Another Day In Sunny Southern California; 1934


...and another one gets away from somebody at Signal Hill.

This sort of stuff was not exactly, neighborly. First, it gave all downwind operators bad heartburn and caused them to suspend operations on their wells. A blowing well like this would soak wooden derricks around it in crude oil... then when it caught fire everything around it went up like an Aggie bonfire. In 1929 a well caught fire in Signal Hill and set six other wells around it a blaze, most of them being drilled by different operators. The aftermath of that was not something you called a "block party."


And then there was this: if you're drilling wells on 1/4 acre spacing and the dickhead next to you can't control his well...it's actually your oil getting hurled over the top of his crown. I mean, essentially all you can do is standback and watch while your share of the bounty gets drained like somebody pulled the plug on a bathtub. That would tend to be a real pisser for me.


Third, blowouts like this made a big stinkin' mess of orange, almond and Eucalyptus trees, ruined yard grass, turned white picket fences into black picket fences, whitewalls into blackwalls, kept the kids from playing stickball in the street and coated the family poodle with yucky goop...who then walked into the house and jumped up in the bed, tracking oily shit everywhere.


Blowouts in urban neighborhoods were very socially disruptive.


Imagine being a 1/64th working interest owner in a well like this and getting a joint interest bill from your operator for having to paint nine homes in the block where your well was being drilled, then two months later getting named in a lawsuit because Mrs. Spitzel's chickens quit laying eggs because of trama caused by your blowout?

At 65 cents a barrel, it just wasn't worth it, man.

I like oil and gas wells in wide open spaces, thanks. When bad stuff happens you can lock the cattleguard and keep people out 'till you get it all cleaned up.