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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

Pacific Section of AAPG


Geology of the Midway-Sunset Oil Field and Adjacent Temblor Range, San Joaquin Basin, California, 2001
Pages 39-48
Regional Framework

A Brief Early History of the Midway-Sunset Oil Field

David B. Del Mar


The Midway-Sunset Oil Field brea was being used by the Yokut Indians long before it was described by promoters in the late nineteeth century. The first known oil well was drilled sometime around 1887 and produced heavy oil from the Tulare Formation. The field was first reported on from a technical perspective by Watts (1894). Detailed reports on the geology and natural resources of the field soon followed (Arnold and Johnson, 1910; Pack, 1920). The history of the pioneer oil companies active in the field is both varied and colorful. Burgeoning infrastructures dealing with water lines, pipelines and railroads played important roles in the field’s early development. Water intrusion concerns in the field lead to the creation of an Advisory Board to solve operator disputes that later evolved into the California Division of Oil and Gas. More than 100 gushers roared in between the years of 1909 and 1912 greatly increasing the field’s daily oil production. Modification of new technologies of the day in the areas of rotary drilling, cementing, and electric logging are still in use today.

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