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The Drake Well is a 69.5-foot-deep (21.2 m) oil well in Cherrytree Township, Venango County in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania, the success of which sparked the first oil boom in the United States. The well is the centerpiece of the Drake Well Museum located 3 miles (5 km) south of Titusville.
Drilled by Edwin Drake in 1859, along the banks of Oil Creek, it is the first commercial oil well in the United States. Drake Well was listed on National Register of Historic Places and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966. It was designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark in 1979. The well was designated a National Historic Chemical Landmark in 2009, on the sesquicentennial of the strike.
The Drake Well is often referred to as the first commercial oil well, although that title is also claimed for wells in Azerbaijan, Ontario, West Virginia, Yenangyaung Myanmar, Persia, Arabia, Szechuan China and Poland, among others.
In the United States before the Drake Well, oil-producing wells were wells that were drilled for salt brine, and produced oil and gas only as accidental byproducts. An intended drinking water well at Oil Springs, Ontario found oil in 1858, a year before the Drake Well, but it had not been drilled for oil. Historians have noted that the importance of the Drake Well was not in being the first well to produce oil, but in attracting the first great wave of investment in oil drilling, refining, and marketing. The importance of the Drake Well was in the fact that it caused prompt for additional drilling, thus establishing a supply of petroleum in sufficient quantity to support business enterprises of magnitude.
Location and geology
The Drake Well is located in Cherrytree Township, Venango County in northwestern Pennsylvania. situated on the flats 150 feet (46 m) from the east bank of Oil Creek. The site was originally on an artificial island formed by the creek and a mill race. On a floodplain, the well and the museum are protected by an earthen dike.
Most of the oil produced in northwestern Pennsylvania was formed in sandstone reservoir rocks at the boundary between the Mississippian and Devonian rock layers. Over time, the oil migrated toward the surface, became trapped beneath an impervious layer of caprock, and formed a reservoir. The presence of upwards-curving folds in the caprock called anticlines, or sometimes an inversion of an anticline called a syncline, greatly varied the depth of the reservoirs, from around 4,000 feet (1,200 m) to just beneath the surface.