Everette Lee DeGolyer

Everette Lee DeGolyer

Everette Lee DeGolyer was born in Greensburg, Kansas, on 9th October, 1886. His father, interested in mineral prospecting, moved the family to Joplin, Missouri. In 1901 the family settled in Norman, Oklahoma. Five years later DeGolyer entered the University of Oklahoma to study mining engineering.

As a student DeGolyer worked as a field assistant for the United States Geological Survey in Wyoming, Colorado, and Montana. In 1909, C. Willard Hayes, chief geologist of the Mexican Eagle Oil Company (El Águila) in Tampico, hired DeGolyer to head the exploration staff.

In 1910 DeGolyer located the Potrero del Llano No. 4 well in the Mexican Golden Lane, one of the world's largest fields, which produced more than 110,000 barrels a day. DeGolyer returned to Oklahoma and after marriage to Nell Virginia Goodrich, received his B.A. from the University of Oklahoma in 1911. DeGolyerreturned to Mexico and located the second big Mexican field, Las Naranjas.

On the outbreak of the First World War DeGolyer decided to establish his own consulting office in Oklahoma. DeGolyer continued to work for Weetman Dickinson Pearson (later Lord Cowdray), the owner of the Mexican Eagle Oil Company. In 1918 DeGolyer sold his firm to the Royal Dutch Shell Company. Cowdray then commissioned him to organize the Amerada Petroleum Corporation for exploration in the United States and Canada and the Rycade Oil Company for exploration of lands bordering the Gulf of Mexico.

In 1926 became president and general manager of Amerada Corporation and Amerada Refining Corporation. DeGolyer was also put in charge of the Geophysical Research Corporation. The company perfected a reflection seismograph that has become the principal tool for geophysical oil exploration. This technology was used in 1930 to discover of the Edwards oilfield.

In 1932 DeGolyer resigned from Amerada Petroleum Corporation. He then moved to Dallas and initiated a number of prospecting concerns, such as Atlatl Royalty Corporation and the Felmont Corporation. He also served as a director of a number of companies, including Transwestern Oil Company, Texas Eastern Gas Transmission Corporation, Southern Pacific Railroad Company, Dresser Industries and the United States and Foreign Securities Corporation.

During the Second World War DeGolyer served as director of conservation in the Office of the Coordinator for National Defense (1941-42). He was also assistant deputy administrator of the Petroleum Administration for War (1942-43) and the Petroleum Reserve Corporation's mission to the Middle East in 1943-44. He was chief of the technical advisory commission to President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the Teheran Conference. However, for most of his life he was a strong supporter of the Republican Party.

In 1946 DeGolyer recruited Jack Alston Crichton. According to Russ Baker: "He (Crichton) started and ran a baffling array of companies, which tended to change names frequently. These operated largely below the radar, and fronted for some of North America's biggest names, including the Bronfmans (Seagram's liquor), the Du Ponts, and the Kuhn-Loeb family of financiers."

In 1952 DeGolyer joined a syndicate that included Jack Alston Crichton and Clint Murchison to use connections in the government of General Francisco Franco to acquire rare drilling rights in Spain. The operation was handled by Delta Drilling, which was owned by Joe Zeppa.

Everette Lee DeGolyer, who suffered from aplastic anemia, committed suicide at his office in Dallas, on 14th December, 1956.