A Brief History of Oil Drilling in the US


The history of oil extraction, drilling, and drill pipe technology in the US is just 160 years old. In the 1850’s, the first official oil company known to merge in the US was the Pennsylvania Rock Oil Company. Just a few years later, the company reorganized into Seneca Oil and was established as a petroleum exploratory company. With the desire to discover the various uses for “rock” or “coal oil”, investors began hiring engineers and scientists to find ways to obtain and test it.

The Birth of Drill Pipe Technology

One such oil worker and former railroad-man named Edwin Drake built the first official US drilling system that brought about ground-breaking results. Drake’s major crude discovery occurred in Oil Creek, Pennsylvania near Titusville in 1859. Back then, the celebrated and newfound crude oil was used primarily to make kerosene for lasting illumination. They also found other ways to use petroleum products and dramatically improve the lives of early American settlers.

To drill this pioneering oil well down 69.5 feet, Drake utilized a steam engine and a cable-tool drilling rig. However, these drilling technologies weren’t Drake’s only innovative contributions to the blossoming oil industry. He also developed the drive pipe and a method for driving drill pipe down the wellbore to protect its integrity. Ultimately, his methods revolutionized a then-nascent drilling industry, and the US boom began.

Early Industry Growth

As drilling and drill pipe technology advanced and oil became more readily available, Americans found more innovative uses for oil and more progressive ways to drill for it. New uses included lubricating various newly-invested machines, fueling machines, and sources of heat. Today, the original drilling site for Drake’s well is recognized as a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark.

After Drake’s success in Oil Creek, other ventures quickly sprung up across Pennsylvania and slightly southwest-ward to other states. This region expanded down the Ohio River into Ohio and Kentucky, and through West Virginia. The amount of oil produced in this area alone placed it on the map as it quickly rose to become the US’s leading producer. That was at least until the westward expansion.

By the late 1890’s many other western states and regions began drilling commercial wells and also experiencing great success. From the first well drilled in Kansas in 1892 to another in Texas in 1894, by the early 1900’s, oil drilling rigs were being established across the country all the way out to California. Today, Texas still remains one of the nation’s leading producers of crude oil.

Modern Drilling

While Drake and his contemporaries were experimenting with technologies intended to retrieve crude oil exclusively, today’s drilling operations are far more diverse. Natural gas remains a growing industry thanks to its comparatively low cost and lower carbon emissions. With the development of technologies for removing natural gas from shale, expansion of the industry has continued for more than a century. Oil producers and industry engineers continue to find ways to preserve the environment while also utilizing clean energy.

Drill Pipe Protection

Early oil wells weren’t as efficient compared to today’s modern marvels; yet, they provided a new age of comfort and convenience for Americans. Today’s companies must contend with far more competition and far stricter environmental controls. As such, it’s essential to find ways to protect their equipment from harsh environmental conditions and accidents.

MSI Pipe Protection Products

The use of pipe protection products such as line pipe protectors and thread protectors for oil drilling has become an industry standard. MSI’s products allow companies to more efficiently retrieve oil and gas with less concern over equipment damage or hazardous conditions. For more than three decades, our leading API standard quality products have been helping change the way oil companies do business.

We’re also here to help you. Call MSI Pipe Protection Technologies for orders and more information at 1-877-276-9208.

Protect pipes with MSI, the world’s best pipe protection company.

Contact us today to learn how we can help you.

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