Historical past Of Trinidad’s Oil
The Trinidad Department of the Institute of Petroleum held its 22nd Annual Dinner at Bretton Corridor Lodge on April twenty third 1960. The Chairman of the Department, Dr. A.L. Down, addressed the assembly on the subject of “The Historical past of Trinidad’s Oil”. As we renew our thrust to explore for brand new horizons and new fields, and as we strategy the nineties with guarded optimism over oil costs, it may be enlightening to look again on our past and remind ourselves of the considerable difficulties surmounted by the pioneers within the early days of exploration, and of our personal proud file of getting achieved a number of ‘firsts’ within the oil business. With this in mind the text of Dr. Down’s feature tackle at the 1960 Annual Dinner is reproduced right here:
“Everyone here is conscious of the significance of the oil business to Trinidad and Tobago and of the immense profit that has accrued to this island and its people by way of the efforts of the pioneers and technologists who built up the petroleum business in this island. However how a lot of our members and company right here tonight know any but the main points of the beginning of the in trade in Trinidad Despite the efforts of sure of our members now no longer with us, in particular Mr. W.F. Penny, with the assistance of the Trinidad Branch and of the Oil Companies, there is no such thing as a revealed historical past of Trinidad’s oil.
On the other hand a lot has been written about the beginnings of the oil business in North America and significantly concerning the doings of a gentleman by the name of Colonel Drake, although we understand that he never saw navy service and the title of Colonel was merely a subterfuge given by his monetary backers in order to boost prestige.
Last 12 months – 1959 – noticed the centenary of Drake’s properly at Sugar Creek, Pennsylvania, when oil was encountered at a depth of 70 ft and in spite of claims by different international locations, Canada just lately particularly, that date has change into by usage the place to begin of the historical past of the modem oil industry.
Now what was taking place in Trinidad in the yr 1859 The Pitch Lake was in fact well known, as our postage stamps remind us. Sir Walter Raleigh caulked his ships at La Brea in the Elizabethan days and little doubt the Pitch Lake was a source of marvel to the Spanish settlers, who probably thought-about it slightly messy. Certainly it aroused the curiosity of Normal Abercromby and Lord Cochrane when the island got here below British rule following its capture in 1797. They had been most likely answerable for the visit of Dr. Nugent, an eminent member of the Geological Society, who visited Trinidad in 1807 for the expressed objective of finding out the Pitch Lake, and the account given to the Geological Society was published some four years later.
Little appears to have come of Dr. Nugent’s efforts until 1855 when arrangements were made for a geological survey of Trinidad, with specific reference to the Pitch Lake, which was undertaken by two gentlemen by the identify of Wall and Sawkins, they usually revealed “A Report on the Geology of Trinidad” or “Part I of the West Indian Survey” in 1860. This work continues to be referred to by geologists even as we speak. Much curiosity was aroused in the potential for acquiring oil from the pitch of the lake or from formations surrounding the lake itself. The document exhibits that the Merrimac Company, registered in 1857, made attempts to supply oil by distillation of pitch, however furthermore in the identical 12 months they drilled a properly to a depth of about 280 ft, which was a a lot better depth than Drake’s nicely in Pennsylvania – and two years earlier – and produced oil therefrom.
Regardless of their success the Merrimac Firm went into liquidation, in all chance transportation was certainly one of their main troubles, and, of course, the discovery of oil in the United States and the development of the shale oil industry in Scotland and elsewhere in the later 1850s resulted in the potential markets for Trinidad oil being supplied from closer sources.
A couple of years later another pioneer, this time a civil engineer from the United States by the title of Mr. Walter Darwent, involved a variety of merchants in Port of Spain in floating the Paria Oil Firm. Having drilled a dry gap someplace close to San Fernando, they accomplished a profitable well in the Aripero estate in 1866-67 at a depth of 160 feet.
In the following yr, one other venture, the Trinidad Lake Petroleum Company, drilled a profitable nicely in the La Brea space, hanging oil at 250 ft. Darwent unfortunately died, and together with his demise, interest within the oil prospects of Trinidad lay dormant until the present century, with the exception of a solitary report of a hunter bringing in sample of oil collected from a seep close to Moruga.
Initially of the present century the title of Mr. Randolph Rust, regarded by many because the father of the Trinidad Oil Trade, first appeared on the scene. In association with Mr. Lee Lum, who owned adjoining properties in the world, the long uphill battle to develop Guayaguayare into a business oil area was began in 1901 with Canadian monetary backing. Until the last few years throughout which time highway communications have vastly improved, it was to many people fairly an adventure to visit the southeast comer of Trinidad. It wants. but little imagination to appreciate no less than some of the practical difficulties with which Rust needed to contend in getting gear into an space corresponding to Guayaguayare. Every part had to be towed round from Port of Spain on lighters ‘ which had been most likely worked at excessive tide over the bar of the Pilot river to a roughly prepared touchdown stage from which the tools was hauled by males by means of the bush or over rough clay roads. The drillers employed had been Canadians, and three or four expatriates with a group of Trinidadians, primarily from Mayaro and Guayaguayare villagers, starting with nothing that that they had not introduced in with them, and definitely with none of the general amenities of the civilised world at the moment, got to work within the forests.
They overcame many difficulties and unwell health and in Could, 1902 the primary nicely was begun, using the Canadian Pole System of percussion drilling. Three months later the well was completed at a depth of 1,015 toes, and oil was produced at the rate of 100 barrels a day. Eight extra wells petroleum club of houston have been drilled and there are studies in the early drilling logs that in some wells rotary drilling was used at depths under 600 feet. Despite discovering a variety of producers and making a sustained effort over a period of 5 years, funds had been exhausted and Guayaguayare was abandoned without making a commercial shipment, transportation of the oil out of the sector being one of the key difficulties. One in all the results of Rust’s early efforts was interesting the federal government to bring out an eminent geologist, Mr. Cunningham-Craig, in 1904 to map Trinidad geology with the primary object of locating oil fields. A third personality, as dynamic as Rust and Cunningham-Craig, arrived in Trinidad in January 1906, A. Beeby Thompson, an engineer with expertise with British Oil Corporations in Russia. Right now the good oil fields of the Center East and Venezuela have been undiscovered and the greater part of world oil manufacturing was divided about equally between U.S.A. and Russia.
Cunningham-Craig’s survey had directed curiosity to the point Fortin region, and Beeby Thompson started building a base on this area for the Trinidad Oil Syndicate in late 1906. Situations have been unhealthy, workers and workers suffered severely from malaria and in April 1907 there was a critical outbreak of Yellow Fever. Drilling, nevertheless, commenced in May 1907 and with swelling and heaving clays, despite which various shallow producers have been accomplished in 1907 and 1908 by percussion drilling.
Productivity of the sphere being thus demonstrated, ideas have been entertained on forming a bigger company, and this at a time when the Admiralty have been getting anxious to secure oil provides beneath British control for the Royal Navy, whose new ships were virtually fully oil burners. Because of this Trinidad Oilfields Restricted was formed early in 1910, Beeby Thompson having meantime secured further acreage, including the area generally known as Parry Lands. In 1911-12 a lot of prolific wells had been drilled in this space, one flowing 10,000 bbls/day from a depth of 1,four hundred ft. Thus Trinidad’s first industrial success was achieved, by the Trinidad Oilfields Restricted, which was taken over in 1913 by United British Oilfields Restricted, now Shell (Trinidad) Limited.
At the same time as this improvement in the point Fortin area, and inspired little question by the successes of Trinidad Oilfields, others began drilling in the neighbouring areas. The Trinidad Lake Petroleum Company drilled a profitable properly to the south of the Pitch Lake in 1909 and three years later extended their operations into Vessigny where they brought in a quantity of excellent producers. Effectively No. 42 caught fire in October 1912, when producing oil at a rate of 30,000 bbls/day.
Owing to the pressures encountered, troubles with blowouts have been numerous and fires occurred all too incessantly. The information tell us that in 1912 Mr. Stollmeyer, drilling in his Perseverance Property close to Guapo, struck oil at 250 toes, however the effectively blew wild and a few 80,000 bbls of oil escaped down the Vance River, and one can think about the pollution drawback that resulted. With the excessive pressures encountered in these shallow wells, it appears to have been the typically accepted thing that gushers would be encountered.
Consequently arrangements have been made to salvage as much of the oil that gushed as potential; therefore while drilling was in progress earthen dams and drains were constructed to comprise the oil. Since no one knew when oil was likely to be encountered, if it was encountered in any respect, an emergency crew was kept readily available with pumps, spades and picks. Since some of these wells, after they did produce, made as much as 10,000 bbls/day for several petroleum club of houston days, as one contemporary writer put it, “the emergency crew had to rush round quite a bit”. Invariably the wells give up by means of sanding up or by collapse of the casing and as a lot of the oil as attainable was then pumped away to storage. Some of the early drilling logs make most interesting reading and that i quote:
“Well blew two joints of five-inch above crown block”
“Had to shut down owing to fuel rocks coming out of the hole”
“The pressure lifted the rotary table less than 30 toes up into the derrick’
“Well blew five joints of eight-inch casing up into derrick bringing down travelling block and crown block”
“Well flowed instruments out of the followed up with oil and sand taking pictures rocks out of the hole”
Mention has already been mad rotary drilling, and the first well drilled fully by this methodology was Parry Lands No. D4 completed to 580 ft in 1914. About this time within the y immediately previous World Battle I number of different firms, who with us right this moment, made their look Among them, Trinidad Leaseholds Restricted, now Texaco Trinidad founded in 1913, who brought in the primary producer in Forest Reserve in 1914, the discovery properly for that subject and Trinidad Central Oilfields, kind by Alexander Duckham as a non-public firm in 1911, with headquarters Tabaquite. The 12 months 1914 – the outbreak of World Warfare I – saw Trinidad oil production cross the 1 million-barrel mark for the first time. Colourful as is the early history oil manufacturing in Trinidad, one in do not forget that manufacturing is barely stage one, to be followed by storage, transportation, refining and advertising and marketing.
Early storage of crude oil in Trinidad was in underground earthen tank Some must have been of appreciable dimension. Rust information 300 bbls being saved in one in the early days in Guyaguyare are, and there’s a report that a pony fell into one and drowned, being unable to swim in crude oil. In 1914 a report confirmed 30,000 bbls of crude in earthen storage tanks in Forest Reserve. There are few details of storage tanks prior to this time although in 1910, six giant sixty four,000 bbl tanks were erected Brighton. The first export cargo of crude oil was loaded from Brighton in 1910 Later, pipelines have been laid to load crude oil at Pointe-a-Pierre and Claxton Bay the previous from the Forest Reserve Area and the latter, the sunshine crude from Tabaquite.
Regarding the previous there is an interesting account regarding the Admiralty tanker Masconomo, the date August 16th 1916. The captain went ashore and requested the supervisor: “Have you bought any oil ” The supervisor replied: “Not at present, however if you happen to care to attend a day or two, we’re drilling a nicely and we’ll provide you with all it’s received if it gets any!”
The captain decided to attend and with some of his officers made a trip to Forest Reserve to see the effectively brought in. Fortuitously, the preliminary move was sufficient to finish the cargo, and oil was pumped straight from the properly into the ship, little doubt plus water and sand. On the refinery facet, the primary small crude unit was established at Level about 1910, followed by Brighton. Plenty of other models were built to provide native requirements of gasoline and burning oil, and in 1917 the refinery at Pointe-a-Pierre was began. like all refineries of the interval the premise was the horizontal boiler sort crude stills. The yr 1922 noticed the introduction of a cracking plant at Pointe-a-Pierre, rather before the days of the cracking artwork, as the following description would indicate, – “Trees within the vicinity of the plant, when it was in operation, exhibited glorious autumn tints as a preliminary to dying, birds passed away in the atmosphere of hydrocarbon vapours and hydrogen sulphide, silverware turned black with prolific deposits of silver sulphide, and the entire neigbourhood was rendered uninhabitable”. After a few attempted runs the unit was modified over to topping duties.
These temporary glimpses into the past have already advanced us to the 1920s which saw other firms (Apex, T.P.D. and Kern) now with us turn into established, the eventual profitable improvement of Guayaguayare as an oilfield, and great technological advances in each producing and refining.
Everyone knows that, whereas to the economic system of Trinidad and Tobago,the oil industry is of biggest importance, on a free world basis our volume contribution is small – about 1/2% %. However, on a technological basis the contribution of Trinidad’s oilmen has been important and the effectivity of the producing and refining operations extremely commendable. The business right here has recorded quite a lot of notable “firsts”, to quote but two: – gamma ray well logging on the producing facet and industrial n-butane isomerisation within the refining trade.
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