The Seattle Times Mar 24, 1912, Point Wells "Oil companies build for needs of future"

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Thanks to Tracy Tallman for finding this article in The Seattle Times archives, March 24, 1912,  on the origin of the oil industry at Point Wells. There is a damaged spot in the middle of the article.

OIL COMPANIES BUILD FOR NEEDS OF FUTURE
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Two Great Corporations Erect Storage Tanks at Wells Point, Anticipating Opening of Panama Canal.
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SOME FOR FUEL OIL
OTHERS FOR GASOLINE
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Foreign Company Sees in American Automobile and Motor Boat Trade Chance to Sell Its Product.
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Long in advance of the city of Seattle, the port of Seattle district, or of any other business corporation. In anticipating the increased business that the next few years will bring to the Northwest, two great corporations whose business is the sale of oil in its various forms for months have been building near Richmond Beach oil storage tanks which will be completed within the next sixty days and which will make their owners the first to be prepared for the opening of the Panama Canal.

One of these corporations is the Western branch of the Standard Oil Company, now dissolved, known as the Standard Oil Company of California. The other is a foreign corporation, variously known as the American and Oriental Oil Company, the Asiatic Oil Company and the Shelley-Royal Dutch Company. The two companies are building side by side at Wells Point, fourteen miles north of Seattle and one mile north of Richmond Beach.

The Standard Oil Company improvements represent the greater investment and are in a further advanced stage of construction. The company has forty-seven acres of land, of which twenty acres, the site of the improvements now building, is filled-in land.

Ambitious Program Begun
The company now is constructing the first unit of what it plans to make eventually the largest and finest oil-distributing plant in the country. This consists of six tanks for the storing of fuel oil for steamships, the tanks having a total capacity of 300,000 barrels. Four of them will have a capacity of 55,440 barrels each. Two have been completed and the two others are nearing completion. Two smaller ones will be for measuring tanks. The tanks alone will cost $50,000.

A dock 400 feet long also has been completed. With a depth, at the end, of forty feet of water at extreme low tide, it will accommodate the largest vessels afloat.

A concrete pump house, almost finished, will be equipped with two pumps, each of which will discharge fuel oil into steamships at the end of the dock at the rate of 2,000 barrels per hour. A concrete boiler house, now building, will be equipped with two boilers of 100 horse-power each.

A spur track, 940 feet long, connecting with the main line of the Great Northern Railway, will give the company as great facilities in land transportation as its splendid dock facilities will give it on water. Above the track the company owns seventeen acres of land, which rises to an elevation of 300 feet, and on which spring water is abundant. A pipe line will be built to furnish water for the boiler house and for the accommodation of steamships taking on oil.

Site Was Long Wanted
The Standard Oil Company, for years, has been seeking a site for a storage plan from which to distribute to various parts of the Northwest. The need of such a site became even more apparent after the beginning of work on the Panama Canal. After an investigation of all points on Puget Sound had been made, representatives of the company finally selected Wells Point, just as they were returning to Seattle disappointed with the results of their trip.

Deep water, shelter and the possibility of filling in land made the site ideal, and a tract was purchased for $47,000. A peculiar coincidence came to light in the discovery, when the effort was made to buy a small tract adjoining on the north, that the property had been tied up by the foreign corporation, showing both that it recognized the strategic advantages of the place and the opportunities for trade de... in the Northwest. That wa .. ago. The foreign ...held an option ... that the S ..
(13 lines missing - original article damaged)

Including .. of the original track and .. filling in twenty acres .. shore line, the improvements ... a cost to the Standard Oil Company of approximately $150,000. The greater part of the improvements will have been completed by May 1, and the company plans to fuel oil-burning vessels within sixty days.

Foreign Investors Well Rated
The foreign corporation, known by various names in various climes, is one that is new to American business. It is the owner of vast oil properties in Sumatra, in the Dutch Indies, and is backed by Holland capital, commonly supposed to be that of the Rothschilds. (Editor- probably what became Royal Dutch Shell). Its business in Seattle and the Northwest will be conducted through a subsidiary corporation known as the Indian Oil Refining Company. The company's representative in Seattle is J.C. Van Eck, now in San Francisco.

Like the Standard Oil Company, the Asiatic Oil Company will specialize, but where the American corporation will handle only fuel oil at its new plant for some time, the foreign corporation will deal in gasoline exclusively. The reason is that the demand in America for gasoline for the past two years has been greater than the supply, and in gasoline the foreign corporation has the only product for which it can find market in America.

The gasoline, refined in Sumatra and said to be the finest in the world, is barred from sale in India by laws prohibiting its use. America, on the other hand, through the growth of the automobile and motor boat industry, offered splendid opportunities. Not more than from 5 to 8 per cent of crude petroleum becomes gasoline on refining, and since the motor car and motor boat became popular the proportion has not been sufficient to supply growing wants.


Receiving Station for Gasoline
The Asiatic Company is building six tanks, which will have a total capacity of 140,000 barrels, and which will become an importing station for the receiving and storing of bulk cargoes of gasoline. Work already is well underway and the tanks will be filled during the coming summer. The tanks will cost $100,000. In their construction 500 tons of steel will be used. Two of the tanks will have a capacity of 37,500 barrels each.

The contract has been let for a dock 250 feet long and for dolphins to accommodate steamships which will moor there and pump gasoline into the tanks on shore. The dock will be completed in May. (Editor - not sure but I think they are talking about drilling rigs made by the Scottish firm Dolphin Drilling Rigs.)

There will also be built a number of tributary stations or depots in Seattle and surrounding cities, which the Wells Point station will supply by means of tank cars, these stations in turn delivering direct to trade.

2 comments:

Evan Smith,  February 27, 2011 at 6:43 AM  

The Western branch of Standard Oil became Standard of California, now called Chevron Oil.

Anonymous,  February 28, 2011 at 8:41 AM  

The 17 Acres is still there, fenced off. The spring has been periodically cleaned out, Meridian Excavating did a clean out there about 12 yrs ago.

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