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Oil and Gas Division

Have you ever heard about the oil boom in Texas? In 1901, Anthony Lucas', while working for a salt mining company in Louisiana, noticed that the gentle mounds on the Gulf Coast as salt domes - were natural traps for oil. He drilled the famous 'Lucas Gusher' at Spindletop in Beaumont.

From 1902 until 1920, oil was discovered in Petrolia, Electra, Burkburnett, Breckenridge, and Desdemona in Central Texas. During these early years, a gusher often produced oil uncontrollably, sometimes for many days. Oil soaked into the ground, ran off into nearby creeks and gullies, or was channeled into nearby pits that had been hastily dug. Oil was often stored in pits or vast open tanks. The results were inevitable - waste and pollution.

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Spindletop Oil Gusher
The "Lucas Gusher" Oil Well, Beaumont, Texas, January 1901

Oil Springs Oil Well
The first well drilled on purpose

Production area in late 1800's
Production area in late 1800's in Southeast Texas

Transportation was another problem for the oil industry. In 1917, the Legislature designated oil pipelines as common carriers and gave the Railroad Commission authority over the pipelines. In 1919, the Commission was also given jurisdiction over oil and gas production in the state.

The Commission had a hard time making the oil producers limit how much oil they could take out of the ground. In 1930, the discovery of the East Texas Field resulted in the price of oil crashing. After several years the courts determined that the Commission had the authority to prorate oil production to conserve the oil.

The Oil and Gas Division today continues to make sure the oil well is safe and that you can play outside, in a stream or park when an oil well is nearby.

I bet you didn't know that Texas is the largest oil and gas producing state in the United States. There are over 234,400 active oil and gas wells and 53,000 injection and disposal wells that the oil and gas division watches over.

If an oil and gas well doesn't produce any more then the oil and gas division goes and seals or plugs the well. That way boys and girls like you won't fall or get hurt by the oil or gas well.

The oil and gas division decides how much oil and gas a well can produce throughout the year. However, they do not decide how much a barrel of oil will cost.

This division has offices throughout the state called district offices. The people who work in the district offices conduct regular inspections, respond to public complaints, investigate pollution violations and help industry personnel during blowouts, fires and spills.

A portable drilling rig used for drilling shallow wells


Wink Texas in 1926
Wink Texas in 1926

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