World's Oil Wells
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World's Oil Wells

(Galveston Daily News, March 17, 1901)

Dr. David T. Day Contributes An Elaborate Article On The Petroleum Industry--Oil Fields of Russia--Two Maps Reproduced Showing Petroleum More Abundant Than Believed--Output of The New Fields--Development of The Industry In The United States--Prospecting In The State of Texas--Froming Mining and Metallurgy.

(Before continuing,th Spindletop oil historian should check the full-page article on the Texas oil industry, 1893-1900, principally of Corsicana, in the Commemmorative Issue of the Galveston Daily News of January 1, 1900).

Large as is the quantity of petroleum production in America, the question is sometimes asked--How long under the present enormous consumption is our petroleum supply likely to last.

It is argued that the allied fuel, natural gas, has already given out in some places, and that our oil wells may become exhausted in the same way; while moreover, we in the United States produce less than half of all the petroleum that the world uses. There seems no present cause for alarm that the supply of petroleum will be inadequate to meet the demand.

Russia, from her deposits on the Caspian Sea, produces a little more oil than does the United Sttes, the aggregate being over 60,000,000 barrels. To be sure, it is not such good oil for burning. We can turn 75 percent of our crude oil into illuminating oil, while 26 percent is considered a good yield from Russia. It is the custom from the great refineries which have grown up in Russia to distill off the part most suitable for lamps, there being also an ample demand for the residuum. Besides Russia, the oil fields of Roumania are of growing importance. So are new discoveries in China, while the oil-producing industry of Japan is making rapid progress. Java, Sumatra, Borneo, and possibly the Philippines are capable of adding to the supply, and there are further deposits in Peru and elsewhere in South America.

It should be born in mind, by the way, that oil prospecting is not so simple as is the search for other minerals. It is noticeable that oil, thus far, has been found principally near well-populated districts, leaving less accessible territory for future prospecting, when the present supply may threaten to decline. Already Alaska is being studied. Oil prospects near Cook's Inlet on the Copper River, for example, are attracting considerable attention.

Petroleum occurs most irregularly, both geographically and geologically. It is found here and there in th old world as well as the new. There is no geological period characteristic of it. We find it in Tertiary sand and gravel in Russia and in California and in rocks as old as the lower Silurian in Ohio and Indiana. Even in eruptive (volcanic rock), we find occasional traces of it or of allied bitumens.

This gives additional interest to the speculation as to where it comes from, the disputes on which subject have been as varied as the speculations have been vague. Petroleum is more widely distributed than anyone would believe, without a glance at the map, such as the one prepared by Boverton Redwood....

In California, in Texas, and elsewhere in this and other countries, prospecting goes on, and oil wells are being rapidly developed. The number of oil prospectors, many of them ignorant of the rules of petroleum occurrence, is increased by those who, in looking for or developing other minerals, literally "strike oil."

While petroleum is scattered over a great area, the principal deposits so far discovered follow the fortieth parallel of north latitude through the oil regions of Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.....{While this article on world-wide petroleum in 1901 is interesting, it does not seem too pertinent to the early Spindletop oilfield.} (compiled by W. T. Block)

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