September 2018

First oil

Moderate, stable growth is in the offing
Kurt Abraham / World Oil

If the compilations and calculations of World Oil’s annual mid-year forecast are on target, the U.S. and world outside North America are on a path toward relatively moderate, stable growth for the balance of 2018 and into 2019. That’s not a bad thing. If the last three years have taught us anything, it is that too much growth, too fast, is a recipe for another oil price crash.

You can sense caution emanating from many of the numbers in our U.S. mid-year table. One is hard-put to say that operators are getting carried away in any particular state during second-half 2018. Some will even have declines. In Texas District 8, the Permian basin, operators are forced to be disciplined by many factors, including pipeline capacities, acreage costs, pressure pumping shortages, sand costs, etc. 

Likewise, operators in regions outside North America appear to be restrained for the most part, save for maybe the Russians, who appear headed for a post-USSR record-high well count.

The oil patch warriors of World War II. With thanks to the American Oil and Gas Historical Society, we commemorate an important moment in war-time oil field history, 75 years ago. In August 1942, British Secretary of Petroleum Geoffrey Lloyd called an emergency meeting of the country’s Oil Control Board. U-Boat attacks and the bombing of dockside storage facilities had brought the British Admiralty to 2 MMbbl below their minimum safety reserves. The oil supply outlook was bleak.

The Oil Control Board learned that England had a productive oil field in Sherwood Forest, near Eakring and Dukes Wood, producing about 700 bopd from 50 shallow wells. Shortages of drilling equipment and personnel had prevented further exploitation. Officials hoped that the U.S. might help.

A deal was reached with Tulsa-based Noble Drilling Corp., which agreed to join with Fain-Porter Drilling Co. of Oklahoma City on a one-year contract to drill 100 new wells in Eakring field. Noble and Fain-Porter volunteered to work for cost and expenses only. The contract was signed in February 1943. On March 12, a 42-man team of drillers, derrickmen, motormen and roustabouts embarked on the troopship H.M.S. Queen Elizabeth. Four drilling rigs would be transported to England on four ships. Although one ship was lost to a German submarine, another rig was subsequently shipped safely.

Within a month after arriving, the American oilmen spudded their first well. Four crews worked 12-hour days on the rigs, drilling one to two wells per week in Duke’s Wood. One derrickman was killed, when he fell from the drilling mast. He was buried with full military honors at the American Military Cemetery in Cambridge, England. The contract was completed in March 1944, with the Americans logging 106 completions and 94 producers. England’s oil production had jumped from 300 bpd to more than 3,000 bpd.

The roughnecks returned quietly to the U.S. and their families. The story remained largely unknown until the 1973 University of Oklahoma Press publication of The Secret of Sherwood ForestOil production in England during World War II, by Guy and Grace Woodward. Today, the efforts of those 42 Americans are remembered with two identical bronze “oil patch warrior” statues, one in Sherwood Forest, at the Dukes Wood Oil Museum on land donated by BP, and another placed at Memorial Square in Ardmore, Okla.

Getting it right. We had a bit of a typo in the article, “Permian oil production requires additional pipeline infrastructure,” in our August issue. The Rodeo Pipeline project mentioned in one bulleted item under “Planned pipelines” was transformed into the Grey Oak Pipeline Project. Furthermore, the item on the Grey Oak project should read as follows, on the front end: “Phillips 66 Partners and Andeavor are proceeding with the Gray Oak Pipeline that will run 600 mi from Reeves, County, Texas, to Crane County, Texas…” Thanks to Phillips 66 Company for alerting us to this error, which we are happy to fix. wo-box_blue.gif

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Kurt Abraham
World Oil
Kurt Abraham
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