"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act."-George Orwell
The media will be all over Michelle Bachman today about her comments in Florida yesterday concerning drilling for oil in the Everglades. I'll betcha not one of them lets America know there already is, and has been oil wells drilled and in production in the Everglades.
Barron G. Collier, was busily purchasing land in the sparsely populated southwest part of the state. Between 1921 and 1923, he acquired about 1.3 million acres that would eventually become Collier and Hendry counties, including what is now the “Big Cypress Preserve.”
Barron Collier's advocacy and personal financial backing was key to successful completion of the Tamiami Trail in April 1928. Ever the savvy businessman, Collier negotiated his first oil lease in the county with Gulf Oil Company in the mid 1930s, despite Florida's still unbroken string of dry holes.
Gulf Oil brought in 50 men to conduct seismic testing, using the first big-wheeled “swamp buggy” vehicles of their type in the county. Gulf established headquarters in Everglades City, then the county seat, and began the search.
For 10 years, Gulf searched. The company drilled a number of wells, some to a depth of about 6,000 feet, but ultimately, seismic tests convinced them that full scale drilling was not warranted and in 1938, Gulf Oil pulled out.
Collier's confidence nevertheless remained unshakeable. His son relates of the time, “I said to dad, ‘You know, perhaps we have to face the fact that maybe there is no oil in Collier County.’ Well, he was just absolutely furious. He shook his finger under my nose and said, ‘Just don't let anybody tell you that there isn't any oil in Collier County.’ And when I looked at him, he smiled and said, ‘I can smell it.’”
Following their Monroe county disappointment, Peninsular executed a lease assignment to Humble Oil and Refining Co. and Humble began searching near the Sunniland watering stop on the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad. Barron Collier remained confident that oil would be found in southwest Florida, but when he died in 1939, oil in Florida remained an unrealized dream.
At Sunniland, the search continued, with the drilling done by the Hoffland Brothers of Tulsa, Oklahoma, one of the foremost drilling companies in the country.
Then, on the 26th of September 1943, after expending about $1 million and reaching a depth of 11,626, Humble Oil Co. brought in Sunniland No. 1, Florida's first producing oil well. The well's site is about 12-miles south of Immokalee, by present day Big Cypress Preserve and a 30-minute drive from the resort city of Naples.
Initial daily production was 140 barrels of oil and 425 gallons of salt water, which eventually settled down to 20 barrels per day. This was no gusher, but it proved the tenacious Barron Collier's wildcatter intuition to have been right on target.
Predictably, the Humble Oil Co. find sparked a flurry of lease purchases and wildcat wells. By 1954, the Sunniland field was producing 500,000 barrels per year from eleven wells at average depths of 11,575 feet. Sunniland remained Florida's top producer until 1964, when Sun Oil Co., after spending $10 million on 34 dry holes, discovered the Felda field in nearby Hendry County.
Pleased with its discovery of the Sunniland oilfield, Humble Oil accepted the $50,000 prize offered by the state, added $10,000 – and donated the $60,000 equally between the University of Florida and the Florida State College for women.
Humble would later become the Exxon Corp., now Exxon/Mobil.
Yet Bachman will be mocked as unintelligent, but who really are the fools here?