Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The Permian Basin

The Presidential Museum on the grounds of the University of Texas - Permian Basin is a great history lesson. Our first cloudy day in months!!!!!!

A newly renovated house in which George H.W. and Barbara Bush raised 2 sons from 1950 to 1956

These "horsehead pumps" are all over the plains.........$10, $20, $30................

Some historical oil equipment outside the Petroleum Museum

A modern oil rig ready to go drilling for dollars. A 10,000 foot well costs about $1 million. Any deeper and the wells get exponentially more expensive

Driving from New Mexico through Pecos, Texas (the home of the world’s very first rodeo) and on to Odessa and Midland, Texas (twin cities ………… sort of) is to pass through the heart of west Texas oil country. Drill rigs and “nodding donkey” oil pumps (also known as horsehead pumps) are everywhere. This is also the home of George H.W. Bush (the elder) and, where he made his fortune in the oil business. The locals are all very aware of the geology of the Permian Basin where all the oil was formed and, very happy to see $100 oil!!! Drill rig companies and mechanical firms serving the oil business are everywhere, as are big “dually” diesel pick-up trucks. This is the land of fridge magnets shaped in the form of a handgun emblazoned with “We don’t dial 911”.

The Commemorative Airforce Museum in Midland features many airworthy WWII combat aircraft as well as an amazing gallery of aircraft “nose art” cut from actual WWII planes. This art collection is complete with an on-site restorative laboratory and research library. The museum also features an interesting display which portrays the WWII mission flown by local hero George H.W. Bush, flying from the U.S.S. San Jacinto, when he was shot down off Chichi Jima in the Bonin Islands off Japan. Bush was rescued by a US submarine but, his two-man crew was lost in the crash.

The Presidential Museum is dedicated to the Office of the President and, does not feature one president over any of the others. It is a great location to learn the chronology and history of the US presidents. However, it is easy to view snippets from the early lives of the two native sons; George H.W. and George W. Bush, at various venues in the area. Both lived very simply, in very modest homes for most of their time in Odessa and Midland and, in fact, the first two residences of George W. and Laura Bush were small apartments in the back of humble homes.

A particularly well done museum is the Petroleum Museum which provides both historical and modern information on the entire process of oil discovery, drilling, production and, to a small extent refining. It is very helpful to identify all the “hardware” one sees out in the oil fields and, explained to us many of the questions we had about how the whole system works. For all the focus on oil, there is very little evidence of oil wealth in the region. Both Odessa and Midland are small cities with a feel that serious economic revial is required. Where'd the money go??

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