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AT present it is impossible to estimate closely the amount of oil obtainable from a given area of land. However, after the completion of a few properly distributed prospect wells, one can calculate the approximate yield of the sands penetrated, with a probable error of say 50 per cent. Even rough predictions of this kind are of value in large operatFons. Without wells upon it, one can never be absolutely certain that an area will produce any oil whatever, and one can only indulge in wild guesses of the probable productive area, before the geological structure has been carefully contoured and the top of the basal water plotted on a map. The method is vcry significant in a general way, as in regions like the Bighorn Basin, Wyoming, where the productivc sands in the Cretaceous shale are so few and so thin and fine that they cannot develop very great production, although the high quality of the oil probably will counterbalance this defect sufficiently to give local profit in favorable areas.
Published in Petroleum Transactions, AIME, Volume 52, 1916, pages 649-656.
With portions of two coal basins within its borders and a few scattered fields already developed, the question arises: What is the future of Kentucky as an oil-producing State? Is the long list of failures due to lack of commercial pools, or unintelligent prospecting? A study of its beds and irregularities of structure points not only to a large waste of development money on unpromising areas, but also to the presence of a few structures well worthy of development.
The surface rocks of Kentucky show in succession more than 4,000 ft. of Paleozoic sediments and more than 2,000 ft. of Cretaceous, Tertiary, and more recent deposits. Folding and erosion have brought these beds to the surface, where they have been observed and studied in detail by my associate, James H. Gardner, myself, and others. This has given opportunity to observe the beds offering suitable reservoirs and having the proper impermeable covering; also the mapping of outcrops and out- crop lines, taken in conjunction with available well records, indicates that certain areas are worth testing, and with even greater definiteness shows areas which should be excluded, as devoid of possibilities. West of the Tennessee River, Cretaceous, Tertiary, and Quaternary sediments occur so that all trace of ancient folding is obliterated, the sediments overlapping unconformably Mississippian rocks. This area embraces 2,000 square miles, or one-twentieth of the area of the State, the Paleozoic rocks covering the remainder. Since there is nothing upon which to base the location of tests for oil and gas in the Cretaceous- Tertiary beds of Kentucky, the Paleozoic area will be chiefly considered.
The distribution of Paleozoic rocks in Kentucky is centered about the north-northeast striking Cincinnati geanticline, bringing to the surface on the Jessamine dome the oldest rocks exposed in the State, those of the Devonian, Silurian, and Ordovician systems. On either flank of this great earth-arch are the Mississippian rocks, sloping gradually beneath the coal-measure basins to the west and to the east. West of the western coal basin, and. between it and the Cretaceous-Tertiary rocks further west, is a high area of Mississippian rocks. Crossing the State in an east-west direction is the Chestnut Ridge anticline (a disturbance recently shown by Mr. Gardner to extend from the Ozarks to the Appalachian), consisting in Kentucky of the Rough Creek uplift, the Kentucky River fault zone, and the Warfield anticline.
Published in Petroleum Transactions, AIME, Volume 52, 1916, pages 635-637.
In the fall of 1910, the Nevada Petroleum Co., operating in the Coalinga field in California, determined to drill a number of wells with rotary tools, in order to prove conclusively the relative value of the rotary as compared with the standard rig.
At that time, the rotary was but little known in California and its proposed introduction met with considerable criticism on the part of the operators and quiet opposition among the standard drilling crews. There were few men available who were competent to handle a rotary outfit, and these few had had but little experience in California fields. Machines as then built were much inferior to those now used, being lighter in construction and of a poorer quality of material. The shells encountered at depths between 1,700 and 2,000 ft. seemed to be too hard to permit of successful drilling, and at these depths the rig was changed over to standard tools and by them completed.
Because of the heavy depreciation, the time lost in converting from rotary to standard, and the comparatively small profit, it was concluded that unless in the future there was some material improvement in rotary rigs, nothing would be gained by drilling with rotary tools upon this property. Little or no drilling has been done upon the property since that time, but in the meantime a large number of men have been trained in the use of the rotary; in fact, many standard-tool men have abandoned standard drilling and, starting in as roustabouts, have become thoroughly competent rotary operators. The improvements in the machinery have been such as to remove many of the objections and the rotary drilling of today is in every way superior to that of 1910.
In contrast, a well drilled recently by the Kern Trading & Oil Co., in the east side Coalinga field may be cited. The first 2,500 ft. was drilled in 24 days and it is confidently expected that the water string will be set with a rotary at 3,400 ft.-a record obviously far beyond that made in 1910 by the Nevada Petroleum Co.
Published in Petroleum Transactions, AIME, Volume 52, 1916, pages 638-644.
The Coalinga oil field is located on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, California. The structure is in general a monocline, the edges of the oil horizon resting on the foot hills and dipping gently toward the east. One prominent anticline occurs plunging southeast. The earlier drilling was done in the foot hills comparatively near the outcrop and the wells were shallow. The sands were followed eastward and, in the case of the anticline, along the plunge, the wells becoming deeper and deeper until the depth of 4,000 ft. was reached and passed. There is nothing to show that the oil will not be found in quantity at still greater depth. In fact, some of the best producers have tapped the sand at close to 4,000 ft. The recovery of oil still farther to the east, and therefore at greater depth, seems to be mainly a question of drilling.
In this territory the formations drilled through are chiefly sands and shales; they will not "stand up" in an open drilling hole; the casing has to be carried close to the bit, and it is always difficult to keep the casing free for any considerable distance.
Ability to carry casing of comparatively large diameter without conductor pipes for distances of 2,000 or 3,000 ft. or over is desirable in such territory chiefly for two reasons. It makes it possible to enter the oil sand with a pipe of ample diameter; it eliminates one or more expensive strings of casing which act only as conductors for the water string, and furthermore, in territory where waters are encountered which corrode steel rapidly, it makes possible the construction of a rust- and alkali-resisting water string.
It is always desirable to shut off top waters, which may lie within 100 ft. or less of the oil sand, with 10-in. pipe. Where the depth is so great that a practical weight of 10-in. pipe will not withstand the probable collapsing pressures, 8 ¼ in. at least is desirable.
About the limit of rotary drilling to date in California seems to be the setting of the 10-in. string at 3,200 ft., although the rapid advance in rotary work during the past year seems to indicate that this depth may soon be increased. It is my purpose now, however, to treat only of cable- tool drilling.
Published in Petroleum Transactions, AIME, Volume 52, 1916, pages 627-634.
In the fall of 1912, the appearance of water in the oil of the Nevada Petroleum Co., Coalinga, Cal., made necessary the installation of a dehydrating plant to reduce the water below the 3 per cent limit prescribed by the agency.
Unlike the mining industry, technical literature of the oil industry is limited and extremely unsatisfactory. Until the recent efforts of the Petroleum and Gas Committee of the American Institute of Mining Engineers, no concerted movement has been instituted to secure publication of papers dealing with the problems of the oil business, and because of the additional fact that dehydrating of oil has not been practiced in California to any extent up to comparatively recent time, it was found necessary to experiment in order to determine the most satisfactory plan for this purpose.
It is easy to write regarding successful enterprises, but, while not so pleasant, it is equally desirable to write of failures so that others may be saved the loss incident to such investments.
The water in this oil occurs both free and as an emulsion. Free water easily settles out, but the emulsion requires treatment. So far as can be determined, the emulsion consists of globules of water surrounded and enveloped by a film of oil. Starting with this hypothesis the theory has been evolved that in order to break up this emulsion the water must be heated at least to boiling point, when an explosion takes place destroying the globule. Unfortunately, this condition was not recognized in the installation of the first plant, which was planned on the following lines:
A heater was arranged so that all the oil from the wells could be heated before reaching the shipping tanks, these being already fitted with coils for steam heating. Tanks were filled with about 4 ft. of water, live steam was turned into the coils and the water brought nearly to the boiling point, when the heated oil was run in. This for a time was partly successful, but the length of time necessary to apply this heat was too great for practical operating.
Published in Petroleum Transactions, AIME, Volume 52, 1916, pages 620-626.
In drilling for water and oil to reasonable depths through the generally soft yielding clay and sand formation of the Coastal Plain of Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, the rotating method of drilling was adopted, ' principally on account of the easy and quick penetration, and the low cost of the drilling plant.
In favorable ground, free of heavy gravel and rock strata, as much as 1,600 ft. has been drilled in less than 36 hr., although such performances were of course rare.
Hydraulic rotary drilling, or, as it is now called, rotary drilling, was used in the above States as early as 1880. The plant consisted of an ordinary derrick, a 25-h.p. boiler, a small hoist, a steam pump, and a water swivel with hose attachment, and an ordinary flat diamond-pointed bit.
The successful drilling in of a phenomenal oil well by this process on Spindletop, near Beaumont, Texas, on Jan. 10, 1901, and the ascertained impracticability of drilling subsequent wells in the same locality by other methods (owing principally to heavy quicksand under pressure from be- low), brought rotary drilling into great prominence, practically to the exclusion of any other process throughout the Coastal Plain, and later on elsewhere.
The method, as its name implies, involves the rotation of a pipe by means of machinery placed on the derrick floor. A drill bit attached to the lower end cuts a clearance for the drill pipe, with much the same motion and effect as an auger. Water forced through the drill pipe by means of a pump, and escaping through the bit, removes the cuttings and returns to-the surface outside the drill pipe. In this manner the hole is kept open, permitting the drill stem to rotate freely.
The pressure of the column of muddy water holds up the walls of the hole until it has been cased.
Practically all the wells of the Gulf coast region, numbering nearly 10,000, have been drilled with this system. During the last five years its use has been extended to many other States and countries.
Published in Petroleum Transactions, AIME, Volume 52, 1916, pages 611-619.
Petroleum seepages are known in Alaska at four localities, all on Pacific seaboard. These, named from east to west, are Yakataga, Katalla on Controller Bay, Iniskin Bay on Cook Inlet, and Cold Bay on the Alaska Peninsula. Besides these, a petroleum residue has been found near Smith Bay on the north Arctic coast of the Territory. At Katalla, Cold Bay, and Iniskin Bay there has been some drilling for oil, and in the first field several productive wells have been opened up. Alaskan petroleum, so far as its composition is known, is a refining oil, with paraffin base and low sulphur content.
Most of what is known of the geology of Alaska oil fields is based on the investigations of Dr. George C. Martin, of the United States Geo- logical Survey. A, G. Maddren, of the same service, has recently made a reconnaissance of the Yakataga oil field. The data to be here presented are chiefly taken from the following publications:
G. C. Martin: The Petroleum Fields of the Pacific Coast of Alaska, with an account of the Bering River coal deposits, Bulletin No. 250,
U. S. Geological Survey, pp. 9 to 27 (1905).
G. C. Martin: Geology and Mineral Resources of the Controller Bay Region, Alaska, Bulletin No. 335, U. S. Geological Survey, pp. 112 to 130 (1908).
G. C. Martin and F. J. Katz: A Geologic Reconnaissance of the Iliamna Region, Alaska, Bulletin No. 485, U. S. Geological Survey, pp. 126 to 130 (1912).
A. G. Maddren: Mineral Deposits of the Yakataga District, Bulletin No. 592, U. S. Geological Survey, pp. 143 to 147 (1914).
The Katalla field is marked by a series of seepages and gas springs occupying an east and west belt, about 25 miles in length and from 4 to 8 miles wide. (See Fig. 1.)
Published in Petroleum Transactions, AIME, Volume 52, 1916, pages 353-362.
The interest which has been aroused in prospecting for oil in the foothills of southern Alberta, and in the oil possibilities of the known gas fields situated in the less-disturbed areas, called for a much closer examination of the structure, thickness, and composition of the under- lying rocks of the region than had hitherto been made. The areal geology of the larger part of the great plains was outlined by Dawson, McConnell, and Tyrrell, between 1881 and 1885. The foothill area was not critically examined at that time, owing to the time which would have been required for its proper study and the difficulty that was found in recognizing in the foothills the divisions which had been adopted in the mapping of the formations of the plains. This was due in great measure to the paucity of exposures in continuous sections of the lower divisions of the Upper Cretaceous. Since the pioneer work on the plains was published, the beds which form continuations south into Montana have been critically examined, The Canadian beds arch over the end of a flat anticline which rises to the south; and two sections in Montana, one on each side of the anticline, help to explain some of the difficulties previously encountered in the mapping of the measures found in the foothills. The index map, Fig. 1, shows the area studied, and its relation to southeastern Alberta, and to Montana.
Problems of Correlation
The principal difficulty experienced in correlation was in connection with the measures known as the Montana group. The beds of this group did not seem to agree in the two Montana sections. They showed the same differences to some extent as are encountered in comparing the foothill measures with those of the plains.
The Montana group in Dakota and Manitoba consists of a series of shales of marine origin.
Published in Petroleum Transactions, AIME, Volume 52, 1916, pages 571-586.
Introduction-The special object of these notes is to describe the mixing, testing, and use of mud-ladened water for rotary drilling in such a way as to make them helpful to the driller, the operator, or the engineer in solving his own special drilling problems.
The structures, apparatus and tools used are indicated in a general way. No attempt is made to describe the art of rotary drilling; only such descriptions as are necessary to make plain the use of mud are given.
The information is the result of actual experience in drilling in Coastal Plain formations. The materials encountered in the wells drilled were unconsolidated sands, gravels, and clays, in which thin layers of sandstones, shell conglomerates, and shales began to appear at about 1,200 ft, in depth, although one well was drilled to 3,018 ft. without encountering any cemented or indurated materials.
Unusual Conditions-The general surface of the ground where the drilling was done being hardly a foot above mean tide, and the daily tidal variation being about 15 in., it was found necessary to plank over the sod surface with 3-in. plank to work from. A 30 by 30 ft. planked area was sufficient to carry the derrick with equipment and 2,500 ft. of 4-in. drill pipe stacked in it. The derrick was set up 3 ft. on cribbed blocking arranged to spread the load over the planking. The engine, bailers, and pipe yard were also carried on 3-in. planking.
Drilling Outfit- This consisted of a derrick, 20 by 20 ft. and 84 ft. high, two 35-h.p., "oil country" boilers, one double 8 by 10 in. reversible engine, two 10 by 6 by 12 in. duplex mud pumps, one 15-in. rotary, "hoisting works " with chain drive, hoisting block with line, crown block with pulleys, rotary jetting swivels, hose, complement of tools, pipes and connections, and a mud mixer, with engine.
THERE is a difference of opinion among engineers on the subject of depreciation in general, and still more on its application to any given case The committee which was appointed by the American Society of Civil Engineers to make a report on Valuation of Public Utilities, states "There is no subject connected with valuation about which there are more diverse views than those relating to depreciation;" and in the discussion which took place upon the presentation of the preliminary report of this committee in January, 1914, that part of the report dealing with depreciation called forth more discussion than any other. From this discussion it was evident that the word "depreciation" was not always used in the same sense, so it is quite important that some definition be adopted. As this paper relates to the proper method of treating depreciation by corporations or individuals operating oil properties, both of which must make a return of annual net income to the government in connection with the income tax, it will be in order to adopt the definition of the Internal Revenue Bureau. Under date of Mar. 29, 1910, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue of the Treasury Department stated "Deduction on account of depreciation of property must be based on lifetime of property, its cost, value and use." Again, on Form 1035, "Return of Annual Net Income" for miscellaneous corporations (Section 2, Act of Congress approved Oct. 3, 1913), a deduction from gross income is allowed for "Total amount of depreciation for the year."