RAVEN A1 EXHIBIT
It was known from the earliest of times that there was oil in Rangely. But it was in 1931 when Chevron began work on the first deep well in the area, the Raven A-l discovery well that things really started to move.
After more than a year of drilling, Chevron punched through the sandstone and into a vast pocket of crude. The historic well went on line in 1933, producing 230 barrels of oil per day from the Weber Sandstone at a depth of 6,335 feet, which at the time made it the most productive oil well of all time. The Raven A-l firmly established the Weber as a major league oil field. The story of Rangely is, in large part, the story of crude oil in the Rocky Mountain region. Indians used oil seeping out of the ground for medicinal purposes. There are place names such as Stinking Water Creek where surface waters mixed with oil. Rangely's prosperity floated on a sea of crude oil. But early on, the dream of oil wealth was shaping up to be a nightmare until a California geologist, who knew a little more than everyone else, dropped in.
Still, it was not until after World War II that an oil boom took place. Thousands of people descended on the Town. Many lived in tents or dugouts. A local entrepreneur hauled in abandoned trolley cars from Salt Lake City and rented them out to people for shelter. Rangely's prosperity for decades floated on a sea of crude oil. But early on, the dream of oil wealth was shaping up to be a nightmare until a California geologist, who knew a little more than everyone else, dropped in.
In 1901, some intrepid oilmen came back and drilled the first oil well in the shallow Mancos Shale formation. But the well was a disappointment. Undeterred, the drillers kept at it.
By 1903, 13 different companies had been in and out of Rangely. Yet, all this activity still resulted in just six wells producing a measly two to 10 barrels per day.
Hardly an auspicious beginning for a place with oil bubbling to the surface.
Then in 1908, San Francisco petroleum geologist A.C. McLaughlin made his way to the Rangely area by train and buck-board in search of oil. Standing on Mellen Hill at the western end of the field, overlooking the dry, barren valley to the east, McLaughlin felt a growing excitement. He saw something that everyone else apparently missed: one of the largest geological structures he had ever seen. There were rich deposits of oil here. He just knew it. He apparently was the first geologist who truly understood the geology of the area.
But it wasn't until nine long years later, in 1917, that McLaughlin bought large tracts of land over the present field area. And it was almost another 14 years before the California Company (now Chevron) bought some of this property.
But once the land and the federal oil leases were acquired, the stage was set for the great oil boom.
In 1931, Chevron began work on the first deep well in the area, the Raven A-l discovery well. After more than a year of drilling, Chevron punched through the sandstone and into a vast pocket of crude.
The historic well went on line in 1933, producing 230 barrels of oil per day from the Weber Sandstone at a depth of 6,335 feet, which at the time made it the most productive oil well of all time.
The Raven A-l firmly established the Weber as a major league oil field. But even then, the promise remained just a promise. Since there was no available market was depressed at the time, Chevron decided to cap the well soon after it came on line, and wait out the down market.
The Raven sat idle for 10 long years, until the dawn of World War II. Oil demand skyrocketed and, in 1943, Chevron reopened the Raven A-l hole.
By 1947, Rangely was a booming oil camp and, later the same year, was formally proved up as a town.
By 1949, the boom was in full swing in Rangely, when 478 wells, scattered across 30 square miles, were sunk in the oil-soaked Weber sandstone formation.
By 1956, the field was producing at a peak rate of 82,000 barrels per day.
As of 1998, the Rangely oil field, now known as the Rangely Weber Sand Unit, has recovered more than 815 million barrels of oil from the Weber reservoir, making it the largest field in the Rocky Mountain region.
With 406 producing wells and 351 injection wells, the Rangely Weber Sand Unit continues to produce about 20,000 barrels per day (about one third of Colorado's production).
The majority of the wells are equipped with electrical pumps, so there are relatively few of the big, hulking pump jacks common in other fields.
In addition to production from the Weber, about 12 million barrels of oil have been recovered from the shallower Mancos Shale, at depths generally less than 2,000 feet.
The Rangely Weber Sand Unit is a "unitized" field, which means many partners own the field, but only one company — Chevron USA Production - operates the field.
Almost 40 partners — including major oil companies, smaller independent oil companies, trusts, and individuals — share the expenses and benefits of the field.
The Unit provides jobs for approximately 300 individuals and generates about 70 percent of the property tax revenue for Rio Blanco County.
The Rangely Weber Sand Unit is currently undergoing a tertiary recovery effort, which includes carbon dioxide flooding.
High-pressure carbon dioxide is injected into wells to recover additional oil that the secondary water flooding process left behind (One of the largest carbon dioxide floods in the world, and it is expected to add over 20 years to the field's producing life)
Additional Information on
Oil & Gas Exploration in Rangely
"Oilfield 101" - Written & Illustrated by Ken Bailey (August 15, 2005)
an article donated to the Rangely Outdoor Museum
Oil Field Sideline Benefits
The stretch of the oil field along Highway 64 west of the town of Rangely is home to a herd of approximately 300 pronghorn antelope and large numbers of mule deer. (Pronghorn are not even distantly related to true antelope, but we call them that anyway.)
Both pronghorn and deer wander onto the roadway during the evening - sometimes sizeable herds of them - and if you aren't on the lookout for them, your vehicle could be badly damaged if you plow into them at highway speed.
Other wildlife that make the oil field their home include coyotes, red foxes, badgers, raccoons, prairie dogs, bald and golden eagles, and several varieties of hawks and owls.
Occasional visitors include mountain lions and elk.
All of these species are able to coexist with an oil field operation that includes approximately 100 miles of water injection pipeline. 175 miles of C02 injection pipeline, 150 miles of production pipeline, and more than 25 surface facilities.