Chijol; 1907



I bumped this photo the other day in the Archivos Casasolas Digital Library of early Mexican oil; in a few weeks I am going to publish a little piece about the first commercial oil discovery in Mexico, by Edward Doheny's, Mexican Petroleum Company. This, above, is an astounding photograph.


Several years after Doheny made his great discovery he began wandering around the coastal plains west of Tampico drilling tar seeps, and made a significant find near the village of Chijol. This was flat country with sparse vegetation and numerous brackish lagoons mixed with fresh water run off from the Sierra Madres, to the west, and tidal surges from the Gulf of Mexico to the east. A railroad was built from Tampico to Cuidad San Luis Potosi, in this flat land.


No oil man likes rig moves; they take inordinate time to accomplish, are generally expensive, and inevitably something breaks or somebody gets hurt. Inevitably the day it's time to RDMO, it starts raining gatos e perros, or a Hurricane decides to make an unannounced visit. Generally speaking, rig moves are a pain in the hiney.


Rather than keep rebuilding wooden derricks and steam driven cable tool components, the Mexican Petroleum Company put what appears to be a large bull wheel assembly under this rig, tied onto it with a steam driven tractor and is moving to its next location. This is 1907, mind you.

To the left is a rig move in Khazitstan in 2017. Same principle, 110 years later.


Sadly people ignore the incredibly unique history of worldwide oil and gas exploration and tend to over focus on the here and now under the belief that the wonders of new technology pave the way for bigger and better things in the future.


In reality almost everything we do today in the oil and gas industry was developed a century ago, from drilling jars to Athey Wagons, rotary tables and BOP's. It's all basically the same, just tweaked. In 1901 Captain Lucas drove cattle thru a water hole to make drilling mud. Top drives are just rotary tables that move up and down with the drill pipe.


So, sombreros off to the Mexican Petroleum Company and Mexican ingenuity back in 1907; they were setting the pace for things the worldwide industry still does today.


By the way, rig moves really do suck.