Official report to the House of Representatives of the 58th Legislature of Texas Page: 12 of 94
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However, the RRC suspicions were aroused and they detected the well before it
Murray's attention was called to the possibility of deviated wells in 1961
when a Shell Oil Company Well suddenly started flowing mud apparently resulting
from its being drilled into by a rig of W. S. Barber operating several thousand
feet away. Murray said the Barber-Shell incident jolted the RRC and they felt
concern about wells that might have already been slanted. He then went through
three years of proration schedules and prepared a list of 60 operators who might
be suspect and sent them a letter requesting permission to let the RRC survey their
wells. This effort encountered indifference and hostility. He was told their investigation
would last only until the election was over.
When asked about prior information on this problem, he stated on April 19,
1950, his office received a letter from the then district engineer of Kilgore, Ed
Dear Sir. As discussed with you during your recent visit
to this office, there is a dire need for additional restrictions
for drilling of wells in the East Texas field. This office has
received various rumors as to the drilling of directionally
deviated wells. Although none have been substantiated, there
are certain indications there have been and will be wells
directionally drilled. . .
When asked about marginal wells, Murray said all that was required to designate
a well as marginal was simply for the operator to submit on his well status report
that a well made less than 20 barrels, e.g. , 18.6 barrels, Thereafter, a RRC
clerk takes the 18 6 figure and puts the well on marginal proration and thenceforth
the well is classed as marginal and can produce 30 days without being subject to
You get to be a marginal well by signing your name.
The second witness was Will Wilson, Attorney General. He said the slant well
Problem first came to his attention in April, 1962 when he was informed that Carter
Jones Drilling Company had drilled a well believed to be deviated.
A suit was filed against Carter Jones Drilling Company seeking to cancel its
charter and appoint a receiver to take over its books. The receiver went to Kilgore
but the records had disappeared.
On May 15, the Railroad Commission held an open hearing on the subject of
Slant wells and a plea was made that the operators be given a chance to plug all
deviated wells. "It seemed to me that this was not in the best interest of law enforcement
and would not correct the situation. By that time, we had substantial
reason to believe there was wide-spread bribery involved. "
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Texas Legislature. House of Representatives. General Investigating Committee. Official report to the House of Representatives of the 58th Legislature of Texas, book, 1963; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth5869/m1/12/: accessed May 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .