Cheap Fuel
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A Cheap Fuel Supply

(Galveston Daily News, January 24, 1901)

Galveston, Tex., Jan. 23--Proposition To Run a Line of Barges From The "Oil Pond"--No Expensive Pipe Line--Cost of Fuel Would Be Cut in Half And Inland Water Cities Would Be Customers.

Here is a proposition for the relief of Galveston in the way of furnishing a cheap fuel supply for all purposes. It has been known to mariners of the coast of Texas that there has existed forty-two miles from Galveston what is known as the "Oil Pond." This is supposed to be the outcropping of a lake or river of oil that supplies the Corsicana and Beaumont fields. It has been the haven of refuge for many a mariner, but the storm of 1886 destroyed the pond character of the place, having washed away the mud deposits that encompassed the south side. So in reality the pond is no more, but the outcropping of oil seems as great as ever.

Certain vessel owners of Galveston have set on foot a scheme for utilizing this outcropping and bringing the product to Galvelston in tank barges. All that would be necessary, in their opinion, would be to sink tubing in the water at a certain depth and anchor it by continuing the tubing into the earth until the oil was reached. The oil would then flow up through the pipes, and by means of valves, the flow could be regulated. Barges could be run alongside, filled direct from the pipes, and towed to Galveston.

The cost of this would be smaller than sinking an ordinary well on land, as the probabilities are that a more shallow well would be necessary and no boring would be required through the water to the bed of the gulf or pond (of oil). The cost of a pipe line from any of the wells would be immense, but the cost oof a half dozen barges would be infinitesimal in comparison. There would be the additional cost at Galveston of receiving tanks and pumping station to bring the oil from the barges to the tanks. Then, in addition, a tug or tank steamer would be required to do the towing. A tug would probably be more serviceable, as Houston and other inland water cities would probably want to get a supply from the same source. A steamer would probably have too much draft, but a tug would not.

The fuel proposition, which is a big item in the maintenance of a floating steam plant, would be minimized by the very fact that it is in the fuel business that these vessels would be employed. The tug and pumping stations would be operated with oil as fuel.

If the flow of a well at the 'oil pond' is anything as powerful as that at Beaumont, it would not be necessary to put up a pumping station at the well, and therefore there would be scarcely any necessity for a wharf there. A few piling for mooring posts would be all that is necessary.

One of the great drawbacks to Galveston as a location for small manufacturing plants has been the cost of power. Coal has to be imported, and the cost of importation (transportation) has to be added to the cost of the fuel by not less than 100 percent and often more. It is figured that the fuel bills would be cut squarely in twain by the use of oil , and better than that might be done. This would mean a saving, after oil-burning apparatus has been installed, to everybody from the big manufacturer down to the householder whose coal bill is not over $5 a year. As a round trip with a tow of three or four barges could be made in a day, and a vast quantity of fuel could thus be supplied, the cost would be brought to a minimum, and the operators of the plant at the same time be able to make a good profit. They would not have to pay on any leases, their operating expenses would be confined to the payment of possibly a dozen men---or more if the enlargement of the trade warranted it, and their first cost would be the cost of sinking the well, the purchase of a tug and a half dozen barges, and the building of reception tanks at Galveston, and at other places where they had trade. A corporation of about $100,000 could supply the $1,000,000 trade of Galveston and all other points in addition. (Compiled by W. T. Block)

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