Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
  Energy News  

Subscribe free to our newsletters via your

Oil trade marks 150 years

The Phillips well, on the right, and the Woodford well, on the left. Located in the middle of Oil Creek Valley (note the river at the right of the photograph), these two wells showed the early promise of the Oil Regions. The Phillips well was the most productive ever drilled to date, flowing initially at 4,000 barrels per day in October 1861. The Woodford well came in at 1,500 barrels per day in July, 1862. Note the wooden tank collecting the oil in the foreground, as well as the many different sized barrels in the background. At this time, barrel size was not yet standardized, which made terms like "Oil is selling at $5 per barrel" very confusing. From Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission, Drake Well Museum Collection, Titusville, PA.
by Staff Writers
Titusville, Pennsylvania (AFP) Sept 2, 2009
One hundred and fifty years ago this week in a small Pennsylvania town an indefatigable businessman struck oil, changing the world forever.

Boring a pipe deep into the Titusville ground, Edwin Drake drew black crude to the surface, in a process that would be copied all over the world and mark the dawn of the Petroleum Age.

The method, inspired by salt extraction, would eventually create an industry that fueled dramatic leaps in human development, as well as wars and environmental degradation.

But the technique's importance was initially felt in the lighting industry, as a replacement for whale and other fats used in lanterns.

"The industry that developed was the kerosene lamp oil business," said Bill Stumpf, who, decked in period costume, operates a replica of the first pump at a Titusville museum.

In the process of developing kerosene, Drake, who sported the military epithet of colonel to lend his project some credence, created gasoline -- initially discarded as an unwanted by-product.

But with the development of the internal combustion engine in Europe in the 1880s his technique acquired new importance, eventually making oil the bedrock of the global economy and the world's most traded commodity.

"That really ushered in the modern age of oil where oil has essentially enabled mankind to be mobile," said Tim Considine, a professor of energy economics at the University of Wyoming.

But 150 years on, questions loom over the future of the fuel as oil prices spiked to record highs of over 140 dollars a barrel last year.

"We'll be seeing the effects of that price shock for the next five, seven years in consumers' decisions about what car they buy, and how they drive," Considine said.

The methods pioneered by Drake are now so successful that the world's largest oil fields in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are beginning to show signs of decline, according to experts.

Hope is now vested in new developments in Africa, Brazil, the Gulf of Mexico and Russia.

"The key question is whether the production from this larger number of smaller fields will keep pace or offset the decline of what's happening in the big giants," said Considine.

Despite the gray clouds, Titusville's 6,000 residents are basking in their town's former glory -- for this week, at least -- with the anniversary prompting an influx of visitors.

"The town has never been this loud, this animated. It's usually pretty quiet," said Lauren, a waitress at the Blue Canoe Cafe.

Pennsylvania's petroleum glory days are behind it, with hundreds of thousands of wells drilled in the state over the last century and a half having exploited the vast majority of known reserves.

But some residents are looking forward, hoping that the recent expansion of natural gas drilling and production in shale beneath the Pennsylvania earth will spark a new energy boom.

According to local US congressman Glenn Thompson: "This gas shale is the Drake's well of the 21st century."

Share This Article With Planet Earth DiggDigg RedditReddit
YahooMyWebYahooMyWeb GoogleGoogle FacebookFacebook

Related Links
Powering The World in the 21st Century at

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Qatar, Chinese firm sign gas deal
Doha (AFP) Sept 1, 2009
State-owned firm Qatar Petroleum (QP) said it has signed a gas exploration and production-sharing deal with CNOOC Middle East, a unit of China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC). Exploration will take place in a bloc measuring around 5,649 square kilometres (2,181 square miles) in the waters off the eastern shore of the peninsula, the firm said late on Monday. Under the deal, CNOOC will ... read more

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2009 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement