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The Lakeview Gusher: A Successful Oil Well Siting Using the Filaree Exploration Approach

VAN ZANT, DEAN, Petroleum Production Pioneers, Bakersfield, CA

At the turn of the century, Sunset oil field, in the Maricopa-Taft area, was rife with oil well drilling. The driller was the key man in determining where to spud-in. The unspoken, but prevalent well siting technique of the day was to drill near seeps, or as near as possible to an already successful well.

After much prodding by a local grocer, a veteran driller confided his secret theory to successful drilling, "Drill where red grass grows". Apparently, this driller was also an accomplished yarn spinner. He told the grocer that in the hot, dry climate of the area red grass, known as Filaree, only grew where moisture was retained in the soil, usually over an underground fault. Therefore, a patch of red grass, especially a large patch, indicated a potential petroleum producing formation.

The grocer was hooked. He found a large patch of red grass and eventually started drilling. The old driller was right! There was oil just as he said. The name of the well was Lakeview #1, better known as the "Lakeview Gusher", which blew out in 1909 at rates as high as 125,000 BOPD. Cumulative production from this well was greater than some oilfield---9.4 million barrels of oil.

This paper recalls some of the times, trials, and tribulations of completing the well that has been called the "Greatest Gusher in California", and is one of the greatest blowouts of all time.




AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90911©2000 AAPG Pacific Section and Western Region Society of Petroleum Engineers, Long Beach, California