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Document deep south Los fields of cotton some forests and factories in the heart of Dixie. A revealing story of progress pioneering spirit documented with on the spot recordings and produced by the radio broadcasting services extension division. University of Alabama. For the next 30 minutes he will make a transcribed trip through the Deep South. You will see the significance of a new industrial south a changing South. You will see how determined people are nature's plug into prosperity a move that more than ever is making itself felt in our nation's economy. Black. A study in oil.
You're an average American. You own a car or drive one as a consequence have cause to use oil and gas in Alabama there's another average American who owns and operates an automobile. He too is concerned with the value of oil and gas but his concern is borne of a deeper understanding or deeper knowledge of petroleum and its production. You have the pleasure of meeting him. Well to be Joe on stage just evolved and state oil and gas are much interested in petroleum you know the petroleum industry is not yet 100 years old oil was first discovered and well at Titusville Pennsylvania in 1859 and yet in less than
a hundred yes it has grown to a point where we absolutely depended on it. Now the. Picture in the south. Is of deep interest to all of us. We produce about one seventh of the total of the US. A good many of us States are just beginning production. A good many of our states are just beginning production lesson number one. You learned at the South the same south that in recent years has soared to unbelievable heights in the petroleum industry. Today stands on the threshold of an even more fabulous future. You learn that there are more than 32000 producing wells in eight of the Deep South states in Alabama in Arkansas and Florida Kentucky Louisiana Mississippi Tennessee and Virginia. You learn also that in 1951 four thousand four hundred thirty nine new wells were drilled
pursuit of a promise. But sometimes that promise isn't fulfilled and the attempt ends with disappointment in a dry hole. Now the 1951 ventures nearly 2000 nearly one half of the attempts made it ended in this disappointment. But how about the 2000 wells and more that came through that this day are adding to the annual production of more than three hundred and 11 million barrels of crude oil from down Dixie way. How about a promise that is kept alive by a productive past. You'd like to know more about petroleum about its men and its methods how it's produced how it's processed what it means. So you decide to take a trip so that up on the plea is we have a long trip coming up your where Dr Jones you're in his car as you pull out of the service station and head southward. It depends on where you are what route you take. But the destination is the same. If you brush the Ozarks then you're likely to
pass an oil field in Arkansas. If you come to Kentucky you can't miss it. But let's say that you followed the Atlantic coast as you are now swinging inland and down into the Gilbert town area of Alabama. You can even hear pumping Jacks pumping black gold from beneath Alabama earth. You drive on with it past cotton fields that have come to live past progress in the making. You swing along the Gulf Coast past marshlands past ocean playgrounds past shrimp fleets and hopeful fisherman. And then at length you enter the Neckar of Mardi Gras. Your old busy body its rich Raymonds and revelry of the French Quarter and find. It ran great.
And yet within the city of serious business at hand and in building modern and new work plotting new courses for constructing a final future inside a tall shapely young lady operates the elevator. You step out of the fourth floor and follow Dr. Jones down the corridor. You are should into a nice room a comfortable office. Dr Jones explains your visit. Leading state and production of oil and gas and leave town and here to southern Louisiana. To see why this is so. We have time to go out just because we believe that. As division
geologist you will know the story and we have come here to find it out. Now what about this thing that a geologist on the office wall there is a map of southern Louisiana showing all of the all the gas field and yes Richo are probably you look at the world map now laced with slanting lattice like shadows. The pattern of morning sun pouring through a Venetian blind from across the room. You see the colors red green yellow representative of various points of interest to want to man. The green for instance represents accumulations of oil the red gas you are told. And you remember the story about the first oil well in Louisiana that day in September 1991 when but Moto driller W. Scott Haywood stood in that rice paddy near Jennings Louisiana wondering if a hunch and a hope would pay off. He drilled a thousand feet without success and obligated
to drill another thousand foot Well I got permission to go deeper on that day at seventeen hundred feet. The bit struck oil sands the well was bailed out twice the second time a four inch column of oiled sawed over the derrick. This showed the way showed that it could be done. That it was there to be had before you're on this huge wall map you're seeing up to the minute picture of today's all and gas operation in Louisiana. You see the clusters of pins representing drilling operations covering the southern half of the state and stretching far out into the Gulf of Mexico. Why should Louisiana like its neighbor Texas be rich in our reserves. Well to some degree the answer is graphically shown in yellow the yellow color indicate location. Although you ask about salt domes and you find that as
the name implies they are lifts and the Earth's surface hill like protrusion of salt pushing the earth upward in a rounded hump. Around these you find oil is usually found in quantity but how is oil actually discovered. The district geologist the man now seated across the polished desk tells you that it's a joint effort of the geologist and the geophysicist. The geologist. Well he might go about his work in one of three ways. The surface geologist the man who walks over the area looking for odd crops or surface indications of oil. Then there is the core drill geologist the man who drilled samplings sometimes as deep as fifteen hundred feet looking for underground indications. And finally the photo geologist the man who studies aerial photographs of the area searching for unusual drainage patterns and overall surface indications during the interview. Another man has come into the office.
Dr Jones turns to him and I would visit you. This is due your division Your Business. What sort of work you doing in this area. Well it is just this is what we primarily look for is the structures that the geologists were referring to where they are will accumulate. You have to have these structures by the accumulation of the geophysicist is an important man in the search for a black girl and to aid him there are a number of instruments the magnetometer the gravity meter. You don't understand really but you listen carefully anyway. After all in the past 50 years Petroleum has played an important role in the changing South. Right now the geophysicists is telling you when Dr. Jones the most reliable method to seek out hidden reservoirs of oil is with an instrument called the seismograph. We consider the seismograph most reliable and you can see from the map there are blue pins all that well blue Pande
going dad what those hands. How are those blue gander seismic crews here in southern Louisiana and what are the range ones scattered all over the map from one side to the other they aren't ones are the gravity crews or the peons. Sadly Chris about 80 in southern Louisiana at this time an active very average figure for the air and the severity of crew made around 20 pretty good things. Oh what do you do. Well what's involved in the equipment that is needed just how do you go about setting up for reading where the seismic crew well I'll just give an example of course it varies a lot with the equipment used to do the type of country and the terrain marsh or the swapper the lands there where you can have automotive equipment or in the marsh you used your swamp buggies or marsh
buggies helicopters and various other means but generally what you do you. You bore holes with a smaller trail you drill your holes into the earth from varying death from 50 to several hundred feet and you place a charge of dynamite. Of course these are our understanding in a certain distance apart and surveyed in by your engineer civil engineer and you have your sensitive estimate set out on the ground when you stow charge of dynamite why it creates a small earthquake really and the seismic waves build out into the earth and on some particular Strattera buried in the earth they reflect back up this back yes it is a miracle. You listen and you learn and you learn the principle of seismographs methods of exploring for oil. First the explosion.
Shock waves travel. They ricochet on underground formations and bounce back to the surface. These waves are impulses as a seismo crew would call them are recorded on very sensitive machines or seismographs and interpreter can take these readings translate them into feet and create a geologic map of the area. We like to think that the seismograph. Something like this. Dr. Jones if you want to. You came down here to go fishing and you want to know where the best place to fish. We would say well if you're going to the best place but still it's always nice to contemplate. We would probably say five places here good but I would go here to Boggy Creek under the bridge to catch fish. That's the way we feel about the size. Ingenuity has invaded the deep sea men and machines tread a new path of
progress and science for the brightest sunrise for Dixie. You see this as these men of oil talk of their jobs tell you and Dr Jones what they do when the never ending search for black gold. Yes this is the land section Mr. Jones. The primary function of the land section is a purchase of all places an orgasm Oh it gives the company the right to enter up on the land and explore for oil and for him to Dr. Jones. The work of the geologist physicist and the land man is now complete. The location is ready for drilling and we're now ready to pass it on to the production department who will drill. I walk it well in the morning mist hovers over the bike blanketing a grotesque Cypress with a veil of
damp. And dimly outlining the gray Spanish moss that drapes an eerie splendor on a cross bridges spanning winding waterway alongside swamp shacks and shrimp boats and sugarcane fields. Get out early this morning. See a billion dollar industry. Going to twisting by road with an oil field. You see Derrickson drilling rigs more frequently. Sometimes jutting out of a clump of trees all the time squatting. And then you see why. See the oil boom I don't feel rising out of the fog. That one of the few that read it looks like.
So don't get scared he'd say find yourself in an open prairie saw grass and swamp water. On the horizon you see Derek's. Half dozen of. Your road. He brought it in dusty twist on what. Had links you come within several hundred yards of an oil derrick. You have reached your destination. So this is a raid. It looked like that. Place. Stopped as I. Caught a boat yesterday does it caught a boat out in a isolated marsh country we. Thank. Them was last week. Complete a week. Before they go back out to their homes. Or so. Take all the Mayos sleepier during that time. And how long do they stay all after that week. Like how many. Days before they come back in. They work five days and then two days.
And. You run 24 hours. It doesn't make works around the talks and I'm in live right on this lot of that on the quarter boat. We have three eight hour shifts each. From where you stand some distance from the derrick itself you can see the men moving about their Suba Hellmann's glistening in the sun. Later you will talk with these men. You will ask them how they feel about their job their family their future about the South and its place in the nation about their place in the south. They won't talk much and they'll find the first question easier to put into words. Were they close to their job. They like it because it's the one thing they know best because it's a living. And when you ask them about living and working in the desolate marsh country they hands it will be very simple makes it easier to concentrate on the job. Makes one better appreciate the off duty days.
Besides the strenuous routine leaves little time for loneliness. And there's always the pride of achievement. The feeling of success when a whale comes in. And then there's the suspense. The hope the calm expect that mounts higher and higher as the drill bores deeper and deeper. But most rough mixes these men are called narrow their concern to the confines of their own Vajra meant seemingly unaware that their success means a fortune and a future for the south of the nation. Now that big steel out in front of. The line it has a derrick on it. Is that normal situation for this. I think. It is from the marsh country. That is a barge that carries all organic machinery. A lot plans to fire up right drag the dark horse in the pipe out of the hole.
Well. They're not Grayling that at the moment racking pipe. In the rig. What's that. Pulling the bell pipe out of the hole to. Put on a new bed to bed at alland I was. When I went to this well stocked this towel I started 37 days ago and how deep is 12000 feet two miles what's it done with the. Clavicle ranges. That sadly at what depth do you think you're going we expect to go in depth approximate 16000 feet. Let it be deep enough for anything. That's the assistant division superintendent talking telling you and Dr Jones how black gold is brought forth from the desolate marshlands of Louisiana. You discover that the delicate self towering A hundred and thirty six feet in the areas located on a movable barge at the steel barge is anchored into place by pumping water into its compartments and sinking it. It's customary to get to these locations about boats you
find at the twisting road you came over was an unusual luxury not common place in Cajun country. You follow Dr. Jones across the narrow pier like Plank way too are they all well. The roar of the the constant wind is deafening. You walk near a watchful of your footing. You strain upward you see a mammoth pulley moving up the center of the derrick drawing after it a seemingly Sandy straw like section of. I get told that it's brought out of the hones reattached joint each joint measuring 30 feet in length at the top of the darker one and in the silver helmet pushes a 90 foot long sections of pipe into a room where they are right. It's long hard dangerous work and it's a gamble. A multimillion dollar again someday this project financed. They know how and efficiency more than likely pay off at least that's the hope.
The old man's prayer feeling is rolling along strangled ground by a lot of them already had a great deal stacked. Flat in their way. You know something. Oh then. And now. Maybe he can tell us something about it. What is your job here in the ring. What are they doing. We are changing the old one is alone is it. You have one on. Yeah that is correct. Which involves running our home. I'm out of steel stacked up in this hole must be put in BBR only brought me home and then the long operation. Yes it is but I'll be happy to do that when the
present be at we are running we have approximately every 16 to 20 hour. Painting on a harness formation is not a matter of getting in and making a hole all the time. You got a whole lot of other way to go. The drill like you must be the boss. Yes I am this particular talent talent but what does that mean. We want to call him and all the time to work. We call them talent and we were able hammy to me and you have to help him. I am a man but what do they have what do they do. We have one man and a Mechanic Man which we employ the man would know the duty such as handing changing beds and whatnot. Later you meet one of these men to face to face. He's young he's strong he's modest.
What's your job here on the road. Rough rough next round. Good to see that you're coming out of the hole now with the long sections of steel pipe. How long can that take in a moment. This line that's become completely out how long to take it slowly like that. And then when you get the drill bit on that whole thing it's got to be done in rebuttal and go down the bottom again. And that's why you could very easily spend one towel just banging a pipe out of the hole is that this step and get it back in again and resting. Thank you very much. You follow the men into the corner book. Inside you find a 4 table mess hall and a feast for a king. These roughnecks have rough work and as a consequence
they eat hearty. But it takes brains as well as brawn to bring in a well. For instance this young man yes or production geologist in this district. My job is. In conjunction with our division. Decider jelling programs on. The wells in my district. Which is sad day to tell them where to log the wells ideas write electrical surveys where to core the wells and. Things of that manner. No it isn't and haphazard job even though it is a gamble. And even after the job is completed a watchful eye is kept on this valuable naturist sauce. You meet the man who keeps this watch a petroleum engineer. Yes I'm the petroleum engineer. My duties just primarily.
Of. Assisting in the drilling and completion. And producing of all wells. And the study of the reservoir from which the oil is withdrawn. To determine the rates to produce these whales in order to obtain the maximum amount of all from these ratable is without waste. Well you visited an oil well in southern Louisiana and the nation's fourth highest produced petroleum. You could say this well is typical it is of marshland drilling and someday someday soon it will probably join its neighboring rigs and servicing the South's rich supply of black gold. Right now the biggest Oh but the
future never looks so bright. One look at the national picture we'll show you why we had rusted and oil in the Deep South. We produced in the deep south one seventh of the total U.S. production and the 1951 cost Texas produced by one half of the U.S. total. Louisiana produces about three fourths of the total for the Deep South and is by far the most important producer at present in the Deep South. But all has just been discovered and Savile of the state and we have a feeling that petroleum in the south is definitely on the upswing the picture very bright there is increasing every day and we have a feeling that the best is yet to come.
Once more you travel over the twisting deep broad road once more you pass a salt dome and allow Derek's shrimp boats by use once more you're heading home and wherever you go or whatever you put into a service station and say oh I've got a long trip to meet. You were north of the Deep South is helping to fill your tank. Or it too is making a long trip. Toward. Prosperity. It was. The. This has been program eight of document Deep South a series of actuality documentaries depicting the increasing importance of the South and the economic development of our nation. This week
black gold a study in oil. Your narrator was Walt Whitaker document Deep South is written and produced by Roy BANNERMAN As Dr. Walter B Jones as a senior consultant. Document deep solace as presented by the radio broadcasting services extension division. University of Alabama and is made possible by a grant in. The fund. Ronald educate. An independent agency established by the war foundation. And now this is Keith bars reminding you. That this has been a radio presentation of the University of Alabama. This is the network.
Document: Deep South
Black gold: A study in oil
Producing Organization
University of Alabama
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
The never-ending search for oil, recorded deep in Louisiana marsh country. Rowdy roughnecks tell their own story.
Series Description
A series of documentaries depicting the increasing importance of the South in the economic development of the United States. Narrated by Walt Whitaker, written and produced by Leroy Bannerman, with Dr. Walter B. Jones as senior consultant.
Broadcast Date
Radio programs--United States.
Media type
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Advisor: Jones, Walter B. (Walter Bryan), 1895-1977
Funder: Fund for Adult Education (U.S.)
Narrator: Whitaker, Walter
Producer: Bannerman, Leroy
Producing Organization: University of Alabama
Writer: Bannerman, Leroy
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 54-15-8 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:30
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Chicago: “Document: Deep South; Black gold: A study in oil,” 1954-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 29, 2024,
MLA: “Document: Deep South; Black gold: A study in oil.” 1954-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. February 29, 2024. <>.
APA: Document: Deep South; Black gold: A study in oil. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from