Hendrick Oilfield

By: Julia Cauble Smith

Type: General Entry

Published: 1952

Updated: February 1, 1995

Hendrick oilfield, in central Winkler County, was discovered by random drilling on July 16, 1926, when Hendrick No. 1, operated by Westbrook and Company, reached a depth of 3,006 feet in dolomitic limestone. The discovery well was the result of an oil-lease promotion by Roy Westbrook, a printer from Fort Worth, who had contracted with J. W. Grant, a Pennsylvania lease broker, in March 1925 to obtain leases in Winkler County. Grant took leases from Thomas G. and Ada Hendrick on their fifty-three-section ranch in Winkler County. The Hendricks conveyed mineral leases to Grant for ten cents an acre. A few days later, Grant sold more than 21,000 acres of the same leases to Westbrook for thirty-five cents an acre, thus making a good profit for himself. Eastland Oil Company drilled for Westbrook. Hendrick No. 1 was spudded on February 2, 1926, and drilling began on February 25. The well was connected to the outside world only by dirt roads no better than cattle trails. It was drilled with cable tools from a wooden derrick. Progress was slowed by the many water sands encountered and by the underreaming required. The top of the salt was reached at 1,930 feet. At 2,524 feet the drill encountered 250,000 cubic feet of gas, as oil filled 1,500 feet of the hole. After 400 barrels of oil was pumped from the hole, the well was dry. Drilling resumed, and at 3,006 feet crude oil began flowing by heads at the rate of 120 barrels a day. Controlling interest in the discovery well and a total of 1,440 acres of checkerboard leases were sold to Southern Crude Oil Purchasing Company, a subsidiary of Standard Oil Company of Indiana, by Westbrook for $510,000 on November 22, 1926. Southern Crude became operator of the well and resumed drilling in late December, deepening the hole to 3,052 feet. Production increased to 390 barrels per day.

Since the leases around the discovery well were highly sought, Westbrook easily sold a number of them to other oil companies. Marland, Humble, Gulf, Independent, Pure, Republic, California, Magnolia, Texon, Cranfill, Reynolds, Roxana, Amerada, and Atlantic bought leases in the area. With many new lease owners in the field, immediate and hurried development began. Southern Crude staked two offsets to the discovery well. Both wells came in with good production, but the real potential of the field was proved by Gulf Production Company and its Hendrick No. 1, brought in by the end of March 1927 at a depth of 2,836 feet; this well produced 397 barrels of oil daily. The well was deepened to 2,842 feet, and production increased to 2,000 barrels. Shortly after the Gulf completion, both Southern Crude and Independent Oil and Gas Company finished work on their offsets to the discovery well, with production near 350 barrels of oil a day from each well. During May 1927 Southern Crude brought in its 1C2 Hendrick, an offset to the independent producer. By the end of September 1927, production in the Hendrick field averaged 10,580 barrels of oil a day from nineteen wells drilled by six operators. A month later, the biggest producer completed to that date was brought in. Operated by Cranfill-Reynolds, it was the Ida Hendrick No.1, which gauged 500 barrels an hour from 2,883 feet. This well, located north of the Ida Hendrick lease of Southern Crude, increased total output of the field to 11,160 barrels daily and proved the productivity of much acreage in the field.

Although the new large producers completed in the last half of 1927 proved Hendrick field a prolific area, they also brought a price decrease for the crude shipped from the field. A market for the flush production could be found only by cutting the price per barrel below the current market price of sixty cents. Flush production also presented crude transportation problems. In the early days of the field, operators constructed 55,000-barrel tanks to store their production in the field. By the end of 1927 the field was producing more than 50,000 barrels of oil daily without a direct pipeline connection and without access to the railroad. The field depended largely upon short lines extending to tank-car tracks to dispose of its crude. By 1928 crude transportation became less of a problem than water incursion in Hendrick field. As water began to cut the oil in wells, operators reacted by producing as much oil as quickly as possible. To lengthen the life of the field amid the production frenzy, the Railroad Commission introduced a proration plan that restricted production to 150,000 barrels of oil a day and limited drilling to one well on each ten-acre unit. Proration, which operators voluntarily accepted, went into effect on May 5, 1928. But the design of the plan actually encouraged more drilling by small independents and further provoked water incursion and field depletion. When proration took effect 164 wells were producing a potential of 521,597 barrels a day from seventy-nine forty-acre units in the field. With proration in place, and with water encroachment increasing, Hendrick field production peaked in March 1929, when 5,304,360 barrels of oil came from 577 wells in one month.

By the end of December 1931 the field was in a strong decline. Production fell to 15,295,954 barrels, a drop of nearly 11,000,000 barrels from that reported in 1930. All wells in the field were yielding water. For every barrel of oil taken out of the field, 26.3 barrels of water was lifted. Field allowable was set at 40,000 barrels daily, a number surpassing the ability of the field. The decline continued throughout the 1930s. In 1936, when the allowable was set at 5,029,575 barrels of oil, Hendrick field gave up only 4,790,595 barrels. By 1945 production was reported at just over 1.5 million barrels.

In June 1946 Stanolind Oil and Gas Company began a gas injection in the field as a secondary recovery attempt. The operation continued until January 1959. The secondary recovery was not highly successful; production did not climb significantly during those years. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s production remained above a million barrels a year. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s it hovered around a half million barrels. On January 1, 1991, the field reported 181 producing wells with production of 500,340 barrels of oil and 356,321,000,000 cubic feet of casinghead gas. The field's production over six decades of 260,957,163 barrels of oil placed it among the largest West Texas fields.

A. L. Ackers, R. DeChicchi, and R. H. Smith, "Hendrick Field, Winkler County, Texas," Bulletin of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists 14 (July 1930). Samuel D. Myres, The Permian Basin: Petroleum Empire of the Southwest (2 vols., El Paso: Permian, 1973, 1977). Roger M. and Diana Davids Olien, Easy Money: Oil Promoters and Investors in the Jazz Age (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1990). Roger M. and Diana Davids Olien, Life in the Oil Fields (Austin: Texas Monthly Press, 1986). Roger M. and Diana Davids Olien, Oil Booms (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1982). Roger M. and Diana Davids Olien, Wildcatters: Texas Independent Oilmen (Austin: Texas Monthly Press, 1984). Thomas H. Smith, "Hendrick Discovery in Winkler Ranked among World's Top Strikes," Drill Bit 1 (February 1954).
  • Oil and Gas Industry
  • Oil Fields and Wells

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Julia Cauble Smith, “Hendrick Oilfield,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 28, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/hendrick-oilfield.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

February 1, 1995