railheads for shipment to refineries - delivery for Mister Craig Montgomery, sign right here?
On Mar. 2, 1865 John Davison Rockefeller (1839-1937) of Cleveland, Ohio (who actually made his money selling booze to Union troops during the Civil War, then laundered it, and is known for the soundbyte "I would rather earn 1% of 100 peoples' efforts than 100% of my own efforts"?) dissolves his produce business relationship with Maurice B. Clark (1827-1901), and goes into biz with his brother William Avery Rockefeller Jr. (1841-1922), tycoon Henry Morrison Flagler (1830-1913), and chemist Samuel Andrews (1836-1904), pumping up his 2-y.-o. oil refinery to 500 barrels per day, becoming the first large oil refinery in Cleveland, which has 50 refineries by next year (#2 to Pittsburgh), producing massive pollution while making J.D. wealthy.
On Jan. 10, 1870 John Davison "J.D." Rockefeller (1839-1937) and grain merchant Henry Morrison Flagler (1830-1913) incorporate Standard Oil in Cleveland, Ohio to run an oil refinery, with Flager coming up with the killer idea of giving a 15 cent per barrel refund, ramping them up to 10K barrels a day by 1872; in 1874 oil refiner Charles Pratt (1830-91), known for Astral Oil ("The holy lamps of Tibet are primed with Astral Oil") merges with Standard Oil; in 1877 they move the HQ to New York City; in the 1880s Flager moves to Fla., going on to build up St. Augustine and West Palm Beach, becoming the father of Miami.
In 1876 oil is discovered in Pico Canyon Oilfield, Well No. 4 7 mi. W of Newhall, Calif. in the Santa Susana Mts. N of Los Angeles, Calif., becoming the first commercially successful oil well in the Am. West, leading to the founding of Chevron Corp. on Sept. 10, 1879.
In 1879 British chandler James Wilson pub. the soundbyte: "This flood of American petroleum poured in upon us by millions of gallons, giving a light at a fifth of the cost of the cheapest candle."
On Oct. 17, 1890 Lyman Stewart (1840-1923) et al. found the Union Oil Co. (Unocal) in Santa Paula, Calif. via the merger of Sespe Oil Co., Hardison and Stewart Oil Co., and Mission Transfer Co., staying free of affiliation with Standard Oil; in 1901 the HQ is moved to Los Angeles, Calif.
In 1897 a merger of oil cos. creates Shell Oil (originally the Shell Transport and Trading Co.) named by English Jewish founder Marcus Samuel, 1st Viscount Bearsted (1853-1927), who ran the Shell Shop in London, selling boxes decorated with tropical sea shells, and not only imported boxes but oil, and found it more profitable; in Feb. 1907 the Royal Dutch Shell Group is created via a merger with rival Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. of Netherlands (founded 1890) to compete with Standard Oil.
On Jan. 10, 1901 the Spindletop oilfield S of Beaumont, Tex. is brought in by Croatian-born mining engineer Anthony Francis Lucas (Antun Lucic) (1855-1921), spewing a plume 200 ft. (60m) high for nine days before a crowd of 50K before being clamped down, going on to produce 100K barrels/day, causing the pop. of Beaumont to zoom from 8K to 60K in one year, marking the birth of the petroleum industry; by 1902 285 oil wells are being operated on Spindletop Hill by 600 cos., causing Houston, Tex. to become the nat. center of the U.S. oil industry, which passes Russia as #1 in the world.
In 1901 Morris Kellogg founds the M.W. Kellogg Co. in New York City, moving to Jersey City, N.J. in 1905 and building power plants, then branching into thermal cracking of petroleum in the 1920s with Texaco and Standard Oil of Ind.; in 1930 it forms the British subsidiary M.W. Kellogg Ltd.; in 1970 it moves to Houston, Tex. and becomes the first U.S. contractor to receive contracts from Red China; in 1998 it merges with Brown and Root (founded 1910) to form KBR Inc.
On May 15, 1911 the U.S. Supreme (Fuller) Court rules unanimously in Standard Oil Co. of N.J. v. U.S. to find John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil Co. guilty of monopolizing the petroleum industry, and orders it broken up into 33 corps. (5 major plus 28 smaller corps.), along with the Am. Tobacco Co. for violating the Sherman Antitrust Act; at the same time the court weakens the act by adopting the "rule of reason", finding that only "unreasonable" restraint of trade is forbidden - IOW, we are open to bribes as long as it's not too obvious?
In May 1911 Ernest Whitworth "E.W." Marland (1874-1941), who became an oil millionaire in Penn. in 1907 then lost it in the Panic of 1907 strikes oil in his property in Okla., giving him a new fortune of $85M by 1920, when he founds Marland Oil Co., which eventually controls 10% of world oil production; in 1935-9 he serves as Dem. gov. #10 of Okla., backing FDR with his own Little Deal while busting the image of Okla. cowboys by engaging in English fox hunting.
On Apr. 19, 1920 the Conference of San Remo of the Allied Supreme Council convenes in San Remo, Italy (ends Apr. 26), dealing with the question of German war reparations, attended by British PM David Lloyd George, French PM Alexandre Millerand, Italian PM Francesco Nitti, and Japanese ambassador K. Matsui; on Apr. 25 the San Remo Resolution (Agreement) incorporates the 1917 Balfour Declaration, and Article 22 of the League of Nations Covenant, approving the British Mandate of Palestine, giving the Jews the right to reconstitute their nat. home in Palestine, and conferring on Britain the mandate to bring this into effect in the area covered by modern-day Israel, Jordan, Judea, Samaria, and Gaza; on Apr. 25 it approves the British Mandate of Mesopotamia; on Apr. 26 the council decides to leave the fuming Fiume question to Italy and Yugoslavia; it gives control of oil within French dominions to the Brits, pissing-off the French?; on July 1 the British appoint Zionist Jew Sir Herbert Louis Samuel (1870-1963) as British high commissioner of Palestine #1 (until June 20, 1925), pissing-off the Muslims and Christians; the Arabs now call 1920 the Year of the Catastrophe (Am an-Nakba), since after hearing the bad news they begin uprisings in Syria, Palestine, and Iraq; meanwhile Arab and other Muslim countries get busy expelling 900K Jews between 1920-70, of which 600K end up settling in Israel and 300K in France.
In 1926 Yates Oil Field in W Tex. opens, becoming the #1 oil reserve in the U.S. until the opening of Prudhoe Bay in Alaska, producing its 1 billionth barrel of oil on Jan. 11, 1985.
On Oct. 5, 1930 the 140K-acre 5-county East Tex. Oil Field is discovered, becoming the largest and highest-producing oil reservvoir in the lower 48 U.S. states (30K+ wells), spawning the Tex. Oil Boom, resulting in the heavy industrialization of Tex. and great increase in the pop. of major cities esp. Houston.
In 1930 after emigrating to the U.S., Eugene Jules Houdry (1892-1962) of France develops the Houdry Catalytic Cracking System for petroleum (1930-5) for Sun Oil's Marcus Hook refinery in Penn., becoming the first commercially viable process.
In 1931 oil is discovered in Saudi Arabia by explorers looking for water.
On May 31, 1932 the Awali Oil Field is discovered in Bahrain by the Bahrain Petroleum Co. (BAPCO) (founded in Canada in 1929 by Standard Oil. Co. of Calif.), causing Bahrain to increase ties with Britain and rapidly modernize; in 1936 Standard Oil. Co. of Calif. sells half its shares to Texaco; in 1975 the govt. of Bahrain obtains 60% of the shares, founding the Bahrain Nat. Oil. Co. in 1976, acquiring 100% of the shares 1980 and merging it in 1999 with BAPCO to become the Bahrain Petroleum Co.
On May 29, 1933 after incorporating the Asir region into Saudi Arabia, and hoping to find oil, King Saud accepts a payment from the Standard Oil. Co. of Calif. of $170K in gold in exchange for a concession of drilling rights for 60 years (later 66 years, until 1999), forming the Iraq Petroleum Co. (founded in 1925 as the Turkish Petroleum Co.), which assigns the concession to the wholly-owned subsidiary Calif.-Arabian Standard Oil (CASC); in 1936 Texaco purchases a 50% stake.; on Sept. 18, 1938 after six dry holes, Dammam No. 7 oil well comes in, producing 1.5K barrels/day.
On Jan. 31, 1944 Ibn Saud allows Standard Oil Co. of Calif. and Texaco to unite and form the Arabian-Am. Co. (Aramco); in 1946 Standard Oil Co. of N.J. (later named Exxon), and Socony-Vaccum (later named Mobil Oil Co.) join, becoming the sole owners until 1973, when Saudi Arabia acquires a 25% stake, increasing it to 60% by 1974, and 100% by 1980; it ends up with 260B barrels of proven crude oil reserves, 2nd largest on Earth.
In Jan. 1953 U.S. Gen. Omar Bradley tells outgoing Pres. Truman that a criminal investigation into the internat. oil cartel threatens nat. security, causing Truman to drop his attack on Standard Oil of New Jersey, Gulf Oil, the Texas Co., Socony-Mobil, Standard Oil of Calif., and their foreign allies Anglo-Iranian and Royal Dutch-Shell; in Apr. the U.S. Justice Dept. drops its grand jury probe and files a civil complaint, accusing them of monopoly tactics; meanwhile in Oct. Brazilian pres. Getulio Vargas creates the govt. oil monopoly Petroleo Brasileiro (Petrobras), with the soundbyte "The oil is ours"; by 2010 it is the largest co. in Latin Am. and 2nd largest publicly listed co. on Earth.
Hungry like the wolf? In 1954 Iran signs an oil agreement with oil cos. from Britain, U.S., France, and Netherlands; the Anglo-Iranian Oil Co. (formerly the Anglo-Persian Oil Co.) becomes British Petroleum (BP).
In 1956 San Saba, Tex.-born geophysicist Marion King Hubbert (1903-89) pub. his Hubbert Peak Oil Theory, which claims that oil production for any given region will peak and decrease over time via a Bell Curve; in the 1970s U.S. oil production peaks at 10.2M barrels/day; too bad, fracking is discovered, causing it to reach 10M barrels/day in Nov. 2017. On Mar. 29, 2012 George Wuerthner pub. the article The Myth of Peak Oil in counterpunch, with the subtitle: "The Real Problem is Not Too Little Oil, But Too Much", blowing the lid off the Hubbert myth for some, resetting the depletion date foward for others. Watch video. Watch video. Watch video.
On Nov. 4, 1959 Hungarian-born Am. H-bomb physicist Edward Teller (1908-2003) gives a speech at Columbia U. in New York City for the Energy and Man Symposium commemorating the 100th anniv. of the founding of the oil industry, organized by the Am. Petroleum Inst. and attended by 300 oil execs, govt. officials, and academics, uttering the soundbyte: "Ladies and gentlemen, I am to talk to you about energy in the future. I will start by telling you why I believe that the energy resources of the past must be supplemented. First of all, these energy resources will run short as we use more and more of the fossil fuels... But I would... like to mention another reason why we probably have to look for additional fuel supplies. And this, strangely, is the question of contaminating the atmosphere... Whenever you burn conventional fuel, you create carbon dioxide... The carbon dioxide is invisible, it is transparent, you can't smell it, it is not dangerous to health, so why should one worry about it? Carbon dioxide has a strange property. It transmits visible light but it absorbs the infrared radiation which is emitted from the earth. Its presence in the atmosphere causes a greenhouse effect... It has been calculated that a temperature rise corresponding to a 10 per cent increase in carbon dioxide will be sufficient to melt the icecap and submerge New York. All the coastal cities would be covered, and since a considerable percentage of the human race lives in coastal regions, I think that this chemical contamination is more serious than most people tend to believe."
On Sept. 14, 1960 after Pres. Dimwit, er, Dwight Eisenhower forces quotas on Venezuelan oil in favor of Canada and Mexico, claiming military reasons, Venezuelan energy minister Juan Pablo Perez Alfonzo (1903-79) (known for calling oil the Devil's excrement) gets together with Middle Eastern oil countries, and OPEC (Oil Producing and Exporting Countries) is founded in Baghdad, Iraq by Kuwait, Qatar, Iran, and Saudi Arabia (later Abu Dhabi, Algeria, Ecuador, Gabon, Indonesia, Libya, Nigeria, and Venezuela); their first action is to force Standard Oil of N.J. to retract its 4-14 cents per barrel decrease of oil prices - why not call it VIKISA?
In May 1972 OPEC meets in Algiers; U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia (Nov. 7, 1973 -Feb. 10, 1975) James Elmer Akins (1926-2010), who attends it predicts the 1973 oil embargo, noting that they have figured how how dependent the U.S. is on them, and realize how "oil in the ground is as good as oil in the bank"; in 1994 he utters the soundbyte "Our foreign policy was so pro-Israel that we alienated the Arabs, yet our energy policy, such as it was, made us dependent on Arab oil"; in 1979 he warns of a "growing wave of anti-Americanism" in Saudi Arabia that led to 9/11.
In May 1972 the Chiapas-Tabasco Oil Field in Mexico is discovered, becoming the largest in the Western Hemisphere, with proven reserves of 16.8B barrels by 1978, and the potential of up to 120B barrels.
6, 6 * (6+6) (June, '72) becomes a mini-Armageddon for the U.S. political system? On June 1, 1972 Iraq nationalizes its oil industry, starting with Iraq Petroleum's field in Kirkuk, telling them and other Western-owned oil cos. to stuff it; Iraq Petroleum strikes an agreement with Iraq, recognizing nationalization of its fields, paying $345M in back taxes in return for receiving 15M tons of oil and helping it boost production to 3M barrels/day; the Compaigne Francaise des Petroles buys 23.75% of Iraq's annual oil output; by 1979 Iraq ranks #2 among Persian Gulf states in oil production, with oil revenues providing 90% of total revenues and 98% of foreign exchange (the Iran-Iraq War cuts them in half).
On Aug. 3, 1973 Iran nationalizes the multinat. Iranian Consortium of Oil Cos., incl. the Abadan Refinery, guaranteeing each co. a 20-year supply of oil.
On Oct. 17, 1973 did-I-mention OPEC begins the 5-mo. Second Arab Oil Embargo (ends Mar. 18, 1974), cutting oil supplies to the U.S. and other supporters of Israel, causing oil prices to quadruple from $3.00 to $11.65 by 1974, then peaking at $40 in the mid-1970s, triggering the 1973 Energy Crisis, an acute gasoline shortage in the U.S. and Europe (pissing-off Am. cowboys with long lines at the pump), a sharp recession in 1975, and double-digit U.S. inflation as oil prices triple again by 1980; energy consumption in the U.S. grows only 2.3% by 1980, compared to 51.5% in the 1960s and 11.7% between 1970 and 1973; for the first time Euro countries begin to come around to the Arab side of the Arab-Israeli dispute?
On Dec. 22, 1975 after the 1973-4 oil embargo finally makes Congress see the light despite calls for it since 1944, Pres. Ford signs the U.S. Energy Policy and Conservation Act, setting gasoline mileage standards for automobiles and authorizing the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve at four underground salt caverns on the Gulf of Mexico (Bryan Mound in Freeport, Tx., Big Hill in Winnie, Tex., West Hackberry in Lake Charles, La., Bayou Choctaw in Baton Rouge, La.) to provide a guaranteed domestic supply, storing 727M barrels (about a 1 mo. supply, or 110 days of imported oil); the Weeks Island cavern in Iberia Parish, La., formerly owned by Morton Salt is decommissioned in 1999 after a fresh water sinkhole forms; a 5th facility in Richton, Miss. is announced in Feb. 2007.
On May 26, 1980 after crude oil prices soar above $30 a barrel, OPEC meets in Algiers and sets a $32 per barrel ceiling, with some grades to sell as high as $37; Saudi Arabia tries in vain to talk them into $28; in Oct. they change it to $34 a barrel; on Oct. 31 Saudi Arabia announces that it will cut production by 10% to 8.5M barrels a day because of a market glut; in Nov. Exxon Corp. decides to surrender its interests in Libya, which charges more than other OPEC nations and makes little profit, and on Dec. 21 Libya announces that it is cutting prices by 50 cents to $37 a barrel effective Jan. 1; on Dec. 11 another OPEC meeting in Abu Dhabi decides to lower prices of some inferior grades of oil next Jan. 1.
In 1981 the world oil glut causes PEMEX to lower the price of Mexican oil, zooming the foreign public debt to over $57B.
On Feb. 12, 1987 a court in Texas upholds an $8.5B fine imposed on Texaco Inc. for the illegal takeover of Getty Oil; on Apr. 12 Texaco, fighting an $11B judgment in favor of Pennzoil Co. stemming from its acquisition of Getty Oil Co. files for federal bankruptcy protection; Texaco, with assets of $33.8B, later settles with Pennzoil for $3B.
On June 23, 1988 after pub. the first Goddard Inst. for Space Studies (GISS) Global Temperature Analysis in 1981, top NASA climate scientist James Edward Hansen (1941-) addresses the U.S. Congress on a particularly hot day with broken air conditioning, uttering the soundbyte that global warming has already arrived, claiming a 0.5C-0.7C global warming in the past cent., with the four warmest years all in the 1980s, and the two warmest in 1981 and 1987, making him 99% sure that the Earth is the warmest since instrumental data began to be collected in 1980, that there is a clear cause-effect relationship with the Greenhouse Effect, and that global warming is steadily increasing the likelihood of freak weather incl. superstorms, becoming "the opening salvo of the age of climate change", supercharging the One World Govt. (OWG) types and letting them loose like a roving lion to create a new money-hungry OWG religion complete with priests, bishops, and a pope (Al Gore)?, and CO2 as their Devil?; in 1999 the GISS study is updated, reporting 1998 as the warmest year on record despite slight cooling in the E U.S. and W Atlantic, mainly due to the El Nino; Hansen's runaway climate predictions focus the spotlight on the Petroleum (fossil fuel) industry and its Fossil fuels lobby, turning its great benefit to humanity into something sinister, based on pie-in-the-sky future gloom and doom predictions treated as sure things; too bad, after his runaway climate predictions fall flat, and he insists on keeping his job, on Aug. 29, 2000 he pub. the paper Global warming in the twenty-first century: an alternative scenario, admitting that the net global warming observed so far is likely due to non-CO2 gases and black carbon, because CO2 is offset by climate-cooling aerosols emitted via fossil fuel burning.
In 1989 the Global Climate Coalition (GCC) is founded in Washington, D.C. by an internat. lobbyist group of businesses incl. Exxon, Phillips Petroleum Co., the Am. Petroleum Inst., the Nat. Coal Assoc., the Am. Forest and Paper Assoc., the Edison Electric Inst., and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to oppose the Kyoto Protocol and challenge the science of global warming, becoming the largest climate policy group, representing over 230K businesses; too bad, in 1995 an internal advisory committee produces the 17-page report "Future Climate Change: A Primer", which admits "The scientific basis for the Greenhouse Effect and the potential impact of human emissions of greenhouse gases such as CO2 on climate is well established and cannot be denied", and in 1996 after a campaign by environmental groups British Petroleum (BP) withdraws, followed in 1997 by Royal Dutch Shell, Ford Motor Co. in 2000, Texaco in 1999, the Southern Co. in 2000, GM in 2000, and Daimler-Chrysler in 2000, after which it folds in 2001 after U.S. Pres. George W. Bush withdraws the U.S. from the Kyoto process, but not before gleefully posting on its Web site: "At this point, both Congress and the Administration agree that the U.S. should not accept the mandatory cuts in emissions required by the protocol."
On June 29, 2005 the Petrocaribe oil alliance between Venezuela and 17 South Am. and Caribbean nations is signed, providing preferential payment conditions.
In 2008 the U.S. Oil Production Boom begins, driven by fracking and horizontal drilling of shale, causing the U.S. to produce 60% of the world supply by 2019 when it reaches 11M barrels/day.
On Mar. 28, 2018 a federal judge in San Francisco, Calif. holds the first-ever U.S. court hearing on the impact of climate change, with lawyers for San Francisco and Oakland along with five of the largest multinat. oil cos. (BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Shell) participating in a climate change tutorial preparatory to a lawsuit claiming that rising sea levels et al. are caused by climate change traceable to the cos.
On Dec. 6, 2018 the U.S. Dept. of the Interior announces that the Wolfcamp and Bone Spring formations in W. Tex. and E N.M. hold the largest potential gas and oil resources yet discovered, 46.3B barrels of oil, 281T cu. ft. of natural gas, and 20B barrels of natural gas liquids.