Sunday, February 9, 2014

Richmond Oil Company

First you need to sit right back and listen to the Beverly Hillbillies Theme Song, (Youtube)  which is, The ballad of Jed Clampett, (Wikipedia)
Download and/or listen to the ballad from the Internet Archive, for Free

Steveston No.1  C-044-G   Latitude:  49.12447   Longitude:  -123.170838   NAD 83
Today the well head is located in an area of residential homes; unknown if it is visible, or what kind of shape it is in.    This was the first attempt, in the Lower Fraser Valley to drill specifically for oil and gas. A few holes had been drilled prior, but they were looking for coal.

              Unknown how correct this is, but I am sure that the actual well would not be far away  from here.

The Richmond Oil Company, was incorporated January 12, 1904, with a capital stock of $12,000, in $10 shares, with the purpose of drilling for oil at Steveston, in Richmond, B.C.
Followed a few months later by the, Steveston Land & Oil Company Limited, incorporated April 15, 1904.  With their capital stock at $250,000, in $1 shares.

1904 April 1  Richmond Oil company will begin drilling next Tuesday. Mr. Thomas Davis, of Beaumont, Texas in charge.
1904 April 10 raised share price to 11$. William C. Cameron, secretary.
1904 May 8

Two illustrations, from B.C. Mining exchange, April issue. Two experts Thomas Davis and Ferguson, from Beaumont, Texas, are in charge of drilling.
1904 May 17;    600 feet, small quantity of oil noticed.
1904 June 1;   10-inch pipe inserted to 700 feet, to shut-off quicksands. Below 700 feet there is 15 feet of very hard shale, then 5 feet blue gumbo, alternating between shale and gumbo as the depth increases.

1904 June 12. Victoria Daily Colonist.  This AD first appears

1904 June 17  Steveston Land and Oil Company.  British American Trust Company, C.E. Milne, local manager in Victoria.

Alfred Cornelius Flumerfelt, (1856-1930) he was involved in numerous speculative offerings through the years, some made money, some did not.
Robert William Riddell, (1865-1947); Homer Myles Galer, (1864-1930)
The British American Trust Company,  was incorporated in 1901. And in 1919 the company changed their name to British American Bond Corporation Limited, to better reflect their bussiness activities at that time.

1906 May19 Victoria Daily Colonist
Harold Mayne Daly, (1880-1965)   Harold was one of the fortunate few survivors of the sinking of the Lusitania  

So the, Richmond Oil Company, and the Steveston Land & Oil Company, were controlled by the same people.

1904 July 1.  Reports from Steveston are favourable to the prospects of striking oil. In such an event the Lower Fraser valley would experience a boom of unexampled character. Oil as a product of the soil is one in comparison with which strawberry culture becomes a waste of time. We would not in the meantime, however, advise farmers to disregard the possibilities of strawberries.

1904 July 1

Steveston oil drilling

Pressure of gas at the Richmond well forty feet to the square inch

Thomas Davis, manager of the Steveston Land & Oil Company, received a wire last evening from Vancouver stating that the pressure of gas at the Richmond well yesterday was forty-five pounds to the square inch. This in the opinion of Mr. Davis and the oil drillers at Steveston, is the strongest kind of evidence that oil will be reached so soon as the sandstone capping is penetrated by the drill. The pressure of gas is taken at the surface and this after passing through 925 feet of water, which fills the iron pipe casing.

Transcribed below:
1904 July 31 TheVictoria  Daily Colonist


Most recent developments point to an early strike of the fluid.

A News-Advertiser representative received the intelligence yesterday of most welcome developments at the Steveston oil prospects. Mr. Ewen Wainwright MacLean, (1) of the Richmond Oil Company, and Mr. Thomas Davis, of the Steveston Land & Oil Company, informed him that early in the afternoon the pressure became so strong at the boring, which is now down 925 feet, that the capping and plug at the mouth of the piping were blown clear from the opening and water shot up over 40 feet into the air. The water is up to within 15 feet of the top of the piping, the pressure of the gas in the pipe being 88 pounds to the square inch, and it is obvious that the pressure from the gas below must have been immense to cause such a phenomenon. The value of the occurrence lies in the fact that such extreme pressure is invariably found when oil is within measurable distance of being struck, the indications being almost identical with those at the big oil strike in Beaumont, Texas.
The Richmond Oil Company, on the land of which the boring is being made, is expecting new pipe and boring accessories daily to continue working to greater depth. At present, as already stated, the piping, which is 8-inch, is down 925 feet; now 6-inch pipe is to be driven through the bedrock and operations continued downward till oil is struck. The surface works, 80-foot derrick and so forth, are completely installed, and everything is in readiness for the expected welcome appearance of the precious fluid.
Mr. Thomas Davis, who is connected with the Steveston Land & Oil Company, is a well-known Texas expert, and his observations lead him to believe that the prospects at Steveston are extremely bright.

(1)   Ewen Wainwright MacLean, (1863-1923)  Short biography here.   Also a biography in Volume IV, page 708  of,   British Columbia, Earliest times to the present. By: E.O,S, Scholefield
Ewen Wainwright MacLean

Transcribed below:
1904 August 14


Strong and steady pressure of natural gas at Steveston.

The pipe that the Richmond Oil Company has been awaiting a long time will arrive over the C.P.R. tomorrow, says the Vancouver Province, and the drilling operations that have been suspended for the last week or more pending its delivery, will be resumed on Monday.
Mr. H.C. Fritts, superintendent of operations for the company, is in the city today, and stated that he lighted the gas last night for a test, and that he had a flare nine feet in width by eighteen feet in height, which was plainly seen in Westminster. The company is now down nine-hundred and twenty-three feet and he says the pressure of gas is enormous. A half-inch taps the big ten-inch casing at the top of the derrick eighty-four feet from the surface of the ground, and runs fifteen feet higher up. The gas is lighted from the escape end of the small pipe.
Mr. Fritts, says he is absolutely assured of the existence of oil. The deposit of gas invariably precedes oil, the only thing to make an operator doubt where he stands being when the gas comes for a short time and then plays out. A steady flow of gas has continued ever since it was first struck some three weeks ago, at an average pressure of seventy pounds to the square inch, and the existence of great quantities has been proved.

1904 august14: Henry C. Fritts waiting for pipe. Henry lighted the gas creating an 18 feet high, by 8 feet wide flare.  Well is down 923feet,  with 70 lbs pressure.

1904 November 2:  drilling 50 feet per week on average, cutting through the capping at the present time, well nearly 1,100 feet in depth, and the gas pressure is very strong.

A small portion of  Fraser River Delta, British Columbia; Johnston, W A. Geological Survey of Canada, Multicoloured Geological Map no. 1965, 1923 .  Drilling site shown as a red + symbol

Geology of Fraser River Delta map area; Johnston, W A. Geological Survey of Canada, Memoir 135, 1923    [ The map above is part of this Memoir ]

Excerpt from the above memoir that describes the drilling:

The Steveston well was drilled by Mr. Henry C. Fritts, to whom the writer is indebted for the following information regarding the well. A rotary drilling rig was used and a 13-inch hole was carried through sand to a depth of 700 feet, at which point a large boulder was encountered.
The boulder was drilled into for 6 feet and the 10-inch casing set. A 10-inch hole was carried to a depth of 860 feet, where the first shale bed was encountered and a flow of gas obtained. A gas pressure of 88 pounds to the square inch was obtained on bushing the 10-inch pipe to ¼ -inch and using a steam gauge. From 860 feet to 1,000 feet, where the first hard shale was encountered, the formation varied from fine sand to shale.
The 8-inch casing was set at a depth of 1,000 feet. Drilling was continued with a 6-inch stem to a depth of 1,200 feet when operations ceased because of lack of capital. A part of the casing still remains in the hole.
- 30 -
So they ran out of money, and the only people to make money would have been the stock brokers, and the real estate salesmen.  Not sure if the British American Trust Company was involved in this later speculative venture  which  covers the same patch of real estate in Richmond.

Nothing ever became of this highly speculative venture either.

The first seriously drilled oil well, the first of over fifty that have been drilled in the Fraser Valley throughout the years.  Download this Google Earth Kml file to see where the well are located, all failed to bring their investors what they wished of them.
I am  gathering up information on the other wells, and will eventually post it all here. It  interesting how many of these wells from times long ago are now inside residential communities, and it is unknown how they were sealed off, when the speculative ventures failed.  We may have over 50 potential accidents, just waiting to happen, all of the wells, had some gas in them, that is normal.

 ♬ ... And up through the ground came the bubblin crude...♬

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