Drilling for Innovation

When you talk about tools of the trade in the Oil Industry… Innovation is the key tool you must have at your disposal. The quest for oil is about speed, precision, hard work… but it is also about innovation!

Image dozens of entrepreneurs all on a quest to discover a precious resource. When a discovery is made a BOOM ensues. Booms are driven by those who have the where-with-all to utilize innovation to gain the advantage.

The first wells of the El Dorado Oil Field were drilled by cable drilling rigs. A derrick was erected, primarily of wood, to hoist the bit, bailer and equipment. The walking arms rhythmic march dropped the bit, pounding the hole deeper and deeper.

Everyone was looking for better way… a faster way… a cheaper way… a safer way to establish a well. Wood Derricks gave way to steel derricks. Steam powered engines gave way to gas, then electric motors. Spudders of all types were employed to seek out viable wells before the extreme expense of a derrick was undertaken.

Regardless of the derrick, spudder, Walker-Neer or other cable drilling rigs employed. The principle remained the same… cable drilling was cable drilling.

There is an enormous volume of cable-drilling machines. Most companies kept their equipment secluded from the prying eyes of others. The boom was a race. It required people willing to take the principles and innovate a way to exploit them to accomplish a goal. This created a huge number of different machines that all did the same thing.

You could look at any part of the oil industry and find innovation. Another example is that found in pumping jacks. Again, originally driven by steam power. It required unique innovation to establish a central power unit driving by steam that could run numerous rod driven pumping jacks.

Steam power gave way to gas and electric. And a more standardized pumping jack was created with a parallel drive chain.

However, during the oil glut of the late 70s and into the 80s, people were looking for ways to reduce costs. Rather than have to manufacture an entire pump jack drive chain, OTEK created a cheaper innovative design that utilized front end load and truck axels to drive their pump jack. This perpendicular drive chain utilized parts already in existence and greatly reduced production costs. That’s innovation.

There is a great lesson we can all learn from the innovative spirit of the oil industry. Principles do not change. How you drill a well, how you pump up the crude…those remain the same. What should change is the equipment we use to accomplish the goal. The principles don’t change, but the methods do.

This is important, especially for museums, nonprofits and churches. The principles that drive our organizations don’t change. However the method we use to accomplish our mission should. It should change in such a way to impact the greatest number of lives with the greatest good.

Here at the Kansas Oil Museum we are dedicated to be a place of innovation. We want to change in order to impact more lives…and we invite you to join us in this effort!

© 2015 Warren Martin. All Rights Reserved.