About twenty miles east of Ponca City in east-central Osage County lies the community of Burbank. Near there on May 8, 1920, the Marland Oil Company completed the Burbank discovery well on the Bertha Hickman farm. The initial discovery produced 150 barrels of oil per day from the Burbank sand at a depth of 2,949 to 3,001 feet, and later that year the Roxana Petroleum Company brought in another well at 3,450 barrels per day in the same general area. At first the wells were thought to be from separate fields, but as drilling proceeded they were all found to be connected. The field eventually grew to thirty-three square miles located principally in Osage County, but with a small extension into Kay County. The field had its highest production from 1920 through 1924 with twenty million to thirty-one million barrels annually and a peak production day of 121,700 barrels on July 21, 1923.
Although an important area, the Burbank Field never experienced the runaway booms of other fields. Burbank was dominated by major companies, including Marland, Roxana, Carter Oil Company, Gypsy Oil Company, Waite Phillips, Phillips Petroleum Company, Skelly Oil Company, and Comar Oil Company, who banded together and agreed to drill on ten-acre spacing for oil conservation purposes. Additionally, oil leases in this area were obtained through the federally controlled Osage Indian Reservation auctions, which auctioned off 160-acre tracts and divided the proceeds equally among tribe members. Between 1912 and 1928 twenty-eight of these auctions sold a total of 700,000 acres, making the Osage very wealthy.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Kenny A. Franks, The Oklahoma Petroleum Industry (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1980). Kenny A. Franks, The Osage Oil Boom (Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Heritage Association, 1989). Bess Mills-Bullard, comp., "Digest of Oklahoma Oil and Gas Fields," in Oil and Gas in Oklahoma, Oklahoma Geological Survey Bulletin 40, Vol. 1. (Norman: Oklahoma Geological Survey, 1928). Carl Coke Rister, Oil! Titan of the Southwest (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1949).
Bobby D. Weaver
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