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The Man Behind Texas Oil

Have You Thanked Pattillo Higgins?

Written by Brian Hicks
Posted November 8, 2012

You probably don't recognize the name Pattillo Higgins... but he's a legend in the oil business.

Higgins is responsible for finding the first major oil gusher in Texas: Spindletop.

Spindletop is a salt dome oilfield located in the southern portion of Beaumont, in the southeastern part of Texas near the Gulf, where Higgins was raised.

On January 10, 1901, a well drilled by Higgins at Spindletop struck oil.

The oilfield would soon produce more than 100,000 barrels of oil per day, a gusher even by today's standards. But it didn't come easy...

For years, Higgins speculated that oil might be under "Spindletop Hill."

And it was easy to see why: The region was popular for its vast sulfur springs and bubbling gas seepages that would ignite if lit. Back then, the locals called it "Sour Mound Hill" because of the sour odor the area emitted from its sulfur springs.

To capitalize on the oil boom spreading across the United States, Higgins teamed up with George O'Brien, George Carroll, and others to launch the Gladys City Oil and Gas Manufacturing Company to do exploratory drilling on Spindletop Hill.

For years the company was unsuccessful, drilling many dry holes. As a result, Gladys City Oil ran into trouble, as investors began to balk at putting more money into drilling with no successful wells to show for it.

Higgins left the company and joined up with Captain Anthony F. Lucas, the leading expert in the U.S. on salt dome spindletop gusherformations like the one at Spindletop Hill.

Lucas and Higgins drilled a well on January 10, 1901, at a depth of 1,139 feet...

They struck oil.

What was known as the Lucas Gusher, or the Lucas Geyser, blew oil over 150 feet in the air at a rate of 100,000 barrels per day. (The famous picture of the Lucas well spewing oil can be found right.)

The pressure in the reservoir was so great, it took nine days for the well to be brought under control.

At that point, Spindletop was the largest oil well in the world... and it catapulted Beaumont to a bona fide oil boomtown.

According to official records:

Beaumont's population of 10,000 tripled in three months and eventually rose to 50,000. Speculation led land prices to increase rapidly. By the end of 1902, more than 500 companies had been formed and 285 wells were in operation.

Higgins and Lucas didn't know it at the time, but they had drilled into one of the largest oil-producing formations on the planet.

The well — which was dubbed "Lucas 1" — had an initial flow rate greater than all of the oil wells in the United States combined at the time. The Spindletop oilfield would go on to produce over three million barrels the first year of operation and over 17 million barrels the following year.

The Texas oil boom was born.

For the next 50 years, Texas was the most prolific oil region in the world. And the United States was the largest oil producer on the planet, until it peaked in 1970.

But horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing has brought back the ghost of Spindletop past.

For all of the media attention and recognition North Dakota gets in America's energy revival, Texas is America's largest oil-producing state by far...

Texas is now producing more oil than OPEC members Angola, Ecuador, and Qatar — and it's fast approaching the daily output of Algeria, Iraq, Nigeria, and Libya.


This past August Texas produced more than two million barrels of oil per day...


With new drilling technologies, Texas could be producing over four million barrels in the next decade.

That would rank Texas #3 if it were a member of OPEC.

In meantime, I'm going to show you how to profit from Texas' oil rebirth. Stay tuned...

Forever wealth, 

Brian Hicks Signature

Brian Hicks

Brian is a founding member and President of Angel Publishing and investment director for the income and dividend newsletter The Wealth Advisory. He writes about general investment strategies for Wealth Daily and Energy and Capital. Known as the "original bull on America," Brian is also the author of Profit from the Peak: The End of Oil and the Greatest Investment Event of the Century, published in 2008. In addition to writing about the economy, investments and politics, Brian is also a frequent guest on CNBC, Bloomberg, Fox, and countless radio shows. For more on Brian, take a look at his editor's page.

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