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"The Oil Biz": History

POSTED: Wednesday, March 18, 2009 - 7:42pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, March 17, 2010 - 11:02am

EAST TEXAS - Historically, "The Oil Biz" goes through booms and busts.

And experts say, they're a good indicator of what's to come financially.

Tylerite Deena Knox says, "To remember some of the things my Grandmother has told me about the depression, and things like that, it's like history repeating itself. It's scary."

Knox loves to frequent the East Texas Oil Museum in Kilgore.

Knox says, "This is a part of who we are here. This is what made East Texas. It's a part of our heritage."

Oil, black gold, was discovered in Kilgore in the 1930s.

Historians say, it was the largest oil field inside in the country.

It was "Boomtown USA."

In fact, by 1931, historians tell us, the East Texas oil field, which consists of 5 East Texas counties— Gregg, Upshur, Rusk, Smith and Cherokee— was producing one-million barrels of oil every single day!

At one point— as much as 1.4 million barrels a day.

Connie Bielfeldt says, "There were ten times as many oil derricks as you see now."

Bielfeldt was born in 1946.

She was raised on an oil lease right outside Kilgore.

All of her brothers worked in the oil field.

Bielfeldt says, "Kilgore was pretty much booming when I was growing up."

She tells us, those were great times!

Bielfeldt says, "I can remember my mother being able to afford a flapper dress. I can remember years that the gardens were bigger. I can remember years when we might have had a
bowl of ice cream as an extra, but not a daily thing."

But just as the boom came, the boom went.

"Reporter: What was life like during the bust years? Bielfeldt: Hard. Everybody came together during the bust to get through it."

Still, many tell us, one of the most significant oil busts hit East Texas in the early 80s.

President of Sabine Pipe in Kilgore, Bill Adamson, remembers it very well.

Adamson says, "In 1982, January of 82, he had 42 employees. He made 285-thousand in January alone. In '82, that was a lot of money."

But by June 1st, his friend, who also works in the oil business, only had 4 employees and made 15-hundred bucks a month.

Adamson says, "That was a falling off a cliff in our industry."

Slowly though, the price picked back up again.

Adamson says, "Jennifer, in the early 90s, oil was recovering from the single digit number to 15, 16 or 17 dollar range."

Eventually, it got up to 20-dollars a barrel.

Then last year— it hit close to 150-dollars a barrel.

Adamson says, "Last year was definitely another boom, if you want to call it a boom."

But, it went up way too fast.

And now, the oil industry is suffering again.

Independent Contract Pumper Terry Bewley says, "This year has been somewhat of a bust."

Bewley says, "A bust is when you see everyone in the unemployment line. That's what a bust is. Reporter: Are we there? Bewley: We're fixin' to be.
if we're not already. It's scary. Well, that's the oil business."

Bewley tells us, a barrel of oil needs to be at least 70-bucks a pop to help the industry survive.

That could happen, he says, within the next two years.

Still, experts tell us, don't hold your breath.

Tom Mullins says, "It'll get better within the next few years for sure. But long term, we have to be ready for that resource to go away

Bielfeldt doesn't believe the natural resource will ever go away.

She says, whatever happens, she can handle it.

Bielfeldt say, "I think we're probably living in the scariest times we've ever lived in. I've had, and I've had not. It's okay. I'm still here."

Now brace yourself— Experts tell us, in the next 50 years, there might not be any oil!!!

What do they foresee for the future of the East Texas oil fields??

We'll tell you Thursday night, on KETK News at 10.

We'll see you then!

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