Oil Legislation
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Oil Legislation

(Galveston Daily News, February 28, 1901)

Mr. Galey Makes a Statement Giving His Views Regarding Proposed Measures--Plans of Guffey Co.--The Wasted Oil Will Be Tanked In a Hole and Comsumed by Fire--The First Consideration--In a Market Which Effort and Time Will Create, Pending Which Protection Is Necessary.

Beaumont, Tex., Feb. 27--One of the great burdens which the opposition complains of in the bill in question before the legislature is the cost of gate valves, which are as follows: a 4-inch gate (valve) costs $6.20; a 6-inch gate valve costs $9.45; an 8-inch gate valve costs $17.33. Only one gate, according to the size of pipe is required, and yet they say this is a great burden and to some extent paralyzes the industry. But it is in keeping with some of their other reasoning. They seem to think that a pipe line is built for the storage of oil, and the Guffey people have one and they have none. Anyone who knows anything about the oil business knows that a pipe line is only a means for transporting oil from one point to another. It is true that the Guffey people are building some tanks, none of which will be completed until after most of the wells now drilling in the vicinity of Beaumont are down. In the meantime, their large well is now shut in, and no oil is being taken from it, for no other reason than that consumers are not in a position to buy and use oil at the present time. It is true there was a large amount lost because there was no valve at the well. If this bill had been in force, they would have had one and the well would have been saved.

The Guffey Company is now making a depression in the ground some distance from the large body of oil and pumping the oil on the surface into it in order to burn it up, as it is not a marketable product for the reason that the volatile parts have already evaporated, and the oil is mixed with dirt, mud, water, and impurities taken up from the ground besides being a constant menace to surrounding property from fire. They have been afraid to send any such oil out as samples for fuel tests, preferring to draw it direct from the well. They are filling two tank cars today, flowing the oil directly into the cars, without the use of any tankage, for test purposes.

Supposing the well, while open and flowing, should have caught fire. What would have been the result. The result would have been that this well would have continued to burn until it quit flowing, and when it quit flowing, the oil field would have been exhausted, and there would have been an end to the oil so far as this particular oil field is concerned, destroyed at its birth. I suppose there would have been as many schemes to put out the fire as there were to shut in the well, and they would have been just about as effective. The fire never could have been extinguished. No one could have gone near enough, because of the heat, to do anything. People would have stood afar off looking at the magnificent spectacle, powerless to do anything, only to witness the ultimate destruction of the oil field.

The Guffey Company will have completed this summer a number of large iron tanks, all of which can be filled less than five days from their one well, and then what will be done. The only thing they can then do is to close in the well again until oil can be sold and their full tankage relieved before they can again open the well. In the meantime, is it fair for the opposition, with an interest in their ten or 15 acres of land, to fill their big holes in the ground, containing millions of barrels of oil, which will likely flow from their wells, some of them are located within a few feet from where the Guffey well is shut in. Where will most of this oil come from if not from the large tracts adjacent which are leased to J. M. Guffey Company.

And this is just what these gentlemen complain of. The passage of this bill would not permit them to take the oil out faster than they can erect tankage or dispose of their oil. They have the same chance, the same opportunities, the same markets, the same rates, and we are all on the same footing. It is true the Guffey Company may have a few more tanks than their neighboring operators, but what of it. The oil will have to be kept there until it can be sold, which will likely require one or two years. People must have it demonstrated beyond any question that there is economy in the use of this oil as a fuel, and but little of it can be sold in the near future. Tankage must be built after the coal consumer has concluded to burn oil, and that will take time. People must be educated, and we should as oil operators as well as business men, lend a helping hand, join in the effort, and educate the consumer in its economical use.

Suppose the Guffey Company should see fit to do the same thing as suggested and advocated by the opponents of this bill---dig holes in the ground and run the oil into them. What would be the result. It would simply be that the oil of this Beaumont field, which has challenged and astonished the world in its magnificence, has brought tens of thousands of people from the East and West, from the North and South, increased the values of properties by many millions of dollars, made the poor rich, and the rich richer, would be strangled in its infancy by the rapid accumulation of oil on the surface without a market, exposed to fire and flood and all the dangers of the elements.

No, gentlemen. Let us act like intelligent men and take out the oil only as it can be sold, and no faster. The coming developments will tell the extent of the producing area, and if it should prove what we think and hope, there will be enough oil for all. Let us help each other in trying to build up a great fuel oil industry and soon it will bring manufactories into our midst and riches to the poor. Let us foster and husband the great resources of this great State which the God of Nature has given, and not, in our greed and selfishness, try to destroy it by putting oil on top of the ground before there is a market for it.  John H. Galey (compiled by W. T. Block)

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