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Development in Mississippi during 1940 passed through two phases. The first of these was hysterical, resulting from the fact that only a few of the major companies and independent operators had scientific data or lease protection prior to the discovery at Tinsley. This resulted in rapid, and necessarily sketchy, geophysical work, promiscuous leasing and drilling of wells by crews largely inexperienced in Gulf coastal formations. In the second phase, hasty, haphazard work gave way to sounder practices in both exploration and drilling.
During the first half of the year leasing activity was largely confined to the north portion of the state but during the latter months the play shifted to the south. The 1,221,412 acres of leases owned by major and larger independent oil companies on January 1, 1940, was increased to 4,775,619 acres during the year. A probable additional 1,500,000 acres were acquired by individuals and small independents in the same period.
On January 1, 1940, there were 61 geophysical parties operating in Mississippi. This figure was increased to 64 on June 1, and decreased to 22 on the last day of the year. At the peak, more than 60% of all geophysical parties were operating in the State.
No new discoveries of importance occurred. The Pickens field, with four producers, proved disappointing. Tinsley spread beyond early expectations and had 101 producing wells.
Of the 208 wells drilled, 103 were dry holes and of these only seven resulted in positive proof of the existence of structure. Many of the dry holes were drilled without geological guidance or were located on geophysical evidence which was unsatisfactory, and some were drilled on seemingly good prospects which were disproved by drilling.
One of the main purposes of this paper is to evaluate the results outlined above and to point out their influence on future activity. Although the results of exploration during the year 1940 were disappointing, a true valuation leads to the conclusion that the State has not had a fair test, especially in the southern part, and that its future potentialities as an oil-producing area have not been materially affected.
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