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Who doscovered oil first in the USA and what happened after that?

 
 
Reply Tue 2 Dec, 2008 03:21 pm
I'm doing a project in the oil industry in school and was wondering what did they actually do after oil was discoverd such as who built the first oil company and like what was their actuall name.
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Type: Question • Score: 12 • Views: 2,533 • Replies: 31
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 2 Dec, 2008 03:44 pm
At some time in the 1850s, someone near Titusville, Pennsylvania came to the conclusion that there was petroleum there--but i don't know who made the discovery, nor why he even thought to look. I believe some people say that petroleum had seeped into the water of a local spring.

At any event, in 1858, a gentleman named Colonel Drake was hired by the Seneca Oil Company to search for petroleum in and around Titusville. At the time, no one much valued petroleum, but the founders of the Seneca Oil company seem to have been informed by someone that kerosene for use as lamp oil could be distilled from petroleum. This would be worth an investment if petroleum could be found in sufficient quantity. At that time, lamp oil was made from coal, and the production of "coal oil" was expensive, but still profitable. Finding a large supply of petroleum would be even more profitable, as the distillation process was faster and cheaper then turning coal into "coal oil." Drake used professional well drilling techniques, and even improved on them, by lining the bore hole with cast iron pipe (a variation on this is used to this day in oil wells). It took Drake over a year, but petroleum began to rise in his well in August, 1859.

Drake didn't patent his drilling method, and within weeks, Titusville was overrun by would-be "oil barons," while the local "yokels" made tidy sums selling off marginal land which they possessed near the site of Drake's first well.

I would advise that you do web searches for Titusville, Pennsylvania, for Edwin Drake (i haven't a clue why he called himself "Colonel" Drake) and for Seneca Oil Company.
TTH
 
  1  
Reply Tue 2 Dec, 2008 03:55 pm
This site has some history on oil companies:
http://www.loc.gov/rr/business/BERA/issue5/history.html
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farmerman
 
  2  
Reply Tue 2 Dec, 2008 05:21 pm
@Setanta,
The wells that Edwin Drake drilled, were actually mostly dusters , loaded with salt water. A russian surveyor, in the mid 1700s had come to PA to see about larger tracts of land with good lumber resources. He came up to the (present) counties of Warren and VEnango (At that time Connecticut was a major claimant of PA lands. The Russian had the presence of mind to actually map all the oil seeps he came alcroos in these counties and discovered that they created a pattern on a map (most geology is originally just dumb luck). The "Oil SPrings" were then exploited for the natural seepage for about 100 years until the Seneca Oil partners (Which included Drake) saw a German process for making kwerosene out of paraffin based oils. SO Drake, a retired railroader, had a map sense to know the Oil Creek locale and he had a sense of how to get below the large cobbles and sands that seemed to be a source rock for these petroleum seeps. He started with a steam drill which promptly burned to the ground (DUHH, oil and wood fired steam engines are not friendly associates).

DRake brought in his first well as you say and what hes most remembered for is not drilling techniques (The Chinese discovered the drill bit) but bringing on some techy help to enhance the production of oil wells that quickly began to decline in yield after but a month ortwo. The wells were relativelt shallow<75 feet after several drill campaigns The first oil was produced at about 30 feet (called the famous "30 foot sand") There are bars in Erie and VEnango County with names celebrating the 30 ft sands (other famous drill sands [and bars]are The Oswayo,Venango First, Rosenberry, Salamanca, Gray, Knox, SHira, Wolf Creek, Clarion, Big Tuna, etc etc).

All these wells would produce like crazy for a couple weeks and then just sputter. The technique of recovery and control was not known at first . SO a state geologist ,John CAril ,was hauled up to Venango by Drake
"ATSA MATTA MY WELLS?" Drake asked Caril

Caril studied and studied and, one day, after a serious series of sudden Summer Squalls, he noted that, whenever wells were allowed tofill with water, the wells nearest beside them would accumulate oil and start increasing their yields of petroleum by geometric and often logarithmic amounts.
So,the science of waterflooding was born and was the savior of the entire VEnango and Pa oil industry. Today, many of these earliest wells have been deepened and allowed to be enhanced by chemical[secondary] recovery tricks (They flood the wells with detergents which makes the oil soluble and easier to pump out, or they steam heat the formation to drive out low end "crack" products)

Drake also started the trick of sealing off leak zones so that wells didnt fill up with salt water. Drake Actually did discover WELL CASING. (another duuh moment , when Drakes wells would fill up with water halfway through drilling he ordered some pipes to pump the water out. One of the drillers , so the story goes, decided to ram the bit down through the pipes and then got it stuck. SO they brought in a steam donkey engine to drive out the pipe and found that, besides separating the pipes , they could seal off the water leakage zone by pounding the casing into the hole.

Nothing in this world, including drilling for oil, just happens at the outset as designed. Drakewas going to use cable drilling only to "push and pulverize" the glacial cobbles in the hole and instead discovered that a driven or drilled well was the best way to collect the surface and shallow oil. Then , as he went deeper, the casing discovery came in handy. Finally, when the wells ran out of oil (because the oil recovery is really close by the well bore ) waterflooding was used to "drive" oil from the surrounding formation towards the oil well itself.

Drake was a good planner and was able to get others to help him solve problems. Besides, he was kinda lucky to have had the maps that the Russians had spent time in compiling and decided to drill where all the biggest oil seeps were already known to exist.


Now, the earliest oils has been reported by FRancis Drake who used oil from a spring lake to make reed torches. Indians knew of oil, as did many settlwers, who used the pewtroleum as medicines and as lamp fuel and pitch for sealing their log cam[noes and pirogues. Tree sap was most desired for caulking but oil ws more plentiful.
hamburger
 
  1  
Reply Tue 2 Dec, 2008 06:38 pm
stayed overnight in titusville some years ago and there were still a few pumps operating in farmers' fields .

another old oil town is petrolia , ontario - not very far from detroit .
saw a report just recently on CBC-TV : there too , some of the pumps are still operating and giving the owners - mostly farmers - a nice amount of pocket-change .
hbg

Quote:
Petrolia was once Canada’s first boom towns with the discovery of oil early on in the towns history. Prior to the 19 hundreds, Petrolia supplied 90 percent of Canada’s oil needs. Eventually the supply slowed and developers took their technology and applied it to various oil fields around the world.
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Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Tue 2 Dec, 2008 07:37 pm
Another (unintended) consequence of the discovery that this messy black stuff which seeped from the ground was actualy good for something was the end of one of the major money-making businesses in New England -- the whaling industry. Throughout the 18th and much of the 19th centuries, whaling ships plied the oceans, slaughtering whales primarily for their fat. Whale oil was the stuff our Colonial ancestors burned in their lamps before coal oil was developed. It smelled bad when it burned but gave off very good light. The Chinese continued to use whale oil long after the advantages of petroleum had been discovered. A book about the whaling industry was actually titled "Oil for the Lamps of China."

And once the "horseless buggy", precursor to the modern motor car, was invented, the combustion engine was the logical next step. One of the reasons why we use gasoline-burning combustion engines in our cars today is because the fuel source -- crude petroleum -- was so much cheaper than the coal or wood one had to use in a steam engine. More efficient, too, although railroad trains continued to run on steam engines for many, many decades to come.

0 Replies
 
InfraBlue
 
  1  
Reply Tue 2 Dec, 2008 07:53 pm
@farmerman,
Quote:
Indians knew of oil, as did many settlwers, who used the pewtroleum as medicines. . .


I remember way back when my seventh grade Texas History teacher telling us that the Indians used crude oil as a laxative.
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Tue 2 Dec, 2008 09:22 pm
@InfraBlue,
hence came the expression"as worthless as a fart in an oil drum"
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 2 Dec, 2008 10:17 pm
For that matter, the Akkadians (think, Babylon) knew of both petroleum and bitumen. Much of the common construction in Akkadian cities and villages was with what we would basically call stabilized adobe--mud bricks to which bitumen had been added.

There must have been some distillation of petroleum in the middle east in ancient times, as the eastern Roman Empire used what became known as "Greek fire" as a weapon at sea. One of the ingredients (the accelerant) was naphtha.

(EDIT: I should say, one of the ingredients was probably naphtha.)
0 Replies
 
talk72000
 
  1  
Reply Tue 2 Dec, 2008 10:55 pm
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0JIW/is_/ai_118039877
Adrienne Mayor writes:

The earliest recorded use of incendiary weapons was of flammable arrows by Persia against Athens in 480 BC. Chemical additives soon followed in order to enhance burning characteristics against more sturdy defenses. The use of fire and incendiary material was an important tool during early naval battles. During Alexander the Great's siege of Tyre in 332 BC, the Phoenicians refitted a large transport ship as a floating chemical firebomb with sulfur, bitumen, pitch, and kindling material. The Phoenicians ignited the ship just before it struck a pier on the fortified island; the pier was destroyed.

Greek fire, an ancient predecessor of napalm, was a weapons system used to attack ships during naval engagements. Pressurized distilled naphtha was pumped through bronze tubes aimed at ships. The delivery system was capable of shooting liquid fire from swiveling nozzles mounted on small boats. It was first used to break the Muslim navy's siege of Constantinople in AD 673, and again saved the city from this fleet in AD 718. From the seventh century, the Byzantines and Arabs formulated variations on Greek fire, which resembled napalm, for "it dung to everything it touched, instantly igniting any organic material--ship's hull, oars, rigging, crew, and their clothing. Nothing was immune." A paper published for Napoleon claims to have rediscovered the lost recipe for Greek fire, with the disturbing title "Weapons for the Burning of Armies."
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Dec, 2008 06:51 am
"[It] dung to everything it touched . . . ?" What a shitty day that was for the people on the receiving end.
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Dec, 2008 06:55 am
@isabella7097,
Well kid, I think you got everything youre gonna, weve taken WIDE SWING TO STARBOARD.

i LOOKED INTO MY "gEOLOGY OF pENNSYLVANIA" VOLUME THIS am , 2001 Chas Schultz ed. Pub by The PA Geological Survet and The Pitssburgh Geological SOciety.


"Colonel" Drake tried initially to collect Oil from the seeps around Oil Creek by using large trenches. The idea was to drop the oil layer that floated on the water table by creating this "Daylight" flow zone. It didnt work so the Seneca guys went and constructed derricks with the Cable Tool Drill Rigs. Then they atrated xcollecting oil for a few weeks each well (until water flooding was developed).

Apparently the casing discovery came about half a year AFTER the firt well began producing in Spring of 1859.
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gungasnake
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Dec, 2008 07:22 am
@farmerman,
What was the relationship between the early oil industry and whaling? Had they started to run out of whales (or whales which were easy to hunt) on the planet at that point??
Ragman
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Dec, 2008 07:35 am
What a treasure trove of info you guys all are. I read every word with interest. This is why I( still) like coming here. Some of you I think know this stuff without even looking it up, too. In fact, you might say that you never rain out of gas.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Dec, 2008 09:16 am
@gungasnake,
The whaling industry continued and continues to be lucrative. Whale oil was used for lamps, and that made the New England whalers filthy rich, but a more important use for whale oil was as an industrial lubricant. It was quite a long time before petroleum distillates became sufficiently sophisticated to replace whale oil in industrial uses. Additionally, baleen was used in a variety of products such as corsets and umbrellas (as consumer goods) and machine parts in industry which required durable small parts which would also be flexible.

In particular, the whaling industry had already begun to abandon the North Atlantic at about the end of the 17th century. The whaling was pretty well played out, and whalers could not stay out for very long--April at the earliest to early October at the latest. But the spread of whaling in the southeast Pacific, off the coast of South America, changed everything. The cold and "low salt" Humboldt current which runs north along the coast of South America brings seals, whales, even penguins much farther north than they would otherwise travel. The whales don't really care if the water is cold, but they do prefer it, and their food of choice prefers it. This was very important for whalers, who could now stay out for years, and fill the entire hold with extremely valuable whale oil and spermaceti.

The whales most common there, and for many decades easy to take because they had no fear of men or ships, were the sperm whales. The spermaceti from the head cavity of the sperm whales could be rendered into an opaque, ordorless wax which was used in industry as a lubricant, was used in cosmetics (and was until quite recently in the late 20th century), was used in leather working, and could produce candles of a reliable "brightness." During the war of 1812, USS Essex, even though eventually taken by HMS Phoebe and her consort, wreaked so much havoc in the English whale fishery of the southeast Pacific, that the London whalers never truly recovered. The whalers of New England, however, took up the slack with a will, and they grew very, very rich as a result.

The whale oil used for lamps, and the spermaceti candles were always very expensive, and in fact prohibitive for the "working class." Petroleum products proved not only hugely lucrative for those who were willing to invest enough time and money, but also brought lamp oil (and therefore, often, literacy and music) into the range of all but the most humble households.
Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Dec, 2008 12:33 pm
@Setanta,
Quote:
During the war of 1812, USS Essex, even though eventually taken by HMS Phoebe and her consort, wreaked so much havoc in the English whale fishery of the southeast Pacific, that the London whalers never truly recovered. The whalers of New England, however, took up the slack with a will, and they grew very, very rich as a result.


Yes, they did indeed. By the time the American Civil War came in the 1860s, those Yankee whalers were so well off they could afford to offer more than two dozen ships to the U.S. Navy to be scuttled. That's right. More than 20 were intentionally sunk at the entrance to the Charleston (SC) Harbor in January 1861 to help enhance the blockade of Confederate ports. Herman Melville, hearing of this, called it "the Stone Fleet." (They had been overloaded with large rocks for extra ballast to make sure they stayed sunk.) Another squadron of whalers was brought to the entrance of Savannah (GA) Harbor but the Rebels had done the job for the Yankees. Having seen the Northern squadron approaching, and mistaking them for warships, the Confederates had sunk some boats of their own at Savannah to keep the Yankee ships at a distance.
0 Replies
 
gungasnake
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Dec, 2008 08:56 pm
@Setanta,
More than a little bit interesting, thanks!
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talk72000
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Dec, 2008 11:38 pm
@Setanta,
Probably meant 'stung'.
Deckland
 
  1  
Reply Thu 4 Dec, 2008 12:25 am
I thought it was Jed Clampet.
He was shootin' at some food and up through
the ground came a bubblin' crude. Oil that is!
Black gold. Texas tea.

Guess I was mistaken !
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talk72000
 
  1  
Reply Thu 4 Dec, 2008 01:03 am
@talk72000,
It stuck to everything it touched....
0 Replies
 
 

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