153-Year-Old Oil Well That Still Pumps

153-Year-Old Oil Well That Still Pumps153-Year-Old Oil Well That Still Pumps

About 70 miles north of Pittsburgh, a pothole-pocked dirt road along the side of a warehouse leads to a solitary oil well, undeterred by the recent plunge in crude prices, Bloomberg reported.

McClintock No. 1, the world’s oldest continually producing oil well, is still going after 153 years, quietly churning out about 1/10 of a barrel a day from a small spot in a clearing of trees.

Crude bubbles up from this 625-foot chasm regardless of the swings in oil prices, which have slid 30 percent in the past five months amid a glut in global supply. On its best days, McClintock yielded about 175 barrels. It’s survived through all the industry’s highs and lows, from busts that sent prices below $1 per barrel during the Great Depression to booms that sent them over $140 in 2008. The well’s output today is sold to a fuel company to make motor oil, but that’s not really why it’s still in operation. “It’s history,” said Susan Beates, the 54-year-old curator and historian at the Drake Well Museum, an institution that operates the well for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. “It’s definitely not economically viable right now. It’s about the status.”

The McClintock well, originally drilled for lamp kerosene, is a remnant of an era long gone. Before automobiles had been invented. Before the US grew dependent on gasoline for transportation. Before domestic oil production rose to almost 9 million barrels a day, only to drop to less than half that and then stage a comeback to reach 9.06 million this month.