The American Petroleum Industry: The Age of Illumination, 1859-1899

By Harold F. Williamson; Arnold R. Daum | Go to book overview
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Chapter 6
Output of crude and the spread of production

A general impression of the output of crude, which formed the base for the expansion of the industry over the period of 1862-73, may be gained from Chart 6:1. Although inadequate for some types of analysis, the charted data adequately reflect major trends.* With minor deviations, annual output of crude advanced gradually from about 3 million barrels in 1862 to over 5 million in 1870 and 1871. In 1873 it almost doubled to nearly 10 million barrels, a level nearly three times as great as the peak outputs in the years through 1868.

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*
Data on output and prices of crude oil throughout the 1860's have many limitations for purposes other than indicating general trends. There was no systematic gauging and reporting of the output of wells. Prices were those of only a fraction of the transactions at points along Oil Creek, and frequently deviated widely from what producers actually received at the wellhead. Barrels ranged from 40 to 50 gallons in size despite nominal standards of 40 gallons until 1866.1

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