A Look Back at One of The Biggest Oil and Gas Fields


Oklahoma and oil and gas have been synonymous since the late 1800’s. Oklahoma is in the heart of the Mid-Continent Oil Region and some of the largest oil and natural gas fields in the country are found in the state. On April 15, 1897, Jennie Cass dropped an explosive charge down the borehole of a well and brought in the state’s first commercially successful oil well, the Nellie Johnstone Number One, at fifty barrels per day. Things would never be the same again, as the discovery well for the giant Bartlesville-Dewey Field ushered in the oil era for Oklahoma Territory. It produced more than 100,000 barrels of oil in its lifetime.


By the time Oklahoma became a state in 1907, it was the largest oil producer in the nation. Between 1900 and 1935 Oklahoma ranked first among the Mid-Continent states in oil production and for nine other years, the state placed second.

Crude Production

The state’s oil industry experienced declining production from the mid-1980s until 2005, when crude oil production in Oklahoma hit its lowest point since 1913.

Production has more than doubled since 2005 to more than 128 million barrels in 2014, pushing its way into the top five of the most productive oil-producing states. Proved reserves also doubled between 2009 and 2014.

Natural Gas Production

The state is a top natural gas producer, supplying almost one-tenth of the marketed natural gas in the nation. Oklahoma’s natural gas production reached an all-time high of 2.31 trillion cubic feet in 2014, surpassing the previous peak of 2.26 trillion cubic feet in 1990.  Thirteen of the 100 largest natural gas fields in the United States are in Oklahoma and proved natural gas reserves in the state have almost doubled in the past decade. The Hugoton Field is the largest natural gas field in the state and one of the largest individual natural gas fields in the United States, covering much of the Oklahoma panhandle, as well as parts of the Texas panhandle and Kansas.

In 2013, Oklahoma was the fifth-largest shale gas-producing state, after Texas, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, and Arkansas, and its proved reserves are substantial.

Early Field Discoveries of Interest

1912 – Cushing Field

1913 – Healdton Field

1920 – Hugoton-Guymon Gas Field

1926 -27 Greater Seminole Field -five of the state’s largest discoveries were located here. Earlsboro, Seminole City, Bowlegs, Searight, and Little River.

1928 – Oklahoma City Field

What was the first major oil field in Oklahoma?

The Oklahoma City Oil Field is one of the world’s giant petroleum fields. The field was opened just south of the city limits on December 4, 1928, and first entered Oklahoma City limits on May 27, 1930.

The discovery well, the Indian Territory Oil Illuminating Company (ITIO) and Foster Petroleum Corporation Oklahoma City Number 1 well was completed in the Arbuckle Limestone for an IP of 6,564 BOPD at a depth of 6,624 ft. Subsequent development drilling opened up numerous other reservoirs including the Basal Oil Creek Sand and the prolific Simpson “Wilcox” Sand. Initial flow rates in the “Wilcox Sand” were nothing short of spectacular often exceeding 20,000 BOPD and 20,000 MCFD. The field is approximately 12 miles long and 4.5 miles wide and encompasses 32 sq. mile with a productive area of 13,770 acres.

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Large pockets of high-pressure natural gas and huge oil production characterized the Oklahoma City field. One well, the Number One McBeth, had a daily flow of 101,002 barrels of oil. When gas pockets were unexpectedly encountered, the result was a runaway gusher that often sprayed entire neighborhoods before the crew controlled the well. The most famous of these was the Wild Mary Sudik. For ten days between March 26 and April 4, 1930, the Wild Mary threw twenty thousand barrels of oil and two hundred million cubic feet of natural gas into the air daily as workmen struggled to cap the well. A black film of oil settled on Norman, eleven miles to the south, and when the wind shifted, the mist fell on Nicoma Park, eleven miles to the north. (1)

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Oklahoma County Production Summary

Oklahoma County is rectangular in shape and is 4 Townships tall and 5 Ranges wide. This amounts to 20 townships x 36 sections per township = 720 sections of land. At 640 acres per section, the county covers 460,800 acres or 720 square miles.


Production profile of oil & gas field

Interestingly, we took a look back at wells across the state of Oklahoma and from a dataset of over 200,000+ wells, we narrowed these down to individual wells that produced > 250,000 BO. Oklahoma County was second only to Grady County in this analysis with 143 wells fitting this profile.

We also broke down Oklahoma County into oil and gas production by townships to see where the best wells had been drilled and produced. Two townships stand out in this category, T11N-R3W and T12N-R3W. You can see evidence by this visual graphic.


Field Production

When it came to field production, nothing else in Oklahoma County compares to the Oklahoma City field. It has the most wells and the biggest oil and gas production numbers.


The Most Prolific Reservoirs

The Wilcox has been the largest producing oil reservoir in the Oklahoma City Field while the Bartlesville has produced the most natural gas with the Oswego a close second.


Without a doubt, Oklahoma, Oklahoma County, and the Oklahoma City Field have been long been a part of the petroleum industry. While the STACK and SCOOP are now at the center of attention, there exists an exquisite history in Oklahoma County, rich in characters and field discoveries that will never be duplicated.



(1) Kenny A. Franks, “Petroleum Industry,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture,

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