East Texas oil field
Overview
 
The East Texas Oil Field is a large oil and gas field
Oil reservoir
A petroleum reservoir, or oil and gas reservoir, is a subsurface pool of hydrocarbons contained in porous or fractured rock formations. The naturally occurring hydrocarbons, such as crude oil or natural gas, are trapped by overlying rock formations with lower permeability...

 in east Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

. Covering 140000 acres (566.6 km²) and parts of five counties, and having 30,340 historic and active oil wells, it is the largest oil field in the United States outside of Alaska, both in extent and in total volume of oil recovered since its discovery in 1930. It is a component of the Mid-Continent Oil Province
Mid-continent Oil Field
The Mid-continent oil field is a broad area containing hundreds of oil fields in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. The area, which consists of various geological strata and diverse trap types, was discovered and exploited during the first half of the 20th century...

, the huge region of petroleum deposits extending from Kansas
Kansas
Kansas is a US state located in the Midwestern United States. It is named after the Kansas River which flows through it, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native American tribe, which inhabited the area. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the wind" or "people of the south...

 to New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

 to the Gulf of Mexico
Gulf of Mexico
The Gulf of Mexico is a partially landlocked ocean basin largely surrounded by the North American continent and the island of Cuba. It is bounded on the northeast, north and northwest by the Gulf Coast of the United States, on the southwest and south by Mexico, and on the southeast by Cuba. In...

.

The field includes parts of Gregg
Gregg County, Texas
There were 42,687 households out of which 33.50% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.00% were married couples living together, 13.50% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.50% were non-families. 26.10% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.50% had...

, western Rusk
Rusk County, Texas
As of the census of 2000, there were 47,372 people, 17,364 households, and 12,727 families residing in the county. The population density was 51 people per square mile . There were 19,867 housing units at an average density of 22 per square mile...

, southern Upshur
Upshur County, Texas
As of the census of 2000, there were 35,291 people, 13,290 households, and 10,033 families residing in the county. The population density was 60 people per square mile . There were 14,930 housing units at an average density of 25 per square mile...

, southeastern Smith
Smith County, Texas
As of the census of 2000, there were 174,706 people, 65,692 households, and 46,904 families residing in the county. The population density was 188 people per square mile . There were 71,701 housing units at an average density of 77 per square mile...

, and northeastern Cherokee
Cherokee County, Texas
As of the census of 2000, there were 46,659 people, 16,651 households, and 12,105 families residing in the county. The population density was 44 people per square mile . There were 19,173 housing units at an average density of 18 per square mile...

 counties in the northeastern part of the state.
Encyclopedia
The East Texas Oil Field is a large oil and gas field
Oil reservoir
A petroleum reservoir, or oil and gas reservoir, is a subsurface pool of hydrocarbons contained in porous or fractured rock formations. The naturally occurring hydrocarbons, such as crude oil or natural gas, are trapped by overlying rock formations with lower permeability...

 in east Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

. Covering 140000 acres (566.6 km²) and parts of five counties, and having 30,340 historic and active oil wells, it is the largest oil field in the United States outside of Alaska, both in extent and in total volume of oil recovered since its discovery in 1930. It is a component of the Mid-Continent Oil Province
Mid-continent Oil Field
The Mid-continent oil field is a broad area containing hundreds of oil fields in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. The area, which consists of various geological strata and diverse trap types, was discovered and exploited during the first half of the 20th century...

, the huge region of petroleum deposits extending from Kansas
Kansas
Kansas is a US state located in the Midwestern United States. It is named after the Kansas River which flows through it, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native American tribe, which inhabited the area. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the wind" or "people of the south...

 to New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

 to the Gulf of Mexico
Gulf of Mexico
The Gulf of Mexico is a partially landlocked ocean basin largely surrounded by the North American continent and the island of Cuba. It is bounded on the northeast, north and northwest by the Gulf Coast of the United States, on the southwest and south by Mexico, and on the southeast by Cuba. In...

.

The field includes parts of Gregg
Gregg County, Texas
There were 42,687 households out of which 33.50% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.00% were married couples living together, 13.50% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.50% were non-families. 26.10% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.50% had...

, western Rusk
Rusk County, Texas
As of the census of 2000, there were 47,372 people, 17,364 households, and 12,727 families residing in the county. The population density was 51 people per square mile . There were 19,867 housing units at an average density of 22 per square mile...

, southern Upshur
Upshur County, Texas
As of the census of 2000, there were 35,291 people, 13,290 households, and 10,033 families residing in the county. The population density was 60 people per square mile . There were 14,930 housing units at an average density of 25 per square mile...

, southeastern Smith
Smith County, Texas
As of the census of 2000, there were 174,706 people, 65,692 households, and 46,904 families residing in the county. The population density was 188 people per square mile . There were 71,701 housing units at an average density of 77 per square mile...

, and northeastern Cherokee
Cherokee County, Texas
As of the census of 2000, there were 46,659 people, 16,651 households, and 12,105 families residing in the county. The population density was 44 people per square mile . There were 19,173 housing units at an average density of 18 per square mile...

 counties in the northeastern part of the state. Overall the field is about 45 miles (72.4 km) long on the north-south axis, and five miles (8 km) across. Interstate 20
Interstate 20
Interstate 20 is a major east–west Interstate Highway in the Southern United States. I‑20 runs 1,535 miles from near Kent, Texas, at Interstate 10 to Florence, South Carolina, at Interstate 95...

 cuts across the field from east to west, and the towns of Kilgore
Kilgore, Texas
Kilgore is a city in Gregg and Rusk Counties in the eastern part of the U.S. state of Texas. It is the home of Kilgore College, and was also the childhood home of famous classical pianist Van Cliburn...

, Overton
Overton, Texas
Overton is a city in Rusk and Smith Counties in the U.S. state of Texas. The population was 2,350 at the 2000 census.Overton lies in two counties as well as two metropolitan areas...

, and Gladewater
Gladewater, Texas
Gladewater is a city in Gregg and Upshur Counties in the U.S. state of Texas. The population was 6,228 at the 2010 census. U.S. Highway 80 traverses the city....

 are on the field. At one time, downtown Kilgore had more than 1,000 active wells clustered in a tight area, making it the densest oil development in the world.

Geology

The primary productive geologic unit is the Cretaceous
Cretaceous
The Cretaceous , derived from the Latin "creta" , usually abbreviated K for its German translation Kreide , is a geologic period and system from circa to million years ago. In the geologic timescale, the Cretaceous follows the Jurassic period and is followed by the Paleogene period of the...

-age Woodbine Formation, a regional petroleum-bearing unit which had been known since the early part of the 20th century. This sandstone unit was deposited during a period when East Texas was a shallow sea, approximately 100 million years ago. During a subsequent period it was uplifted, eroded, and then covered again by the sea, which this time deposited a layer of impermeable chalk, creating a stratigraphic trap – a situation where oil, which is lighter than water and migrates upwards, reaches a point where it can move no farther, and pools. The source rock
Source rock
In petroleum geology, source rock refers to rocks from which hydrocarbons have been generated or are capable of being generated. They form one of the necessary elements of a working petroleum system. They are organic-rich sediments that may have been deposited in a variety of environments including...

 for the oil in East Texas is the lower-lying Eagle Ford Shale.

Water intrusion from deeper in Woodbine Formation is the mechanism pushing oil through the reservoir toward the producing wells. A 1932 study showed that oil wells stopped flowing when water pressure dropped below 800 pounds per square inch.

History

Several early attempts were made to produce oil in the area, beginning in 1911, with the failed Millville Oil Company, but drilling technology had not progressed sufficiently to reach oil at the depths at which it is found there, which are mainly below 3500 feet (1,066.8 m); most early wells ended in broken bits, dry holes, and bankrupt operators. Finally, an enterprising Alabama man, Columbus Marion (Dad) Joiner
Columbus Marion Joiner
Columbus Marion Joiner was an American oilman. With A.D. Lloyd, a self-educated, self-proclaimed geologist, he discovered the largest oil field in the world up to that time, the East Texas oil field, in 1930 in Rusk County.-External links:*...

, was the first with enough persistence to succeed, and on October 5, 1930, his Daisy Bradford No. 3 well (named after the widow who owned the farm) hit oil at 3536 feet (1,077.8 m) below ground surface. This well is located near the southeastern boundary of the oil field.

Shortly after the Daisy Bradford find, and after another two smaller wells were drilled near the original hole, another new well, this one on the Crim family farm about nine miles (14 km) north of the Bradford farm, reached oil, producing a gusher with a spectacular initial daily flow of 22000 barrels (3,497.7 m³). That the two wells were in a connected oil pool was not immediately obvious to those who drilled them; no field this large had ever been discovered. In January 1931, yet another group of investors and drillers put in a third important well about 25 miles (40.2 km) north of the initial Daisy Bradford well; this one gushed 320 barrels (50.9 m³) of oil per hour, from approximately the same depth as the other two wells – 3587 feet (1,093.3 m). Within a few months, drillers, landowners, and investors began to realize they had a spectacular oil field two-thirds of a mile under their feet, one which would produce enormous quantities of high-grade oil almost anywhere they drilled.

It was the enormous quantities of oil from the East Texas Oil Field, and their importance to the Allied effort in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, that led to the creation of the world's largest pipeline until that time, the "Big Inch
Big Inch
The Big Inch and its companion project, the Little Big Inch, are petroleum pipelines constructed during 1942 and 1943 as an emergency war measure from Texas to New Jersey. Until World War II, petroleum products had been transported from the oil fields of Texas to the northeastern United States by...

", a 24 inches (609.6 mm), 1400 miles (2,253.1 km) pipeline which transported crude to refineries in the Philadelphia area. Prior to building the pipeline, oil could only be transported by ship, and many such ships were sunk by German submarines during the early part of the war, especially in 1942 and early 1943. Construction of the pipeline commenced in August 1942, and on March 2, 1944 it was done. By the end of the war, over 350 Moilbbl of crude flowed from East Texas to the northeast states through the Big Inch.

In the middle of the twentieth century, the East Texas Oil Field was the center of a slant-hole scandal. Some unscrupulous operators had drilled slanted holes from across their lease lines into the productive portions of the Woodbine formation. Inspectors found 380 deviated wells and shut them down, with the assistance of the Texas Rangers
Texas Ranger Division
The Texas Ranger Division, commonly called the Texas Rangers, is a law enforcement agency with statewide jurisdiction in Texas, and is based in Austin, Texas...

. An estimated $100 million worth of oil was stolen over several decades from legal owners.

Since its discovery, the East Texas Oil Field has produced more than 5.2 Goilbbl of oil, and originally contained more than 7 Goilbbl.

See also

  • Burford v. Sun Oil Co.
    Burford v. Sun Oil Co.
    Burford v. Sun Oil Co., 319 U.S. 315 was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court created a new doctrine of abstention.-Facts:...


East Texas Oilfield Expo
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