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coal are in general accord with the major fluctuations in business activity, in which periods of prosperity, depression, and revival follow one another, modified by the effects of strikes and wage agreements. The production of petroleum, on the other hand, has been

. practically independent of general business conditions, and its output has not only kept pace with the rapidly growing demand for petroleum products, especially since the introduction of the internalcombustion engine, but at times, as during 1923, the new supply has been considerably in excess of the demand.

A noteworthy feature of the coal curve is the change in rate of output of coal in pre-war and postwar years. For many years prior to 1918 the growth was fairly uniform, but since 1918 the rate of change in production has been considerably less. Since the war the rate of coal production has slowed down, and in no year since 1918 has the output of coal reached the record attained in that year. The production of petroleum, on the other hand, has with minor exceptions constantly increased, and the output in 1923 was more than double that of 1918.

Competition between coal and oil in the last few years, especially during the period of oversupply of oil, has been accelerated by the low price of crude petroleum and its products. The only available data showing details of consumption of oil, both crude and refined, for fuel are those given in the tables on pages 407 and 408 and in volumes 8 and 11 of the Fourteenth Census, published in 1922 and 1923, showing the consumption by certain industries in 1919. A rough indication of the total quantity of crude petroleum consumed for fuel in the United States, however, is afforded by the difference between the total domestic consumption of crude petroleum, indicated by production plus imports minus exports plus stocks, including crude oil at refineries, at the beginning of the period minus stocks at the end of the period, and the quantity of crude oil run to refinery stills, although this difference includes also the unmeasured item of losses between the wells and the points of consumption.

An estimate of the crude petroleum and gas and fuel oils used for fuel during the years 1918 to 1923, together with the indicated equivalent of coal displaced, determined on a basis of thermal units, is given in the following table: Indicated domestic consumption of crude petroleum and gas and fuel oils for fuel

1918-1923

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Coal, petroleum, and natural gas produced in the United States, from the date of

earliest record to 1923

Coal (bituminous and

anthracite)

Petroleum

Natural gas

Year

Energy
Energy

Energy equiva

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equivaValue lent

Billions

Value
of short
(millions (trillions Millions (millions (trillions

of cubic millions (trillions
of
of of barrels of

of

of tons

of dollars) British

dollars) British

feet

dollars British thermal thermal

thermal units) units)

units) •

1, 101

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Prior to 1882. 1882. 1883 1884 1885. 1886. 1887 1888 1889 1890 1891 1892 1893 1894. 1895 1896 1897 1898 1899 1900 1901 1902 1903. 1904, 1905 1906 1907 1908 1909 1910 1911 1912. 2913 1914 1915 1916 1917 1918 1919 1920 1921 1922. 1923

104 116 120 111 114 131 149 141 158 169 179 182 171 193 192 200 220 254 270 293 302 357 352 393 414 480 416 461 502 496 534 570 514 532 590 651 678 554 658 506 477 658

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147 159 144 159 155 183 191 160 177 191 208 208 186 198 197 199 208 256 307 349 367 504 444 477 513 615 532 555 630 627 696 760 681 687

867 1,533 1,828 1, 526 2, 564 1,652 1, 549 2,021

29,800
2,748
3,070
3,185
2,951
3,017
3, 465
3,942
3, 746
4, 180
4, 467
4,751
4,832
4,525
6, 118
5,084
6, 299
6,817
6, 708
7,123
7,752
7, 943
9, 437
9, 291
10, 367
10, 922
12, 671
10, 978
12, 154
13, 226
13, 095
14,087
15, 025
13, 545
14, 017
15, 548
17, 166
17,868
14, 602
17, 336
13, 358
12, 551
17,330

186 30 23 24 22 28 28 28 35 46 84 51 48 49 53 61 60 55 57 64 69 89 100 117 135 126 166 179 183 210 220 223 248 266 281 301 335 356 378 443 472 658 732

0.2

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1
5
10
16
23
21
19
16
15
14
14
13
13
14
15
20
24
27
31
36
38
42
47
54
55
63
71
75
85
88
94
101
120
142
154
161
196
175
222
240

59 41 44 65 76 66 71 95 101 84 92 120 129 128 128 134 164 237 214 179 331 523 704

760
1, 361

815
895
978

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8 25 82 169 259 368 268 257 197 170 160 155 147 151 160 186 240 254 283 301 320 333 377 418 437 432 517 547 551 604 626 636 676 810 855 775 802

317
366
363
332
342
382
416
533
603
702
808
759

997
1,071
1,099
1, 257
1, 323
1, 338
1, 491
1,595
1, 687
1, 805
2,012
2, 136
2, 270
2, 658
2,833
3, 345

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389 407 402 481 509 513 562 582 592 629 753 795 721 746 798 662

763 1, 008

858

712

820 1,084

4, 394

· Energy equivalent of natural gas for years 1882–1905 based on estimated quantity of coal displaced, cal. culated by F. G. Tryon. Not available.

PRICES The figures given in the following table for the States east of California were compiled from reports to the Geological Survey of actual purchases by purchasing companies and include premiums. The figures for California were obtained from the California State Mining Bureau. In 1923 the average price, by States, ranged from 69 cents a barrel in Arkansas to $3.33 in Pennsylvania.

The general price trend was downward, and in December prices reached a low ebb. For most grades prices fell to as low a level in 1923 as they did in 1921, during the period of postwar deflation. In the first few months of the year, elsewhere than in California, there was an upward movement in prices apparently influenced by the temporary slackening in the rate of increasing supply (fig. 19); but with the rapidly rising production and the growing accumu

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lation of stocks prices began to fall. In California there was not even a temporary rise. The price of heavy crude, below 20° (0.934) remained at 60 cents a barrel throughout the year, but there were a number of drops in the price of light oil—for instance, the price of 35° and lighter oil, which on January 1, 1923, was $1.95 a barrel, was reduced three times during the year and on October 9 was 76 cents.

As illustrative of these changes during 1923, the variations in posted prices of Pennsylvania and Mid-Continent grades may be noted. The year began with the posted price of $3.25 a barrel for Pennsylvania grade crude petroleum. During January there were three successive increases of 10 cents a barrel. On February 1 the Joseph Seep Purchasing Agency of the South Penn Oil Co. posted two sets of prices for Pennsylvania grade crude petroleum, Pennsylvania grade oil in the New York Transit Co.'s lines and Bradford district oil in the National Transit Co.'s lines bringing a higher price than Pennsylvania grade oil from the rest of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia, the difference for the greater part of the year being. 25 cents a barrel. During February there were three advances in price, bringing oil from the Bradford district up to $4.25 a barrel and other Pennsylvania grade crude to $4. These prices held until April 11, when the price was reduced 25 cents a barrel, after which there were six successive reductions until on November 13 the prices were respectively $2.60 and $2.35 a barrel. In December prices rose three times, and the year closed with prices of $3.25 and $3 a barrel.

The posted price of Oklahoma-Kansas and north Texas crude oil, ranging between 33° and 34.9°, at the beginning of the year was $1.25 à barrel. There were six successive increases in price of 10 cents each, to February 17. On April 23 the price was reduced to $1.75. There were three more drops in price of 10 cents a barrel each to May 12. On September 19 oil between 33° and 39.9° was reduced to $1.30 a barrel, and on November 8 to $1, a level as low as that reached in the summer of 1921, where it remained for the rest

of the year.

Average price per barrel paid for crude petroleum at the wells, 1922–1923, by States

[Based on actual purchases, including premiums)

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WELLS

The following table, showing the approximate number of producing oil wells on December 31, 1922 and 1923, was compiled from reports of companies that operate gathering lines, supplemented, for the few small companies that do not maintain lists of wells with which their lines are connected, by estimates based on reports of producers with whose wells those lines are connected. Prior to 1920 the enumeration of producing oil wells published by the Geological Survey was based on reports of producers, and the results are not strictly comparable with the recent compilations.

Approximate number of producing oil wells in the United States December 31, 1922

and 1923

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. Bureau of Mines.

American Petroleum Institute; does not include wells temporarily shut in. Total number of oil wells in California in 1923 reported by State Mining Bureau as 10,332 (Mining in California, July, 1924, P. 338).

Although there are more than 290,000 petroleum-producing wells in the United States, the greater part of the production is obtained from a relatively small number of wells, principally from those in the larger new pools. Data are not available for many pools, but the following table indicates general conditions. In 1923 the 5,100 wells in the eight major pools listed produced 340 million barrels of oil—that is, approximately 1.8 per cent of the total number of wells in the United States yielded 46 per cent of the total production.

Number of wells and petroleum produced in eight of the larger pools in 1923

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There is a general parallelism between the price curve for crude petroleum and the curve showing the number of oil wells completed (fig. 21), illustrating that in times of high prices there is greater drilling activity; but there is little accord between the daily average production and the number of oil wells completed, because large production may come from a relatively small number of new wells.

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1918
1919
1920
1921
1922

1923 FIGURE 21.-Oil wells completed in the United States, price of Oklahoma-Kansas grade crude petroleum,

and daily average production of petroleum, by months, 1918-1923

Reports of drilling activity showing wells put down for oil and including oil wells, gas wells, and dry holes, have been published monthly for many years by the Oil and Gas Journal, and the results have been summarized in the Geological Survey's annual statistical

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