Barnard P. Dietz



The Discovery of Maude Traylor Field
Calhoun County, Texas
(The Rest of the Story)

In Spring 1953 I joined Republic Natural Gas Company located in the Wilson Building in Corpus Christi, Texas. Republic’s District Geologist was Ralph Beeker who was in charge of the Exploration Office. Wallace Graham, a geologist, was already on board working the Frio Trend looking for prospects. Beaker assigned me to the Wilcox Trend. I began a regional map covering the entire trend.

Later, in about 1954, our company moved to the Petroleum Building located just north of the post office and the Exploration Office was consolidated with Republic Natural Gas Company’s Drilling and Engineering Departments. Sam McCord was in charge of the latter two departments.

In early 1955 Wallace Graham came up with a prospect in Calhoun County, Texas. He showed it to me. It looked unusual and I was a little taken back by its simplicity. We talked about it and came up with the idea that Texaco and Humble Oil most likely had used seismic to locate an anomaly. On investigating, we learned that Humble thought it was where they drilled their dry hole. Texaco also drilled where they thought it was. (Republic Natural Gas did not then have a budget for seismic.) So we figured there must be a high somewhere close but difficult to pin down. Wallace thought it must between these two wells, both of which had shows in the Melbourne Formation, were relatively flat with each other and both cut a fault.

Ralph Beeker was sold on the prospect, in fact thought it was good enough to initiate a farmout from Humble. A lease broker by the name of Colle Faulk was called in and told to ask for the farmout in his name.

Meantime, Beeker takes this prospect to Republic’s headquarter offices in Dallas. The Exploration people looked at the prospect with a smirk on their faces and said: “That’s a funny looking oil field.” After they turned it down, Beeker came back and told Wallace Graham. Wally was dismayed by the rejection.

Sometime later, Republic’s Vice President of Exploration came down to visit the Corpus office. Wallace, still ardently believing in the prospect, again showed the prospect. Since nothing had changed as far as geology was concerned, Dallas personnel again refused the prospect. When they left, Wally went into Beeker’s office and threw the map across Beeker’s desk and said: “This is the best damn prospect that’s come out of this office since I have been here.” Colle Faulk has obtained the farmout, so what are we going to do with it? Beeker replied: “Wally, I guess you best help him get rid of it.”

Wallace later told me that Colle Faulk, the lease broker who took the farmout from Humble, asked him to meet one night in the Plaza Hotel. Colle wanted to sell part of his interest to a couple of investors who were coming in from Houston. Colle invited Wallace to sit in and help him make the sale. Colle and Wallace began reviewing the prospect for the investors. Suddenly, in the middle of the presentation, Wally exclaims loudly: “Colle, don’t sell this interest. The well is running high to the Humble and Texaco wells. You don’t want to sell this.” The two investors looked at each, obviously suspecting they were being conned by two “slick” oilmen. But Colle persisted, trying to make his pitch to the investors. And Wallace persisted as well, intermittently pleading with Colle not to sell.

Unfortunately, I never learned whether the investors bought Colle’s interest or not.

Thereafter, I noticed Wally was in and out of the office quite a lot, as he was out trying to sell the deal. Finally, Layton Brown Drilling Company took the deal and drilled the discovery well of Maude Traylor Field. Wallace was extremely happy about that. Shortly thereafter Wallace came into my office and said: “My accountant tells me I am working for peanuts and that I could be making much more money as an independent geologist.” That’s how Wally took up the work of an independent.

Later, Wallace moved back to the Wilson Building where he set up his office as an independent geologist. A great guy and fun to be around, Wally was always happy and laughing – and he loved to tease. We had especially great times together at the annual geological field trips. Trips were mostly all South to the Rio Grande Valley across into Victoria, Mexico to study the Edwards and Cretaceous formations and others. We had great sponsors – Bob Smith with Schlumberger, Charles Jacobs with Halliburton and the person always in charge of entertainment was Ned Phillips with PGAC-Atlas Logging.

At least this is the way I remember it, some 53 years later.

Barnard P. Dietz – 3/8/08


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