0. Energy consumption & production in America

 The modern civilization is governed by the following “theorem”:

My father rode a Camel.

I drive a Car.

My son flies a Jet.

And his Son will ride a Camel! 

_Saudi Arabia’s Folk Saying


The Spindle Top Gusher and

the Birth of Texas Oil Industries


Jan 10, 1901 _ an oil gusher in Spindle-Top, Beaumont, Texas 


Another oil gusher in Spindle-Top, Beaumont, Texas 


A forest of oil Derricks



Though not a California well, the Spindletop gusher, which blew out on January 10, 1901 near Beaumont in East Texas, had a great impact on the California oil industry. Spindletop was not the first nor the biggest gusher – the Adams Canyon, Shamrock and Blue Goose gushers of California were earlier and the Lakeview gusher was bigger. However, Spindletop was certainly one of the great gushers of all time, and, most important, it heralded the birth of the Texas oil industry.

Spindletop blew in when Anthony Lucas, a Louisiana mining engineer, drilled a well to 1,020 feet on a lease owned by Texas businessman and amateur geologist Patillo “Bud Higgins”. Lucas placed his well on a low hill that he and Higgins thought might be a salt dome, and when the ground began to tremble on that fateful day in January and a great spout of oil exploded into the air, it confirmed their belief that oil accumulated around salt domes. The well produced an astounding 800,000 barrels of oil in just 8 days, but quickly dropped off enough so that by January 19 Lucas and his crew were able to cap it and gain control of it.

By September, there were at least six wells producing from the crest of Spindletop, with many more on the way. The field produced over 17 million barrel of oil in 1902, but production declined rapidly, and dropped to 10,000 barrels/day by the start of 1904. However, oil was found on the flanks of the dome in 1925, which led to another surge in drilling that pushed production to an all time high of 27 million barrels in 1927. Total production from the field in 1985 stood at 153 million barrels.

Please see The Handbook of Texas Online for more info on Spindletop.

The East Texas oil field, the largest field in the contiguous United States, was discovered in 1930, when a 69-year old “wildcatter” named Columbus (Dad) Joiner bought hundreds of East Texas oil leases and recruited self-proclaimed geologist Doc Lloyd to find him a well site. After drilling two “dusters” on the farm of widow Daisy Bradford, Joiner was near the end of his finances in May 1929 when he began drilling his third well on the farm, the Daisy Bradford No. 3 (shown on the right), with a makeshift rig and a crew of farm hands in country where experts said no oil existed .

The crew pulled an oil-soaked core out of the Woodbine Sand from a depth of 3,536 feet on September 5, 1930, but Joiner, who couldn’t resist a good show, delayed further drilling until October 3, when a crowd of 8,000 people gathered at the Bradford farm to see Dad Joiner hit oil. However, many in the crowd left disappointed as the day wore on and nothing happened. It was evening before the well finally came in at 3,592 feet, spouting oil over the top at a rate of 300 barrels a day. Joiner, who had oversold shares to finance his operation, became embroiled in lawsuits, and ended up selling out to H.L. Hunt of Hunt Oil. Although the six-billion barrel oil field he discovered made many men wealthy, Dad Joiner was not one of them.

Dad Joiner (wearing tie and hat) shakes the hand
of geologist Doc Lloyd in front of the Daisy Bradford No. 3.
H.L. Hunt (with cigar and hat) stands to the right of Lloyd.

source:  http://www.sjgs.com/gushers_world.html#spindletop


North America >> United States>> Energy



Energy statistics >> Oils >> Production (most recently) by country



Oil Production in Texas


Oil Production in Texs, USA

1981: 2,554 kB/d

1991: 1,870 kB/d

2001: 1,129 kB/d

2008: 1,087 kB/d



Oil Production in the U.S.A.        Oil Production in Texas alone

* 2003: 5,681 kB/y———————————- 1,112 kB/y

* 2004: 5,419 kB/y ——————————— 1,073 kB/y         

* 2005: 5,178 kB/y———————————- 1,062 kB/y

* 2006: 5,102 kB/y———————————- 1,088 kB/y

* 2007: 5,064 kB/y———————————  1,087 kB/y

* 2008: 4,950 kB/y ——————————— 1,087 kB/y



Reference:  US oil production peaked in 1971 at roughly 3.3 billion barrels per year (bby), which translates into roughly 9 million barrels per day (mbd).  In 2008, US produced 4.84 bby.  And in 2009, 5.34 bby, a little increase. 


The Story Of Oil in California

A view of Signal Hill, just north of Long Beach, California, in 1930. The “forest” that you see are oil derricks, all drilled in the 1920’s.
photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library

Many people may be surprised to learn that one of Southern California’s chief exports over the last 100 years, besides motion pictures, has been oil. Like oil reservoirs in Texas, Louisiana, and Pennsylvania, a hint of what lay beneath the surface could be seen in the many above ground oil seeps. These seeps had been known by Native Americans for thousands of years. In 1543, Spanish explorer Juan Cabrillo noticed the native people using the naturally occurring tar, or “pitch”, to waterproof their canoes. These seeps were also responsible for the tar pits of La Brea (Spanish for “pitch”), which had, over many thousands of years, trapped unsuspecting animals and their predators looking for an easy meal.

In 1865, only 6 years after “Colonel” Edwin Drake’s monumental discovery in Pennsylvania, California’s first productive well was drilled by the Union Matolle Company in California’s Central Valley. This area, east of San Francisco, became the scene of much of the drilling activity through the rest of the 1800’s. While none of these wells were considered major strikes, they did provide enough oil for the nearby market of San Francisco, by far the largest population center in California in the late 1800’s.

It came from over there….
But the largest fields lay undiscovered, near the sleepy seaside village of Los Angeles. The first well to strike oil in Southern California was drilled in 1892 by Edward L. Doheny, an unsuccessful gold and silver prospector, and Charles A. Canfield, his old mining partner. According to legend, Edward L. Doheny was in the downtown area of Los Angeles when he saw a cart whose wheels were coated in tar. When he asked the man where the substance had come from, he pointed to the northeast. Doheny and Canfield examined the area and soon discovered the Los Angeles Field after drilling to a depth of 140 meters (460 feet) at the corner of Colton Street and Glendale Boulevard, near present day Dodger Stadium. It was drilled using the unlikeliest of instruments: a sharpened end of a eucalyptus tree. Within 2 years of the find, 80 wells were producing oil in the area bounded by Figueoa, First, Union and Temple Streets. By 1897, the number of wells increased to 500.

Rise to Fame
Doheny would eventualy become a millionaire, and gain enough renown to challenge for the Democratic nomination for Vice-President of the United States in 1920. And although he was cleared of any wrong-doing, he would later become a central figure in the Teapot Dome Scandal of the 1920’s which brought disgrace to the presidency of Warren G. Harding. Not surprisingly, oil was at the center of the scandal.

The Oil Queen
A local music teacher, Emma Summers, was one of the most successful investors in the first years of the initial boom, and by 1900, Summers controlled half the production in the original Los Angeles Field. For obvious reasons, Summers became known as “California’s Petroleum Queen.”

The oil boom in the early days attracted some interesting characters, including prostitutes, gamblers and con-men. The population of the city of Los Angeles doubled between 1890 and 1900, then tripled again between 1900 and 1910. Later, wells in the 1930’s and 40’s were soundproofed with vinyl-coated glass cloth with one-inch sheet fiberglass filling to decrease the noise, as the drilling activity began to conflict with the exploding Los Angeles population. Camouflage was also used, a technique that was eventually moved to offshore fields as well.

In 1900, the state of California produced 4 million barrels. In 1910, this had jumped to 77 million barrels. In spite of this increased production, many of the fields were beginning to see slowdowns in their production rates in the late 1910’s, and California’s wondered if their oil boom was reaching an end. But before that would happen, 3 major fields were discovered in rapid succession – Huntington Beach (1920), Santa Fe Springs (1921), and the biggest of them all, the Signal Hill, or Long Beach, Field in 1921.

Signal Hill, 1932

Signal Hill

Signal Hill rises up 110 meters (365 feet) behind Long Beach, 32 km (20 miles) south of Los Angeles. Its name is derived from a local Native American practice of signaling to each other from the imposing hill. Because of its size, signals could be sent by way of smoke or fire either to other hills in the area, or to boats out at sea. Oil men first started exploring the area in 1916 after the successes of other ventures in southern California. In 1921, Dr. W. Van Holst Pellekaan, Chief geologist for Shell, tried to stop the drilling at Signal Hill, unconvinced of its potential. He was too late, however, and the drilling proceeded.

Signal Hill, California, 1932click here to enlarge and learn more about this picture
Photo courtesy of Atlantic Richfield Company

The Shell Game
Shell’s reluctance to drill Signal Hill was understandable. The company had spent three million dollars at Ventura in the previous 5 years, and had no oil to show for it. And only 4 years before, Union Oil had drilled an unsuccessful well (also known as a “duster”) on Signal Hill. But it was ultimately the tenacity of Frank Hayes and Alvin Theodore Schwennesen, geologists with Shell, that moved the project forward.

Work began on the Alamitos # 1 well on March 23rd. By May 2, the hole reached 843 meters (2,765 feet) and gave a showing of oil. Soon thereafter, 21 meters (70 feet) of standing oil was found in the bottom of the hole. But still, no oil flowed, and the crew, lead by driller O.P. “Happy” Yowells, began to wonder what exactly was happening. Then on June 23rd at 9:30 PM, the Alamitos #1 erupted with so great a gas pressure that oil gushed 35 meters (114 feet) into the air. Unfortunately, the bottom of the hole soon caved in. Much cleaning of the hole was required, and on June 25, 1921, the well was producing more than 1,000 barrels of oil per day. The well would eventually produce 700,000 barrels of oil.

The rush is on….
The discovery created a stampede. While the well was being drilled, the area was in the process of being subdivided into residential lots. Many of the lots, though already sold to prospective homeowners, were not yet built upon, and potential homeowners quickly changed their minds and entered the business of looking for oil, hoping to get rich quick. The parcels of land were so small and the forest of tall wooden derricks so thick that the legs of many of them actually intertwined. Oil promoters were selling shares of wells that had not yet been drilled. Signal Hill was to prove so prolific that, almost unbelievably, many of those buyers actually made money on their investments. The next-of-kin of persons buried in the Sunnyside Cemetary on Willow Street would eventually receive royalty checks for oil drawn out from beneath family grave plots.

By April 1922, only 10 months after completion of the discovery well, Signal Hill was covered with 108 wells, producing 14,000 barrels daily. By the fall of 1923, 259,000 barrels of crude was being produced every day from nearly 300 wells.

Signal Hill was the biggest field the already productive Southern California region had ever seen. In 1923, Signal Hill produced 244,000 barrels, alongside Huntington Beach (discovered in 1920) at 113,000 and Santa Fe (1921) at 32,000. This made California the nation’s number-one producing state, and in 1923, California was the source of one-quarter of the world’s entire output of oil! Even so, fears of shortage were still very much in the air. “The supply of crude petroleum in this country is being rapidly depleted”, the Federal Trade Commission warned in 1923. But in that same year, American crude oil production exceeded domestic demand for the first time in a decade.

Remote location turns into tanker technology
Because of California’s remote location relative to the industrial centers of the east, California oil companies were at the forefront of tanker technologies. As a consequence, much of the state’s market was overseas. In 1894, the Pacific Coast Oil Company and the Union Oil Company partnered to build the first true oil tanker on the Pacific Ocean. Named the George Loomis, its maiden voyage departed Ventura, California in January, 1896, and a new era was born. The development of California oil also presented challenges to the geologist that had been seen in no other oil field. As a result, the complexities of the geology of Southern California lead to a significantly increased knowledge of petroleum geology and exploration.

By the end of 1938, the Long Beach Field had produced 614.5 million barrels of crude, 750 million barrels by 1950, and over 900 million barrels by 1980. This made Signal Hill one of the most productive fields per acre the world has ever known.

Franks, Kenny A. and Lambert, Paul F. (1985). “Early California Oil: A Photographic History, 1865-1940.” Texas A&M University Press, College Station, Texas. 243 pp.

Yergin, Daniel (1991). “The Prize.” Simon & Schuster, New York. 885 pp.

Rintoul, William (1976). “Spudding In.” California Historical Society, San Francisco. 240 pp.

Lockwood, Charles (1980) “In the Los Angeles Oil Boom, Derricks Sprouted Like Trees.” Smithsonian October, 1980. pp 187-206.

source: http://www.priweb.org/ed/pgws/history/signal_hill/signal_hill.html



Jonah Lehrer, New York Times

… West illustrates the problem by translating human life into watts. “A human being at rest runs on 90 watts,” he says. “That’s how much power you need just to lie down. And if you’re a hunter-gatherer and you live in the Amazon, you’ll need about 250 watts. That’s how much energy it takes to run about and find food. So how much energy does our lifestyle [in America] require? Well, when you add up all our calories and then you add up the energy needed to run the computer and the air-conditioner, you get an incredibly large number, somewhere around 11,000 watts. Now you can ask yourself: What kind of animal requires 11,000 watts to live? And what you find is that we have created a lifestyle where we need more watts than a blue whale. We require more energy than the biggest animal that has ever existed. That is why our lifestyle is unsustainable. We can’t have seven billion blue whales on this planet. It’s not even clear that we can afford to have 300 million blue whales.”

The historian Lewis Mumford described the rise of the megalopolis as “the last stage in the classical cycle of civilization,” which would end with “complete disruption and downfall.” In his more pessimistic moods, West seems to agree: he knows that nothing can trend upward forever. In fact, West sees human history as defined by this constant tension between expansion and scarcity, between the relentless growth made possible by cities and the limited resources that hold our growth back. “The only thing that stops the superlinear equations is when we run out of something we need,” West says. “And so the growth slows down. If nothing else changes, the system will eventually start to collapse.”
(17 December 2010)



Poster’s note:  Sometime between 2020 and 2030, the world as we know it will start to crumble.  Blackouts will become more often.  Electricity may become as valuable as water in desert! By 2040, countries like Vietnam may have to go back to candle and oil-lamp era of the early decades of the 20th century. 

Approximately, oil civilization life span ~ 2030 – 1930 = 100 short years ~human life span!

* World oil production has reached its peak in 2010.  It begins a nose-dive from now on.


Update on 3/27/2011 notes:  China has already resorted to power rationing to save electricity.  Factories have power only  in one for every three days! 




March 9, 2011



(will have a new picture)

One day, China’s economy will end up in this!


A Canadian CF-18A fighter prepares to land in Italy in this file photo. Energy security

and global environmental change are factors that could radically alter society as well as

the role of Canada’s military a new study suggests.

Photograph by: Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters



KINGSTON, Ont. — The planet is running out of oil and heading toward a future that could trap Canada in a violent spiral of decline in the economy and the environment, a special research unit within the Canadian military is predicting.

This “global quagmire” is one of four possible future scenarios advanced by the six members of the team who are developing a plan for the army of tomorrow based on existing scientific research and analysis.

In a best-case scenario, they predict thatCanadacould be at the forefront of a prosperous green economy, in which clean energy and environmental protection are priorities and living standards improve around the world.

Two other scenarios fall in between, but all four alternatives conclude that energy security and global environmental change are the most serious and unpredictable factors that could radically alter society as well as the role ofCanada’s army.

“It all depends on what kind of steps are taken today that could lead to various futures,” Peter Gizewski, a strategic analyst on the team, told Post media News.

Members of the team said that climate change in particular could have a wide range of consequences, as well as oil shortages in a world with no alternative sources of energy.

“I don’t think anybody would claim that we’re all doomed in the sense that we’re all going to face the same level,” said Gizewski. “But there are parts of the world in some areas where armed conflict could occur that are particularly vulnerable to these things.”

The team has also noted that the world is now consuming oil faster than it’s being discovered. “Globally, we find more (oil) all the time, but we haven’t actually found as much as we’ve used in a given year since 1985,” said Maj. John Sheahan, another member of the research team.

“From the long (term) view, it’s guaranteed that something else will take over (as an energy source), we just don’t know what or when. . . . Nobody has yet come up with the solution (so) that we can (continue to) do the things we do now and have done for decades. So it is possible that the time line is against us.”

Sheahan noted that the price of a full tank of gasoline, even at $100, is a bargain when compared to estimates in some research that it would be equivalent to about 25,000 people each doing one hour of work.

The global quagmire scenario predicts a world ravaged by climate change and environmental degradation in which “markets are highly unstable” and there are high risks of widespread conflicts involving ownership and access to oil, water, food and other

resources. “Indeed, the danger of resource wars, both between and within states is acute,” said a technical paper produced by the group in December. “Much of the violence occurs in the developing world, as dictators, organized crime groups and revolutionary movements fight for control of increasingly desperate societies. Yet developed countries are by no means immune from strife.”

“As environmental conditions worsen, elements of society lash out against the ongoing exploitation of the Earth’s resources and the irreparable damage it causes. Often, action turns violent with acts of terrorism directed against select government officials and corporations becoming ever-more salient.”

In the best-case scenario, the team predicts thatCanadacould take a leadership role in the alternative energy and environmental fields after a series of technology sharing agreements with emerging economies and active support of developing sound international regimes and practices.

Other drivers of change analyzed by the team were: the impact of age and demographics on military composition; exponential technology growth; human/social response to technology; expansion of operating environments; globalization; conflicting/shifting identities; shifting power balance; resource security; distribution of wealth and weapons proliferation.

But members of the team said that energy security and environmental change are factors with the highest potential impacts and the greatest uncertainty.

The findings are similar to recent studies by oil giant Royal Dutch Shell as well as research from other countries such as theUnited Kingdomthat warn excessive energy use can be an “Achilles heel.”

“There is growing recognition that we need to factor this into our thinking,” said Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti, theU.K.’s climate and energy security envoy from the Ministry of Defence and Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

“We need to try and treat it like any other threat we face. We need to understand more about it and how it’s going to impact our national interests, how we can act to reduce the risks and the threats. We’re not going to have 100 per cent certainty, but then we’re not going to have 100 per cent certainty on the battlefield.”

The Canadian research team, led by Lt.-Col. Michael Rostek from the Directorate of Land Concepts and Designs in the Canadian Forces, has finished a draft of a more complete document — Army 2040: A First Look — that is now under review.

“It’s in the hands of the senior army staff as we speak, waiting to move it forward to publication,” said Rostek, the concepts team leader at the directorate. “We figured it’s the right time to publish it now and get it on the streets so that we could actually not only get some discussion, but also to provide a framework for our next step ahead.”



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