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Oklahoma Highlights

Historical Highlights of the Energy Industry in Oklahoma

1897 – The first commercial well in Oklahoma Territory is discovered at Bartlesville.
1901 – Oil discovered at Red Fork near Tulsa. Spindletop well near Beaumont, Texas, is the world’s biggest gusher, producing 750,000-100,000 barrels per day–50 percent as much crude as all other U. S. wells at the time. Spindletop proves oil can be found in salt domes. It also shows the advantage of using the European-developed rotary drilling rig which had previously been used only for water wells.

Clayton, Oklahoma, circa 1920s.

Clayton, Oklahoma, circa 1920s.

1905 – Glenn Pool oil field discovered near Tulsa. It is the first stratigraphic trap discovery. The shallow field paraffin-base crude makes better lubricants than any other field west of Appalachians and with good gasoline yield.
1907 – Oklahoma becomes a state – and the biggest oil-producing state at the time. Tulsa claims the title of “Oil Capital of the World.” Gulf and Texaco build rival pipelines from Tulsa to Gulf Coast refineries. Oklahoma establishes Corporation Commission to regulate oil production to prevent waste.
1910 – Oklahoma Natural Gas Co. installs first compressor on a natural gas pipeline. Oil fields developed in Illinois and other mid-continent spots. Mexican production booms.
1912 – Cushing Field establishes the value of geology in finding anticlines. Royal Dutch-Shell enters United States with American Gasoline Co. marketing imported gasoline in California and Roxana Petroleum Co. in Tulsa for exploration and production. Harry F. Sinclair begins oil production in Tulsa–the start of Sinclair Oil Co.
1915 – Oklahoma enacts the first market-demand proration law. War in Europe creates demand for U.S. oil. Independent operators experience difficulty in selling oil for good price because they cannot guarantee a steady supply to eastern refineries. Carter Oil Co. moves west from West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio to Tulsa where they set up a new division.
1916 – Boom in central Oklahoma fields causes pipeline construction from Cushing to Wood River, Illinois, refining center. This relieves wasteful overproduction.
1917 – A group of oil men gather at the Hotel Tulsa to organize and make sure petroleum products are available to U.S. armed forces and allies. They form the Mid-Continent Oil & Gas Association.
1918 – Hugoton-Panhandle gas field discovered in Oklahoma-the largest in the United States.
1919 – Mid-Continent Oil & Gas Association forms the Kansas-Oklahoma Division headquartered in Tulsa.
1920 – Osage County opens with prolific Burbank discovery.
1921 – Gross Production Tax receipts equal 71% of total state expenditures.
1926 – Mid-Continent Oil & Gas Association sponsors percentage depletion of federal income tax law.
1927 – Oklahoma City field discovered and soon becomes nation’s largest.
1929 – Oklahoma Corporation Commission orders 30-day shutdown of Oklahoma City field because of wasteful overproduction.
1930 – “Wild Mary Sudik” well in Oklahoma City field blows out. Use of specialized muds in drilling becomes a science. Pressurized water injection used instead of gravity flow to enhance oil production.
1931 – Governor “Alfalfa Bill” Murray shuts down Oklahoma City field. Oklahoma enacts comprehensive conservation law.
1934 – Oklahoma Governor Marland calls conference of oil-state governors to draft new version of voluntary interstate oil conservation compact without enforcement powers.
1943 – Giant West Edmond field discovered – first major stratigraphic find in Oklahoma.
1954 – U.S. Supreme Court rules Federal Power Commission must fix wellhead price of natural gas.
1960 – OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) formed by Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and Kuwait.
1962 – Steam injection and solvent displacement are used as enhanced recovery methods in oil fields.
1971 – Oklahoma increases Gross Production Tax from 5% to 7% of value. By 1975 crude oil production drops from 213,303,933 barrels to 163,122,471 barrels.
1977 – US Department of Energy (DOE) rolls back crude prices and launches complicated formula for oil pricing.
1978 – Natural Gas Policy Act (NGPA) permits prices to rise over a period of years but regulates intrastate sales.
1982 – Oil Boom – price paid for Oklahoma crude oil reaches all time high of $37.60 per barrel.
1983 – Gross Production Tax raises $757,158,759 – 28% of Oklahoma tax collections.
1986 – Oil Bust – July 1986, Oklahoma crude oil purchased for $11.15 per barrel.
1989 – New well completions hit a 45 year low. President Bush signs natural gas decontrol legislation. Significant natural gas discoveries are made in the Arkoma Basin.
1990 – Oklahoma natural gas production reaches an all time high of 2.26 trillion cubic feet. Gross production taxes increase, but represent only 11.4% of tax collections.
1995 – Crude oil production drops to lowest level since 1919. Natural gas production hits lowest level since 1983, dropping 21.6 % since 1990. Natural gas prices drop to lowest level since 1980!
1998 – The price of oil and gas drops to one of the lowest points in over 25 years.
2003 – Oklahoma is ranked as the number 2 state in production of natural gas
2004 – Crude oil production drops to lowest level since 1913.  Natural gas production hits lowest levels since 1983, dropping 29% since 1980.  Natural gas price hits record high of $5.41 per MCF.