Oil and Gas History of Kentucky: 1900 to Present
Contact: Brandon C. Nuttall
[Kentucky Oil History Home] [Pre-Drake] [1860 to 1900] [After 1900]
This page is a work in progress and is incomplete. While references are supplied, not all are adequately linked.
- 1901: January 10, 1901. A well drilled by Al and Curt Hamill for Capt. Anthony F. Lucas blew out on Spindletop Hill near Beaumont, southeast Texas. A 6-inch spray of oil rose 200 feet over the derrick. Oil production in Texas went from under 1 million barrels a year to 17.4 million barrels in 1903 and John D. Rockefeller lost the monopoly on oil. (Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum)
- 1901, Kentucky
- The Graves No. 1 well, Salt Lick Bend, Cumberland
County, 3,000 barrels per day from 225 feet (Jillson, 1951, p. 85).
- Discovery of the Menifee Gas Field (Ragland Sand).
- 1902, Kentucky
- The Cumberland Pipe Line Company extends a line
from Somerset, Pulaski County, Kentucky to Salt Lick Bend, Cumberland
County. For a while, the high gravity oil transported by the line was known
as "Somerset Grade" and was held as a high standard in the Appalachian
Basin. By 1905, after the discovery of the Spindletop field in Texas, the
price of oil was so depressed that the line was taken up.
- The Milt Morehead well was drilled in the vicinity of Oil Springs, south east Clark County on the Lawrence farm by the Oil Springs Oil Development Co. The well is located about 1/2 mile north of Oil Springs on Lulbegrud Creek. It had a small show of oil at about 800 feet, but was not commercial. The well reached a total depth of 1,400 feet where the bit broke and the hole was abandoned. (Jillson, 1931, p. 30) This well is shown on Meacham, Munyan, and Wesley (1931)
- 1903: Ford Motor Company
founded June 16, with $28,000 in cash. Production begins with the Model A
(Ford Motor Company, 2003)
- 1903, Kentucky
- Discovery of the Campton Field, Wolfe County and
the Busseyville and Fallsburg pools, Lawrence County.
- A small amount of oil production was first secured
by rank wild catters near Irvine in Estill County. The extreme shallowness
of the oil horizon or 'pay' here, however, caused this small Corniferous
pool to be soon drilled up and exhausted.
- Busseyville and Fallsburg pools, Lawrence County (Jillson, 1919a, p. 10). See also 1912 entry from Miller (1919).
- 1905, Kentucky
- Discovery of the Furnace Field, Estill County. Oil
and gas production in this area was first noted in 1852, but was not
- The Indian Asphalt Co (a precursor of Texaco) moved
its offices to Georgetown, Kentucky, and built a refinery (Hinds, 2001).
- Central City gas field (Jillson, 1922, p. 58). "The gas of the Central City gas field is found in the Coal Measures in association with No. 8 coal." The structure has not been defined. (Kentucky's first coalbed methane field?)
- 1907, Kentucky: New
Domain Oil & Gas Co #1 Williams Heirs, first reported oil production from
the Ordovician Knox, shot 1362-1392, no gauge after treatment reported.
Cumberland County, 20-C-50.
- 1908: First production
Model T Ford rolls off the assembly line at the Piquette Avenue Plant in
Detroit, October 1, 1908 (The Henry Ford, 1999, Ford Motor Company, 2003)
- 1910, Kentucky
- "The Moorman Syncline affords the best large
territory for possible oil accumulations. Into this great basin, unless
impeded by saltwater, the oil would flow from wide area extending several
miles to the north, to the south, and to the east. Anywhere along its bottom
from the point where it enters the eastern edge of the Central City Sheet,
near Ceralvo, until it leaves the Madisonville Sheet, between Hanson and the
city of Madisonville, may be considered as favorable territory. To secure a
thorough test of all the sands the wells here should be drilled not less
than 1,600 feet below No. 9 coal." Hutchinson (1910, p. 91)
- The problem of water production inhibiting associated gas production is discussed. Citing a (probable Devonian shale) well near Cloverport, Foerste (1910, p. 74) states it produces gas as long as the water is kept pumped off. The overload of water is too great for the gas to lift with facility, and the gas practically stops flowing.
- 1912, Kentucky
- Hartford, Ohio County, first commercial oil from
western Kentucky. Oil price is about $0.60 per barrel (Smith, 1968).
According to Bushong (1970) [The well was located] "about 5 miles northeast
of Hartford in Ohio County, near Concord Church. The first well was
commenced on the A.A. Carter farm in November, 1911 and completed in July,
1912 and was about 1,750 feet deep. The operator was Western Kentucky Oil
and Gas Company, organized by Mr. W.M. Barnard. Production was a lime
formation just below the Devonian Black Shake, known in Kentucky as the
Corniferous Sand. [Foerste (1910, p. 78) provides an account of an oil
producing well drilled in 1889.]
- While much and deep drilling has been done in Lawrence County prior to 1912, it was not until that year that oil exploration here (Fallsburg and Busseyville Pools, Lawrence County) was attended with any measure of success. The horizon found to be productive is the Berea. The wells are not heavy producers, but they are very persistent. (Miller, 1919, p. 300).
- 1913, Kentucky: The Paint
Creek Uplift in Lawrence and Johnson Counties based on work performed by
Crandall who called it the "Conglomerate uplift" was named (Miller (1943, p.
- 1915, Kentucky
- Development of Big Sandy Gas Field, Floyd County.
Jillson (1937, p. 89) states, "Prior to 1915 there was little interest in
the development of natural gas in the Floyd County or the upper Big Sandy
Valley. Gas wells were produced in the search for oil. They were usually
considered a liability. In many instances such wells were allowed to waste
into the atmosphere for months and even years in the hope that when they
eventually dissipated themselves oil would naturally follow and flow!"
- Discovery of the Irvine Pool along Cow Creek,
Estill County. Miller (1919, p. 300) provides an account of the discovery
and development of the present Irvine Oil Pool. He states: The present
period of oil development in the State may be said to have started with the
drilling for Mr. Charles Dulin, Jr., of a successful well on the Dan
Rollings Farm on Tick Fork of Cow Creek, about three miles northeast of
Irvine. This was in 1915. The well was only 200 feet deep. Starting in the
Waverly it penetrated the Ohio shale, here about 110 feet thick, and struck
the oil immediately below in the Onondaga limestone. This horizon has since
become generally knows as the “Irvine sand.” This well started an oil
excitement which has far surpassed all others with have ever agitated the
State. Jillson (1966, p. 88) is characteristically more colorful: Closely
preceding this period of rapid rise of the price of crude offered for KY
produced petroleum, Charles Dulin, a coolly calculating, resolute, and
resourceful operator, early in 1915 drilling an advance, oh as many an
interested observer remarked at this time, a "pure wildcat well," located
about four miles northeast of Irvine and two miles or more ahead of
production on land owned by Daniel Rollins, brought in a well flowing a
gauged 250 barrels per day flush. And further, as favoring fortune would
have it, the Rollins No. 1 not only "came in" a very fine oil producer, but
the hit struck oil at the almost unbelievably shallow depth of only 200 feet
in the upper part of the Corniferous (Middle Devonian) lime.
- Indian Refining Company closed its Georgetown, Kentucky, refinery.
- 1916, Kentucky
- Cow Creek, Estill County oil boom, oil over $2.00
per barrel, also known as the Irvine Pool extension (Jillson, 1919b, p. 9)
- Leases that had previously sold for $5.00 or $10.00
per acre, jumped immediately to $25.00 and $50.00 and those that had been
offered at $30.00 and $35.00 per acre with no takers, rose to $100.00 and
$150.00 per acre. (Jillson, 1966, p. 87)
- In 1916 the World War demand for petroleum accompanied by a rapid heightening of prices of crude oil stimulated a new wave of development and 'wild-catting' in Kentucky which brought about the discovery of a number of new pools, chief of which have been the Big Sinking in Lee County, the Warren and Allen County pools, the Cumberland and Monroe County pools, the Johnson and Magoffin County pools, and the Martha pool [in 1919] in Johnson and Lawernce Counties. (Jillson, 1926, p. 291)
- 1917, Kentucky: The Bell
Oil Company drills a well on the Granville Williams lease on Salt Lick Creek,
one-half mile south of the Gabbard Well (see 1861). The well was drilled to
220 feet but drilling stopped due to lack of finances. In 1921, the Day Oil
Company acquired the Williams lease and resumed drilling of Bell Oil's
original well. At 264 feet oil was struck. While the principals of Bell and
Day brought suit against each other over the ownership of the well, it was
allowed to flow unchecked for several months. The well became the property of
Williams by court order and he leased it to Carnehann Oil Company who had
built a refinery across the river near Creelsboro. The Granville Sand was
named for Granville Williams. (Diamond 1943, p. 7)
- 1918-1919, Kentucky: "In
the fall and winter of 1918 and 1919, the Louisville Gas & Electric
Company, under the pressure of gas shortage in Louisville, Kentucky, came to
investigate what is now the Big Sandy Gas Field. An operating subsidiary, the
Ivyton Oil and Gas Company was organized for the specific purpose of carrying
forward the necessary field work [to acquire acreage, drill wells, and lay
pipelines for eventual delivery to Louisville]." Jillson (1937, p. 89-90)
- 1918, Kentucky
- Discovery of Big Sinking,
Kentucky's only giant oil field with production of more than 100 million
barrels was established with the drilling of the Eastern Gulf Oil no. 1
Ephrahim "Eph" Angel (Jones and McFarlan, 1933). In 1917, Dan Jones, later
to become the State Geologist (1934 to 1958), assisted P.J. Nutty in the
compilation of a detailed structural geologic map of the Lee County area. As
a result of the work, the Eastern Gulf Oil Company drilled and completed the
No. 1 Eph Angel well on February 21, 1918 along Caves Fork of Big Sinking
Creek, near the mouth of Hog Gap Hollow. It was not the first well in the
area, but is generally considered to be the proof that a major oil resource
had been discovered.
- J. Fred Miles read about Charles Dulin's find on
Tick Fork and founded Swiss Oil Incorporated with some Lexington and
Louisville partners (Otto, 1968, p. 18).
- Bushong (1970) "The Pure Torpedo Company was organized at Glasgow, Kentucky about 1918 by Mr. Creek Maxey and in 1927 it opened an office here [Owensboro] and was sold to Mr. James C. Ellis and Wade Muncey.
- 1919, Kentucky
- The Ross Creek pool was
the most active pool in eastern Kentucky.
- Discovery of Scottsville oil field, Allen County
- Discovery of Martha oil field, Lawrence County
(Jillson, 1921b, p. 109) also McFarlan (1943, p. 359 has acreage,
production, wells, etc)
- Development of Campbellsville gas field, Taylor
County (Schwalb and Wilson, 1972), extended southwest into Green County east
of Greensburg by 1922. Shown on Eyl's map as Green River Gas field. McFarlan
(1943, p. 336) and Jillson (1919a, p. 138-139) indicate that gas production
was known in the area, but major development didn't occur until the Green
River Gas Company took over the wells in the field around 1919 and laid
pipelines to Campbellsville and Greensburg. Jillson (1922, p. 52-53) states
gas was discovered while trying to extend the bounds of a small oil pool
- Jillson (1919a, p. 80) speaking of gas production
from the Devonian Ohio, Chattanooga, New Albany shale: "However, as an
important producer of gas the 'Black Shale' is quite as much a failure as it
is in the production of oil in commercial quantities.
- Bushong (1970) A well that produced oil was drilled
in Hancock County near Pellville on the T.H Brown farm. This well increased
local property values. [quoting E.H. Barlow] "The Newman Oil Company was
formed at Hawesville and employed Bert Thompson to test out some leases near
Pellville. A wildcat well was drilled on the Tommy Brown farm and then on
the Tom Jackson Farm where oil was found."
- W.R. Jillson appointed deputy commissioner of Geology
- 1920, Kentucky
- Oil mine at Ravenna, Estill County (Jillson, 1921a)
- Oil discovered near Pellville, Hancock County
(Jillson, 1930, p. 3). [See also 1919 and 1922 entries from Bushong.]
- W.R. Jillson appointed Director of the Sixth
Kentucky Geological Survey
- First well in Kentucky to penetrate the entire Knox Dolomite section: Aker & Wilson No. 1 Hoover in Jessamine County (record number 11184), TD 3185
(McGuire and Howell, 1963)
- Bowling Green, Warren County
- 1921, Kentucky: Bushong
(1970) "The Cole Jett well is the one that got all the publicity and was
credited with opening the Owensboro oil boom. … [A] show of oil was
encountered in the Tar Springs Sand (locally known as the Jett Sand) at a
depth of about 450 feet. Horace Lyon, a teamster in the area, who was known to
sometimes exaggerate, told that he worked all night hauling oil from the tank
on the Jackson farm and poured it into the Cole Jett well. The well was shot
with a charge of nitro-glycerine and when it exploded, showered the oil over
the terrain for some distance." The drillers worked for days cleaning out the
result of the shot and abandoned the well saying that it was caving in to such
an extent that it could not be cleaned. Another version is that the drilling
tools became lodged in the well and could not be removed. Or, it was shot with
too much glycerine and ruined the well. At any rate, the well was never
completed as a producer.
- 1922, Kentucky
- Discovery of oil in Hopkins County near Mortons Gap
(Jillson, 1930, p. 3).
- Bushong (1970) In early 1922 Bert Thompson [see
1919 above] drilled on the [E.H.] Barlow farm. Oil was found here and also
on the Cole Jett farm. These last three farms (Charlie Staples) have oil
sands named for them."
- Eyl (1922) compiles the definitive oil and gas map
of Kentucky, for that time, and shows the location of these refineries:
- West Kentucky Oil & Refining Co, South of
Franklin, Simpson Co. (pipeline to Allen Co. pools)
- Bowling Green, Warren County, 2 plants: E.R.
Riggs Refinery, Park City Refinery, Ulf Brothers Refinery (pipeline to
- South of Catlettsburg, Boyd Coounty, 2 plants:
Each National Gas-Gasoline Plant (probably at site of current abandoned
H-Coal plant), Great Eastern Refinery (the current Ashland-Marathon plant)
- Big Sandy Oil & Refining Co., Paintsville,
- Collier Oil & Gas Co (natural gas &
gasoline plant), Cannel City, Morgan Co.
- Neha Refinery, Campton, Powell Co. Wilson's
undated map shows a Neha Refinery at the mouth of Hoods Branch on the
Middle Fork of Red River (in the vicinity of Lat 37.78233 E, Lon 83.69144
- Big Sinking field area, Cumberland, Swiss Oil,
and Superior all have gas plants in vicinity. Gas plants used compressors
to recover casinghead or "natural" gasolines, condensates, from natural
- Great Southern Refinery, Pryse, Estill Co.
Wilson's undated map shows this as the Oleum Refining Company.
- Petroleum Refining Co, Latonia, Kenton Co.
- Aetna Refinery Co., Standard Oil (KY) Refinery,
and Stoll Oil Refining Co., Louisville, Jefferson Co.
- Bluegrass Refining & Production Co Refinery
and Great Southern Refinery, Lexington, Fayette Co. (both shown NW of town
along Town Branch, probably in vicinity of current Ashland-Marathon
products terminal and the landfill across the road)
- Carnahan Oil & Refining Co Refinery, South of
Creelsboro (on river), Russell Co. A pipeline was laid from the Granville
Williams No. 1 well to this refinery (a distance of 3 miles), Diamond
(1943, p. 8)
- Cumberland County Refinery, Burkesville,
- Wood Oil Company gasoline plant, South of
Monticello, Wayne Co.
- Massie Refinery, Scottsville, Allen Co.
- Several carbon [black] plants are noted in eastern Kentucky. The Indian Refinery at Georgetown, KY was abandoned 1915. Likewise, the Eureka Oil and Gas Co., refinery at Glasgow must have been abandoned before 1922. The existing refinery at Somerset was not in operation until 1932.
- 1923, Kentucky
- Raccoon Mountain, Mississippian Big Lime production
on Rockcastle River Uplift (Piney No. 1 Johnson, recno 85493)
- Jillson (1951, p. 84) [Monroe County] “One of these
truly exceptional wells was the Bud Kerr No. 3 which the writer personally
watched come in as a 2,000 barrel gusher on Kettle Creek in the mid-summer
of 1923. The rock and hydrostatic pressure ejecting the oil in this
marvelous well located just across the Cumberland line in Monroe County, was
so great that it forced the rising oil through porous strata in several
shallow subsurface beds and shortly made flowing wells of three or four
surrounding pumping wells on the Kerr and an adjoining lease!”
- Paul Blazer surveyed the Great Eastern Refinery, a refinery at a rail stop called Leach near Catlettsburg (south of Ashland, KY). The refinery had originally been built by oil men from Pennsylvanian and produced red lubricating stock during WWI with a capacity of 1000 bopd (Otto, 1968).
- 1923: Teapot Dome
Scandal. In 1912, for the benefit of the Navy, a national petroleum reserve
was created in two oilfields: Elk Hills, California, and Teapot Dome, Casper,
Wyoming. Private oil interests and others were opposed the reserve saying it
was unnecessary. When Senator Albert B. Fall (New Mexico) became Secretary of
the Interior under Warren G. Harding in 1921, he moved to open the reserves.
Accepting "gifts and loans" amounting to some $400,000, leases on the reserves
were granted by Secretary Fall. A Sinclair subsidiary, Mammoth Oil Company,
got the lease on the Teapot Dome. After investigation, the leases were
invalidated in 1927. Fall was convicted of bribery in 1929. The oil companies
were assessed for damages but none of the oilmen were convicted of the
conspiracy with which they were charged. A second Senate investigation in 1928
uncovered evidence of Sinclair's payments to Fall and of corporate
malpractices that provided him with a "slush" fund for such dealings. Sinclair
was charged with contempt but only served 9 months for tampering with the jury
(he had detectives follow the jury).
- 1924, Kentucky: Having
encountered some financial difficulties, Swiss Oil was reorganized on January
26, 1924 under the name Ashland Refining Company to be run by Paul Blazer. In
February, 1924, the refinery at Catlettsburg was acquired (Otto, 1968).
- 1926, Kentucky
- Thomas Ridge, Casey County (Ord. Stones River), and
Taffy, Ohio County.
- Wooden "cable-tool" drilling rigs powered by steam engines were common in early drilling in Ohio County
- First secondary recovery operation in Kentucky:
Petroleum Exploration Company began a gas repressurization project on the
J.D. Smythe lease in Big Sinking field (Jones, 1952)
- Bushong (1970) First commercial oil well in Daviess County. C.A. Leeper who had oil interests in Wayne County sent his son, Charles H. Leeper, to check out the Daviess County area in 1921. Several leases were acquired and the Leeper Oil Company completed the No. 1 Chester Veatch, about 3 miles west of Pellville, in the Barlow Sand, June 1, 1926. The well was not commercial in the Barlow and was plugged back to the Jett Sand. It was not a prolific producer but a second well on the adjoining J.H. Roby farm, completed January 10, 1927, produced 75 bo/d natural and 4 bo/h after being shot with nitro-glycerine. After clean out, it produced 100 bo/d for some time. The pool is known as Roby.
- 1928, Kentucky: A
shortage of crude oil forces the Cumberland Pipeline Company to cease
operations (http://www.somersetoil.com/Overview.htm, 27-May-2004)
- 1929, Kentucky: Jillson (1947, p. 19) During the centennial anniversary of the drilling of the Old American Well, the current owner of the property discovered the wooden casing installed by Nicholson and Veeder in 1862. The casing was perserved, being thoroughly saturated with "amber oil." It was cleaned, photographed, and sold to a museum in Michigan [BCN: I haven't been able to identify the museum].
- Shallow "Owensboro Field" development
- Ashland Oil Company starts the Blaine-Martha
repressuring project (Jones, 1952). Blaine-Martha is the obsolete name for
Keaton-Mazie and Martha pools combined (Wilson and others, 1976).
- Oil and Gas Journal (1959, p. C36) "The first efforts to increase limestone production occurred in 1929. At that time a major oil company injected a quantity of hydrochloric acid under pressure into a well in Kentucky. The production was increased substantially, but because of a desire for anonymity on the part of the oil company, few facts are available concerning this very important first." Based on available data, it appears most likely that the first well to be acidized was one drilled by Eastern Gulf Oil Co and completed in the "Little Lime" (Glen Dean) in either the Pleasant Ridge or nearby Red Hill field, southern Daviess County, possibly on the Morgan Ruby lease.
- Reproduced in Bushong (1970) the menu from the Oil
- Held at Hotel Owensboro Thursday evening,
November 21, 1929, 8 o'clock
- Soup, Run the Bailer to the Bottom
- Celery, Offsetting Mrs. Wiggs' Cabbage Patch
- Olives, Flush Production 100 to Bottle
- Oyster Cocktail, A Fishing Job for the
Progenitors of the ancient Silurian Sea
- Half Chicken, Dressed by the Toolie -- Broiled
on Toast, Over-riding Royalties
- O'Brien Potatoes, From Wildcat Locations
- Lima Beans, Off the Derrick Floor
- Combination Salad -- Thousand Island Dressing,
Stray, Jett, Jones, Jackson, Barlow, Bethel, McClosky, Corniferous,
Clinton and Trenton
- Brick Ice Cream, 3 Sands
- Cake, Drillers style--Short bevel
- Coffee, Black Gold--Bailer Portions
- Hot Biscuits, Hold 'em in Your Anticlines
- Rolls, 7-11
- On Tour
- 1931, Kentucky:
- W.R. Jillson, a staunch Republican, runs for
Lieutenant Governor. The Democratic victory costs him his patronage
positions with the State and Survey.
- A corporation headed by R.C. Snyder acquires assets
of the Cumberland Pipeline Company and soon begins refinery construction
(see 1932) (http://www.somersetoil.com/Overview.htm, 27-May-2004)
- Kentucky Oil and Gas Association founded to
represent the interests of the independent oil and natural gas operators of
Kentucky (http://www.kyoilgas.org )
- 1932, Kentucky: Refinery
construction begins at Somerset. The pipeline and refinery are known as South
Kentucky Pipeline Co., Inc. (Acrea, 2001)
- 1935, Kentucky:
- First repressuring project in western Kentucky in
the Haynesville pool (Tar Springs), Ohio County (Jones, 1952)
- Mrs. Pansy Yount, widow of Frank Yount, builds Spindletop Hall in Lexington, Kentucky (now owned by the University of Kentucky, http://www.saddleandbridle.com/issues/oct02/elmendorf.html). Frank Yount, founding partner of Yount-Lee Oil Company, drilled a successful "flank" well off Spindletop dome in 1922. He began the second drilling boom at Spindletop in 1925 with the completion of the McFaddin No. 2 well at 2,518 feet. In the next 5 years nearly 60 million barrels of oil were produced, most by Yount-Lee Oil Company. Frank Yount died of a heart attack in 1933. (www.spindletop.org)
- 1937, Kentucky: Big Rock
Oil and Woodson Diamond bring in the Granville Williams No. 4 Well opening up
modern development the Salt Lick Pool (now in Creelsboro Cons) in Clinton
County. Diamond (1943, p. 9) states the well initially flowed 10 barrels per
- 1937: John D. Rockefeller
dies, May 23, 1937 (Poole, 2000)
- 1938, Kentucky: Birk
City, Henderson County, Mississippian McClosky, 1,000 bo/d, first use of
seismic in western Kentucky (Smith, 1968)
- 1941, Kentucky: First
waterflood in western Kentucky: Cane Run project in Daviess County (McGrain,
- 1943, Kentucky: Poole,
- 1946, Kentucky: South
Kentucky Purchasing Co, operator of the refinery at Somerset, is incorporated
- 1947, Kentucky: Discovery
of Ordovician Knox oil production in Raccoon Mountain field, Laurel County,
Pure No. 1 McKnight (recno 11445). See also McGuire & Howell, 1963, p.
- 1949, Kentucky:
- Discovery of Euterpe, Henderson County
- Preston Oil begins waterflood on the J.D. Smyth
lease in Big Sinking (Jones, 1952)
- KGS began work to complete a series of new topographic maps of Kentucky at 1:24,000 (D. Jones, 9th Survey). Program completed in 1956, the first state to do so. Socolow (1988, p. 170)
- 1953, Kentucky:
Development of Muhlenberg County
- 1955, Kentucky:
Greensburg discovered, Green and Taylor Counties (stratigraphic and hydrologic
trap) with the completion of the Moore Oil Co no. 1 Carl Perkins for 65 bo/d
(Schwalb and Wilson, 1972). Typical wells were drilled and completed for
$7,500 to $10,000.
- 1957, Kentucky: First
apparent coalbed methane wells drilled by E.M. Howard on the Nolan Heirs track
in Harlan County (Bledsoe Quadrangle). Two domestic gas wells were completed
in coals with reported IOF of 80 MCF and 75 MCF.
- 1958, Kentucky: Rapid
development (up to 200 rigs operating a day) in the Greensburg area fuels
concerns about water pollution. Elmo Holder (Eakle-Holder Petroleum Co) stated
that as he was piping his oilfield brines to a sinkhole there was no violation
of any pollution laws. He maintained that the sinkhole had no connection with
surface waters or public waters of the area and that they in fact went deep
into the earth and returned directly to the seas. Nevertheless, monitoring the
Green River from April to September, the TDS increased from 20 ppm to 694 ppm
with some streams approaching the salinity of sea water. (two unattributed
newspaper articles collected by J. Kincheloe, dated 12/18/1958 and 1/1/1959,
probably from the Glasgow Daily Times)
- 1959, Kentucky:
- Greensburg produces 10 MMbbl. In March, Ashland Oil
completes a pipeline from Louisville to the field at the cost of
approximately $2,000,000. The pipeline carried 824 barrels per hour (picture
caption, Evansville Press, April 6, 1959).
- Discovery of Mississippian Fort Payne production in Metcalfe County in the Knob Lick and Edmonton fields. Production increases from less than 1,000 barrels per year from 1945 to 1958 to more than 326 thousand barrels for 1959. One shiftless promoter faked his own suicide when a well he drilled was a successful producer. He had expected to hide his fraud and thievery with a dry hole (G. Dever, 2002, personal communication)
- 1960, Kentucky :
- KRS 353: Oil and Gas Conservation Act (July),
established statewide requirements to establish spacing (protect correlative
rights), require drilling permits, must submit records (plat, driller’s log,
plugging affidavit, electric log, and others documents), require casing for
protection of coal and fresh water. Frank Walker appointed first Director of
KGS-USGS cooperative mapping project initiated to map
surface geology of Kentucky at 1:24,000 (W. Hagen, 10th Survey).
Program completed in 1978, the first state to do so. Socolow (1988,
- Earliest known hydraulically fractured well in
Kentucky, the United
Fuel Gas 8618 Hinkle
well (Johnson County) was completed in the Devonian Berea
- 1961, Kentucky : Discovery of Knox production in Thomas
Ridge, Casey County, the Pitts No. 1 Luttrell, 28-Apr-1961, IP 58 bo in 4
hours, in May 48 bo/d. Well was acidized and pump adjusted bringing production
to 200 bo/d (McGuire & Howell, 1963, p. 6-7)
- 1962, Kentucky : Hanson, Hopkins County, initially
3,000 bopd from four wells
- 1965, Kentucky : Camp Breckinridge, Union, Henderson,
and Webster Counties
- 1969, Kentucky : Gradyville (Gradyville East), Adair
County, began era of Knox oil production in south central Kentucky, Moss #1
Albert Hill, 7-G-50 (Perkins, 1972)
- 1975, Kentucky :
- Discovery of Knox production at Lee Chapel, Clinton
- W.R. Jillson passes away
- 1977, Kentucky : The Exxon Minerals Company No. 1
Choice Duncan, Webster County. The deepest well in Kentucky drilled to a total
depth of 15,200 feet in the Cambrian Eau Claire.
- 1978, Kentucky : The KGS/USGS cooperative geologic
mapping project is completed (with the exception of a revised Middlesboro
North GQ published in 1989)
- 1980, Kentucky : Ordovician Knox oil boom, Clinton and
Cumberland Counties. Boom peaks in 1982 and 1983 with production of about
670,000 barrels per year
- 1984, Kentucky : Kentucky Geological Survey begins
scanning oil and gas well record data for preservation and public access.
- 1987, Kentucky : Nelson Bishop drills the No. 4A
Ferguson Brothers well on Spring Creek, south of Albany, Clinton County,
Kentucky. Drilled to a depth of 980 feet, Bishop completes the well for 3
barrels of oil per day in the Ordovician High Bridge Group (Stones River).
- 1990, Kentucky:
- The 4A Ferguson Brothers well is abandoned after
Nelson Bishop passes away. Russell Perry and his partner trade a pickup
truck to Bishop's widow for the lease; specifically, they want the tanks and
pump jack. Under the company name Syndicated Options, Limited, Perry
re-entered the well to clean and service it. They take advantage of the rig
they have on location and decide to drill it deeper. After drilling 20 feet,
the drill string drops another 20 feet and the well comes in at 400 barrels
per hour. A bulldozer was quickly dispatched to dig temporary pits to keep
the oil from entering nearby Spring Creek. Now known as the No. 9372
Ferguson Brothers well, this well started the drilling boom in fractured
Ordovician carbonate reservoirs that peaked in 1992 with about 488,000
barrels produced in Clinton and Cumberland Counties. The 9372 produced an
estimated 130,000 to 150,000 barrels of oil in approximately 18 months. The
Ferguson Brothers (4 wells) and nearby Jones (3 wells) leases have produced
an estimated 1,000,000 barrels (Hamilton-Smith et al, 1990, Jesse Kincheloe,
2003, personal communication).
- Earliest known horizontal well in Kentucky, CNR
21747 Pocahontas Development Corp
(Martin County) is part
of a 5-well DOE program to study horizontal wells in
eastern gas shales
- 1992, Kentucky :
Drahovzal and others (1992) publish their findings of a deep rift basin filled
with a layered Proterozoic clastic sequence, the Middle Run Formation, that
underlies the Cincinnati Arch. New possibilities for the deep gas potential of
Kentucky are proposed.
- 1992-1994, Kentucky : Conoco, Inc conducts a three-well
deep exploration project in the Illinois Basin. The No. 1 Turner well (1992,
McLean County) is abandoned because of hole problems at a TD of 14,202 in the
Precambrian. The No. 1 Isaac Shain (1994, Grayson County) reaches its
objective at 12,622 feet in the Cambrian Eau Claire and encountered shows of
bitumen. The third well was drilled in Illinois; it cut the fault too high and
missed its objective.
- 1993, Kentucky : Devonian Clear Creek oil boom,
Edmonson County. Local newspaper accounts tell of restaurant owners having to
purchase more plates and silver to serve the additional customers.
- 1994, Kentucky : Homer Field discovered. Carson
Associates No. 1 Kazee well, Elliott County, is completed with an initial open
flow of 11 MMcf/d from the Cambrian Rome at 6,000 feet. This well sparked
renewed interest in deep exploration along and south of the Kentucky River
Fault zone, the northern boundary of the Rome Trough in Kentucky.
- 1998, Kentucky : Miller Petroleum acquired the South
Mississippi Electric Power Association (SMEPA) mineral tract from AKS who had
completed a Big Lime discovery of the Lick Fork field. On April 27, 1998,
Miller completes the No. 31 SMEPA which produces 80 Mcf natural (open hole)
from Lower Elkhorn coals in the Breathitt formation. The Lick Fork field (now
owned by Nami Resources) becomes Kentucky's first modern coalbed methane
- 2001, Kentucky : Revival of Metcalfe County production
with infill drilling in old Fort Payne reef trends discovering uncontacted
- 2002, Kentucky :
Digital images of more than 1,000,000 pages of oil and gas well record data go
online for public access to the files: http://kgs.uky.edu/kgsweb/DataSearching/OILGAS/OGSearch.asp
- 2003, Kentucky
: Kentucky Geological Survey closes the oil
and gas well record files to general public access. Peabody Natural Gas LLC,
Suncor, and Quest begin leasing and exploration for coalbed methane in western
- 2004, Kentucky :
- Coalbed methane legislation considered by Kentucky
Legislature. House Bill 577 to create KRS Chapter 349 was signed into law by
Governor Ernie Fletcher, April 7, 2004. The statute establishes provisions
for notification, permitting, bonding, spacing, pooling, ground and surface
water protection, consent to stimulate, and plugging and abandonment of
coalbed methane wells in Kentucky
- State Government reorganization creates the Kentucky
Cabinet for Environmental and Public Protection, Department for Natural
Resources, Division of Oil and Gas
Gathering line regulations are promulgated by the Division of Oil and Gas.
- 2006, Kentucky
: Equitable Resources (EQT, Pittsburgh, Pa) begins program of horizontal
drilling for development of their eastern Kentucky properties for Devonian
Ohio Shale (Cleveland and Lower Huron) gas and Mississippian Berea oil. The
low price of natural gas due to the Marcellus and Utica shale gas boom led EQT
to temporarily suspend their drilling program for 2012. Between 2006 and 2012,
nearly 1,400 horizontal wells were permitted and drilled; the majority (but
not all) by EQT. Dry natural gas production increases moderately during this
time, but the inclusion of condensates and NGLs doubles the gas production on
which severance tax is collected.
- 2007, Kentucky
- Steve Beshear is elected Governor of
Kentucky and creates the Energy and Environment Cabinet. The new Cabinet
includes the Department for Energy Development and Independence created from the
Governor's Office of Energy Policy.
- A special session of the General Assembly passes HB-1, the Energy Incentives
and Development Act that grants $5,000,000 to the Kentucky Geological Survey
to study carbon sequestration opportunities. Provisions in the act mandate
deep test wells be drilled in the eastern and western coal fields, the study
of CO2 enhanced oil recovery, and the study of enhanced natural gas production
and CO2 storage in Devonian shale.
- 2009, Kentucky
: Kentucky Geological Survey reaches a TD of 8,126 feet at the #1
Marvin Blan well in Hancock County, an HB-1 project. The research well was
drilled to test CO2 injection and reservoir seals in deep zones. Private industry participants included
ConocoPhillips, E.ON US (LG&E), Peabody Energy, TVA, the Illinois Office of Coal Development,
and other companies that contributed in-kind services and lease access.
- 2009-2011, Kentucky : The Kentucky Geological Survey conducts CO2 enhanced
oil recovery projects in the Sugar Creek, Hopkins County (continuous
injection) and Euterpe, Henderson County (cyclic injection) fields, western Kentucky,
- 2011, Kentucky
: 1:100,000-scale digital geologic map compilation from 1:24,000-scale maps
- 2012, Kentucky
: The Kentucky Geological Survey conducts a CO2 pressure transient test in a
Devonian shale well, Johnson County, eastern Kentucky, an HB-1 project.
- 2013, Kentucky
: The Kentucky Geological Survey initiates the program to drill a deep test well in Carter County, eastern Kentucky, an HB-1 project.
[Kentucky Oil History Home]
Brandon C. Nuttall
© 2003-2013 Kentucky Geological Survey, University of Kentucky