Jon Spradley

JonSpradleyFollowing my discharge from the army, I took a summer job in Corpus Christi with Jones & Laughlin Oil Field Supply. My work sometimes consisted of delivering equipment to well sites. During those deliveries, I think my interest in Geology was first aroused by the fact that the only men wearing clean clothes and sitting in airconditioned trailers were the Company Geologists “sitting the wells”. South Texas summer temperatures convinced me the air-conditioned trailers were the place to be.

After several discussions with my boss, a retired Kansas school teacher, I was convinced that a Geology Degree was a great way to be in the oil business.

After a search, it appeared four (4) colleges offered geology which concentrated on the “Oil Business”. Not necessarily in order of merit they were: L.S.U., Texas A&M, U. of T., and O. U. I chose L.S.U. because my father’s Shreveport address afforded me the opportunity to take advantage of L.S.U.’s $30 per semester tuition available to state residents. (Not a bad deal for a person on $110/month G. I. Bill.)

At L.S. U., I was able to double-up on geology courses, having had all of my basic courses and electives behind me due to three (3) previous years in College. In the three (3) years at L.S.U., I graduated with a B.S. in Strat/Paleo.

After turning down an offer from Pan American Petroleum (AMACO) to be a Micropaleontologist in their Houston Lab, I decided to stay at L.S.U. and get a Master’s Degree. I was awarded a teaching assistantship and graduated in two (2) years with an M.S.

The M. S. brought a new offer from Pan American Petroleum for a whopping $25.00 per month more than their offer two (2) years earlier. However, with the new offer was the opportunity to become a ‘full fledged” Geologist in their Corpus Christi District Office. I accepted the offer.

During my three (3) years at Pan American, I met a number of independent geologists who were able to work when and where they wanted – not bound by structured office hours or limited assigned areas of exploration.

Independency seemed like the thing for me – but I realized that an intermediate step would be necessary to really learn more of what an Independent should expect from this business.

With that in mind, I down-sized from Pan American and accepted a “two or three year position ”(lasting fifteen (15) years) with Jake L. Hamon, an independent oil-operator in Dallas. My primary reason for the extended stay with Hamon was the “override” I earned or production found in the Corpus Christi District. We drilled many wells and enjoyed a great deal of success. (Hard to leave a job like that!) In 1978, Jake Hamon became ill and virtually inactive, so I formed Spradley Energy, Inc. and became a full independent. During my stay with Hamon, another reason for becoming a geologist became apparent to me. I fully and finally realized I was working among a select group of fine scientists whose primary strength was their basic honesty toward geology and what the E-logs dictated.

In our quest for the “Giant Easter Egg”, we all try to construct the most correct map possible and sometimes our prospects “drill out” and sometimes they don’t – but we have tried our best. We have all drilled “Dry Holes”, but we can still revel in the fact U. S. Independents are responsible for 80% of domestic discoveries.

By the way, a side light and one of the highlights of my 50 years of showing “deals” to many great geologists, it was always the opportunity to present a prospect to the person I consider the Geologists’ Geologist, Joe McCullough. After the “showing” I always came out of Joe’s office knowing more about my prospect than I knew before I went in.

If you ever have the opportunity to show your South Texas prospect to Joe, you will be happy with how much it can help you down the road.

And finally, as I move deeper into my autumn years, I continue to realize that “subsurface” is the real fun in the “Geology Game”, especially when it all falls into place and your prospect drills out as mapped.

Keep shuffling those logs and the prospect will usually appear.

Try to always remember that a discovery can make you a wealthy man – not only in money, but also in the knowledge that you have proven to yourself that you are an “oil finder”.

My congratulations to all of you for choosing this honorable profession.

Happy Hunting,
Jon Spradley, Geologist