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INDUSTRIES: Business History of Gas
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July 9, 1815 - First natural gas well in United States discovered accidentally during digging of salt brine well near Charleston, WV; 1816 - manufactured gas first used in America to fuel street lamps in Baltimore; 1841 - William Tompkins used natural gas there to evaporate brine for salt, became first man in U.S. to use natural gas for industrial purposes; 1921 - gunsmith, William Hart drilled first gas well specifically for natural gas in United States in Fredonia, New York, to 27 feet to develop seepage seen on  banks of Canadaway Creek.

June 4, 1825 - Residence in Fredonia, NY used natural gas for illumination for first time for reception for General Lafayette; house brightly lighted by about 30 burners.

1898 - Adolf Messer (20) established family firm, Adolf Messer GmbH, in Frankfurt am Main, Germany; focused on welding (acetylene generators),  cutting technology; 1903 - invented first oxyfuel cutting torch; 1908 - began construction of first separation system, diversified into production of industrial gases; 1920s - produced first electric welding equipment, welding electrodes, large cutting machines for shipyards; 1952 - Dr. Hans Messer (son) joined company management; 1953 - opened American branch office in New York under name American Messer Corp.; 1965 - merged with parts of Knapsack-Griesheim AG, formed Messer Griesheim GmbH (Hoechst AG retained two-thirds of shares); 1988 - Stefan Messer (grandson) joined company; 1991 - divested electric arc welding, filler material business in Europe; 1999 - Messer Cutting & Welding subsidiary of Messer Griesheim GmbH acquired by Messer Industrie GmbH, holding company of Messer family (became sole shareholder); 2000 - Carlyle Group merged Cutting and Welding division with Swiss company Castolin Eutectic, formed Messer Eutectic Castolin Group (Messer family held 36% interest); April 2001 - Hoechst/Aventis shares in Messer Griesheim acquired by Goldman Sachs and Allianz Capital Partners; May 2004 - Goldman Sachs, Allianz Capital Partners shares acquired by Messer family; Messer Group GmbH, Messer Eutectic Castolin Holding GmbH became owner-managed industrial enterprise; Stefan Messer CEO.

Adolf Messer - Adolf Messer & Co. GmbH (http://www.adolf-messer-stiftung.de/images/kopf5.jpg)

January 1914 - William Stewart Herron, Okotoks farmer, made first gas discovery in Alberta (noticed gas bubbling along banks of Sheep Creek in Turner Valley; had formed Calgary Petroleum Products Company in 1913 in partnership with Archibald W. Dingman); discovered Dingman No. 1 well, struck gas; inaugurated Turner Valley oil era (1913-1946); speculators formed more than 500 companies overnight; interest in field waned over time.

January 1, 1918 - First gasoline pipeline began operation along 40 miles Salt Creek to Casper, Wyoming.

December 1925 - Houston Oil Company formed Houston Natural gas Company; 1976 - sold retail gas operations, focused on natural gas production; 1953 - Houston Natural Gas Production Company formed; 1984 - $3.7 billion in assets, revenues above $2 billion; January 1984 - $1.3 billion hostile takeover initiated by Coastal Corporation (Oscar Wyatt); hired Ken Lay as CEO; 1985 - merged with InterNorth (Omaha, NE) in $2.4 billion deal; formed Enron; rose as high as number seven on Fortune 500 list of U.S. companies; July 24, 1998 - Enron Corporation agreed to acquire British-based Wessex Water, PLC for $2.2 billion; entered world water utility market; signaled Enron's first move towards creating a global water subsidiary; Wessex Water slated to be crowning jewel of new concern, ffocused on developing water distribution systems, treatment plants in Asia, Europe, Latin America; 2000 - employed 21,000 people, revenue of $111 billion; December 2, 2001 - filed for Chapter 11 protection, one of largest corporate bankruptcies in U.S. history. 

May 13, 1949 - Mississippi River Fuel Corp. installed first gas turbine to pump natural gas at Wilmar, AR.

March 4, 1967 - First North Sea natural gas piped ashore to BP's Easington terminal on East Riding of Yorkshire coast of England; beginning of ten year national program of physical conversion of every appliance in country from coal gas to natural gas; 1962 - first surveys in North Sea; September 1965 - West Sole field discovered (70 kilometers off Humberside coast, in approximately 28 meters of water); July 1966 - drilling of production wells began; within ten years, West Sole field supplied almost all of Britain’s gas.

August 2008 -


March 15, 2009 - Number of oil and gas rigs deployed to tap new energy supplies across country dropped to less than 1,200 from 2,400 in summer 2008; global oil prices, American natural gas prices have declined by two-thirds since summer 2008.


(American Meter), Alfred Lief (1961). Metering for America; 125 Years of the Gas Industry and American Meter Company. (New York, NY: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 154 p.). American Meter Company; Gas industry--United States; Gas-meters.

(Ballymena Gas Works), Andrew W. Allen (1991). A Short History of Ballymena Gas Works: Including Some Notes on Coal Processing and the Manufacture of Town Gas. (Ballymena ,Ireland: Ballymena Borough Council, 69 p.). Gas manufacture and works -- Northern Ireland -- Ballymena -- History; Gas companies -- Northern Ireland -- Ballymena -- History; Ballymena (Northern Ireland) -- History; Gas energy History Northern Ireland.

(Energen Corporation), Sandra Behel (2002). Energen Corporation. (Charleston, SC: Arcadia Pub., 128 p.). Energen Corporation--History. October 14, 1852 - John Jeffrey and Company (Cincinnati, OH), received franchise from City of Montgomery to provide street lighting using manufactured gas; today - diversified energy company with two major subsidiaries.

(Gas Light and Coke Company), Stirling Everard (1949). The History of the Gas Light and Coke Company, 1812-1949. (London, UK: Benn, 428 p.). Gas Light and Coke Company.

(Gazprom), Jonathan P. Stern (2005). The Future of Russian Gas and Gazprom. (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 270 p.). Director of Gas Research at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, Honorary Professor at the Centre for Energy, Petroleum and Mineral Law and Policy (University of Dundee).  Rossiiskoe aktsionernoe obshchestvo "Gazprom"; Gas industry--Russia (Federation); Aardgas; Gasindustrie; Gazprom.

(Indiana Gas Company), Bill Beck (1995). Natural Gas for the Hoosier State: An Illustrated History of Indiana Gas Co., Inc., 1945-1995. (Indianapolis, IN: Indiana Gas Company, 137 p.). Indiana Gas Company.

(Italgas), Valerio Castronovo ... [et al.] (1987). Dalla Luce All’Energia: Sstoria Dell’Italgas. (Roma, IT: Laterza, 366 p.). Italgas--History; Gas industry--Italy--History.

(Mapco), Rufus Jarman (1977). The Energy Merchant (New York, NY: R. Rosen Press, 279 p.). Thomas, Robert E., 1914- ; Mapco -- History; Businessmen -- United States -- Biography.

(North Thames Gas), Malcolm Falkus (1988). Always Under Pressure: A History of North Thames Gas Since 1949. (Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan, 224 p.). North Thames Gas -- History; London Gas industries.

(Panhandle Eastern), Christopher J. Castaneda and Clarance M. Smith (1996). Gas Pipelines and the Emergence of America's Regulatory State: A History of Panhandle Eastern Corporation, 1928-1993. (New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 296 p.). Panhandle Eastern Corporation--History--20th century; Gas industry--Government policy--United States--History--20th century; Natural gas pipelines--United States--History--20th century. 

(Parisian Gas Company), Lenard R. Berlanstein (1991). Big Business and Industrial Conflict in Nineteenth-Century France: A Social History of the Parisian Gas Company. (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 384 p.). Professor of History (University of Virginia). Compagnie parisienne de l’e´clairage et du chauffage par le gaz--History; Gas industry--France--History--19th century; Big business--France--History--19th century.

(SONAT), Harvey H. III Jackson (1999). Henry C. Goodrich: A Life of Business and the Business of Life. (Montgomery, AL: Black Belt Press, 264 p.). Goodrich, Henry C.; SONAT, Inc., Gas Transmission. Former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (SONAT).

(Texas Eastern), Christopher J. Castaneda and Joseph A. Pratt (1993). From Texas to the East: A Strategic History of Texas Eastern Corporation. (College Station, TX: Texas A&M Press, 296 p.). Texas Eastern Corporation--History; Natural gas pipelines--United States--History; Gas industry--United States--History--20th century.

Christopher J. Castaneda (1999). Invisible Fuel: Manufactured and Natural Gas in America, 1800-2000 (New York, NY: Twayne). Associate Professor of History (California State University, Sacramento). Gas industry--United States--History;. Offshore gas industry--United States--History; Gas companies--United States--History; Liquefied natural gas industry--United States--History; Liquefied petroleum gas industry--United States--History; Gas appliances--United States--History; Gas-lighting--United States--History.

Ann Clendinning (2004). Demons and Domesticity: Women and the English Gas Industry, 1889-1939. (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 352 p.). Gas industry -- England -- History; Gas appliances -- England -- Marketing -- History; Gas industry -- England -- Employees -- History; Women -- Employment -- England -- History.

James A. Glass, and David G. Kohrman (2005). Gas Boom of East Central Indiana. (Charleston, SC: Arcadia, 128 p.). Historic buildings --Indiana --Pictorial works; Gas industry --Indiana --History --Pictorial works; Indiana --History, Local --Pictorial works; Muncie (Ind.) --History --Pictorial works; Anderson (Ind.) --History --Pictorial works; Kokomo (Ind.) --History --Pictorial works; Marion (Ind.) --History --Pictorial works; Indiana --Economic conditions --Pictorial works. Natural gas boom era, its legacy in four county seats of gas belt; transformed mostly agricultural area into major industrial center; major cities replaced county seat towns, villages became boomtowns, factories towered over former farm land; impact lived on.

Paul W. MacAvoy (2000). The Natural Gas Market: Sixty Years of Regulation and Deregulation (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 140 p.). Williams Brothers Professor of Management Studies at Yale University. Natural gas--Law and legislation--United States--History; Deregulation--United States--History.

Werner Troesken (1996). Why Regulate Utilities?: The New Institutional Economics and the Chicago Gas Industry, 1849-1924. (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 132 p.). Assistant Professor of History and Economics (University of Pittsburgh). Gas industry--Government policy--Illinois--Chicago--History; Gas--Law and legislation--United States--History; Antitrust law--United States--History. 

Eds. David G. Victor, Amy M. Jaffe, and Mark H. Hayes (2006). Natural Gas and Geopolitics: From 1970 to 2040. (New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 508 p.). Director of the Program on Energy and Sustainable Development at Stanford University. Gas industry --Government policy; Energy policy; Geopolitics. Shift to gas-fed world; implications of expansion of inter-regional, cross-border gas transport infrastructures to deliver gas from world's major reserves to future demand centers; interplay between economic, political factors in development of natural gas resources.

David A. Waples (2005). The Natural Gas Industry in Appalachia: A History from the First Discovery to the Maturity of the Industry. (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 276 p.). Gas industry--Appalachian Region--History--20th century. Accidental, underestimated by-product of oil rush of 1859.

Trevor I. Williams (1981). A History of the British Gas Industry. (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 304 p.). Gas industry--Great Britain--History.


Business History Links

How Gas Prices Work                                                         http://www.howstuffworks.com/gas-price.htm               

Learn how gas prices are determined at this informative site. Includes information on U.S. gasoline usage and consumption, a percentage breakdown of components that determine gas prices, control and impact of the oil market by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), U.S. domestic production and supplies, and related resources. Subjects: Petroleum products -- Prices...

Kansas Oil & Gas Museum
Leading museum dedicated to the discovery and development of the oil industry in Kansas; indoor exhibits on farming, ranching and oil; Texaco Theater and Kansas Oil and Gas Legacy Gallery.

Oil & Gas Historical Society                                                   http://www.aoghs.org/                                            

June 2003 - Bruce Wells, award-winning oilfield photographer, established Society; dedicated to preserving the history of U.S. oil and natural gas exploration and production by providing advocacy and service for organizations that work to preserve that history through exhibition, material preservation – and especially educational programming.


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